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HM The Queen at Bayeux 2014

CWGC Ready to welcome veterans for D-Day 70

03 June 2014

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is ready to welcome thousands of veterans to its cemeteries in Normandy this week, working with partners across government to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

This follows the completion of a mammoth renovation programme -  including replacing more than 8,000 headstones that had become worn due to climatic conditions.

CWGC cemeteries and memorials in Normandy, as well as Portsmouth, will host  commemorative events, both large and small, as veterans and pilgrims make the journey to remember those who died to liberate Europe in 1944.

CWGC Vice Chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French, who will officially represent the CWGC at a number of events across Normandy, said: "Ensuing our cemeteries and memorials were ready for the many pilgrims to Normandy was a big challenge but the work was completed on time.

"It is an honour for us to help commemorate these historic events and to welcome so many returning veterans and their families to our sites.

"No doubt for many, their visit will be a highly emotional experience, and that is to be expected, but for younger visitors to our cemeteries, our new information panels, using the latest smartphone technology, will help them gain a  better understanding of those historic events of 70 years ago, and to put a human face to the names inscribed on more than 22,000 headstones in Normandy."

The panels at Bayeux, Ranville and Beny-sur-Mer War cemeteries are among 500 to be installed at CWGC locations worldwide and feature information about the site of the cemetery and a QR (Quick Response) code.  When scanned with a smartphone, the QR Code provides access for further information including the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated there.

Among the stories revealed on the panels in Normandy are those of the youngest British paratrooper to die in the Second World War, 16 year old Private Robert Johns, who is buried at Ranville War Cemetery. At Bayeux War Cemetery, visitors can access the story of Welsh rugby and England cricket international, Major Maurice Turnbull and at Beny-sur-Mer, the story of Squadron Leader Ronald Weir,  whose father wrote the English version of the Canadian national anthem,  'O Canada'.

Click here to read the full media release.