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D-Day commemorations end with a bang: Fireworks over Normandy cap week of reflection

A firework display lit up the skies over the beaches of Normandy last night at the end of a moving day of commemorations on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Veterans, servicemen and locals enjoyed a concert and danced on the sand as the red, white, and blue flashes lit up the night sky.

On June 6 1944, more than 150,000 servicemen began the assault on Nazi-occupied Europe which would ultimately result in the Allies’ success on the Western Front and the defeat of Hitler’s regime.

Last night, following a day in which world leaders gathered in Normandy to pay tribute to the fallen and the survivors of the battle for France, a party atmosphere took hold.

Amid vintage armoured vehicles, and dressed in clothes and uniforms from the 1940s, people enjoyed the pyrotechnic display overhead in the town of Arromanches in Normandy.

Fireworks explode over the city of Arromanches in Normandy, France, as enthusiasts dressed in period dress and an American flag look on

The pyrotechnic display was enjoyed by hundreds who remained on the streets of the Normandy town

The pyrotechnic display was enjoyed by hundreds who remained on the streets of the Normandy town

People on a tank watch fireworks in Arromanches in Normandyto marl the end of the day's commemorations

People on a tank watch fireworks in Arromanches in Normandyto marl the end of the day’s commemorations

Earlier in the day world leaders gathered to pay their respects to the greatest generation on the 75th anniversary of D Day

Earlier in the day world leaders gathered to pay their respects to the greatest generation on the 75th anniversary of D Day

After night fell hundreds of locals in Arromanches, many dressed in period uniforms, enjoyed a firework display

After night fell hundreds of locals in Arromanches, many dressed in period uniforms, enjoyed a firework display

Organisers staged a small concert in the town last night and revellers stayed out to watch the late night firework display

Organisers staged a small concert in the town last night and revellers stayed out to watch the late night firework display

Earlier yesterday the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the D-Day landings 75 years ago was honoured in moving ceremonies on both sides of the Channel.

In Arromanches thousands gathered in tribute to those who fought heroically in the daring campaign which changed the course of the Second World War.

Some 300, largely British, veterans, many approaching 100 years of age, made the pilgrimage to the commemorations in the main square to remember their fallen comrades.

Wreaths were laid, a minute’s silence held and veterans linked arms and joined in singing a rendition of the war-time anthem We’ll Meet Again, before watching an RAF flypast.

Prime Minister Theresa May, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended special services of remembrance with veterans at Bayeux Cathedral and the nearby Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.

A man in a Second World War helmet and fatigues watches a firework explode over Arromanches in northern France

A man in a Second World War helmet and fatigues watches a firework explode over Arromanches in northern France

Many of the explosions were colours red, whiter, and blue in honour of the Tricolor as well as the British and American flags

Many of the explosions were colours red, whiter, and blue in honour of the Tricolor as well as the British and American flags

People sitting on the gun turret of a vintage tank watch fireworks in Arromanches in the Normandy region of France

People sitting on the gun turret of a vintage tank watch fireworks in Arromanches in the Normandy region of France

Several period vehicles drove through the streets and were used as vantage points including American Sherman tanks

Several period vehicles drove through the streets and were used as vantage points including American Sherman tanks 

D-Day on June 6 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in history, and ultimately led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

More than 156,000 troops were launched by sea and air, and 4,400 were confirmed dead by sunset.

At the Bayeux Cemetery service, 95-year-old Frank Baugh gave his own moving, personal account of how he was a signalman on a landing craft that took 200 troops from 2nd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry from Newhaven to Sword beach.

Surrounded by rows and rows of pristine white graves and standing in front of the towering Cross of Sacrifice, the veteran said: ‘My most abiding memory of that day is of seeing our boys. We had been talking to them minutes before they were cut down with machine gun fire…

‘They would fall into the water, floating face down, and we couldn’t get them out.

‘We couldn’t help them and that is my most abiding memory and I can’t forget it.’

He finished his emotional speech, with ‘Thank you for listening’, and a salute.

A man in a World War Two ers American Army uniform smokes a cigarette as the sun goes down in Normandy last night

A man in a World War Two ers American Army uniform smokes a cigarette as the sun goes down in Normandy last night

Earlier there was dancing on the sand of beaches which, 75 years ago that day, were strewn with mines, bullets and bodies

Earlier there was dancing on the sand of beaches which, 75 years ago that day, were strewn with mines, bullets and bodies

Early on Thursday morning, Mrs May and Mr Macron paid their respects at Ver-Sur-Mer, at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial, overlooking Gold Beach where many of the troops arrived on D-Day.

Funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust, the monument will list the names of all 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the Normandy campaign in the summer of 1944.

The start of the day was marked in France at 7.25am local time by lone piper Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) playing a lament on the remaining Mulberry harbour in the town called Port Winston.

This signalled the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.

 

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