Hot Seat

Llanelli MP Nia Grif­fith shares her ex­pe­ri­ence of at­tend­ing the D-Day com­mem­o­ra­tions in Nor­mandy

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS -

LAST week, in my ca­pac­ity as Labour’s Shadow De­fence Sec­re­tary, I had the great priv­i­lege of at­tend­ing the D-Day com­mem­o­ra­tions in Nor­mandy.

Along with First Min­is­ter Mark Drake­ford, the Prime Min­is­ter, their Royal High­nesses Prince Charles and the Duchess of Corn­wall, and my own party leader Jeremy Cor­byn, I at­tended the com­mem­o­ra­tive ser­vices in Bayeux Cathe­dral and in Bayeux War Ceme­tery.

Dur­ing the ser­vices, one of the vet­er­ans present, 95-year-old Frank Baugh, read a very mov­ing ac­count of his ex­pe­ri­ence of D-Day as a Royal Navy sig­nal­man, and there were other readings of eyewitness ac­counts, not just of sol­diers but also of air­men and French civil­ians, re­mind­ing us of the huge scale of the op­er­a­tion, which saw some 156,000 Al­lied troops land on the Nor­mandy beaches, of whom some 10,000 were to die on that day alone.

But the great­est priv­i­lege was hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to meet and hear from some of the 300 vet­er­ans, who had trav­elled from all over the UK to sail across the Chan­nel from Portsmouth to Nor­mandy.

They spoke so mod­estly not just of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in D-Day, but also of other cam­paigns they were in­volved in, such as in the Far East.

The oc­ca­sion was all the more poignant be­cause, now in their 90s, this would be for many the last sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary of the events of D-Day.

D-Day was the be­gin­ning of the lib­er­a­tion of France and the Al­lies’ even­tual de­feat of the Nazis, with their hideous fas­cist ide­ol­ogy which had per­se­cuted and killed Roma, gay peo­ple and six mil­lion Jews.

We must never for­get that ter­ri­ble suf­fer­ing, nor the im­mense sac­ri­fices made to de­feat the Nazis.

And we owe it to those who fought and gave their lives for our free­dom to value that free­dom, and to speak out loudly and clearly against an­ti­semitism and all forms of racism and prej­u­dice.

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