The future of the free world hung in the balance that day. It was the most ambitious assault – by sea and from the sky – in history.
No wonder plans are already under way for next year’s 80th anniversary of D-Day: June 6, 2024.
And there will be no more spectacular commemoration – on these shores, at least – than the grand D-Day concert that will round off the event in style at the Royal Albert Hall.
Accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, an international celebrity line-up will lead a rousing evening of pageantry, patriotism and high emotion in front of a packed house, including many VIPs, not least the veterans themselves and their families.
Which is why the Daily Mail is proud to give its readers special ‘early-bird’ access to tickets before they go on public sale on Friday.
Plans are already under way for next year’s 80th anniversary of D-Day: June 6, 2024. Pictured: Normandy landings veterans (left to right) Alan King, Len Fox, Peter Hemp, Neville Howell, and David Woodrow walk along Sword Beach in France in 2015
Normandy veterans attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Tactical Air Force Memorial besides Omaha Beach at Vierville-sur-Mer in Normandy on June 4, 2018 near Bayeux, France
Normandy veterans join Royal Navy veteran Patrick Thomas at a memorial service close to the beach at Lion-sur-Mer where his landing craft was hit by a mine on Gold Beach shortly after the D-Day landings killing most of his shipmates, on June 8, 2018 in Caen, Franc
For ‘D-Day 80 – The Anniversary Concert’ is supporting the British Normandy Memorial. This magnificent monument stands above Gold Beach, commemorating all 22,442 British lives lost on D-Day and in the furious Battle of Normandy that followed. All the names are engraved for eternity in stone above the sands.
Astonishingly, Britain was the only Allied nation without a national memorial until the remaining British veterans began fighting for one a few years ago.
Mail readers rallied to their aid with their famous generosity. As the donations poured in, that, in turn, persuaded the Government to come on board.
The result was finally opened in 2021, though the veterans and the memorial trustees have not finished just yet. For there can be no point having this brilliant memorial if future generations have no idea what it stands for. So the next phase will be a new educational centre alongside the memorial and the garden of remembrance. A fresh appeal for that will start soon, boosted by this concert.
The memorial will form the centrepiece of next year’s commemorations over in France. Come nightfall, however, attention will turn to the UK and the Royal Albert Hall, where the concert will be linked up to sites across Normandy and to commemorations around the world. While parts of it may feel like the Last Night of the Proms, there will also be moments of great poignancy, too.
It goes without saying that, 80 years on, this will be the last anniversary at which veterans will be present in significant numbers.
However, they will be the first to point out that this is about those who did not return, men such as William Boardman of 48 (Royal Marine) Commando. Having been part of the invasion of Sicily, the former butcher from Middleport, Staffordshire, was sent to do it all again in Normandy. He never made it beyond Juno Beach after a German shell hit his landing craft on the morning of D-Day.
Before setting off for France, he had left a final letter for his daughter, Helen, aged three, with a little drawing of their home.
It is there on the memorial website. ‘I hope you don’t mind me coming away without you saying goodbye,’ he wrote to her, ‘but I gave you a kiss while you were asleep.’
The Daily Mail is proud to give its readers special ‘early-bird’ access to tickets before they go on public sale on Friday, ROBERT HARDMAN (pictured) has revealed
The grand D-Day concert will round off the event in style at the Royal Albert Hall (pictured)
It is a treasured heirloom for a family who have never forgotten their hero – and nor should we. Hence the importance of events just like this.
‘It is going to be an historic tribute to the greatest generation,’ said Lord Dannatt, chairman of the memorial trustees last night.
‘We remain very grateful to the Mail readers who supported us back when we started campaigning for this memorial, and we look forward to seeing many of them on June 6.’
For the special Mail ‘early-bird’ tickets and further details, visit www.dday80.org and enter code MAIL80 at the checkout.
To donate to the memorial, visit www.britishnormandymemorial.org