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D-Day Landings: Anniversaries

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department plans to take to assist veterans to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. (269012)

It has been the policy of successive Governments that special commemorations are only initiated by the Ministry of Defence for key anniversaries and centennials of events of the greatest national significance. Other anniversaries do not receive MOD sponsorship at public expense.

I understand that the French Government are arranging an international commemoration in France to mark the D-Day anniversary. Ministers and Service Chiefs are keen to become involved in these events and await official invitations.

In the region of 1,000 members of the armed forces will be in Normandy in June, as many are each year and current members of units which fought on D-Day will stand alongside veterans at wreath laying ceremonies in France.

The Big Lottery Fund have recently agreed to pay travel costs for veterans wishing to attend the commemorations this year and those who have already arranged their own travel will also be reimbursed.

Finally, in the UK the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) are holding their own wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in London on Sunday 21 June, accompanied by the band of the Welsh Guards, and to follow that we are working with the NVA on the possibility of a church service.