Warwickshire Fusiliers remember veterans as they take part in D-Day commemorations in Normandy

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Warwickshire soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (1RRF), gathered with veterans, royalty and world leaders to take part in the D-Day 80 commemorations in Northern France.

The Fusiliers represented the Army in the tri-service guard of honour at the UK’s national commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-Sur-Me and at a candle-lit vigil at the Bayeux War Cemetery.

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Bayeux was the first city to be liberated by the British on June 7.

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The Royal British Legion held a service of commemoration attended by around 1,000 people, including D-Day veterans, descendants of those who fought, veterans’ relatives and members of the public. Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War in France. It contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 338 of them unidentified.Pictured: Fusiliers and RAF Regiment march on as the Guard of Honour at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Vigil. Photo by Petty Officer Joel Rouse/ UK MOD Crown copyrightThe Royal British Legion held a service of commemoration attended by around 1,000 people, including D-Day veterans, descendants of those who fought, veterans’ relatives and members of the public. Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War in France. It contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 338 of them unidentified.Pictured: Fusiliers and RAF Regiment march on as the Guard of Honour at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Vigil. Photo by Petty Officer Joel Rouse/ UK MOD Crown copyright
The Royal British Legion held a service of commemoration attended by around 1,000 people, including D-Day veterans, descendants of those who fought, veterans’ relatives and members of the public. Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War in France. It contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 338 of them unidentified.Pictured: Fusiliers and RAF Regiment march on as the Guard of Honour at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Vigil. Photo by Petty Officer Joel Rouse/ UK MOD Crown copyright

The city’s cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War in France and contains four thousand one hundred and forty allied graves.

Major Stuart Gilbert, officer commanding X Company 1RRF, said: “One of our previous regiments, the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers fought in Normandy, they were part of the D-day landings and once ashore, continued the fight against the Germans through Caen.

"You can see the battle honours on our colours, and we still recruit from those areas today; (Coventry, Nuneaton, Warwick). So, it is great to be representing them on this parade as well.”

The Fusiliers were formed in 1674 and named “Fuzileers” after their Fusil, the modern musket of the day.

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A British veteran (assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier) saluting after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/ UK MOD Crown copyrightA British veteran (assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier) saluting after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/ UK MOD Crown copyright
A British veteran (assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier) saluting after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/ UK MOD Crown copyright

The modern regiment was formed in 1968 with the amalgamation of the four English Fusilier Regiments: The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and the Lancashire Fusiliers.

Sergeant Joe Lowery, X Company 1RRF, said: “We are super proud to be a part of these commemorations. Just to be here and to be able to take in everything is incredible.

"The Fusiliers had a huge part to play in D-Day and it only seems right that we are in Normandy on this day and do our predecessors proud by being part of the ceremony.”

Sergeant Lowery and some of his fellow Fusiliers were part of the King’s Coronation, so have first- hand knowledge of the intense preparation that goes into events like this.

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A British veteran being assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/UK MOD Crown copyrightA British veteran being assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/UK MOD Crown copyright
A British veteran being assisted by a Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier after laying a wreath at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer France. Photo by Rosie Hallam/UK MOD Crown copyright

The 1RRF also recently returned from Italy where they took part in commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery Cassino.

Sergeant Lowery said: “That experience helped with our focus for this event.

"Some of the new Fusiliers had not been involved with something like this before and did not understand the magnitude and what it means. But when you get here, it is quite breath-taking.”

Sergeant Lowery added: “It has been quite emotional for us all. To see the veterans and hear them give their account of what it was like during D-Day itself back in the 1940s.

“It is something that will stay with us forever.”