A flotilla of warships and ferries carrying thousands of World War II veterans is on its way from Britain for France to mark the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

A Lancaster bomber flanked by two Spitfire fighter planes flew overhead, as the ships left the southern England port city of Portsmouth for the trip across the English Channel. A modern British frigate, the HMS Gloucester is leading the flotilla, which includes American, French and Canadian warships and some vessels dating from the war.

In other events, several hundred parachutists landed around Saint Mere Eglise, the first French village captured by allied troops in the D-Day operation.

Britain's Prince Charles witnessed some of the ceremonies. He also unveiled a full-sized replica of a Horsa Glider like those that delivered British troops to Normandy, enabling them to capture the Pegasus Bridge and cut a key road and vital supply link for German artillery forces guarding the beaches.