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6 June 2024 | Comment | Article by Simon Ellis

Marking 80th anniversary of D-Day

By Sinead Abric, Solicitor, Military department

Thursday, 6 June 2024, marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy Invasion.

Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Normandy Landings remains the largest seaborne invasion in history and required unprecedented cooperation between international armed forces. Over 2 million troops from over 12 countries were in Britain in preparation for the invasion by 1944.

The Allied invasion of Normandy was the largest naval, air and land operation in history and began the liberation of France, which laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front in World War II.

A year in planning, the invasion began with aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault shortly after midnight, this was followed by the famous amphibious landings along approximately 80KM of the Normandy coast.

The Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land more than 150,000 troops on five beaches in Normandy in a single day. The troops landed under heavy fire from the German defences on the beaches, the coast was mined and covered with obstacles and barbed wire. By the end of the day, the Allies had established a foothold along the coast and began their advance into France.

The invasion continued throughout June and into July, by the end of June around 875,000 men had crossed the channel and joined the invasion of Normandy. The casualties of the Normandy Landings are estimated to be around 156,000 Allied troops, with over 4000 deaths on the first day.

Events are taking place up and down the country to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day. It is vital that we continue to remember and reflect upon these pivotal moments in our history and never forget the sacrifice made by those who served.

For us in the Military team, significant dates like these serve as strong reminders of the sacrifices made by veterans long ago, but also, a moment of reflection on the work we do and why we do it. Every day, the men and women of our armed forces devote their lives to the service of our country, and we must never take their service and sacrifice for granted.

From a personal perspective, as a former Sea Cadet and Royal Naval Reservist, with one grandfather who served on trawlers in the North Sea during WWII, the other in the Army, and an uncle who joined the Royal Marines at just 15 years and 9 months old and served across the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, days like these are an extremely poignant moment for reflection. Reflection on service past and present. The work I do every day in the PTSD team, representing veterans or the families of those that have passed away, serves as a constant reminder of the lasting effects of war and military service.

We are very lucky here at Hugh James to have a number of veterans and currently serving reservists within our ranks. Here is what they had to say about what the D-Day anniversary means to them and the wider Armed Forces Community:

Robert Lewis (Former Officer in the RAF)

“As a former member of the armed forces and the grandson of an Operation Overlord veteran, D-Day, and the allied campaign into Normandy and beyond, is a significant event for me personally, and within our modern history. The bravery and commitment displayed by our troops, by air, land, and sea, is a source of inspiration to the armed forces community and was a selfless act that led to the allied liberation of Europe, and its millions of inhabitants.

“D-Day, and the broader campaign to defeat Nazi Germany, resonates even more greatly now due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Once again, a hostile state threatens Europe’s peace, stability, and borders. The sacrifice made by our ancestors 80 years ago should not be forgotten, and the security threat posed by Russia is a sobering reminder of what social, political, and international complacency can result in.”


Thomas Learoyd (Former Royal Naval Reservist)

“The role the Royal Navy (and allies) played is often overlooked. The greatest armada in history peppered the sea and provided crucial ordinance for the barrage on Normandy. Our ships weren’t used solely as transport as is often portrayed in the media but provided one of the largest artillery barrages in the history of naval conflict, providing vital cover for troops, and destroying bunkers and heavy weaponry behind Germany’s first line of defence. Although the heroism of the day, rightly, belongs principally with the soldiers, it is doubtful – in some areas – that without our sailors, our soldiers would have been able to advance beyond the beachheads and into Normandy. For this reason, I believe the critical role we played within the landings exemplifies how tri-forces can work together and how, despite our often-held rivalries, we are and always will be a team.

“From a personal perspective, my grandfather, and great uncle both served as Privates in the North Africa campaign as Vickers Gunners in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Both were decorated for Gallantry. They fought at Tunis and faced their own amphibious invasion at Sicily. My great uncle Roy was adamant that, had it not been for the young lad in front of him dying while he stood, he himself would never have made it onto the beach.

“My uncle Roy and grandfather were brothers, and both experienced a largely similar experience throughout the war. Both were teenagers. Both had nowhere to go, and – to avoid life on the streets of Leeds – they joined up to fight. However, their post-war experiences were notably different. My uncle Roy would regale me with war stories, good, bad and ugly, and speak easily about any detail. My grandad simply never spoke about it, all the way to his death. As I prepare to move from noise-induced hearing loss to PTSD within Military, I will think of my granddad with each client I speak to and strive to get them the justice they deserve.”


Ben Fletcher (Army Reservist)

‘Even before my current service with the armed forces, commemorating D-Day has been of significance to my life. I wholeheartedly believe the bravery of those who took part in that momentous event can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of whether they have served or not.

“Growing up I was fortunate enough to know D-Day veteran Jim Booth and his family. He always captivated me with retellings of his experiences and inspired me with his resilience, all the way till his death aged 101 in December 2022. Owing to Jim’s encouragement and my dad’s own enthusiasm, I attended some of the celebrations in Normandy for the 70th D-Day anniversary, cycling from event to event across the French countryside. It is a treasured memory. This year my activities will be on a slightly smaller scale, but I am still looking forward to assisting with a celebration event held by the Royal British Legion in my home county of Somerset.”

ERS Gold Banner 2022 Welsh

Key contact

Simon Ellis


Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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