ALL NEWS

World War II veterans honored a day before D-Day anniversary

Jun 6, 2022, 7:44 AM | Updated: 7:45 am
British veterans Roy Maxwell and Mary Scott arrive in a British Taxi Charity for Military Veterans ...
British veterans Roy Maxwell and Mary Scott arrive in a British Taxi Charity for Military Veterans to the ceremony at Pegasus Bridge, in Ranville, Normandy, Sunday, June, 5, 2022. On Monday, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, home to the gravesites of 9,386 who died fighting on D-Day and in the operations that followed, will host U.S. veterans and thousands of visitors in its first major public ceremony since 2019. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
(AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

RANVILLE, France (AP) — More than 20 British World War II veterans gathered Sunday near Pegasus Bridge in northwestern France, one of the first sites liberated by Allied forces from Nazi Germany, for commemorations honoring the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the U.S., Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Veterans, their families and French and international visitors braved the rainy weather to take part in series of events this weekend and on Monday for the 78th anniversary of D-Day.

Related:  Gail Halvorsen, the ‘Candy Bomber’ has died at age 101

This year’s D-Day anniversary comes after two successive years of the COVID-19 pandemic restricted or deterred visitors. Many felt the celebrations paying tribute to those who brought peace and freedom on the continent held special meaning this year as war is raging again in Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Dozens of U.S. veterans were also attending events in the region, ahead of Monday’s ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, home to the gravesites of 9,386 who died fighting on D-Day and in the operations that followed.

Peter Smoothy, 97, served in the British Royal Navy and landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

“The first thing I remember are the poor lads who didn’t come back … It’s a long time ago now, nearly 80 years … And here we are still living,” he told The Associated Press. “We’re thinking about all these poor lads who didn’t get off the beach that day, their last day, but they’re always in our minds.”

Welcomed to the sound of bagpipes at the Pegasus Memorial in the French town of Ranville, British veterans attended a ceremony commemorating a key operation in the first minutes of the Allied invasion of Normandy, when troops had to take control a strategically crucial bridge.

Bill Gladden, 98, took part to the D-Day British airborne operation and was later shot while defending the bridge.

“I landed on D-Day and was injured on the 18th of June … So I was three years at the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the British side of the Channel, then 17-year-old Mary Scott was working at the communications center in Portsmouth, listening to the coded messages coming from the front line and passing them on as part of the operations on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches.

“The war was in my ears,” she recalled, describing the radio machine she operated via levers.

“When they (communication officers) had to respond to my messages and they lifted their lever, you heard all the sounds of the men on the beaches: bombs, machine guns, men shouting, screaming.”
Scott, who will soon turn 96, said she got very “emotional” when arriving to Normandy on Saturday on a trip organized by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. She was in tears when seeing the D-Day beaches.

“Suddenly I thought maybe some of those young men I spoke to… that they had died,” she said.

The symbol is even stronger as across the Channel, Queen Elizabeth II, who served in World War II as an army driver and mechanic, is celebrating her 70 years on the throne.

“Women were involved,” Scott stressed. “I mean, I’m enormously proud to have been a minute part of Operation Overlord.”

Scott’s face turned to sadness when she mentioned the war in Ukraine.

“Why can’t we learn from past experiences? Why can’t we do that? What’s wrong with us?” she asked. “War should teach us something but it never penetrates for very long.”

Many visitors this year came to see the monuments marking the key moments of the fight and show their gratitude to the soldiers. World War II history enthusiasts dressed in wartime uniforms were seen in jeeps and military vehicles on the small roads of Normandy.

Greg Jensen, 51, came with his 20-year-old daughter from Dallas. On Saturday, they visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, overlooking Omaha Beach.

“I took a moment to just hold the sand and you think, gosh, the blood that was spilled to give me that moment and the freedom to hold that sand,” he said. “That was emotional for me.”

“I hope a lot of this younger generation is watching because we can’t forget what happened 78 years ago,” Jensen said, especially thinking of the fighting in Ukraine.

Andy Hamilton, a 57-year-old retired police officer, came on holiday with his family, including his two 8-year-old grandsons, from Shropshire in England.

“We’re now showing our respects of the sites here and to give the grandchildren a sense of what World War II was like … and the amount of people that have given their lives to sacrifice for the freedom of everyone,” he said.

On D-Day, Allied troops landed on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. On that single day, 4,414 Allied soldiers lost their lives, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were wounded. On the German side, several thousand were killed or wounded.

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Nicole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, wipes away a tear during a press conference for SB117, a bi...
SAM METZ, The Associated Press

Petito family lobbies for ‘lethality assessment’ law in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When officers pulled over a van for speeding outside of Arches National Park in August 2021, they found a visibly distraught young couple in an emotional fight. Gabby Petito, 22, and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, were driving across the United States, and upon observing the couple, police officers in […]
7 hours ago
Utah State University researchers measure the temperature at minus 10 degrees in the Logan Canyon M...
Mark Jones

Monday morning’s cold temperatures nearly set new records

Cold temperatures Monday morning in northern Utah nearly set new records.
1 day ago
education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
1 day ago
Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due ...
Devin Oldroyd

Freezing weather causes delayed start for Cache County School District schools

Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due to weather conditions.
1 day ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
1 day ago
A two-vehicle crash Monday morning on U.S. Highway 40 claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. Photo ...
Mark Jones

Crash in Uintah County claims the life of a 19-year-old man

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A 19-year-old man died Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash occurred near milepost 137 at 7:11 a.m. The UHP says a 2017 Nissan Rouge was heading westbound. The 19-year-old victim was the driver of the Nissan Rouge. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
World War II veterans honored a day before D-Day anniversary