UK

Veterans Depart Portsmouth For D-Day 75 Commemorations In France

Former service personnel left Portsmouth, escorted by five Royal Navy vessels and 18 gunboats and historical craft.

Veterans have set sail for France to take part in the commemorations for D-Day 75.

Former service personnel left Portsmouth on Monday afternoon, escorted by five Royal Navy vessels and 18 gunboats and historical craft out of the city's port.

One veteran of the Normandy landings, 94-year-old Mervyn Kersh, told Forces News he hopes to find the "exact spot" where he landed in France in 1944.

"Going back is a commemoration, a tribute to those who stayed behind permanently," he said.

"It's nice to come back, it's seeing the places again."

Recalling the moment he landed in Normandy, Mr Kersh said he slept during the 14-hour journey from the UK: "I woke up and just saw the outline of France - and then it began to dawn on me where I'm heading, what's happening.

"Then I got nervous."

General, later Field Marshal, Bernard Montgomery, was the Commander-in-Chief of the allied ground forces for the invasion.

His grandson, Henry Montgomery, has been looking after many of the veterans on board the ferry.

"I think my grandfather said in his message to the troops before D-Day, about how this was a day that people would talk about for long afterwards and remember the deeds that had been done.

"I think that's why he'd be really pleased that actually, people are still talking about what people did, the sacrifices that people made, the stories of the veterans."

A series of events are taking place on 5 and 6 June to mark 75 years since D-Day.

It will be one of the biggest mobilisations of the UK Armed Forces in recent years involving the Royal Navy, Army and the RAF.

A sunset ceremony was held on the ferry, to remember the thousands who didn't survive.
A sunset ceremony was held on the ferry, to remember the thousands who did not survive.