Donald Trump said soemthing that made the Queen laugh. Picture: AP
Donald Trump said soemthing that made the Queen laugh. Picture: AP

Queen pays tribute to D-Day heroes

THIS was a day for the privates, not the generals.

The Queen, United States president Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison were among a host of world leaders at D-Day services in Portsmouth, England.

Mr Trump read a prayer, resigned British Prime Minister Theresa May read a letter from a soldier and French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke.

German chancellor Angela Merkel was there, too.

 

The Queen and Donald Trump athe 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Picture: Getty Images
The Queen and Donald Trump athe 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Picture: Getty Images

But the seats at the front were reserved for more than 300 veterans, who survived the battle that swung World War II the Allies way.

And the Queen paid tribute to the "resilient wartime generation" - she called "my generation". "Seventy-five years ago, hundreds of thousands of young soldiers, sailors and airmen left these shores in the cause of freedom.

"Many of them would never return, and the heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten," the Queen said.

 

The Queen paid tribute to the “resilient generation”. Picture: Getty Images
The Queen paid tribute to the “resilient generation”. Picture: Getty Images

 

"It is with humility and pleasure on behalf of the entire country, indeed the whole free world that I say to you all, thank you."

And for those veterans, the memories of those who did not come back, including those thousands killed on the first day of intense fighting, were at the front of their minds.

Ernest Nelson, 95, said he was proud to attend the services, but it did revive flashbacks.

The wireless operator was on the HMS Scourge, a destroyer, which cleared landmines for the ships following and provided crucial cover for American soldiers landing on Omaha beach in Normandy, France.

 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the event. Picture: AP
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the event. Picture: AP

 

"I was on the HMS Scourge, 23rd destroyer flotilla and we led the invasion," he said.

"We cut a way through the landmines. Then we went to Omaha beach because the Americans were trapped. We fire broadsides and cleared the way for the Americans to get their tanks off."

Mr Nelson, from Northwich, England, has four nieces and nephews in Melbourne.

Thomas Stonehouse, 93, of Hampshire said he wanted to attend the services because it could be his last chance.

 

Troops at the event. Picture: AP
Troops at the event. Picture: AP

"I was dead lucky," he said.

The invasion of France with 156,000 soldiers, who travelled across the English Channel, was the largest sea invasion in history.

 

Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau. Picture: Getty Images
Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau. Picture: Getty Images

Winston Churchill had promised in his famous speech, which was replayed to the crowd at Portsmouth, that Britain would fight them on the beaches.

These men did.

 

More than two million soldiers had gathered in the UK ahead of the attacks, with support coming from 14 countries, including about 3000 from Australia.

The invasion was risky. American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a central figure in the campaign, was warned casualties could be as high as 75 per cent.

 

But the gain of a foothold in France was considered worth the cost.

Eisenhower wrote a letter accepting blame to be opened if the mission failed.

But after intense fighting, the Allies secured the five targeted Normandy beaches, which were code named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Band by the night of June 6.

That victory led to some of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, with casualties estimated to be as high as the trench warfare of the Somme in 1916.

 

Parachutists jump from planes in Carentan, Normandy, replicating a jump made by US soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day. Picture: AP
Parachutists jump from planes in Carentan, Normandy, replicating a jump made by US soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day. Picture: AP

But the Germans were defeated, as the Allies claimed a victory for freedom.

A new peace was forged, with international bodies like he United Nations set up to maintain world order.

Just this week 16 nations, including Australia, signed an agreement to keep that peace.

"In this way we salute the surviving veterans of D-Day and we honour the memories of those who came before us," the declaration also signed by Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Canada and Belgium.

 

The Queen with world leaders including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (top right). Picture: AP
The Queen with world leaders including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (top right). Picture: AP

The Queen said in a message that the sacrifices on D-Day must be remembered.

"At this time of reflection for veterans of the conflict and their families, I am sure that these commemorations will provide an opportunity to those who made extraordinary sacrifices to secure freedom in Europe," she said.

"They must never be forgotten."

 

MORRISON URGES US, CHINA TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged reform of the existing global trade system to ensure the US and China can resolve their differences within the rules rather than taking unilateral action.

The prime minister says he only exchanged "friendly remarks" with US President Donald Trump at commemorations of the 75th anniversary of World War II's D-Day invasions in the UK on Wednesday, a day after he warned that the US-China trade war was "threatening the prosperity of millions".

 

Scott Morrison spoke after the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Scott Morrison spoke after the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Mr Morrison said he will continue to advocate for the reform of international institutions like the World Trade Organisation to ensure they can adequately resolve differences between countries.

"This issue as I said yesterday, is having an impact on the global economy and it's in the interest of all states, all nations that this matter is able to be resolved in a positive way," he said.

 

The prime minister added the US had "legitimate concerns" about intellectual property protections, but he urged the world's two largest economies to resolve their differences within the system rather than take unilateral actions, such as imposing tariffs on each other.

"They raise a lot of genuine issues, but equally we need to work within the rules-based system because that is what has been very important for Australia and other trading nations like Australia, and we want to see that continue, and there's a lot of support for that," he said.

 

Stephen.drill@news.co.uk



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