SOLEMN commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day today began with the haunting sound of a lone piper playing — marking the moment the first British soldier stormed the beaches of Normandy.
Today may well be the last major anniversary of the bold Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944 to take place in living memory.
After his bagpipe performance on Arromanches beach, Pipe Major Macey-Lillie said: “That was nerve wracking to do but I feel very proud and it was a privilege to do it.”
Some 300 plus veterans will be flocking to the town of Arromanches for a series of events on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day today.
The start of the day was marked at 7.25am (local time) with the tradition of a lone piper playing a lament on the remaining Mulberry Harbour in the town called Port Winston.
This signals the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.
Stood atop the structure, Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) performed Highland Laddie as crowds gathered on the beach below him and lined the promenade, applauding his performance.
The tune is one of the ones played by piper Bill Millin, who performed as his comrades were cut down around him on Sword Beach in 1944.
In one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader, Theresa May will attend an inauguration ceremony in Normandy for a memorial to over 20,000 members of the British armed forces who died there decades ago.
The British Normandy Memorial is being built on a hillside in Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach, one of the key sites for British troops during the Normandy Landings.
French President Emmanuel Macron will join the Prime Minister at the ceremony, where a sculpture created by David Williams-Ellis will be unveiled marking the beginning of construction for the memorial.
Expected to be completed within a year, it will record the names of 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.
After the memorial inauguration, Theresa May will join veterans and the Prince of Wales at a cathedral service in Bayeux.
The city, close to the northern French coast, was the first major place to be liberated after the Allied forces invasion.
Following the service, veterans will parade from the cathedral to the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
Dignitaries will be invited to lay memorial wreaths and the last post will be played at the site where more than 4,000 war dead are buried.
Ahead of the commemorations, Theresa May said: “It is a privilege to be in Normandy today for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and to pay my respects to the troops who gave their lives for the freedom we cherish today.
“As we come together to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of those who died for our liberty 75 years ago, we promise to honour their memory for generations to come.”
‘GAVE US OUR FREEDOM’
The great grandson of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, has also paid tribute to those who took part in the D-Day landings.
“It’s remarkable to think that 75 years ago the heroes that gave us our freedom were coming up these shores,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“With the veterans here today – and it’s wonderful to see so many – it’s wonderful we can honour them and their comrades that didn’t come back.
“They really did give their today so we can have a better tomorrow.”
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Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
In Portsmouth, following President Donald Trump’s visit on Wednesday, a veteran’s parade will take place before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.
And in London, the Duke of Sussex will attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.
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