As we approach June 6th, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, one of the more interesting commemorative events (yes, I know the speeches from our politicians will be riveting ) will be a mass parachute drop replicating the first Allied infantry troops to land in France that day.

They will be in period uniform, using the round silk parachutes of the day, and will be dropped from approximately 30 Douglas C-47/DC-3 aircraft ("Dakotas"), some of which flew those same skies and dropped paratroopers on D-Day. I say "approximately" because these airplanes are coming from private collections in many nations, including Canada and the USA, and being flown to England, and then over the Channel. Crossing the North Atlantic with these ancient flying museum pieces is no small feat, and the mechanics going along will no doubt be working hard to deal with the inevitable mechanical issues of old engines and airframes on that long journey. At least one of the US planes has had to withdraw due to the failure of an engine on the way to Connecticut last week.

This past weekend a number of the USA contingent converged at Oxford airport in Connecticut, in advance of the pond crossing via Gander.

The aircraft will be assembling at RAF Duxford starting this week, and crossing the Channel in formation on June 5.

The 75th commemorations of the events of WWII are quite different from the 50th anniversary events in the first half of the 1990s. Few of the veterans now remain. Lt Col. Richard Cole, the last of the Doolittle Raiders, and James Doolittle's copilot in the lead airplane, died this April at the age of 103. My father-in-law landed at Normandy two weeks after D-Day, once the engineers had built the facilities needed to land heavy equipment on the beaches. He was a heavy tank unit commander. His armoured brigade supported the Canadian infantry that liberated northern France, Belgium and Holland. Last year we came across a metal bracelet in his personal effects, engraved with the date of a soccer tournament the troops organized after capturing the port of Antwerp in the Battle of the Scheldt.

If you are anywhere near Duxford June 2-5, or Caen Carpiquet, Normandy June 5-9, go have a look. It'll likely be the last time to witness an assembly like this.