Tiny Normandy commune to mark crucial role in D-Day landings

80th anniversary events will remember how allied forces and local French people all played their part in 1944

(Clockwise from left) British Normandy Memorial; Sébeville mayor Nathalie Lamare, centre, at her 9m² mairie; Omaha Beach American Cemetery
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Special events are to be held across Normandy this June as the region marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the following Battle of Normandy.

They range from local commemorations of the role even very small communes played in the events of 1944 to an international ceremony on June 6 on Omaha beach, to be attended by surviving veterans and dignitaries including US President Joe Biden.

Firework display over five landing beaches

D-Day, on June 6, brought together land, air and sea forces of the allied armies, including Britons, Americans, Canadians, Australians and Free French.

It was the start of the fight to retake northern France from the Nazis, which ended with the Liberation of Paris in August.

Commemorations will focus on a ‘D-Day Festival’ from June 1, when there will be a firework display over the five landing beaches, until June 16.

Spring will also see the installation of 1,475 silhouettes of soldiers at the British Nor­mandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, representing British D-Day deaths.

Read more: King Charles honours French amateur historian’s work on WWII raid

Last big anniversary that veterans will attend

A Normandy Tourism spokesman said: “We are expecting a lot of veterans: to give one example, Delta Air Lines is chartering a plane that will leave from Atlanta [USA] and land at Deauville with veterans on board.

“This anniversary is so important because it will be the last big anniversary when there will be veterans.”

Read more: US veteran and social media star, 100, in France for D-Day anniversary

The smallest communes played their part on D-Day

Among the communes taking part in events will be Sébeville, with 34 residents, where the mairie and local history enthusiasts plan to commemorate the role it played as a landing area for gliders, which arrived on D-Day, carrying equipment such as jeeps.

Mayor Nathalie Lamare said: “We are next to Sainte-Mère-Eglise which is well-known as a landings site, and we’re a very little commune – our mairie is just 9m²! – but it turns out it was mostly here that the gliders landed.

“Research has been carried out to check what we had often heard about, so we now have the proof.

“Remembrance is so important because today we too often forget the real history of what happened and it turns into folklore.”

Coastal hotels 95%-booked at the end of 2023

Normandy Tourism says President Biden has already reserved his Normandy hotel – however reservations are becoming difficult.

Regional council figures showed that, near the coast, hotels were 95%-booked at the end of 2023, and the only rooms easily available were 50 km from the coast.

Prices, including for Airbnbs, are also said to have shot up near the D-Day sites.

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