Speech

D-Day 70th anniversary commemoration

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Scotland Office Minister David Mundell speaks at a reception in Edinburgh Castle to remember those who fought at D-Day.

On behalf of Her Majesty’s Government I want to wish you a very warm welcome and say how pleased I am to see such a strong turnout, not just from across Scotland, or for that matter our United Kingdom, but from all corners of the world.

I would like to pay particular tribute to the Second World War veterans and their families who are with us this evening.

It is a real honour and privilege to share in your company.

Tonight we pause together to remember the enduring and lasting memory of the events of the 6 June 1944, not just in our collective history, but in the lives of the individual service personnel who played a truly heroic role in the defence of our nation and who fought selflessly for our freedom.

For many here this evening, and around the world, these events remain very personal in spite of passing years. I was reminded of that myself when I mentioned to my own mother that I was attending this event. The sheer mention of D-Day once again brought back her own wartime memories.

Then a young woman, just 18 years old, from the rural parish of Wamphray, she was determined to play her role in defending our shores.

Based in the cook house at the D-Day transit camps in Leicester she recalls the days leading up to the landings as if they were yesterday.

Despite her growing years, her memories remain as vivid as ever, their mark on her life unyielding.

Thousands of young men arriving, all dressed in military uniform; the sky above filled with the roar of aircraft engines.

With little warning it was all hands on deck, no time for sitting down.

All systems were go, yet they had no idea of what was to come. It was a simple case of following orders.

Unknown to her at the time, many of the men she was cooking for were about to sit down to their final meal.

By morning they would be gone, and to her great surprise the cook house was empty, with only a handful of men left to feed.

We all know now, the events which followed on those beaches in Normandy changed the course of history. D-Day was to go on to mark a turning point in the Second World War.

A make or break moment that has come to define a remarkable generation, and one which remains the ultimate showing of bravery and resolve.

In a dangerous and uncertain moment, young men from every corner of our United Kingdom, from across Scotland and around the world, stood shoulder to shoulderto defend our freedom and oppose tyranny.

On that day success and sacrifice came hand in hand. It was the break through that would help win the war but alongside the triumph of history we must remember the heavy losses suffered and the burden borne by all who took part.

Tonight on behalf of the UK Government, I would like to pay our respects to those fallen in the conflict from all nations and convey our gratitude to all those who fought and served both at home and abroad.

I also want to take a minute to pass on sincere apologies on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland, neither of whom can be with us this evening owing to urgent business following today’s Queen’s Speech.

Please rest assured that despite their absence from proceedings, tonight’s events and the wider commemoration of this, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, are very much in their thoughts, and the Prime Minister has asked me to read out a personal message from him to all D-Day veterans:

Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to put into words the debt which this generation owes to you, our D-Day heroes for the herculean human endeavour of you and your comrades 70 years ago.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you, landing on the beaches of Normandy and carrying the hopes of our country and the future of the free world on your shoulders.

But you were not found wanting. You fought, and you overcame.

Your success was immense. Our gratitude is immeasurable.

I would now like to hand over to David Boe– trustee of the newly rebranded Legion Scotland, who will say a few words. Thank you again for coming and I hope you have a very enjoyable evening.