D-Day: Parades and beacons in Wales to mark 80th anniversary

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Jordan Davies,Catriona Aitken

BBC Jim LewisBBC

“It’s difficult to tell people about it,” says 104-year-old veteran Jim Lewis

The 80th anniversary of D-Day has been marked with events across Wales.

The allied liberation of Europe has been celebrated by veterans and families, while remembering those who lost their lives during World War Two.

Thousands of troops from across the world stormed the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944, to free Europe from Nazi oppression.

Welsh troops have been recognised in ceremonies, both in northern France and at home.

D-Day: 100-year-old veteran revisits Normandy eight decades on

First Minister Vaughan Gething – who was unable to attend his planned D-Day engagements in Portsmouth on Wednesday due to facing a confidence vote in the Senedd – laid a wreath at the memorial for the south Wales borderers in Asnelles, Normandy on Thursday.

In Swansea, Blind Veterans UK organised a ceremony at the Grand Hotel for veterans from across south Wales.

Cyril “Jim” Lewis, 104, fought in north Africa and Italy and said it was exceptionally important anniversaries like this were marked, because a lot of people did not return from the war.

“Some think that it should be stopped, remembrance, but they’re wrong, because a lot of young boys went over there,” he said.

“It’s difficult to tell people about it, because they don’t understand.”

Raymond Jones

Raymond Jones, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, says there were “scores” of D-Day casualties

Raymond Jones, 97, from Aberavon served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and said the casualties as a result of D-Day were staggering.

“We were getting messages back from France about the casualties. There were scores of casualties – you knew something big was going on all the time.

“They were killed as they were going ashore. When the landing ramps went down, they were facing a barrage of bullets and machine guns… They were full of guts, the blokes that did it.”

Wrexham parade

A D-Day commemoration parade was held in Wrexham, starting at St Giles church

Meanwhile, a D-Day anniversary was held in Wrexham, starting from St Giles Church.

The procession marched to the Normandy veterans’ memorial at Bodhyfryd, where a wreath-laying service took place.

“Their sacrifices and bravery helped secure the freedom we enjoy today, and it’s so important that we remember what they did for us,” said councillor Beverley Parry-Jones.

People gathered for D-Day event in Wrexham

People have gathered at events across the country to pay their respects to fallen soldiers while celebrating the success of the D-Day landings

In Bridgend county, remembrance services were held at Maesteg Cenotaph and St Michael’s Church, Maesteg, as well as a wreath-laying at Bridgend Cenotaph and a parade through Porthcawl.

A “peace lamp” will also be lit by Pyle and Kenfig Hill Veterans’ Association.

“We are extremely proud of our wartime heritage, and it is so important to recognise and remember the courageous, selfless efforts and sacrifices of those who participated in World War Two,” said Carys Lord, of Bridgend council.

A beacon lighting will take place on Parys Mountain, Amlwch on Anglesey on Thursday evening, with the deputy lieutenant of Gwynedd and the station commander of RAF Valley in attendance.

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