Hundreds of British D-Day veterans were in Normandy today for a series of events marking the 70th anniversary of the landings that changed the course of the Second World War.
A huge security operation has swung into operation as 17 heads of state, including the Queen, prepare to arrive in northern France tomorrow.
More than 650 ex-servicemen, the survivors of the survivors, are believed to have travelled to commemorate the invasion, described as the largest in military history.
In his role as colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment, the Prince of Wales met old troops of the Glider Pilot Regiment at Pegasus Bridge, marking the first assault of the D-Day invasion.
It was the incredible feat of flying immortalised in the 1960s film The Longest Day, during which a team of Horsa gliders silently landed to take the strategically-placed bridge and another nearby.
In pictures: D-Day 70th anniversary
In pictures: D-Day 70th anniversary
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British World War II veteran Frederick Glover stands as soldiers parachute down during a D-Day commemoration paratroopers launch event in Ranville, northern France
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D-Day veterans (L-R) Wally Beale (90), Doug Lakey (94), Bernie Howell (89), Bob Conway (88), George French (88), Gordon Smith (90), and Albert Williams (96), from the Royal Wootton Bassett Normandy Veterans Association share a joke during a group photograph on sword Beach after the Royal Artillery Commemoration Parade and service in Hermanville, France
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French Prime minister Manuel Valls (L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and his wife Samantha Cameron (R) at the D-Day commemoration ceremony at the Cathedral in Bayeux, Normandy
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Prince Charles reacts as he watches teams of French, US, Canadian and British paratroopers jumping from aeroplanes during a D-Day commemoration in Ranville, northern France
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D-Day veteran Bill Price (99) who celebrates his 100th birthday on 24 July stands on Gold Beach for well wishers after the last ever flag raising ceremony by the Surrey Normandy Veterans Association in Arromanches Les Bains, France
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Veteran Frederick Carrier (89) who served in the 1st Engineer Special Brigade of the U.S. Army and landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, prays for the 171 men of his unit who died at a monument to them at Utah Beach, France
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D-Day veteran Jack Hamlin (93) who served in Rescue Flotilla Number One of the U.S. Coast Guard, took part in the invasion landing at Omaha Beach and is from Springfield, Missouri, attends the U.S. D-Day Ceremony at Utah Beach, France
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A D-Day re-enactment enthusiast wears the American flag at a re-enactment camp near Utah Beach in Sainte Marie du Mont, France
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British World War II veteran Jock Hutton (89), poses following his landing after he and teams of French, US, Canadian and British paratroopers jumped from aeroplanes during a D-Day commemoration in Ranville, northern France
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The Red Arrows display team perform over Southsea Common at the end of a commemoration service of the D-Day landings in Portsmouth, England
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Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (3L) are welcomed by French President Francois Hollande (2L) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius (R) at the Elysee Presidential Palace as part of a bilateral meeting during an Official visit in Paris ahead of the 70th Anniversary Of The D-Day in Paris, France
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The RAF's Red Arrows perform over Southsea Common in Hampshire, to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings
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A French man dressed in vintage military clothing drives an old American military jeep on the beachside in Arromanches-les-Bains, northern France
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Czech citizens Gallomichal Seznam and Zdznek Barchaler, dressed in old vintage military uniforms, walk on the beach in Arromanches-les-Bains, northern France
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British Marines and their Dutch counterparts demonstrate a beach assault near Southsea Common in Hampshire to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings
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WW2 veteran Fred Holborn, from the Fleet Air Arm, salutes as he looks at British Legion Union flags carrying thank you messages planted in the sand on Gold beach near Asnelles, France. 20,000 paper flags are being planted. Each one carries a personal message of Remembrance submitted by Royal British Legion supporters
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A paratrooper lands on Sword Beach near international flags during a D-Day celebration rehearsal in Ouistreham, on the Normandy coast
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Helen Patton, granddaughter of General Patton, is parachuted during a US-German D-Day commemoration ceremony in honour of airborne soldiers in Picauville, northern France
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French 1st RCP paratrooper carrying US flag is seen over Sword beach in Ouistreham, northern France
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A Spitfire (R) and an "Eurfighter" both painted with invasion stripes fly over Sword beach in Ouistreham, northern France
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Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Gare du Nord during an Official visit in Paris ahead of the 70th Anniversary Of The D-Day in Paris, France
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The Prince of Wales meets veterans near Pegasus Bridge during D-Day Commemorations in Ranville, France
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meets veterans near Pegasus Bridge (Also known as the Benouville Bridge - The taking of the Bridge was an important strategic victory) during D-Day Commemorations in Ranville, France
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A US WWII veteran stands in front of US flags during a US-German D-Day commemoration ceremony in honour of airborne soldiers in Picauville, northern France
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US veteran Edward Oleksak looks on during a US-German D-Day commemoration ceremony in honour of airborne soldiers in Picauville, northern France
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World War II Allied members Canada's, United States', France's, and United Kingdom's flag hanging in Ouistreham, western France
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British and Canadian flags laid at a military cemetery in Ranville, northwestern France
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A British soldier pays his respects as he visits a military cemetery in Ranville, northwestern France
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A visitor examines a gravestone at the German Cemetery where approximately 21,000 German World War II soldiers are buried at La Cambe, France
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Normany veteran 90-year-old Geoff Pattinson sits at his home in London, England. On D-Day he set out in one of three gliders that were meant to crash land at the Merville battery and the troops were tasked with taking out the long range guns. However during the flight to France the tow rope snapped and the glider was forced to land in England. He flew again later that day and was a few weeks later was wounded in Normandy by a German machine gun. Asked what his most vivid memory of D-Day was he replied: 'Most of us thought we had landed in France. When we got out though, low and behold we were still in England and that was the anti-climax of my life. I couldn't believe we had missed our target and I couldn't believe we had landed in England'
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Normandy veteran 92-year-old Vera Hay stands outside the Grange Hotel in Grange over Sands in Cumbria, England. Vera, who was in the Queen Alexandras Royal Army Nursing Corps one of the first nurses to land at Normandy shortly after D-Day. Vera, who was a Junior Sister, then travelled 10 miles to the Chateau de Beaussy and took care of up to 200 injured soldiers a day. Asked what her most vivid memory of D-Day was she replied: 'The need of the casualties both our own troops and the German prisoners of war. They all were patients to us. They needed rehydration, rest, morphine to keep the comfortable and we were using the new penicillin'
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British World War II veteran Harry Humphreys (92) from the 4th Royal Dragoon Guard, reacts after his visit at Bayeux's war cemetery, while an old allied military vehicle passes by, in northern France
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Lewis Trinder formerly of the Royal Navy poses for photographs as he walks through Arromanches in Normandy, France
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Soldiers travelling on a vintage jeep cross Pegasus Bridge (also known as the Benouville Bridge) during D-Day Commemoration in Ranville, France
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Pipers march past Cafe Gondree, the Pegasus Bridge Cafe, the first house in France to be liberated during the last hour of 5 June 1944, during D-Day Commemorations in Ranville, France
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British soldiers stand next to their weapons placed on the ground, in front of Bayeux's war cemetery, northern France
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Italian and British military enthusiasts watch from Utah beach as Dakota aircraft flypast near Saint Marie du Mont, France
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World War II veteran Charles Alford of the 6th Armor Division, from Waco, Texas, climbs the stairs with his son David on Omaha Beach where he landed as part of the invasion of Normandy in Vierville-Sur-Mer, France
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British World War II veteran reacts as he visits the war cemetery of Ranville, northwestern France
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Paul Clifford (70) from Boston stands after placing flowers on the grave of Walter J. Gunther Jr, the uncle of his best friend, in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, in Colleville sur Mer, France
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Harry Grew (92) who was in the Royal Navy, gets fussed by the Candy Girls, (R) Elkie Jeffery (L) Freyja Sculpher and Debbie Watt on board the Brittany cross channel ferry Normandie, travelliing from Portsmouth to Caen in Portsmouth, England
Led by Major John Howard, they captured the bridges after a 15-minute skirmish, in which two soldiers were killed and 14 wounded.
Prince Charles’ visit, in which he was accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, began at the nearby Cafe Gondree, overlooking Pegasus Bridge, the first building to be liberated from Nazi-occupied France.
They then walked across Pegasus Bridge and were guided to the Glider Pilot Memorial where veterans and serving members watched on, some clearly overwhelmed by emotion.
As a young girl, Arlette Gondree was in a cafe which became the first property in Normandy to be liberated by Allied troops on D-Day.
Today she gave her thanks to the last of the liberators as they marked the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
On the front of the Pegasus Bridge Cafe, also known as Cafe Gondree, is a sign which reads: “This was the first house in France to be liberated during the last hour of 5th June 1944 by men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the British 6th Airborne Division under the command of Major R. John Howard.”
As old soldiers and their families sat outside the family cafe in the sunshine reminiscing about their war-time exploits, Mrs Gondree greeted them like old friends.
Flanked by former British soldiers Len Buckley and Bill Bray, she said: “There were many men who lost their lives and many young men who are now very old but we still love and remember them.
“They are the heroes. We are also a very loving family. We became absolutely together from the moment it happened on that evening in June, 1944.
“We have remained close ever since.”
The events at Pegasus Bridge came as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, arrived in Normandy for the 70th anniversary.
An international ceremony will held be at Sword Beach, the easternmost of the five landing areas for Allied forces on D-Day.
Scottish veteran of the landings Jock Hutton, 89, will take part in a tandem jump with one of the Red Devils during a parachute drop at Ranville.
Mr Hutton, who was raised in an orphanage in Bridge of Weir, is one of the last D-Day veterans from his regiment - 13th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.
A midnight vigil will be held at Pegasus Bridge, marking the moment the gliders made their momentous landing to capture the structure.
Troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles and the Army Air Corps will march across the bridge to Cafe Gondree for a champagne toast and a midnight firework display.
Meanwhile, the Queen has set off for her state visit to France by train - after first celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Channel Tunnel.
Britain's ambassador to France, Sir Peter Ricketts, has said the three-day tour is likely to have a “big impact”, and will feature the monarch and other senior members of the Royal Family attending various aspects of the D-Day commemorations.Reuse content