British soldier taking part in DDay celebrations drowns in France

A serving British soldier set to take part in the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations in Normandy has died, the army has confirmed.Lance Corporal Darren Jones, 30, of the Royal Engineers, drowned in a canal at Bénouville near the historic Pegasus bridge, the first site to be liberated by the allies on June 6, 1944.”It is with sadness that we must confirm the death of a service person in France. Our thoughts are with their family at this difficult time,” a British army spokesperson said.   Fire-fighters pulled LCpl Jones’ body of the water early on Sunday morning and he was declared dead at the scene, according to French media reports.   French police are investigating the incident and are said not to be looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.  A post-mortem is yet to be carried out. Jones reportedly went missing on Saturday night after an evening out near the canal de Caen with other soldiers, who alerted the emergency services when they lost sight of him. Many heads of state, including President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Prince Charles along with 30 000 people, including 500 WWII veterans, are expected  o attend the ceremonies in France marking D-day.On June 6, 1944 over 150,000 allies landed in Normandy in a massive operation which was crucial in the liberation of western Europe from Nazi rule. Around 5,000 allied and French soldiers were killed that day.  The Bénouville canal bridge near where Jones is thought to have drowned, has a particular resonance for the British.   Early morning on June 6, hours before the first wave of allied boats arrived on the Normandy shore, the 6th Airborne Division troops captured the bridge along with the Rainville bridge over the Orne river. The mission was critical in blocking a Nazi counterattack on allied forces landing on Sword beach. The Royal Engineer was stationed at a military camp at Rainville near Caen along with thousands of British soldiers to participate in the official D-Day commemorations set to kick off in France this week.   Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more