D-Day veterans pass torch to cadet to mark 80th anniversary of Normandy landings

A pair of D-Day veterans from Scotland passed a torch of commemoration to an army cadet at a memorial event in Edinburgh ahead of the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

John Mitchell, 100, a former wireless operator, and Cyril Bird, 99, who drove tanks during the Second World War, both briefly held the torch aloft before passing it to Harry Flintoff during the service at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

The ceremony formed part of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s (CWGC) national torch roadshow called Lighting Their Legacy to encourage younger people to keep the memories of events like D-Day alive.

The torch is being passed from older to younger generations at a number of ceremonies during May and will ultimately arrive in Normandy on June 4 ahead of further D-Day celebrations and ceremonies.

CWGC’s local public engagement coordinator Elaine Edwards said: “The 80th anniversary of D-Day is a major opportunity for all generations to reflect on the sacrifices made by those involved in the landings, and the freedoms we all enjoy today.

“Scottish forces played a vital role in the operation, so I’m very proud to have organised this poignant event of remembrance.

“The passing of the torch by LCpl Bird/Cpl Mitchell to cadet Harry Flintoff will symbolise handing over the responsibility of remembrance to the next generation, and I’m confident the Torch of Commemoration and this event will go some way to inspiring younger people to ensure D-Day will never be forgotten.”

Michele Jennings, CWGC’s chief marketing officer, added: “We are taking the Torch of Commemoration across the UK before we make the crossing to Normandy for the D-Day 80 anniversary events.

“The numbers of living veterans from World War Two are dwindling, so it is important that the younger generations ensure that remembrance of those who died during D-Day carries on. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Torch of Commemoration is a powerful way of symbolising this message.”