D-Day Landings anniversary: Poignant scenes as World War Two veterans return to Normandy

A convoy of more than 90 of London's black cabs carried World War Two veterans back to the battlegrounds of Normandy, the location of the D-Day landings. Getty Images photographer Matt Cardy accompanied the cabbies and veterans as they returned to northern France.

London taxis carrying veterans arrive at the Pegasus Bridge Museum in CaenMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Veterans share a joke as they pose for a photograph in the garden of a house near Caen where they experienced heavy fighting following D-Day in 1944Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Paratrooper Bill Gladden (6th Airborne - Armoured Recce Regiment) and Geoff Pattinson (6th Airborne - 9th Bn Para) share a joke as they commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images

After laying wreaths to those lost at sea, veterans visited Pegasus Bridge for a ceremony commemorating the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, when the allied forces began the liberation of mainland Europe from Nazi Germany's occupation. The Caen Canal bridge at Bénouville was captured by units of the 6th Airborne Division and was renamed Pegasus Bridge in tribute to the Airborne Forces who wore the emblem of the winged horse on their sleeves.

Veterans arrive at the Pegasus Bridge Museum for a service to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Joan De-Vall, 92, who was an anti-aircraft height finder and predictor, listens as veterans and guests at the Pegasus Bridge Museum to take part in a service to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Veterans arrive at the Pegasus Bridge Museum for a service to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bill Bray, 7th Para, commemorates the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Veterans and guests at the Pegasus Bridge Museum take part in a service to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Denzil Cooper is awarded the Legion d'Honneur at the Pegasus Bridge MuseumMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Military veterans and passengers gather for a wreath-laying ceremony at sea on board the Brittany cross-channel ferry Normandie, travelling from Portsmouth to Caen to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landingsMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Joan De-Vall, 92, who was an anti-aircraft height finder and predictor during the war, holds a wreath onboard the Brittany cross-channel ferry NormandieMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Military veterans and passengers gather for a wreath-laying ceremony at seaMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Tom Schaffer, 91, who was a paratrooper during the battle of the Ardennes throws a wreath into the seaMatt Cardy/Getty Images
A veteran sheds a tear during a wreath-laying ceremony at sea on board the Brittany cross-channel ferry Normandie, travelling from Portsmouth to CaenMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Military veterans and passengers gather for a wreath-laying ceremony at sea onboard the Brittany cross-channel ferry NormandieMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Veteran Peter Kent, 92, sings in the bar onboard the Brittany cross-channel ferry NormandieMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Harry Bailey, 95, who was in the Royal Army Service Corps during the Normandy campaign, poses for a photograph on the deck of the ferryMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Veterans and their families enjoy the entertainment onboard the Brittany cross-channel ferry NormandieMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Veterans and their families enjoy the entertainment onboard the Brittany cross-channel ferry NormandieMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Len Brace, aged 94, who took part in the D-Day landings with the 11th Air Formation Signal Regiment, stands by a taxi before setting off for NormandyMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Owen Butcher, aged 93, and Major Ted Hunt pose in a taxi before setting off to the beaches of Normandy with the Taxi Charity for Military VeteransMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Former glider pilot Frank Ashleigh, aged 92, stands by a taxi before setting off for the beaches of NormandyMatt Cardy/Getty Images

During their five-day trip, the veterans will lay wreaths at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery (CWGC) at Ranville, attend a Royal British Legion Service at Bayeux CWGC and a reception given by the Mayor of Caen at the Town Hall.

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The journey to Northern France is expected to be the last large-scale trip organised by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans – formerly known as The London Benevolent Association for War Disabled – as the number of World War Two veterans who are able to travel declines.

On 6 June 1944, Operation Overlord – aimed at liberating German-occupied western Europe – commenced as Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. In what became known as the D-Day landings, British, US and Canadian soldiers descended on the beaches in an operation that turned the tide of the Second World War against the Nazis, marking the beginning of the end of the conflict. More than 61,000 Britons were among the 150,000 troops who took part in the landings, in which thousands lost their lives.

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