FOR the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic started, Allied veterans, their families and other visitors will gather to commemorate the 78th anniversary of D-Day.

The largest seaborne invasion in history and one of the most pivotal events of the Second World War, D-Day saw almost 160,000 Allied troops land in Normandy on 6 June, 1944, and would eventually lead to the liberation of France, victory in Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany less than a year later.

Allied troops from Britain, the US, Canada and elsewhere landed on beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, June, Sword and Gold, carried by 7000 boats. On the day that followed, over 4400 Allied soldiers lost their lives, while over 5000 were wounded.

READ MORE: Second World War veterans honoured on eve of D-Day anniversary

The world subsequently learned of D-Day through a radio address by Allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said: “People of Western Europe: A landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force… I call upon those who love freedom to stand with us now. Together we shall achieve victory.”

Events planned for this year’s anniversary include a ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which contains the gravesites of 9386 soldiers who died during D-Day and in subsequent operations. Others who have arrived in Normandy over the past weekend have visited key monuments to D-Day and the battles which followed.

On the eve of the anniversary, over 20 British veterans were greeted by the sound of bagpipes in the French town of Ranville near Pegasus Bridge, one of the first sites to be liberated by Allied forces following the invasion.

On June 4, other veterans participated in a parade of military vehicles in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French village to be liberated from Nazi occupation, to the applause of thousands of onlookers.