D-Day Veterans Return to Normandy in Style
The nation looked on as D-Day veterans set sail last night (Wednesday 5th June) on Fred Olsen’s MV Boudicca headed for France ahead of today's 75th anniversary.
A very different journey from the one they embarked on 75 years ago. A far cry from the comfort and luxury they're enjoying this week, and a very different mix of emotions I'm sure! What must they have been thinking in 1944 as they made their way to the Normandy beaches not knowing if they'd survive the enemy mines and machine guns, not knowing if they'd see their loved ones again?
Roll on 75 years and 250 ex-servicemen and women are travelling in a lot more style, invited by the Royal British Legion to join their commissioned charter MV Boudicca, as paid guests on a six-day expedition zig-zagging the channel with her spa, jacuzzi, swimming pool, casino tables, bar and restaurant as they listen to talks and share memories.
MV Boudicca left Portsmouth Harbour last night, making its way gently up into the Solent, as onlookers cheered and clapped, the UK's prime minister and crew onboard aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth standing in silent tribute. Seamen doffing their white caps in respect, before joining in 3 resounding cheers.
As one of the key embarkation points for many of the landing craft in 1944, Portsmouth put on a rousing show for our veterans, Boudicca blew her horn as she pulled out of the harbour, escorted by a flotilla of smaller ships, with the Royal Marines' 1 Assault Group, the Red Arrows roaring overhead, followed by a thrilling fly-past from Hawks, Spitfire and Hurricane.
Onboard since Sunday the 250 ex-servicemen and women left from Dover to Dunkirk, back to Poole, then on to Portsmouth before leaving for the Normandy beaches last night, then finally heading to Bayeaux Cathedral for a thoughtful, commemorative service attended by the Prince of Wales before making her return journey across the Channel.
With an overriding sense of gratitude and pride, prayers and letters have been read out, stories and memories shared as we remember those who gave so much.
We will always remember x