The 71st Anniversary of the Normandy landings took place this Saturday, June 6th.
On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000. In the British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops were landed (61,715 of them British).
The number of American casualties has risen in recent years following more accurate research from the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2,499 American D-Day fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2,500 dead).
So how did the world commemorate the brave soldiers who took down Hitler’s Nazi forces?
Around 150 British veterans gathered in Normandy to commemorate the D-day landings.
Former services personnel, now in their late 80s and 90s, crossed the Channel to return to the beaches, cemeteries and villages of northern France.
Former troops attended a Royal British Legion-organised service at Bayeux cathedral on Saturday, where they were told by the Rev Patrick Irwin, the Royal British Legion chaplain to Normandy: “Your historic achievements will remain as one of the defining moments in the history of the last century.”
Here at home, many memorials took place across the country. One of the largest commemorations took place in Bedford, VA.
In 1944, the town of Bedford, then about 3,200 residents, suffered the nation’s most severe D-day losses relative to the size of the town.
In 1996, Congress warranted the establishment of a National D-day Memorial in Bedford; after significant planning and fundraising, it was dedicated June 6, 2001, by President George W. Bush.
“They’re old men now, those few who survive — men who stormed ashore on Juno Beach, 71 years ago amid a clatter of enemy machine gun fire and the roar of 88-mm artillery shells,” said George McLellan, past president of Allan MacDonald Memorial branch 15 Royal Canadian Legion in New Waterford.
“But not all who took part in D-Day would live to grow old, become grandfathers and look back on a victory vital to the overthrow of Nazi Germany.”
McLellan said Canadians have an obligation to mark the anniversary of D-Day.
This they did in ceremonies across Canada. Below, Royal Navy veteran Denis Garrod, 89, salutes during a D-Day Service on Friday June 5, 2015 at Confederation Square in Peterborough, Ont.