Spectacular send-off planned for D-Day veterans sailing from Portsmouth

Topic: CommunityEvents Storyline: HMNB Portsmouth

Veterans heading for Normandy will receive a spirited send-off tomorrow morning, heralding three days of D-Day 80th anniversary events.

Vintage and serving Royal Navy warships will escort the ferry transporting around 40 men and women connected with the Normandy landings as they head to France for possibly the final salute.

The 80th anniversary of D-Day and subsequent campaign in Normandy is likely to be the last milestone marked on a grand scale on both sides of the Channel in the presence of those who were there in 1944.

With the youngest survivor of the operation aged 98, many veterans have chosen not to make the pilgrimage to France in favour of attending commemorations here in the UK – notably the showpiece tribute on Southsea Common on Wednesday.

But around 40 have decided to head back to the beaches in conjunction with the Royal British Legion and Brittany Ferries.

They leave Portsmouth at 8am tomorrow with an escort of serving and veteran warships: World War 2-era Motor Gunboat 81, motor launch HMS Medusa and RAF rescue boat HSL 102 will lead the flotilla escorting the ferry out of Portsmouth Harbour and into the Solent.

Behind those veteran craft, come two Royal Navy fast patrol boats HMS Trumpeter and Dasher, followed by the Sea Cadet training vessel TS Royalist, then minehunter HMS Cattistock ahead of the ferry Mont St Michel.

Bringing up the rear, harbour tugs will shoot jets of water providing a traditional tribute to veterans.


The formation will stay with the ferry until they reach Nab Tower about a dozen miles from Portsmouth Harbour, when they break away from Mont St Michel and go their separate ways.

HMS Cattistock, Trumpeter and Dasher are also heading for Normandy to take part in commemorations marking the capture of Pegasus Bridge on the Caen Canal.
They are due to sail past the iconic bridge at mid-day on Wednesday where the Commanding Officer of the Parachute Regiment and Royal Navy Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Andrew Burns, will take the salute.

After berthing at Quai de Blainville, Cattistock’s sailors will also attend the paratroopers’ midnight vigil at Pegasus Bridge.

For the Portsmouth-based minehunter the 80th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to remember her predecessor.

“Cattistock has a Normandy/D-Day battle honour – the first ship with the name provided close air defence to minesweepers in the days and hours before the landings,” said her Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell.

The wartime destroyer’s modern-day successor has been conducting UK operations / homeland defence as her crew prepare to deploy on global minewarfare operations in the coming months.

Newly-refitted frigate HMS St Albans will fire a six-gun salute passing the Naval Memorial during the commemorative event on Southsea Common.
She will continue across the Channel to support events on D-Day itself, anchoring off Ver sur Mer as guardship for events ashore at the British Normandy Memorial.
Later on D-Day, she will move along the coast to anchor off Omaha Beach to support US-focused commemorations.

Also crossing the Channel on June 4 will be the 47 Commando personnel, whose landing craft will deliver a piper to the beaches on D-Day, offload a troop of marines to yomp along the Normandy shore to Port-en-Bessin. the village/harbour liberated by the unit’s forebears in 1944.