Military veterans heading to France for commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day are receiving a memorable send-off by Portsmouth Naval Base.
All four cross-channel Brittany Ferries sailings that leave Portsmouth commercial port this week – carrying a total of 400 American and British D-Day veterans – are being given special treatment as they transit past the Naval Base.
Tugs leading out the ferries are spraying water cannon, Royal Navy ships alongside are ‘dressed overall’ with flags and the officer of the day on each warship is saluting veterans as they sail past. Naval Base staff are also being encouraged to line South Railway Jetty as they pass.
The veterans’ sailings left Portsmouth on Tuesday June 3 at 9am and 2.45pm, and will also sail today (Wednesday) and Thursday at 2.45pm.
Forty American veterans sailed on this morning’s crossing to Cherbourg accompanied by Captain of the Base, Colonel Mike Tanner, a Royal Marine who served alongside US forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Naval Base Commander, Commodore Jeremy Rigby, did the same for British veterans on today’s 2.45pm crossing to Caen.
Colonel Tanner said: “The Naval Base is proud to be able to pay tribute to the D-Day veterans in this way. When General Dwight D Eisenhower addressed the troops before they sailed, he told them they were about to ‘embark on the Great Crusade … the eyes of the world are upon you’.
“Now the eyes of the world are back on these men, but this time proudly acknowledging their achievement, not willing them to succeed as we did then. We in Portsmouth Naval Base salute them all – and their comrades not here today – and everything they achieved in turning the tide of the Second World War.”
Press Release, June 04, 2014; Image: UK Navy