News | Published June 06 2019

Theresa May speaks in France on 75th anniversary of D-Day

Prime Minister Theresa May was present in Normandy on Thursday as she thanked veterans at a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

May said: “The only words we can say to veterans are thank you”.

May spoke alongside French president Emmanuel Macron, who said: “We owe them [veterans] our freedom."

Both were speaking at a memorial in Ver-sur-Mer in remembrance of the 22,442 British soldiers who died in combat in 1944.

May described the veterans as a “special generation” whose “unconquerable spirit helped shape the post war world".

She added: “They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served. They laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.”

“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was June 6, 1944.”

After paying his respects, Macron drew attention to “the force of his friendship” with Theresa May, saying it will “outlast current events”.

The commemorations will be one of May’s final acts as prime minister as the process to find her successor begins on Friday.

Later on Thursday, Macron accompanied US president Donald Trump to a memorial service at the US war cemetery, at D-Day's Omaha Beach site in Colleville-sur-Mer.

Trump said: "You are among the greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of the nation. You are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Following the service in Ver-sur-Mer, Theresa May joined the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for ceremonies at Bayeux Cathedral and the Bayeux War Cemetery.

Corbyn described the Cathedral service as “beautiful and inclusive” as it commemorated those who laid down their lives and “helped defeat the scourge of fascism".

Thursdays events are the latest in memory of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, after leaders from every allied country involved inthe assault joined the Queen in Portsmouth on Wednesday as she paid tribute to the dead.

The cruise ship MV Boudicca then departed for Normandy with around 300 veterans on board for Thursdays services.

Two of these veterans, 95 year old Harry Read and 94 year old John Hutton, opted to parachute into Normandy with assistance from the Red Devils, the British Army’s Parachute Regiment display unit.

Both were warmly welcomed as they landed back in France 75 years after their D-Day mission, which remains the largest combined land, air and naval operation in human history.

Hundreds of veterans are present in Normandy for the commemorations, which mark key individual stages of the D-Day invasion.

The assault on northern France was critical in bringing an end to the Second World War, with Nazi Germany's surrender coming 11 months later.

Normandy's memorial events began as early as 06:26 BST on Wednesday - the exact minute UK troops first landed back in 1944 - with a lone piper poignantly marking the moment by playing on the Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were both absent from PMQs yesterday, with David Lidington and Rebecca Long-Bailey standing in.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
June 06 2019

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