Seven decades ago today, at 7.25am on June 6, 1944, more than 135,000 Allied troops risked their lives landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
The operation was one of the largest seaborne invasions ever seen, with thousands making the ultimate sacrifice or suffering appalling injuries in some of the Second World War’s bloodiest scenes.
Today, the soldiers who have survived to tell the tale are dignified gentlemen in their 80s and 90s, contrasting poignantly with photographs from the time, which depict them in uniform as fresh-faced young men in their late teens and early 20s.
Inevitably, as there are fewer people for whom the conflict is a living memory, the events begin to recede further into history.
And while Normandy veterans may return individually to France to pay their respects, the 2014 anniversary will undoubtedly be the last time D-Day is commemorated on such a scale with large group visits.
Now it is up to younger generations to make sure the soldiers’ brave and courageous actions are never forgotten.
These brave men fought to protect our way of life in some of Europe’s darkest days - changing the course of history forever in the process.
by Richard Blackledge