Trudeau arrives in United Kingdom for start of the D-Day commemorations

News source from CTV News

LONDON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the United Kingdom with U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders today to begin two days of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

It was exactly 75 years ago Wednesday that thousands of Canadian, American and British soldiers boarded a massive flotilla of ships off the southern coast of England to begin the fateful assault on Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944.

That assault on the beaches of Normandy, the largest seaborne invasion in history, marked a major turning point in the Second World War and spelled the beginning of the end of Nazi rule in Europe.

But the battle came at a heavy cost: 359 Canadians were killed and another 715 wounded or captured on D-Day, while more than 5,000 would die in fierce fighting over the next two months.

During an elaborate ceremony in the British city of Portsmouth, Trudeau and the other leaders will remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought on D-Day.

Trudeau, in particular, is expected to recount the hard lessons the Allies learned two years before D-Day, when Canadian and British troops launched what would ultimately be a disastrous raid on the French port city of Dieppe.

More than 900 Canadians were killed at Dieppe in August 1942 and nearly 2,000 more were captured, a horrendous loss that nonetheless helped D-Day planners better prepare for the real invasion of France.

Trump, May, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Queen will also deliver remarks during the 90-minute ceremony, which will be attended by some of the same veterans who embarked for Normandy decades earlier.

A larger group of veterans will be in France on Thursday when Trudeau and the other leaders mark the actual anniversary of the invasion with several different ceremonies, including where the Canadians came ashore — Juno Beach.

Many of those veterans are now in their 90s, but still vividly remember loading into their ships in England on June 5, 1944, and crossing the English Channel that night for their attack on the coast of Normandy.

“We were going across the channel and we didn’t sleep all night long for the most part and I got up and decided to go take a look,” 95-year-old veteran Joseph Edwardson recalled in a recent interview.

“I went up the stairs and all I could see was ships. Ships, ships, ships all the way around.”

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