By land, sea and air: D-Day veterans to be saluted in style this June

  •  Royal Navy planning an at-sea spectacle for veterans
  • General public encouraged to salute our veterans
  • Veterans urged to register to take part

In one of the biggest mobilisations of the UK Armed Forces in recent years, the Ministry of Defence has announced details of plans to pay tribute to remaining D-Day veterans during the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

With less than 50 days to go plans are being finalised by the Royal Navy, Army and the RAF to offer ceremonial and logistical support to D-Day75. In total over 4000 personnel will be involved in the UK and France, along with at least 11 Royal Navy vessels, and multiple aircraft from the Red Arrows to the iconic Spitfire.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “75 years ago troops from 14 Allied countries united together, many on the south coast of Britain, before launching the historic operation to liberate Occupied Europe. Britain must always keep the legacy of that special generation alive. I urge people to join our Armed Forces in showing that all of us, young and old, will never forget the price they paid for the freedom and peace we now enjoy.”

In the UK, on the 5 June, there will be a national commemorative event held on Southsea Common, Portsmouth, attended by D-Day veterans, VIPs and current serving personnel.

People are being encouraged to head to Portsmouth on the 5 June where much of the invasion force sailed from. There they will witness a flypast of 26 RAF aircraft, and later in the evening have the chance to wave off up to 300 veterans, who are all over 90 years old, as they embark on their journey to Normandy onboard The Royal British Legion’s specially chartered ship.

Portsmouth City Council will host a series of D-Day events from the 5 to the 9 of June, on Southsea Common including a service of Remembrance, a screening of the commemorative events in Normandy, musical performances and the Portsmouth Revival Festival. Beyond Portsmouth, there are events across the country including a service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum and parachute and air assault displays at IWM Duxford.

Any veterans who would like to attend events in the UK or Normandy, who still haven’t come forward, are encouraged to contact The Royal British Legion.

Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter said: “The Armed Forces are honoured to dedicate so many personnel and assets to this significant commemoration. Our forebears, who planned and executed Operation Overlord, and those who enabled it to happen by fighting in Italy, Africa and beyond, have the enduring respect of our Armed Forces. We will ensure the example of that special generation lives on.”

Assistant Director of Commemorative Events at The Royal British Legion, Bob Gamble OBE said: “The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings will be a momentous occasion and every Normandy Veteran that participates will be treated as a VIP throughout to ensure they have the memorable and remarkable experience they deserve. The Legion is taking 300 Normandy Veterans to Bayeux on a specially chartered ship. We ask other Second World War veterans that fought for the liberation of France and who are planning to attend the National Commemorative Event in Portsmouth, the Legion’s two services in Bayeux, or the event at the National Memorial Arboretum, to get in touch with us and register your place. If you have a family member or friend who is a Normandy Veteran, please spread the word to ensure no one misses what will be an extraordinary experience.”

David Williams Chief Executive Portsmouth City Council said: "The scale of D-Day 75 is unprecedented with Portsmouth at the heart of commemorations on 5 June.  The city will provide the back drop for the armed forces to mark this historic occasion and, most importantly, to pay tribute to veterans and their comrades and reflect on lessons learned."

The main D-Day75 events for June include:

Embarkation

5 June 1130 The National Commemorative Event: On Southsea Common in Portsmouth veterans will join today’s Armed Forces and VIPs for a programme of live music, performance and flypasts. In the skies they will see a RAF flypast of 26 aircraft including the Red Arrows and a Spitfire.

5 June 1825 The Royal Navy’s Salute: The Royal British Legion’s ship will sail her 300 veterans from Portsmouth carrying them to Normandy. As the vessel departs HMS St Albans, a Type-23 Royal Navy frigate, will escort her along with four smaller Royal Navy vessels. Royal Navy ships docked alongside will pay their respects, before the ship emerges into the Solent to be met by a flotilla of Royal Navy vessels from frigates and minehunters to small patrol craft and support vessels, who will then sail past her in salute with sailors lining the decks. People are encouraged to line key vantage points to wave off the veterans as they retrace the journey they made in 1944.

Airborne landings

5 June 1500 (local time) Descending from the skies: Members of the Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade will drop over Normandy from RAF Hercules aircraft and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s C-47 Dakota. They will jump along with French Army paratroopers to recreate the famous airborne landings. Shortly after, the organisation ‘Daks over Normandy’ will drop veterans and reenactors from 30+ Dakotas. In the evening the Army will support events taking place at Pegasus Bridge. 

Early hours

6 June 0726 (local time) Lone Piper on the Mulberry harbour: At Arromanches in Normandy the Army will mark the exact moment the first British soldier landed on Gold beach.

6 June AM The D-Day memorial inaugurated: The Normandy Memorial Trust’s statue will be unveiled at Ver-Sur-Mer, Normandy in the presence of senior leaders, military musicians and personnel.

Pushing inland

6 June 1000 (local time) Bayeux: In this first town liberated by the allied forces The Royal British Legion will hold events commencing with a service at Bayeux Cathedral and a cemetery service at Commonwealth War Graves Commission Bayeux where they will be supported with a tri-service Guard of Honour and military musicians.

6 June 1600 (local time) Arromanches: In the afternoon British veterans escorted by Army personnel will move to Arromanches for informal events including a flypast by the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. 

Notes to editors:

§  300 veterans onboard The Royal British Legion’s chartered ship plus 200 more expected at the event in Portsmouth and an additional 200 at events in Normandy

§  Up to 4000 personnel from all three services will be involved

§  At least 11 Royal Navy vessels from frigates and minehunters to small patrol craft and support vessels

§  200 paratroopers from the British, US and French armies

§  Up to 40 aircraft to be involved in flypasts in the UK and in France including the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial flight,

§  4 military bands from the Royal Marines, Army and RAF

  • The total list (as of 17 April) of military assets in Portsmouth include*:

§  11 Royal Navy vessels from Frigates to patrol craft

§  Up to 26 aircraftinvolvedinflypasts including the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial flight

§  The Band of the Royal Marines

§  A tri-service Guard of Honour

  • The 14 allied nations that took part in D-Day are the UK, US, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, and Czechoslovakia