They were strafed by machine gun fire, showered with bombs and clambered over barbed wire as they stormed the beaches at Normandy in 1944.
However, 70 years on, D-Day veterans face their most dogged foe to date: French bureaucracy.
Nine hundred members of the British Normandy Veterans’ Association plan to be among thousands returning to the former battleground for the June commemoration of the Normandy landings.
In a surprise countermove, however, pen-pushing French authorities will bar anyone without an official pass from entering the Cotentin Peninsula.
Bureaucrats will man the barricades and erect an “anti-congestion cordon” around Calvados, Manche and Orne to control traffic and meet security requirements.
The veterans – many of whom are in their 90s – were asked to fill in a two-page form at the last minute asking for personal details, rank, regiment, unit, “role” during D-Day, medals awarded, events they plan to attend, travel plans, home address, email address, place of birth, age, contact numbers, “maiden name if applicable” and whether they want to speak to the media.
Former British servicemen had until April 19 to complete the forms after an urgent memo was issued to the national Normandy Veterans’ Association on March 19.
It will be the last big anniversary gathering to be officially marked by the Association, which is to disband in November…