Fallen heroes’ headstones relaid in time for D-Day anniversary

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Work to replace thousands of headstones for British servicemen who died in the Normandy landings has been completed as part of preparations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Last week the last of more than 4,000 headstones was relaid at the Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy, marking the culmination of months of work ahead of the commemorations in June.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is working to replace thousands of fallen and damaged headstones at its cemeteries across France and beyond, as it marks both the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings and the centenary of the First World War.

Just over 4,000 headstones have been replaced at Bayeux, with more replaced at other sites including nearby Ranville, the first village to be liberated after the landings.

More than 8,000 of the now-famous white stones have been replaced, after years of ageing and weather damage left some of the inscriptions impossible to read.

Work at Bayeux started in October and finished in February, with the final headstone laid last week.

William Moody, sector supervisor for Normandy for the CWGC, said the removal of the headstones had left the cemetery looking like a “battlefield”.

“It was a very big task, we had to remove the headstones, all the plants, cut the roses down. It was phenomenal really,” he added.

A special service will be held at Bayeux on June 6 – the anniversary of D-Day.

Mr Moody said: “It will be particularly emotional this year because for many of the veterans it’s the last one, they are 92, 94, 96. It’s thanks to them that we are free, them and the people buried here.”