Parachutists to fill skies over Normandy for DDay 75th

The skies over the UK and Normandy will be filled with wartime Douglas C47 Dakota aircraft as hundreds of parachutists take part in a mass airdrop to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings in June 2019.

The plans, unveiled by Imperial War Museums (IWM), are part of a programme for the commemoration of the largest seaborne invasion in history, to liberate Europe from German occupation, on 6 June 1944.

United States Air Force C-47A Skytrain - Wiki Image
United States Air Force C-47A Skytrain / Dakota - Wiki Image

An official international ceremony is planned for one of the famous Normandy beaches, and is expected to be attended by many Allied heads of state, anticipated to include the US president and representatives from the royal family.

Before the formal commemoration, up to 300 parachutists will jump into the historic drop zones from a fleet of Dakotas, that supported the airborne assault on German forces.

They will take off from IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire, formerly RAF Duxford, from where US fighter aircraft flew in support of D-day operations.

With more than 30 Dakotas gathering, it will be the first time since the second world war that so many of the aircraft have been assembled. As part of history in the remaking, the parachutists will board the aircraft as they did 75 years ago and fly across the Channel to Normandy for the mass airdrop, organised by Daks Over Normandy.

Few Normandy veterans are still living. The Royal British Legion, together with the Ministry of Defence, is taking 300 veterans to France on a specially chartered ship for the anniversary and is inviting applications.

The Battle of Normandy, or Operation Overlord, was planned in huge secrecy. By midnight on 6 June, 156,000 Allied troops had arrived, with many cut down on the beaches where they landed by fierce German defences. An estimated 4,413 Allied soldiers died on the day of the invasion. By the end of D-day, the allies had established a foothold in France. Within 11 months, Nazi Germany was defeated.

British army Padre conducts memorial service soldiers killed Normandy beachhead
British army Padre conducts memorial service soldiers killed Normandy beachhead

The amphibious assault was preceded by 24,000 troops who parachuted in or came by glider. Supporting the airborne assault were more than 800 Douglas C-47 Skytrains (Dakotas).

A “Daks over Duxford” event will include air displays and mass parachute jumps at the airfield, before the Normandy airdrop, with tickets available through the IWM website.

Other events, to be announced by IWM, and further details can be found on the Royal British Legion websites.


Source: The Guardian / Royal British Legion

Do you have any D-Day heroes in your family?

Maybe you are researching them and your family's military history – search the Forces War Records 'WWII Daily reports (missing, dead, wounded & POWs)' collection, which can be found HERE

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