In preparation for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings this Friday, groups of re-enactors are headed to the beaches of Normandy in France to mark the largest amphibious invasion in history. The famous day is being recreated in its entirety as hundreds of men wade onto the beach or parachute onto French soil to show exactly how the events would have unfolded 70 years ago. It is part of a series of events planned across the area for the anniversary, as many heads of states and veterans also make their way to the beaches.
The D-Day Landings saw nearly 160,000 troops from the Allied countries, including Great Britain and the United States, join forces to launch an audacious attack on the beaches of Normandy. On the first day alone, around 4,400 Allied troops were killed, while almost 10,000 more were injured or reported missing. Codenamed Operation Neptune, the landings were part of Operation Overlord, the Allied assault on German-occupied territory. The Normandy coast was split into five sections for the attack – Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha and Utah. Some of the re-enactment group have already reached Arromanche near Gold and Omaha Beach.
To mark the 70th anniversary, an international flotilla of ships will sail through the Channel to Normandy before an international ceremony on Sword Beach. Services led by the British and French will take place at Bayeux Cathedral followed by an event at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. In the UK, there will be a fly-past at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, while Portsmouth has been chosen as the main place for UK-based events due to the thousands of British troops that left the country via Portsmouth to make their way to Normandy 70 years ago.