D_Day heroes honoured

The sacrifices made by Allied troops who fought and died to free Europe from the Nazis were honoured by leaders from across the world during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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  • D-Day heroes were honoured in a moving ceremony
    D-Day heroes were honoured in a moving ceremony
  • D-Day heroes were honoured in a moving ceremony
  • D-Day heroes were honoured in a moving ceremony
  • D-Day heroes were honoured in a moving ceremony

Staged on Sword beach, stormed by British troops on June 6, 1944, presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, including the Queen, watched a symbolic ceremony that marked the anniversary of the landings.

The spectacle was the high point of many commemoration events this week which have seen thousands flock to beaches, cemeteries and villages linked to the Normandy landings.

It is likely to be the last major tribute to the sacrifices made by the elderly veterans who were in the stands watching, and their comrades who died fighting.

Among the heads of state who attended were US president Barack Obama, Russia's president Vladimir Putin, King Harald V of Norway and president Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic.

President Francois Hollande of France hosted the event and he sat with the Queen on his right. Further along the row was German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Scotland's D-Day veterans have been remembering the comrades they lost in the historic invasion of German-occupied France 70 years ago.

Kenneth Werrett, 92, was just 18 when he landed on Sword beach on June 6 1944 with the 49th Reconnaissance Corps and went on to survive a mine strike and sniper attack.

The great-grandfather, from Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, said it was difficult watching the commemorations across the Channel as he recalled his fellow soldiers who died.

Mr Werrett said: "I lost a couple of good mates. That's the thing that upsets you.

"I was only a boy and you didn't realise how bad it was. You took things as they came and that was it. You didn't realise what you were going into."

Mr Werrett, originally from Abergavenny in Wales, carried messages on motorbikes in Normandy and was at the wheel of an armoured vehicle when one day he struck a mine.

When he got out of the vehicle, a bullet from a German sniper skimmed his head and he spent six weeks in hospital.

He said: "I had a bit of a setback. They said I was lucky, it (the bullet) just ricocheted off."

Mr Werrett's daughter Annette Bowman, who lives in Kirkintilloch with husband Ian, said: "He is a very special person in our lives, especially to his grandchildren.

"He has two great grandsons and it's great for all of us that his experiences of D-Day are recorded and kept for posterity."

The First Minister, who is in Normandy for the D-Day commemorations, said it was an honour to meet the "bravest" of men who played a part in liberating France and helped secure an Allied victory in the Second World War.

Alex Salmond said: "It is a tremendously moving experience to be here standing alongside the bravest of men to whom we owe an incredible debt.

"It is important that we take time to recognise the sacrifices made here in Normandy 70 years ago by a generation who gave so much.

"It has been an honour to meet with some of the Scottish servicemen whose courage amid the most harrowing conditions imaginable remains an inspiration to this day.

"D-Day was a decisive moment in a war to maintain and preserve the democratic freedoms we are privileged to enjoy today, and the sacrifices paid by men from many nations made that possible."

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