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