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Sunday, June 6, 1999 Published at 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK


D-Day veterans remember 55 years on

D-Day veterans remember their fallen comrades

Veterans have gathered in Normandy for the 55th aniversary of the D-Day landings.

The ex-soldiers, who began the push to liberate Europe in World War II, are meeting up for their last memorial service of the millennium.

[ image: June 1944: A turning point in WWII]
June 1944: A turning point in WWII
Around 1,200 members of the Normandy Veterans Association are attending a service at the Bayeaux Military Cemetery in honour of the men who died capturing the landing beaches on 6 June 1944.

The cemetery is the last resting place of 3,935 British servicemen, and as many as 2,500 old soldiers. Their families and special guests are expected to attend the ceremony.

Ex-servicemen and their families have also been visiting Pegasus Bridge, near Caen - the first point in mainland Europe to be liberated from the Nazis. The bridge was taken by glider bourne British troops in the early hours of 6 June and held until relieved by other British forces later in the day.

Major Jon Howard, who commanded the 180 members of the 6th Airborne Division, was later awarded the DSO and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme.

Major Howard, who regularly attended commemorations in Normandy, died last month at the age of 84. Eddie Hannath, 78, general secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association, said: "Some people go over every year, but we do not have a big one like this each year.

Veterans march

"A lot of them are getting on a bit, and pocket money is not as good as it was, and the travel all makes it difficult.

"The big ones are normally every five years and we are already planning one for the 60th anniversary in 2004.

"We daren't look back, we must look forward and there will certainly be people able to go."

Mr Hannath, from the Royal Hampshire Regiment, said: "They are all young lads, anywhere from 75 years old upwards.

"They will march with their blazers on and their medals and berets with their regimental badges on."

The religious service in the cemetery is to be followed by a visit to Sword Beach, one of the landing beaches, near the French village of Colleville-Montgomery.

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