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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Up to 10,000 veterans mark D-Day
D-Day landings
The D-Day landings were a turning point in World War II
Up to 10,000 British veterans will mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day by travelling to Normandy.

Veterans Minister Ivor Caplin said between 7,000 and 10,000 veterans were expected to attend the 40 events planned for the weekend of 5-6 June.

Families and supporters will boost the total number to 25,000, as well as the Queen and leaders of the UK, US, France and Russia, he said.

The events will mark the decisive Allied invasion of June 1944.

Joining Prime Minister Tony Blair, US President George Bush, French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony at Arromanches to commemorate Operation Overlord, will be - controversially - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Timetable of events June 6
0900 Franco-American ceremony begins at the US cemetery in Colleville
1100 Bi-national service at British Cemetery Bayeux
1430 International march past on cliff top Arromanches
1730 French national ceremony in Ouistream
1730 British veterans march in Arromanches
1820 French German ceremony in Caen
All timings are local

The Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) were pleased with the commemoration, having earlier criticised the British Government for poor organisation.

The national chairman of the association, Lesley Frost, said on Wednesday he was "very happy" with the support offered to veterans by the Ministry of Defence.

"It will make an enormous contribution to the success of the Normandy commemorations," he said.

"Veterans have been able to express and set out their needs and difficulties and the MoD has responded very positively."

Free passports

President Chirac will present representatives of 16 nations with the insignia of the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honour.

However, it will not be given to the German representative.

In a further commemoration of the British people's contribution to World War II, the UK Government is to offer everyone over the age of 75 a free passport.

They say up to 4.5 million people whose birthdays fall on or before 2 September 1929 will be eligible when the scheme is launched later this year.

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