Tribute for veterans unable to return to Normandy

The guardians of the nation’s war dead have offered to help veterans and families pay their virtual respects to D-Day heroes next month.

The pandemic lockdown has ruled out the annual pilgrimage to the Normandy beaches and key sites, as well as the many memorials and cemeteries which pepper towns and villages across the region.

Instead, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has offered to help, with its gardeners placing tributes bearing the words ‘Their Name Liveth For Evermore’ on the appropriate gravestones at the request of families.

Requests can be submitted online, alongside a message to be displayed on the commission’s digital Wall of Remembrance.

Xavier Puppinck, CWGC’s France area director

While it is sad that we cannot host any large gatherings this summer to pay respect in person, we can still pause and remember.

Since social distancing and travel restrictions were brought in place, it has not been possible for most people to visit CWGC’s war cemeteries and memorials abroad.

However, more than a thousand digital tributes have already been shared with us online since then, showing that even when times are hard today, we can still remember the sacrifices of yesterday.

“When we welcomed thousands of veterans and visitors to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day we couldn’t have imagined how different things would be just one year later.

“While it is sad that we cannot host any large gatherings this summer to pay respect in person, we can still pause and remember,” said Xavier Puppinck, CWGC’s France area director.

To post a message to the digital wall of remembrance or request a tribute be placed in Normandy, visit: www.cwgc.org/share-your-tribute

Two dozen major Royal Navy vessels were lost in Operation Overlord, as well as numerous smaller vessels – notably landing craft – while Royal Marines paid a heavy price for storming Hitler’s Fortress Europe.

Most of the Senior Service dead are commemorated on the national memorials in Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth (there are around 100 casualties from D-Day operations alone on the monument in Portsmouth).

An estimated 470 sailors and Royal Marines are commemorated in Normandy, a fraction of more than 22,000 Commonwealth war dead buried across 18 official CWGC cemeteries throughout the region, although many more graves can be found in churchyards and village cemeteries. In addition, the Bayeux Memorial commemorates 1,800 men and women of the Commonwealth land forces who fell during Operation Overlord and have no known grave.