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World leaders head to France for D-Day commemorations

World leaders will gather in France soon to honour the bravery and sacrifices of thousands of Second World War troops on D-Day 70 years ago.

The culmination of a series of events marking the largest airborne and amphibious assault in military history will be held in Normandy on June 6.

Heads of state from 17 nations, including the Queen, will gather for an international ceremony at Sword Beach, one of the five Allied landing beaches across a 50-mile stretch of Normandy coastline.

For many veterans, now in their late 80s and 90s, who have made the annual pilgrimage to honour the 156,000 Allied troops, this year's events will be their last to the scene of their exploits.

The Normandy Veterans' Association, whose numbers have fallen to around 600 from some 15,000, will disband in November and their standard will be laid up at a service in London.

More than 650 UK veterans will journey to France for the commemorations, with 90 more expected in Portsmouth, Hampshire -the embarkation point for much of the invasion force.

Major General Tim Radford, general officer commanding, force troops command, said: "Every serving regular and reserve member of today's armed forces recognises the bravery, commitment and sacrifice of all Allied personnel who took part in the decisive actions of D-Day and the Normandy campaign."

William Moody is one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) team who has been preparing the cemeteries and memorials ahead of the anniversary.

Mr Moody has more than 46 years' experience maintaining the graves of the fallen across the world.

He said: "I feel as though I am passing the legacy of remembrance on to future generations, ensuring that we can always come to these remarkable places to reflect on the courage, sacrifice and the real cost in human terms that these men and women made to preserve our freedom."

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