D-day veterans make emotional return to Normandy beaches 70 years on

‘I was the only one standing. They hit the landing craft straight away. How they missed me, I don’t know’

Along Normandy’s coastline, simple services were held throughout Thursday. Bugler strains of The Last Post drifted over Sword Beach, the eastern most of the five landing sites, as rheumy-eyed veterans stared out at the sun-kissed expanse of golden sand.

How different it was now to then. “It was so smokey, there was so much noise, the noise was really quite terrific,” remembered Ron Rogers, 96, then a captain with “the Suffolks”. “The Germans were shelling, we had a rocket ship to our right. There were houses on fire in front,” he said, surveying the calm sea from his wheelchair as a child piled a toy tractor with sand just yards away from him.

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D-day 70th anniversary: ‘I remember every detail of the landing even now’

Second world war veterans are joined by serving military personnel and schoolchildren to mark Allied operation that helped win the war but at a terrible cost

They stood to attention as straight as their creaking backs would allow and saluted briskly as a lone bugler high up on the old Pegasus Bridge played the Last Post. A minute’s silence followed; the men bowed their heads, dabbed their eyes and remembered the fallen.

Some made one last heroic effort to rise from their wheelchairs, others leaned on sticks or the arms of relatives and friends. Medals glinted in the morning sunshine; rows and rows of them, pinned to still-proud chests.

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