Nicola Sturgeon ‘honoured’ to represent Scotland at D-Day memorial events

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is honoured to represent the people of Scotland as she attends events in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Considered a turning point in the Second World War, Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops arrive on French soil from sea and air on June 6, 1944 to fight the Nazis.

Around 4,400 Allied troops were killed in fighting that day at the start of the battle to liberate Normandy.

Ms Sturgeon is due to attend a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and a commemorative service at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Bayeux war cemetery.

Robert Johnston
Robert Johnston, 96, was a gunner on HMS Scylla on D-Day (Erskine/PA)

She said: “It is a great honour to represent the people of Scotland at the commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Scotland owes a great debt of gratitude to all those who served during the Second World War, especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“It is important that current and future generations continue to learn of the events that took place on this day 75 years ago, so that we can strive to ensure that such conflict is never repeated.

“It is also important the generations to come understand and recognise that it is the actions of those who served that allow us to enjoy the freedoms we now take for granted.”

Other politicians have also paid tribute to those involved in D-Day.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “Across Scotland we remember the ingenuity, courage and commitment of all those who were part of such a pivotal moment in modern history.

“We remember all of those who didn’t make it home, giving their lives so that we have the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Jamie Stone said: “Today we remember those who landed on the beaches of Normandy at the D-Day landings and the courage displayed by all who risked their future for our today.

“We acknowledge our huge debt of gratitude to all those who went to fight and remember those who did not return.”

Among those with clear memories of the day are veteran Robert Johnston, 96, now resident in Erskine Glasgow home.

Aged 20, he was a gunner on HMS Scylla, which was tasked with providing fire cover for the beaches of Gold, Sword and Juno where British and Canadian troops landed.

He said: “I wasn’t frightened, I was only 20.

“We were told Scylla, see what you can do there, we went along and we knocked them out and the big cheers come up.”

In Edinburgh a service will take place at the French Consulate to commemorate the anniversary.

The event has been organised by Armed Forces charity Legion Scotland and The French Consulate General.

Commando memorial
Sets of bootprints have been installed at the Commando Memorial (There But Not There/PA)

Meanwhile, at Lochaber in the Highlands 75 sets of bootprints have been installed leading up to the Commando memorial, which is dedicated to the original British Commando Forces raised during the Second World War.

They are part of the latest campaign from Remembered, the armed forces charity behind the “There But Not There” Tommy campaign, which ran last year to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The campaign aims to raise money for unemployed veterans around the UK.

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