HUNDREDS of British veterans - including Newport’s Frank James and Eddie Linton – were joined by world leaders yesterday to mark 70 years since the D-Day landings in northern France.
Around 2,000 World War Two veterans were joined by royalty, politicians and dignitaries at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary D-Day landings in Normandy.
Veterans gathered at Sword Beach in Normandy, one of five landing beaches for the Allies.
For many veterans, now in their late 80s and 90s and who have made the annual pilgrimage to honour the 156,000 Allied troops who stormed the beaches, this year’s events will perhaps be their last at the scene of their exploits.
The Queen laid a wreath at a cemetery in Bayeux during a ceremony attended by about 400 veterans.
Newport’s Frank James, who is 95 years old, also visited the cemetery to pay his respects to his fallen comrades.
For Mr James, a trooper in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, it is an emotional trip back to the beaches where he first saw action - and one in which he will be honoured with a medal for the Mayor of Cruelly - the town he helped to liberate 70 years ago.
Before he left for Normandy, he told the Argus: “I expect it [visiting the beach] will bring back quite a few memories.
“When we went over I was in the ship all night because we were transporting the ammunition for the tanks. Before we could get on the beach we were under heavy German shellfire from the shore – that was the first bit of action I experienced.”
Eddie Linton, 88, who is also at the anniversary events, visited the beaches for the first time last year, and laid a wreath in memory of the 110 fellow crew members who lost their lives when his ship, HMS Mourne, was sunk off the coast of Normandy.
He was one of just 20 survivors from the frigate which was torpedoed by a U-boat.
Events are taking place to commemorate the anniversary in both Normandy and Gwent.
On Sunday the Royal Welsh Comrades Association, City of Newport branch will be hosting a parade and service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The parade will leave Cambrian Road, Newport at 12.45pm and march onto High Street to the D-Day memorial, followed by a short service of remembrance.
Meanwhile in Llanhilleth, Pam Hopkins, custodian of Llanhilleth War Memorial and Rev. Viv Nicholls of Zion Miners Chapel Llanhilleth set the Welsh Standard and the Union Flag on the Llanhilleth War memorial to honour all the Llanhilleth men who went to war.
Among other events, a dance was held at the Newbridge Memo last night to commemorate the anniversary, and Newbridge’s own D-Day veteran, Roy Morton, 92, attended. He was in the Royal Artillery and was one of the first to land on the beaches back in 1944.