Daily Mail

Mail salutes 80th D-Day anniversar­y concert for our heroes

Readers get early ticket access to Albert Hall tribute show...

- by Robert Hardman

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.

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 anni versary 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.’

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

A rousing evening of high emotion

 ?? ?? Landing zone: Veterans on Sword Beach, Normandy
Landing zone: Veterans on Sword Beach, Normandy
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