The Latest | D-Day's 80th anniversary brings World War II veterans back to the beaches of Normandy

World War II veterans are joining heads of state and others on the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day

The Associated Press
Thursday 06 June 2024 05:30 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

World War II veterans are joining heads of state and others Thursday on the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The Allied invasion, which began on June 6, 1944, led to the defeat of the Nazis and the end of the war. The assault began with Allied aircraft bombing German defenses in Normandy, followed by around 1,200 aircraft that carried airborne troops. As dawn broke, Allied forces started bombing German coastal defenses and shortly after that vessels began putting troops ashore on five codenamed beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. By the end of the day, nearly 160,000 Allied troops had landed in Normandy, although there were thousands of casualties.

Few witnesses to history’s biggest amphibious invasion remain alive today.

Currently:

— Hour by hour: A brief timeline of the Allies’ invasion of occupied France

— With time short, veterans seize the chance to keep their D-Day memories alive for others

— Women were barred from combat. But they helped D-Day succeed in other ways

— How AP covered the D-Day landings and lost a photographer in the battle for Normandy

— A Jewish veteran from London prepares to commemorate the 80th anniversary

Here's the latest:

THE SUN RISES OVER NORMANDY BEACHES AS THE WORLD REMEMBERS D-DAY

UTAH BEACH, France — As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it’s rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine.

Ever-dwindling numbers of World War II veterans, and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, make this anniversary particularly meaningful, mixing poignant remembrances for D-Day sacrifices with an Allied show of solidarity for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, among the guests.

But host France hasn’t invited World War II ally Russia, citing its “war of aggression against Ukraine that has intensified in recent weeks.”

HUNDREDS GATHER AT DAWN AT UTAH BEACH TO MARK D-DAY'S 80TH ANNIVERSARY

UTAH BEACH, France — Hundreds of people, some in WWII-era uniforms, arrived before dawn to stretch out across the now peaceful sands of Utah Beach, one of the five Allied landing zones on D-Day where troops waded into cold seas through hails of fire exactly 80 years ago.

“It’s our way of paying homage, and better understanding what really happened in the 1944 landings,” said Dimitri Picot, a 33-year-old from the nearby Normandy town of Carentan who works as a rat and pest catcher.

Picot said he often dives on a wrecked ship that was hit and exploded, its wreckage visible Thursday as night gave way to day. Growing up amid the June 6, 1944, landing zones, he said he has become accustomed to seeing walls still pockmarked by bullets, shrapnel and other reminders of that fateful day.

But on the 80th anniversary “to think that they liberated us” hammered home the emotion, he said.

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