D-Day 80th anniversary: Everything you need to know as UK commemorates historic Normandy landings

4 June 2024, 10:29 | Updated: 4 June 2024, 10:36

D-Day 80th anniversary: Everything you need to know as UK commemorates historic Normandy landings
D-Day 80th anniversary: Everything you need to know as UK commemorates historic Normandy landings. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle De Wolfe

The UK is set to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-day landings on June 6, with a week of events taking place to honour the sacrifice made by allied forces.

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The week of commemorations will take place in both the UK and France, with the Normandy beaches playing host to a series of events - including fly pasts and remembrance ceremonies.

Sunday saw parachutists jump from World War II-era planes in the skies above Normandy.

The event marked the beginning of a week of commemorative events celebrating allied troops who fought on the D-Day beaches 80 years ago - a turning point in World War II.

Surviving veterans will be in attendance to remember the sacrifice made my their comrades, with 31 British veterans travelling from the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France, aboard a British Battleship.

Read more: D-Day veterans set sail for France as 80th anniversary events begin

It's a significant anniversary, given the event is likely to be the last with surviving veterans still in attendance, given 255 who travelled to commemorate the 75th Anniversary in 2019.

Honouring the fallen as well as those who survived the landings, here's everything you need to know ahead of the anniversary.

D-Day 80th anniversary: Normandy veteran Jimmy Justice waves from the deck of the Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel as it sails out of Portsmouth Harbour in the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France.
D-Day 80th anniversary: Normandy veteran Jimmy Justice waves from the deck of the Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel as it sails out of Portsmouth Harbour in the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France. Picture: Alamy

What is D-Day and why does it matter?

The historic D-Day landings are considered the largest invasion to ever to take place.

D-Day officially began on June 6, 1944, with the landings forming part of the Battle of Normandy - the name given to fighting which took place in Normandy between D-Day and the end of August 1944.

Lieutenant-General Frederick Morgan and his elite team of British, American and Canadian officers first submitted plans for the invasion nearly a year earlier in July 1943.

By 1944, over 2 million troops from more than 12 allied countries were in Britain preparing for the invasion.

The landings saw around 156,000 allied troops touch down on the beaches to fight Nazi occupiers, with one simple aim: To liberate Western Europe and end the Second World War.

Arriving by sea and air to fight foreign occupiers on France's northern beaches, troops landed on five beachheads across Normandy.

Ultimately, the D-Day landings contributed to Adolf Hitler’s downfall, helping to free Europe from the grip of Nazi rule.

The codenames given to the landings were 'Operation Neptune' - the assault phase which formed part of 'Operation Overlord', the wider Normandy operation.

D-Day ended on 30 June 1944.

Around 2,500 allied troops died in D-Day, with newer figures suggesting numbers were closer to 4,500.

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops died in the assault.

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Around 156,000 allied troops arrived by sea and air to fight foreign occupiers on France's northern beaches as part of the assault, landing on five beachheads in Normandy, France.
Around 156,000 allied troops arrived by sea and air to fight foreign occupiers on France's northern beaches as part of the assault, landing on five beachheads in Normandy, France. Picture: Alamy

What events are taking place?

June 4

Royal Navy vessels in Portsmouth Harbour sailed past in formation, early on June 4.

This D-day, 31 surviving veterans are travelling from the south coast of England aboard the Mont St Michel ferry, flanked by Royal Navy patrol vessels Trumpeter, Medusa and Basher.

Navy veteran Stan Ford is one of those aboard en route to Normandy on Tuesday, honouring his 32 crew members who died in a torpedo attack on their ship during D-Day.

The ship will travel from Portsmouth Harbour to Ouistreham, in Caen, France, departing on Tuesday, June 4.

The veterans will be carrying a commemorative torch from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A wreath laying ceremony will take place aboard the ferry at 1pm to commemorate the fallen.

A wreath laying ceremony will take place aboard the ferry at 1pm to commemorate the fallen.
A wreath laying ceremony will take place aboard the ferry at 1pm to commemorate the fallen. Picture: Alamy

June 5

The Royal British Legion will host a vigil will then take place at Bayeux War Cemetery on June 5.

It's set to feature military musicians, as well as a Royal Air Force flypast, alongside speakers and a host of tributes.

The Red Arrows will also do a flypast above Portsmouth to commemorate the date.

June 6

The UK's national commemorative event is set to take place at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer on Thursday, a memorial that contains the names of the 22,442 servicemen and women who fell during the historic D-Day landings.

It will be followed by an official international ceremony at Omaha Beach, the location of more than 2,500 American troop deaths.

Surviving veterans will be in attendance to remember the sacrifice made my their comrades, with 31 British veterans travelling from the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France, aboard a British Battleship.
Surviving veterans will be in attendance to remember the sacrifice made my their comrades, with 31 British veterans travelling from the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France, aboard a British Battleship. Picture: Alamy

When does the flypast take place?

Military personnel and D-Day veterans will commemorate the event at Southsea Common with a flypast from the Red Arrows.

The flypast will take place at approximately 12.30pm on June 5.

An 11am flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) was due to take place, however, this was cancelled following the Spitfire crash which killed RAF pilot Squadron Leader Mark Long on May 25.

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