As the world remembers wars and conflicts during Remembrance Weekend, veterans of World War Two commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.
D-Day is the term used for the day when Allied forces invaded Normandy, France to attack Nazi German forces.
English soldier Ken Hay, who took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy, remembers being trapped behind German lines and captured during a night patrol near “Hill 112”.
Hay said, “Thirty of us went out, 16 people including my brother came back, five of us were captured and nine were killed.”
He is now an active ambassador for the British Normandy Memorial located on Gold Beach.
Preparations are underway for next year’s 80th anniversary, with a beautiful rectangular column in Ver-sur-Mer honoring the 22,440 servicemen and two servicemen of more than 30 nationalities who fought between June 6 and August 31, 1944. were killed under British command.
The £30 million monument, financed by bank fines and private donations, consists of 160 stone columns and a ceremonial wall.
Hay, now 98, is involved in raising funds for an educational pavilion to be completed by the 80th anniversary, which will likely include Britain’s King Charles III and French President Emmanuel Macron. With the average age of veterans being 98, it will be an important opportunity to gather those who played a vital role in the push back on the Western Front.
Operations manager Sascha Marsack said, “The fact that the names are presented chronologically means you understand how the fighting unfolded: the days that were particularly fierce.”
“When an entire unit is lost in a single day, all their names are next to each other.”
The memorial is uniquely designed by date of death, providing a chronological understanding of the horrific battles. The neat rows of names, ranks and ages tell personal stories, from four 16-year-olds who probably exaggerated their ages, to soldiers barely 20 years old.
Corporal Sidney Bates, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry, has been awarded a special logo.
Veterans like Hay, who joined at the age of 17 and endured captivity and hardship, emphasize the sacrifices of those who died in the war.
“I joined in 1943 at the age of 17, but they didn’t call me [to serve] Until I was 17 and a half years old; They said I was too young to die,” Hay said in a recent interview.
As the 80th anniversary approaches, the memorial stands as testament to the courage and resilience of those who played a vital role in the liberation of France from Nazi German occupation.