D-Day: British memorial opens in France honoring soldiers killed in Battle of Normandy

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June 6 (UPI) — A memorial honoring the British soldiers who died during the landings on Normandy opened in France on the 77th anniversary of D-Day on Sunday.

The names of 22,442 soldiers who died during the Battle of Normandy were engraved in stone and unveiled at a ceremony on a hill at Ver-sur-Mer, with limited attendance for the second consecutive year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“It’s a great privilege to be here today. We have wonderful cemeteries in the area nd this is a final permanent reminder. It’s a reminder of the 22,000-plus young men who were gone so we could live the sort of lives we have now,” said 97-year-old David Mylchresst, one of the few veterans who were present for the event.

Other attendees included American Charles Norman Shay, 96, and 97-year-old Leon Gaultier of Britain.

French Armies Minister Florence Parly also laid a wreath at the edge of the site where an estimated 20,000 French citizens were killed during the battle.

“We know what we owe the soldiers of liberty. Today we pay homage to the British soldiers. France will never forget. France is forever grateful,” said Parly.

In total, about 4,300 people were killed on June 6, 1944, alone as more than 156,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel to invade Nazi-occupied Europe in the largest invasion in history.

“On the 77th anniversary of D-Day, we honor the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy and liberated a continent. We will never forget their courage and sacrifice,” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson quoted U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s D-Day speech, writing on Twitter that “the eyes of the world were upon” the soldiers who stormed Normandy that day.

“The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere marched with them,” Johnson wrote. “77 years on, we thank and remember them.”