The names of 13 Normandy veterans are to be added to a wall commemorating those who took part in the key Second World War battle as the Ministry of Defence announces a national event to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

In what could be the last chance for a significant number of veterans – who are all aged above 90 – to gather to mark the D-Day campaign, a major event is planned to be held at Portsmouth on June 5.

The Hampshire city played a key role in preparing for the invasion of the beaches of northern France in 1944 which became a turning point in the war.

The Normandy Memorial Wall in Southsea
The Normandy Memorial Wall in Southsea (Gareth Fuller/PA)

To mark the anniversary, thousands of members of the public will join D-Day veterans, Armed Forces personnel, local dignitaries and VIP guests for the ceremonies taking place on Southsea Common which will be broadcast live across the UK and the world.

An MoD spokesman said: “The personal stories and reflections of surviving D-Day veterans will be at the heart of the event, which will also feature military musicians, a Royal Air Force flypast and moving tributes from special guests.

“They will commemorate all those who died during the Normandy campaign and pay tribute to the surviving veterans of D-Day.

“This may be the last time veterans are able to gather in significant numbers, as they are all over 90 years old.

“The commemorations will bring Armed Forces personnel past and present together to remember the legacy of D-Day and the importance of our continued fight for freedom and peace.”

D-Day 75th anniversary
Queen Elizabeth II and then-US president Donald Trump during commemorations for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at Southsea Common, Portsmouth (Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

For the 75th anniversary, world leaders including Queen Elizabeth II, then-US president Donald Trump, former UK prime minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron and former German chancellor Angela Merkel were among the guests at the Portsmouth commemorations.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We must never forget the sacrifices made on D-Day and the selfless courage of the veterans of Normandy.

“It’s hard to imagine a more noble act than risking your life to defeat tyranny and oppression. I’m proud that the Armed Forces will lead the nation in tributes to the heroes of Normandy in Portsmouth in June.

“The 80th anniversary of D-Day will remind us that we can never take peace for granted.

“With war raging in Europe once again, we must recommit to protect and defend Britain’s peace and freedom with our allies around the world. The alliances we forged on June 6 1944 are still vital to the UK’s security today.”

The plaque for Richard Pirrie, Royal Australian Navy, at the Normandy Memorial Wall next to the D-Day Story museum, Southsea
The plaque for Richard Pirrie, Royal Australian Navy, at the Normandy Memorial Wall next to the D-Day Story museum, Southsea (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer said: “We will forever owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans and the allied forces who fought so courageously at Normandy.

“On the 80th anniversary, we will remember all those who put their life on the line for our freedom during D-Day, and continue to pay tribute to their brave service to this day.”

To mark 100 days to go until the anniversary, the names of 13 veterans from 12 allied countries will be added to the Normandy Memorial Wall next to The D-Day Story museum in Southsea.

British veterans, Stan Ford and John Roberts, will be presented with their plaques at The D-Day Story on Tuesday before they are added to the wall.

Mr Roberts, who was in the Royal Navy from 1938 to 1978 and reached the rank of rear admiral, served aboard HMS Serapis which was at the front of the D-Day convoy arriving at Sword beach at 7.30am on D-Day and continued to fire on German positions along the coast for 11 days.

The 99-year-old from Kent said: “It’s humbling to see the nation come together to remember D-Day and those who fell during the Normandy landings.

D-Day 75th anniversary
Veteran John Roberts, from Whitstable, on a jeep as he arrived at the cruise terminal to board the MV Boudicca (behind) ahead of its departure from the port of Dover in Kent, on day one of a trip arranged by the Royal British Legion for D-Day veterans to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I will never forget that day, and I’m proud to know that the British people won’t forget either. I hope that the commemorations in June will help a whole new generation understand the sacrifices made on their behalf.”

The Ministry of Defence has launched a D-Day 80 website on so members of the public can find out more about the official commemorations and sign up for information on how to register to attend.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has opened registration for veterans of the Normandy campaign to attend the British event, hosted in partnership with the MoD, at the British Normandy Memorial.

A public ballot for attendance at this event will also take place, subject to event capacity, with details on a D-Day 80 website on

Normandy veterans, family members and their descendants are also invited to register to attend the RBL commemorative events at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery on June 5 and at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, on June 6.

Details can be found at

Royal British Legion rirector of Remembrance Philippa Rawlinson said: “The legacy left by the Second World War generation lives on in the freedom and democracy we have today.

“It is vital we continue to honour their service and sacrifice, so we are encouraging D-Day veterans and their families to register to attend one of the RBL commemorative events in France or the UK.”

On D-Day, June 6 1944, the United Kingdom, the United States and their allies launched Operation Overlord, a combined naval, air and land assault on Nazi-occupied France.

The operation enabled the allies to relaunch its attacks against the Nazi forces and liberate north-west Europe, leading to victory a year later.