D-Day veterans return to Normandy beaches to remember fallen comrades

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An installation made from 20,000 poppies with messages from supporters of the Royal British Legion goes on display to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings at the beaches of Arromanches in Normandy, France (Doug Peters/PA)

D-Day veterans have returned to the beaches where they landed 75 years ago to lay crosses and remember their fallen comrades.

Many of the 250 Second World War heroes on board the Royal British Legion’s cruise ship braved wind and rain to travel to Normandy on Friday.

Some had not returned to beaches such as Gold, Juno and Sword since landing there on June 6 1944.

Trooper Albert Price, 93, was an 18-year-old gunner with the Royal Dragoon Guards when he landed on Gold beach on D-Day.

On Friday, he took Betty – his wife of 67 years – by the hand and walked with her on to the beach for the first time.

Albert and Betty Price
Albert Price stands along the seafront on Gold Beach in Arromanches with his wife Betty (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

The couple, from Solihull, placed a cross in the sand to commemorate Mr Price’s fallen comrades.

Earlier, Mr Price looked at tanks on show on the seafront in Arromanches and pointed out where he had been positioned during the landings.

“I was on the turret – I was firing that,” he told his wife.

“I landed on Gold beach. We didn’t swim in, we waded in.

“They took us right into the shoreline to where all the barrages were, then we went into the water from about halfway up the canvas.

“We were the first on shore because this was the element of surprise.”

As he examined the tank and the canvas on it, he said: “This is a replica, the seams on our tanks were waterproofed.”

D-Day 75th Anniversary
A cross is laid on Gold Beach (Claire Hayhurst)

He said the weather was windy and the sea unsettled when he landed on Gold beach with his comrades.

They had been shown photographs of the beach before setting off from Britain but these did not feature one house with a gun on it, which he said was “a bit of a surprise”.

“There was so much artillery fire on the beach that we couldn’t see across it,” he said.

“It was just black smoke when we landed.”

As they made their way inland, they came across a field of cattle that had been killed by shellfire.

He said they would “bump into” groups of 30-40 German soldiers as they made their way through Normandy.

“They would be defending a field and we would open fire on them until they were dead or had given up,” he said.

Mr Price said he was pleased to take his wife to the places where he served.

D-Day 75th Anniversary
Albert Price returns to the seafront in Arromanches (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

“She knows a little bit here and there from what I have told her – little bits of information,” he said.

“It is a bit strange to be back.”

Mrs Price, who was an evacuee during the war, said she had “never seen anything like” the scene in Arromanches.

“He is so pleased about it all – it is such a big thing,” she said.

Local residents had placed Allied flags outside their homes, along with photographs of those who served on D-Day.

As they walked through the seaside resort, the veterans were approached by French people who shook their hands, asked for autographs and photographs, and told each one: “Thank you”.

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