Joining the nation in remembering D-Day 80

June 04, 2024

They are quiet now but 80 years ago today, the beaches of Normandy witnessed the largest seaborne invasion in history. It was an extraordinary feat of planning, logistics, industrial might and individual sacrifice. Which is why today, like the nation, we mark the 80th anniversary of that day.

Operation Overlord was launched on June 6th 1944 (D-Day) with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune). It was a pivotal point at which the 20th century changed course. It marked the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, as a force from 13 countries took the fight to occupied Western Europe and started its liberation after many years under occupation. The men and women of the Greatest Generation came from all corners of the globe and backgrounds, but they were united in one great cause, to end fascism, tyranny, persecution and genocide.

British troops landing on Sword beach

The construction industry played its part, building the vital Mulberry Harbours which would enable the Allies to rapidly offload cargo onto the beaches and continue the advance inland. The two temporary portable harbours, which are a testament to power of engineering, were built by some 45,000 people across 300 engineering companies (Wates Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Henry Boot, Costain, and others). Despite the loss of Mulberry A just days after its completion, in the 10 months after D-Day, Mulberry B was used to land over 2.5 million troops, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies. The remains of the Mulberry B still adorn the Arromanches today.

Mulberry B harbour at Arromanches

With the war in Europe ending in May 1945 and surrender of Japan in September, the years after the Allied victory would see enduring international architecture established, including the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

On this most significant anniversary, and as the last of that generation’s first-hand accounts fade, we must remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom. We honour them by remembering their stories so that future generations can carry their memories forward and ensure that we continue to live in a democratic, diverse and free society.

“As both individuals and professionals, we continue to remember the Greatest Generation and show support for the UK Armed Forces. As a business, we are committed to providing forces veterans with career opportunities after their service and we shall continue to assist the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and others with the delivery of critical infrastructure on bases across the country. Today colleagues are encouraged to take a little time out of their day to attend local D-Day 80 events. In Norwich, we will be attending the ceremony at the War Memorial in front of City Hall at 10.45am.”

Jonathan Cage, Managing Director