SURVIVING veterans of the Normandy Landings laid wreaths at Bolton Parish Church as the town marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Crowds joined other army veterans and the Mayor of Bolton at a moving service to pay their respects yesterday (FRI) to those involved in the momentous landings in Northern France on June 6, 1944.
The 25-minute service in the church grounds, which was opened by standard bearers leading veterans from the church building, began at 10.50am.
A bugler played The Last Post to start an impeccably-observed two-minute silence on the stroke of 11am.
He also performed the national anthem to bring the service to a close.
After the silence, Walter Wood, aged 92, laid a poppy wreath on the commemorative Normandy stone laid 10 years ago in the church grounds on the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
Mr Wood was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and landed in Normandy on the eighth day of the invasion.
He marched through Europe to Germany, David Teacher, of the 102 Beach Unit of the Royal Air Force, laid a floral wreath in the RAF colours.
Canon Matthew Thompson, who led the service, said: “We are delighted you have taken some moments out of your day to honour these people.
“70 years ago, General Eisenhower sent a letter to troops ahead of D-Day.
“In it he said ‘you are about to embark on a great crusade. The eyes of the world are on you’.”
Mayor Cllr Martin Donaghy was joined by Cllr John Walsh, a warden of Bolton Parish Church, and other councillors at the service.
Cllr Donaghy said: “I was talking to Walter and it made you aware of the magnitude of the task they took on 70 years ago.
“How important it was that it was completed successfully so the war with Germany could be brought to an end.
“You think of the sacrifices Walter and his comrades made yet he is still such a humble man.”
Mr Wood, who joined the army in 1938 aged just 17, said: “It was very good and I was surprised by the number of people here.
“Thanks to everyone for putting it on.”
The Normandy Landings marked the beginning of the end of World War Two.
It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and represented the first time in the war that Allied troops had entered German-held territory.
Thousands of Bolton servicemen were on the ships that landed on the beaches or in planes which launched an assault just before the invasion.
The landings were arguably the most decisive step in the six-year war and were integral to securing a victory for the Allies.
Cllr Walsh said: “It was a very good service and to have two Normandy veterans lay the wreaths was a fitting tribute.
“I’m delighted they were able to join us.”
Follow our live D-Day updates here.