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RBLI invites families of D-Day veterans to 80th anniversary celebrations on June 6

This year will mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe during the Second World War.

Launched from Kent, Operation Overlord delivered five naval assault divisions to the beaches of Normandy in France, in what was the biggest amphibious military operation the world has ever seen.

The operation involved 300,000 troops
The operation involved 300,000 troops

It involved 4,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft and 300,000 troops from 12 nations, but predominantly British, American, Canadian and the Free French.

The invasion was launched on the morning of June 6, 1944, and by the end of the day, all five beachheads were secure.

The operation marked the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime.

But of course, like all military successes, it came at a cost. The Allies took more than 10,000 casualties in the first 24 hours, with 4,414 troops killed that day.

And the fighting went on for a further 15 months before the Germans surrendered.

The invasion was a success, but came at a heavy cost
The invasion was a success, but came at a heavy cost

Of those who were injured, either physically or mentally, it is known that some later sought help at the Royal British Legion Industries village at Aylesford.

On June 6 this year, the RBLI will be lighting a beacon in their Garden of Remembrance as part of a nationwide celebration of the anniversary.

A poem written by a veteran of a more recent conflict dedicated to the honour of those that fought there will be read and there will be an exhibition about the Normandy landings.

Catherine Goodier, the RBLI’s communications officer, said: “We would like to invite anyone connected with the D-Day landings who perhaps later came to the RBLI for assistance in any way to get in touch and to be our guests at the beacon ceremony.”

Anyone who landed at D-day in 1944 would be at least 98 years old now, but the invitation is extended to the families and descendants of the veterans.

Troops landing at Gold Beach, near Bayeux
Troops landing at Gold Beach, near Bayeux
News of the invasion was followed attentively by those at home
News of the invasion was followed attentively by those at home

Mrs Goodier would also like to hear from anyone who has recollections or mementos from the period that would help with the display.

She said: “There might be a son, daughter, or grandchild whose father/grandfather took part in the D-Day landings who later received support from RBLI. Or who lived in our village after the war ended.

“Or perhaps someone’s mother or grandmother was a plotter in the UK – another essential piece of war work for the Normandy Landings – and they might have photographs and memories of what they were told about their part in the invasion.”.

She can be contacted by email to catherine.goodier@rbli.co.uk

Or by phone on 01622 795992

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