D-Day anniversary commemorations begin in France

COLLEVILLE SUR MER, France (AP) - Veterans of the 1944 Normandy landings gathered on Thursday at the site of history's largest amphibious invasion for a day of ceremonies marking D-Day's 69th anniversary.

Around two dozen United States (US) veterans, some in their old uniforms pinned with medals, stood and saluted during a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial overlooking Omaha Beach, where a US cemetery holds the remains of over 9,000 Americans who died during the vicious battle to storm the French beach under withering Nazi fire.

Commemorations of the June, 6, 1944, battle began in respectful silence early on Thursday morning, with the stars-and-stripes raised in a quiet ceremony at the cemetery.

Tourists, many from the US and Britain, gathered under a brilliant spring sky to witness the flag-raising amid the neat rows of thousands of white marble crosses and stars of David marking the graves of US servicemen and women fallen in the Allied invasion of Normandy.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces led by General Dwight D Eisenhower stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on "D-Day", beginning the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II.

A full day of ceremonies - including fireworks, concerts and marches - was taking place across Normandy in honour of the more than 150,000 troops, mainly US, British and Canadian, who risked or gave their lives in the invasion.

"The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory!" Eisenhower said in an historic address after the invasion was launched.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.