A British soldier who was in Normandy to take part in commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day drowned after a night out with other soldiers reportedly ended with him trying to swim across the Caen Canal.
The body of British Army Lance Cpl. Darren Jones, 30, was pulled from an area near the Bénouville canal bridge by divers and fire rescue personnel four hours after Jones’ fellow soldiers lost sight of him and called emergency services, BBC reported.
He was declared dead at the scene.
A member of the Royal Engineers, Jones was temporarily assigned to a military camp at Ranville in Normandy for events surrounding the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion.
“It is with sadness that we must confirm the death of a service person in France," a British Army spokeswoman told the BBC.
"Our thoughts are with their family at this difficult time.”
French police are investigating the incident. No foul play is suspected, the report said.
The Bénouville canal bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge in 1944 in honor of the 6th Airborne Division, which captured the bridge, along with the Ranville bridge over the Orne River, during the early morning hours of June 6.
Under the command of Maj. John Howard, men from the 6th Airborne and a detachment of Royal Engineers secured the bridges, as part of Operation Deadstick, nearly six hours before the first wave of Higgins boats rumbled toward the French coastline. The mission’s success proved critical in providing eastward advancement routes for British troops moving inland from Sword Beach while simultaneously blocking routes for Nazi counterattacks.
Approximately 156,000 Allied troops participated in the Normandy landings on D-Day.
Events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the invasion are expected to draw over 30,000 people to the region.
President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Prince Charles are among those expected to attend.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.