WW2 veterans commemorate 75th anniversary of D-Day

Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944, the largest ever seaborne invasion that made western Europe's liberation from Nazi Germany in the Second World War possible.

Leaders from every country that fought alongside the United Kingdom on D-Day joined Queen Elizabeth II in Portsmouth for the first day of the anniversary events. The Queen paid tribute to the "heroism, courage and sacrifice" of those who died to 300 veterans, who were then waved off on the cruise ship MV Boudicca as it headed to the Normandy commemorations.

On Thursday, the leaders of France, Britain, and the United States paid tribute to the sacrifice of the veterans and of those who died in the D-Day landings, drawing to a close two days of commemorations. Wreaths were laid, a minute's silence was held, and veterans linked arms and sang, before watching an RAF flypast.

D-Day was the largest combined land, air, and naval operation in history where 156,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy, France across five beaches. Approximately 7,000 ships and 10,000 vehicles comprised the landing that took the lives of 4,400 Allied men, 4,000 to 9,000 Nazi’s, and thousands of French civilians.

58,000 Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, 54,000 British on Gold and Sword beaches, and 21,000 Canadians on Juno beach. The Kieffer commando, a group of 177 French "green berets", also landed on Sword Beach, integrating with the British Royal Marines. The airborne assault included 23,000 men (13,000 Americans and 10,000 British) who landed by parachute or glider in Normandy or on the Cotentin Peninsula. By comparison, the Nazi’s 7th army were outnumbered with 150,000 men spread throughout all of Normandy.

Almost 12,000 tonnes were bombed in one day. By the morning of June 7, there were 3,000 civilians dead in Normandy, by September 1944 the death toll had risen to 20,000, and 150,000 were forced to flee their homes.