Scotland marks 75th anniversary of D-Day landings
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon represented Scotland at commemorative events in Bayeux in Normandy.
A lone piper has played on a Normandy beach as part of commemorative events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and paying tribute to those who paid the “ultimate sacrifice”.
Considered a turning point in the Second World War, Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops arrive on French soil from sea and air on June 6 1944, to liberate Europe from the Nazis.
Around 4,400 Allied troops were killed in fighting that day at the start of the battle to free Normandy.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and a commemorative service at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Bayeux war cemetery on Thursday.
She tweeted: “What a privilege today in Bayeux to meet 95-year-old John from Dumfries.
“He was shot through the arm as he landed on Sword beach on D-Day.
“We owe so much to John and his generation.”
The start of the day was marked at 7.25am local time with the tradition of a lone piper playing a lament on the remaining Mulberry harbour on the beach at Arromanches.
This signalled the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach in Normandy.
Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), stood on top of the structure as he performed Highland Laddie, with crowds watching from the beach and promenade.
Speaking after his recital ,he said: “That was nerve wracking to do but I feel very proud and it was a privilege to do it.”
Meanwhile in Edinburgh veterans, many in uniform, attended a service at the French Consulate organised by armed forces charity Legion Scotland and The French Consulate General.
D-Day veteran Jack Adamson, 100, from Falkirk said: “I lost a few pals, it’s them that should be getting the glory – if that’s the right word.
“It does not bear thinking about if you’ve not seen it. (Commemorations like today) are very important, because it lets the younger generations know what the lads went through.
“The boat we were on did not get into the shore, so they put rope ladders down the side of the ship and we climbed into the sea.
“It was alright if you were 6ft tall, but I was 5ft 5ins. You had your rifle above your head, your backpack on, you had two live grenades in each pack – it was quite a struggle to get to the beach.”
D-Day veteran Jack MacMillan, 101, from Edinburgh, who was a major in the Royal Artillery, said he will never forget that day.
He said: “You’re full of awe, first of all, of what is going on.
“Then you have moments where a shell just misses you or something and you are grateful to be still here – that it’s one that missed you.
“At the end of the day, you’re doing a job and the objective is to achieve what you set out to do.
“The Normandy experience is one that one can never possibly forget.”
Other politicians have also paid tribute to those who fought on D-Day.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “75 years ago 156,115 young men huddled onto landing craft, arrived in Normandy.
“They waded through sea and blood and fallen comrades to make towards the sound of the guns. Their courage secured our freedom.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard tweeted: “Today is a day for reflection on the sacrifice and the bravery of those who liberated France and so Europe from the iron heel of Nazi occupation,” while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie tweeted: “We owe them so much.”