D-Day - the West Country remembers, 75 years on

Wreaths of poppies and other flowers commemorate the sacrifice of those who took part in D-day. Credit: ITV West Country

Seventy five years ago on 6 June, 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy began, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Today the region remembered.

Those veterans that took part and survived are in their 90s or over 100. Their memories still resonate.

D-day veterans attend a service in Bristol to dedicate plaques to the famous Normandy beaches. Credit: ITV West Country

We caught up with some of the D-Day veterans at a special ceremony in Castle Park, Bristol. Plaques were dedicated, representing the five Normandy beaches involved in the operation - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno.

Ken Turner from Keynsham told us: "My tank took a direct hit - two crew members died instantly and I don't know to this day how I survived because the tank was blown to smithereens. I see my two comrades lying there. You're haunted by the looks on their faces."

  • Watch 'Remembering D-Day'

The invasion of Nazi-occupied Normandy took place soon after midnight on 6 June. It started with the taking of inland strategic bridges by troops, some of whom took off from airfields in the West Country.

A service was held at Merryfield Airfield at midnight to commemorate the part it played in Dday. Credit: ITV West Country

Merryfield Airfield in the village of Ilton near Ilminster in Somerset is the only Military Air Station used for D-Day which is still operational today.

Known as Operation Albany, thousands of British and American paratroops were deployed ahead of the famous beach landings. It's not clear how many of them returned home.

  • Watch Merryfield Airfield, '75 years on'

At the exact time the planes departed from Merryfield Airfield for their mission in France 75 years ago, a ceremony was held to recognise the role the airfield played and remember the troops.

A scroll of the names of the paratroopers who set off from Devon ahead of D-day and never returned. Credit: ITV West Country

Hundreds also gathered at Upottery in East Devon for a vigil to remember the efforts of American paratroopers who were stationed there before being dropped behind enemy lines in the hours before the Normandy landings.

The US 101st Airborne Division - made famous in the TV series, Band of Brothers, made Upottery Airfield their home in the months before D-Day, and played an integral role in the mission's success.

More than 130,000 soldiers crossed to Normandy to take the beaches. Alongside the infantry, nearly 7,000 vessels took part in the invasion. The success of D-Day, described as one of the greatest battles for freedom the world has ever known, gave the Allied forces a foothold in Europe and acted as a turning point in World War II.

'We will remember them' - the Royal British Legion held a ceremony at Taunton's Vivary Park. Credit: ITV West Country

Ceremonies have taken place across the West Country today. In Taunton, a small ceremony was held in Vivary Park to remember all those involved in the D-Day landings.

Veterans were joined by local members of the Royal British Legion in saying a prayer, as well as observing a minute's silence, beside the park's Normandy Stone.

The town of Fowey created a grand parade of boats to honour D-day. Credit: ITV West Country

Fowey in Cornwall played a key part of D-Day preparations - almost 3,000 servicemen were camped there and 150 medical officers trained at a nearby hospital.

Today the town came out to remember and say thank you in style with a grand flotilla of boats decorated with flags - a fitting tribute to the thousands of vessels involved in the assault.

The Royal Navy were among those paying tribute in Plymouth. Credit: ITV West Country

In Plymouth, the commemorations took place, not on the Hoe as you might expect, but at Saltash Passage in St Budeaux. During the war it was used as an advanced amphibious base for the US Navy and from the foreshore, on 6 June 1944, US Army soldiers left for the D-Day landings at Omaha and Utah Beach.

A service of remembrance was held at the American war memorial there, attended by veterans, servicemen and women and dignitaries.

Veterans gathered at St Budeaux in Plymouth to remember its key role in the Normandy landings. Credit: ITV West Country

In the foreground of the picture, in the red hat, is Dr Suzanne Sparrow. As a young Wren in 1944 she watched from St Budeaux as the first American soldiers shipped out. She had no idea it would be remembered 75 years on as the start of D-Day.