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AIRCREW ASSOCIATION
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MOD PRESS RELEASE  011/2014   29 January 2014

MOD ANNOUNCES SUPPORT TO THE
70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE NORMANDY LANDINGS

The Ministry of Defence will support commemorations this summer to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings in France, taking place 5-6 June 2014.

Personnel from all three Services will provide logistic and ceremonial support to the commemorations, known as “Normandy 70”, and will assist veterans of the campaign as they mark this historic anniversary in Normandy. Work is being led by a specialist logistics unit, Force Troops Command, and 3rd (UK) Division of the Army, the division that led the assault on Sword Beach seventy years ago.

The Armed Forces will support a range of events taking place in the Normandy region. Major commemorations will include ceremonies on the 5 June to mark the liberation of Ranville by the British 13th Parachute Battalion, the first village to be liberated on D-Day. Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade will mount a mass parachute drop to mark this occasion, which will be followed by a memorial service at the Statue of Field Marshal Montgomery at Colleville Montgomery.

On 6 June, a United Kingdom-France Service of Remembrance will take place at Bayeux Cathedral organised by The Royal British Legion and the Normandy Veterans Association, followed by a special event at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemetery.

A number of veterans will also attend an international ceremony organised by the French Government, and a service held by the Normandy Veterans Association at Arromanches.

The Ministry of Defence is working closely with partners across Government and with external agencies to deliver a fitting programme of commemorations to mark the anniversary. These include the Normandy Veterans Association, for whom this year will be of particular significance, as they have indicated it will be the last that they will officially mark. Later this year, the Association plans to officially disband and lay up their National Standard at a service at St Margaret’s, Westminster, London. Working with the MOD on events and support to veterans will be The Royal British Legion. Another partner is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the organisation that commemorates Commonwealth Forces who died in the two World Wars, and custodians of the cemeteries where Commonwealth casualties of D-Day are buried.

Veterans wishing to return to Normandy in June will be able to apply for financial support from the Big Lottery Fund, who last February extended their “Heroes’ Return 2 Scheme” till December 2015. This scheme enables veterans and their spouses, widows and widowers, and accompanying helpers to undertake the journey. Details of the scheme can be found at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/prog_heroes_return.

Speaking about the plans for the 70th anniversary, Defence Minister Lord Astor said:

“I’m delighted that the Ministry of Defence will be supporting the veterans of this historic campaign as they gather to remember on the beaches of Normandy. The 70th anniversary will be an occasion for us all to pay fitting tribute to those who fought for the liberation of Europe, and I know that our    Servicemen and women will be honoured to take part.”

Brigadier David Baines, President of the Normandy Veterans Association said:

“We are working with the Ministry of Defence and others on what will be an important last act of remembrance for the Association. I encourage all veterans to join us in Normandy if they are able.”

Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, President of the Royal British Legion, said:

“As the UK’s Custodian of Remembrance, The Royal British Legion is proud to be involved with organising the D-Day 70th Anniversary commemorations. It is so important we pay our respects and recognise the sacrifice made by those who fought and died in this battle, which turned the tide in the Second World War.

“We hope the activities in Normandy this year will also help future generations understand the importance of Remembrance.”

Alan Pateman-Jones, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said:

“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates more than 22,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women in 18 war cemeteries in      Normandy. Many more graves will be found in churchyards and village cemeteries throughout the region. 

“Ahead of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the CWGC will have completed a major renovation programme at all these sites – ensuring they are ready to    receive the many thousands of expected visitors, but also that the sacrifices made by these brave servicemen and women will never be forgotten.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said:

“We are very proud to support our veterans to attend the historic 70th commemoration of the Normandy landings. We remember and honour the immense debt of gratitude owed to those brave Servicemen and women who endured the horrors of war and whose courage and sacrifice finally brought an end to a conflict that cost over 75 million lives across the world.”

Further details, including information on the form and content of events for the anniversary, will be announced in due course.