Posts Tagged ‘70th’

VJ Day 70th anniversary: a veteran’s story

August 14th, 2015

The Radar Technician was soon diverted to Singapore at short notice to fight the Japanese.

Gordon was on board a ship bound for Singapore

The group of ten men in his convoy were sent to guard a refinery armed only with one service rifle and ten rounds of ammunition each.

After the refinery was taken by Japanese paratroopers, Gordon and his group of men were forced to flee to Java – only to be captured by the Japanese and taken to a PoW camp in Hiroshima.

Only when the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima was Gordon freed

He would remain in the camp until he was 25, when the Atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“I still have nightmares about this but was lucky to come home. Some people say they should not have dropped the Atom Bomb on Japan,” says Gordon.

“In my opinion if they had not nearly all the PoWs would have died or been killed by the Japanese.”

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Dresden bombings: Thousands form human chain for 70th anniversary

February 14th, 2015

German president Joachim Gauck and Dresden mayor Helma Orosz took part in the chain, after both earlier addressed an audience inside the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, nearby.

Nazi propaganda from 1945 put the death toll from the raids at 200,000 and after the war some scholars estimated as many as 135,000 thousand were killed.

More than the combined total of those immediately killed by the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After neo-Nazis began inflating the figure further, talking of 500,000 to 1 million victims of a “bombing Holocaust,” the city established an expert commission to investigate.

It concluded in 2008 that closer to 25,000 people were killed in the attack.

The firebombing of Dresden: archive footage

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D-Day veterans gather for 70th anniversary of Normandy landings

June 2nd, 2014

Veterans from the D-Day landings have had a chance to see the boat used by Churchill and Eisenhower to review the armada ahead of the Normandy landings which changed the course of the Second World War.

More than 30 former servicemen, all in their 80s and 90s, have travelled from the US to join 50 British and European veterans to visit the D-Day boats at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Hampshire, before they travel over to France for the 70th anniversary commemorations in Normandy.

Among the veterans were members of the The Millin Pipe Team who have travelled with their families and carers from the Scottish Highlands en route to Sword Beach.

They are commemorating Piper Bill Millin who played his pipes while the D-Day landings went on around him to inspire the troops.

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D-Day 70th anniversary travel guide: events and tours in Normandy

April 17th, 2014

Only a privileged few can attend the governmental ceremonies, but the anniversary week will also see several large-scale public events. The most spectacular is likely to be a huge firework display on the evening of June 5, which will be visible from 24 beachfront towns. There will also be a massive picnic on Omaha Beach on the evening of Saturday June 7, featuring a Glenn Miller tribute band, while that same evening Bayeux, which became the first town in France to be liberated on June 7, 1944, will mark the anniversary with a Liberation Ball and an open-air jazz and gospel concert. Other events will include an outdoor film screening and concert at Arromanches on June 6; a children’s international football tournament in various coastal towns on June 7 and June 8; and 1940s flash mobs dancing in the streets of Carentan on June 7, and Ste-Mère-Église on June 8.

The crucial role of parachutists in the Allied invasion will be honoured by mass parachute jumps over Carentan at 1pm on June 4; Ste-Marie-du-Mont at 7.30pm on June 5; near Ranville, close to Pegasus Bridge, later that evening; and over Ste-Mère-Eglise at 11am at June 8. Members of the public can even join tandem parachute jumps at Ste-Mère-Eglise on June 6 and June 7 (€365 per person; 0033 233 21 00 33), while the Patrouille de France, the French equivalent of the RAF’s Red Arrows, will perform above Arromanches at 4pm on June 7.

Vintage military vehicles will parade along Omaha Beach from Vierville-sur-Mer on June 5; in Ste-Mère-Église on June 6; between Grandcamp-Maisy and Isigny-sur-Mer on June 7; through the streets of Bayeux and Carentan on Sunday June 8; and in Arromanches on June 9.

During the anniversary week, several communities will host reconstructions of Allied camps. The Arizona camp in Carentan is expected to welcome 420 participants and 150 military vehicles, and similar encampments will open in Colleville-sur-Mer, St-Laurent-sur-Mer, Vierville-sur-Mer and Ste-Mère-Église.

Accommodation is already over-subscribed for the anniversary week itself, though places are still available on some of the tours listed below. Visit at any other time during the summer, however, and it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to stay in the low-key resorts that line the invasion beaches, or the towns of Bayeux and Caen just inland.

Pegasus Bridge

Telegraph Travel’s D-Day drive

You don’t need a special itinerary through Normandy to see the impact of the 1944 Allied invasion. The effects are everywhere, from the reconstructed hearts of bombed-out cities like Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre to countless damaged village churches. That said, for anyone interested in tracing the course of the Battle of Normandy, honouring the soldiers who took part, and learning more about how and why the D-Day landings took place, driving westwards along the Invasion beaches is an immensely rewarding experience and our Normandy guide includes an ideal itinerary to follow.

Before you start your tour, it’s well worth visiting either or both of the museums, a few miles back from the coast, that best explain the overall story. The Caen Memorial, just off the ring road that circles Caen, documents the build-up to war and life in occupied France as well as the invasion itself, and also covers postwar attempts to bring about world peace. The Musée Mémorial, on the edge of Bayeux, describes the battle itself, using easy-to-follow graphics as well as genuine artifacts.

Organised Tours

A selection of UK-based tour operators offering D-Day themed tours and cruises this year can be found here. They include: Holts Tours (01293 865000;, Leger (0844 504 6251;, Travelsphere (0800 112 3313;, Trafalgar (0800 533 5616;, Titan (0800 988 5823;, Shearings (0844 824 6351;, Martin Randall (020 8742 3355;, Remembrance Travel (01473 660800; and The Cultural Experience (01935 813700; Other operators offering bus or van tours of D-Day sites include the Caen Memorial museum (, Normandy Sightseeing Tours (, Victory Tours (, and Normandy Tours ( The D-Day Academy ( explores the Landing Beaches in vintage military trucks, with some trips including adventurous drives over rough battlefield terrain and tastings of 1944 foods, while Les Vedettes de Normandie run boat excursions from Port en Bessin to the Pointe du Hoc, Arromanches, and along Omaha Beach (

A great resource for active travellers, details self-guided walking routes along the Landing Beaches as well as guided hikes to battlefields and monuments on weekends throughout May and into June. The programme continues all summer, featuring organized hikes to different destinations each Wednesday during July and August.

That same website also itemizes seven self-guided D-Day cycling itineraries of varying lengths, with links to cycle-friendly accommodation, plus four organized one-day cycling excursions between May and August. On six dates in July and August, anyone aged ten or over can also join an offshore kayaking trip from Grandcamp-Maisy to see the fearsome heights of the Pointe du Hoc, as stormed by American commandos at dawn on D-Day. The site also details a three-day horse-riding trip from Utah Beach to Mont-Ormel, starting on August 20, and Nordic walking expeditions along Sword and Omaha beaches on September 20 and 21.

No single website lists the full programme of events, but useful options include;;;;

Getting to Normandy

The following ferry operators offer crossings to Normandy ports. For full details see Newhaven-Dieppe

DFDS Seaways (0800 917 1201;, operated with LD Lines); Brittany Ferries (0871 244 1400; and Condor (0845 609 1024;

More on France

Normandy travel guide
A complete travel guide to Normandy, including the best hotels, attractions, restaurants, beaches and scenic drives, from our expert Greg Ward.

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