On Thursday 6th June, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and later in the month we mark Armed Forces Day on the Saturday 29th.
The significance of the landings on the beaches of Normandy – or Operation Neptune (more commonly known as D-Day) – cannot be overplayed. It was the major turning point in the war and the start of the Allies’ liberation of Europe from the Nazis.
The anniversary will be commemorated with events taking place on Southsea Common, Portsmouth and on the beaches of Normandy with surviving veterans, senior members of the Royal Family, and military commanders from the 14 allied nations that took part. A flotilla of Royal Navy warships, including frigates and minehunters, will carry out a sailpast in the Solent and the events will involve 4,000 personnel. At least 11 Royal Navy vessels will take part and there will be a flypast with aircraft from the Red Arrows to the iconic Spitfire.
As a former soldier and former Minister for the Armed Forces, this is an important and significant event to remember. We owe much to everyone who played their part in World War 2 and especially those who gave their lives so we could live in freedom. D-Day was when things started to go our way and in the days that followed the allies pushed inland and events will be held at towns in northern France to mark their liberation.
It has been a great honour, through my work with and Royal British Legion and meeting with local branches. I have met many World War 2 veterans from our area and many of them have incredible stories to tell. We must never forget that we owe them so much.
This month also marks Armed Forces Day, on Saturday 29th June. For the third year running, I am pleased to say that Dacorum Borough Council is organising a family event in Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead. I encourage people to attend to show their support for the Armed Forces. It’s set to be a great day out for the whole family as well as being a chance to show our respect and support for those who wear the Queen’s uniform to defend the freedoms we hold dear.
(Photo: Mike Penning visiting UK armed forces in Uganda)