The BBC will commemorate 75 years since D-Day with a range of special programmes, beginning with a live commemorative event in the presence of over 300 D-Day veterans, from Southsea Common, Portsmouth on Wednesday 5 June.
Her Majesty The Queen and President Trump will be in attendance at the event, along with other world leaders and senior dignitaries.
On BBC One, D-Day 75: A Tribute To Heroes (Wednesday 5 June, 9.15am-1pm) will tell the story of the meticulous planning by the Allied Forces 75 years ago, that paved the way for the invasion of Normandy. Known as D-Day, the mission would prove a decisive turning point in the Second World War. The programme will feature live coverage of the National Commemorative Event on Southsea Common as well as veteran testimony, theatrical performances and musical numbers, culminating in a spectacular flypast featuring aircraft old and new, including the Red Arrows.
Huw Edwards will anchor the broadcast from a studio on Southsea Common and will be joined by special guests including D-Day historian James Holland and biographer Clare Mulley. D-Day veterans will share their extraordinary experiences of preparing for the invasion. Reporters Michelle Ackerley and JJ Chalmers will be on the ground meeting veterans and those taking part in the event to hear why it’s still so important to mark this anniversary.
On Wednesday evening, for The One Show (7-8pm, BBC One) Dan Snow will broadcast live from the ship taking veterans to Normandy as it leaves Portsmouth and is saluted by planes and ships specially assembled to honour them.
On Thursday 6 June, BBC One will come live from Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy with D-Day 75: Remembering The Fallen (9.15am-1pm). 75 years ago the largest amphibious assault in history, the Normandy Landings took place, a campaign which was to mark the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, together with other foreign dignitaries will join hundreds of veterans for a poignant service of commemoration and remembrance. They will pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of all those who served and lost their lives fighting for the restoration of peace.
Throughout the programme Sophie Raworth will be joined by special guests in the studio and will hear veteran testimony from those who witnessed the invasions at first hand. Dan Snow will be reporting on the ground, meeting some of the incredible veterans who have made the pilgrimage back to Normandy to remember their fallen comrades. There will also be commentary from Fergal Keane on the service. Sophie Raworth will introduce highlights from the two events later that evening (Thursday 6 June, 6.30-8pm, BBC Two).
Over on BBC Two, D-Day 75: Return To The Beaches (Saturday 8 June, 6-6.30pm) will follow three hundred veterans as they board a ship to return to the D-Day beaches in Normandy. Aged between 90 and 105, they were young men in 1944 when they took part in the largest seaborne landings ever mounted. Some are returning for the first time, some for the last and they will remember the thousands who never came home.
One veteran, Jack Mortimer, now 95, says he simply wants to do his duty and raise a salute to the real heroes. Other featured veterans include Ernie Pegg, who drove supply lorries, Ken Peppercorn, who was wounded and captured after the landings, Eric Strange, who commanded one of the landing craft, and Ken Tanner, who landed with his tank crew.
On Sunday 9 June in a special edition of Songs of Praise (1.15-1.50pm, BBC One), Aled Jones travels to Normandy with Christian veteran Harry Billinge and performs Abide with Me at the war cemetery in Bayeux. Veteran Harry is welcomed as a hero in France but at 93, he knows this trip may be his last. On Gold Beach, where he landed as an 18-year-old sapper in the Royal Engineers, Harry vividly recalls the sights and sounds of D-Day and the memories of the men that fought and died alongside him. Also in the programme, Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers visits the Imperial War Museum in Duxford to read the diary of Chaplain Leslie Skinner, a Methodist Minister who was the first Padre to land on D-Day.
Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content, says: “We’re very proud to bring this special commemoration to audiences. Across these two days there will be comprehensive coverage of the organised events and we will be shining a light on the stories of brave individuals who took part in the D-Day landings. We hope audiences will join us on BBC One and BBC Two as we pay tribute to all those who were involved in the extraordinary events of 75 years ago.”
The BBC’s D-Day 75th anniversary programming was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content and Alison Kirkham, Controller, BBC Factual Commissioning.