The UK’s Daily Mail, among others, expressed consternation that 250 British paratroopers from the UK’s 16 Air Assault Brigade were met by French customs officials as they landed in Sannerville northern France on Wednesday as part of the 80th D-Day anniversary commemorations.

Video footage posted on X/Twitter shows that, while their 70 or so US and Belgian colleagues collected their equipment and made their way to the transport sent to collect them, the UK soldiers wearing camouflage combat gear were standing in line waiting to show their passports and documents to waiting French customs officials.

As more paratroopers could be seen in the background slowly dropping to the ground on their deployed parachutes, the French officials checked the passports, of those who had already landed, standing behind a wooden trestle table on which details were being entered into two laptops.


Asked to comment on the passport checks, Brigadier Mark Berry, the commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: “It is something we haven’t experienced before. But given the royal welcome we have had [everywhere], it seems like a very small price to pay for coming to France.”

Berry said the parachute jump was his men’s way of paying tribute to the 23,000 airborne troops from the US, UK, the Commonwealth and Canada who parachuted behind enemy lines in the early hours of June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Tonga, in advance of the beach landings.

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Berry said that we shouldn’t forget that the men who jumped “80 years ago did so at night with considerably less sophisticated equipment, into enemy-held territory,” and added that his men had not met “…an enemy force that 80 years ago was presenting an existential threat to our nation.”

A French immigration spokesperson said the drop-zone control point had been set up to “do immigration control that we would not normally carry out in a field.


“But for this special event, for the 80th anniversary, we are welcoming the UK soldiers.”

The other troops who took part did not face similar checks as the US contingent had taken off from elsewhere in France, and the Belgian troops are EU citizens, part of the EU’s Schengen system of free movement.

According to the Daily Mail, the British paras were cheered by hundreds of spectators who gathered at the drop zone which is around 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the site of the Normandy beach landings and children lined up to “high five” the queuing soldiers.

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