NICOLA Sturgeon led Scotland’s commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day yesterday.

The First Minister attended a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and a commemorative service at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Bayeux war cemetery.

Beforehand, the SNP leader tweeted: “Beautiful morning in Bayeux as we prepare to remember those who landed on the beaches 75 years ago today to liberate France and Europe from Nazi occupation.”

Sturgeon returned to Twitter after the services, posting about meeting Scots D-Day veteran John Greig. She posted: “What a privilege today in Bayeux to meet 95-year-old John from Dumfries. He was shot through the arm as he landed on Sword beach on D-Day. We owe so much to John and his generation.”

Considered a turning point in the Second World War, the Normandy landings – officially called Operation Overlord – saw some 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops arrive on French soil from sea and air on June 6, 1944.

Around 4400 Allied troops were killed in fighting that day.

The start of D-Day was marked at 7.25am local time with the tradition of a lone piper playing a lament on the Mulberry harbour on the beach at Arromanches, north of Bayeux.

This was timed to coincide with the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.

Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) played Highland Laddie as crowds watched from the beach and promenade. Afterwards he said: “That was nerve wracking to do but I feel very proud and it was a privilege to do it.”

Sturgeon was among a 1000-strong congregation at Bayeux Cathedral which also included the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds of people had earlier lined the streets of Bayeux to clap and cheer veterans as they paraded from the cathedral to the nearby cemetery.

Wreaths of poppies were placed at the cemetery’s central cross to honour the fallen. Bayeux, close to the northern French coast, was the first major place to be liberated.

In Edinburgh, veterans attended a service at the French Consulate organised by armed forces charity Legion Scotland and the French Consulate General.

D-Day veteran Jack Adamson, 100, from Falkirk said: “I lost a few pals, it’s them that should be getting the glory – if that’s the right word. It does not bear thinking about if you’ve not seen it. [Commemorations like today] are very important, because it lets the younger generations know what the lads went through. The boat we were on did not get into the shore, so they put rope ladders down the side of the ship and we climbed into the sea.

“It was alright if you were 6ft tall, but I was 5ft 5ins. You had your rifle above your head, your backpack on, you had two live grenades in each pack – it was quite a struggle to get to the beach.”

Fellow veteran Jack MacMillan, 101, from Edinburgh, who was a major in the Royal Artillery, said: “You’re full of awe, first of all, of what is going on. Then you have moments where a shell just misses you or something and you are grateful to be still here.

“At the end of the day, you’re doing a job and the objective is to achieve what you set out to do. The Normandy experience is one that one can never possibly forget.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “75 years ago 156,115 young men huddled on to landing craft, arrived in Normandy.

“They waded through sea and blood and fallen comrades to make towards the sound of the guns. Their courage secured our freedom.”

Labour’s Richard Leonard tweeted: “Today is a day for reflection on the sacrifice and the bravery of those who liberated France and so Europe.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie tweeted: “We owe them so much.”