The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, will be in Normandy from 6 to 8 June 2014 to represent the Island at a series of official ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Senator Gorst will be part of a Channel Islands delegation that has been invited to attend the memorial celebrations by the President of La Manche department, Jean François Le Grand.
Other members of the delegation will include: the Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt; the Bailiff of Guernsey, Mr Richard Collas; the Chief Minister of Guernsey, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq; and the President of Alderney, Stuart Trought.
On 6 June, the delegation will be accompanied by two Jersey war veterans, Harry Fenn and Bill Reynolds. They will all attend the ceremony of remembrance at the British Cemetery in Bayeux, followed by the larger official ceremony in Ouistreham, in the presence of 19 heads of state, including Her Majesty the Queen, the President of the United States, the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. They will then attend a dinner hosted by the President of the Regional Council of Lower Normandy, Mr Laurent Beauvais.
On 7 June, the delegation will visit Utah Beach, where they will be present at the unveiling of commemorative artworks, including a 70-metre fresco completed by local secondary school students in commemoration of the D-Day anniversary. The day’s events will conclude with a further commemorative ceremony in Sainte-Mère-Église, followed by an evening meal with veterans of the landings.
On the morning of the final day (8 June), there will be a memorial mass at Sainte-Mère-Église, followed by a parachute display at nearby La Fière.
Senator Gorst said: “I am honoured to be a part of the official commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. This historic event is a significant example of the shared heritage between Jersey and our French neighbours. The Normandy landings brought hope to Channel Islanders who had endured years of occupation, and they brought the promise of liberation to France. Both our communities felt the impact of this extraordinary turning point in the Second World War.”
Deputy Le Tocq added: “It is an honour to represent the States of Guernsey at the official ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, at the invitation of the French authorities.
“Operation Overlord marked the turning point in WW2 as well as marking the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the German occupation of the islands.
“My parents lived through the Occupation and told me stories as a child of how news of the Allied Landings brought renewed hope to islanders that this was the beginning of the end. I am proud to be able to represent Guernsey and pay tribute to the sacrifice of so many at the various official ceremonies being held across Normandy this weekend.”