Hampshire & Isle of Wight

D-Day veterans mark 75th anniversary in Poole and Portsmouth

Veterans on board MV Boudicca Image copyright Poole Harbour Commissioners
Image caption A group of veterans set sail from Dover on MV Boudicca

D-Day veterans have arrived in France ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

The ex-servicemen sailed on the Brittany Ferries' MV Mont St Michel from Portsmouth Harbour, escorted by a Royal Navy frigate and a flotilla of small boats on Monday.

Another group of 250 veterans set sail from Dover on Sunday on MV Boudicca.

Royal Marines performed a demonstration for those onboard as it arrived in Poole earlier.

Image copyright Poole Harbour Commissioners
Image caption The Royal British Legion-chartered ship arrived in Poole Harbour earlier

In June 1944, Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France marking the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler's domination of Europe.

Portsmouth was one of the key embarkation points for many of the landing craft.

The on-water show for veterans onboard MV Boudicca, by the Royal Marines' 1 Assault Group, included landing craft, weaponry and blank ammunition.

Marine Chris Takacs of 40 Commando said: "They're our forefathers and we look up to them. They laid the foundations of what we are today and especially in the D-Day landings,

"Obviously modern warfare has evolved, but we still pride ourselves on the amphibious capability and what they did on D-Day," he added.

The Royal British Legion-chartered ship will arrive in Portsmouth for the national commemorative event on Wednesday before heading to France.

Image copyright Robert F Sargent/Getty Images
Image caption Allied forces invaded Normandy in June 1944

MV Mont St Michel was accompanied across Portsmouth harbour by Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans and four P2000 patrol vessels - HMS Puncher, Biter, Pursuer and Explorer.

A flotilla of Dunkirk "Little Ships" also sailed behind the ferry as it entered the Solent before crossing the English Channel for a tour organised by the charity D-Day Revisited.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: "It is the government's hope that D-Day 75 leaves a lasting legacy and provides an opportunity for people young and old to reflect on the achievements and sacrifice of our Second World War generation."

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: "D-Day was designed here, executed here, launched here, so Portsmouth is the home of D-Day and we take our duty really seriously to commemorate it properly."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Brittany Ferries' MV Mont St Michel left Portsmouth for France on Monday

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