Countdown to 70th Anniversary of D-Day landings

D-Day veterans gather on board HMS Belfast for launch of 70th anniversary events

Daily Telegraph 20 May 2014 said:
D-Day veterans gather on board HMS Belfast for launch of 70th anniversary events

John Crossman was a 16-year-old Boy Seaman aboard HMS Belfast as it bombarded the Normandy coast on D-Day. He saw sights that day that no man, let alone a boy, should ever have to witness.

“The main feeling I remember is one of awe, seeing all the landing craft and the hundreds of aircraft overhead,” he said yesterday as he returned to the Belfast for the official start of the D-Day 70th anniversary events. “And I saw some terrible things. I remember American paratroopers being dropped into the sea and drowning, and in the days after D-Day I saw HMS Swift broken in two by a mine and the two parts of the ship sticking out of the water and sinking. I can still see it now.”

Mr Crossman, now 87, was the youngest member of HMS Belfast’s crew on June 6, 1944, working as a fuse setter on one of its twin four-inch guns. Yesterday he joined three of his Belfast shipmates and other D-Day veterans on the deck, where David Cameron told them: “Seventy years ago you did your country proud and your country will always, always be immensely proud of you.”

The Prime Minister added: “People don’t like perhaps to talk about good and evil very much any more but that’s what this day was, a victory of good over evil and every single person in this country should be truly proud of the part that Britain played.”

HMS Belfast, now moored in the Thames as part of the Imperial War Museum, was chosen as the venue for the start of the D-Day commemorations because the cruiser fired one of the first shots of the bombardment, at 5.27am, as it lay three miles off Juno beach...(more)
D-Day commemorations commence

Some interesting photos:
UK Government website 21 May 2014 said:
Ceremonies to mark the start of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings have taken place this week.

Prime Minister David Cameron joined D-Day veterans on Second World War warship HMS Belfast yesterday (20 May) at a ceremony to mark the forthcoming 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. The ship led the commemorations with a ceremony for veterans who served on it during the assault, as well as other veterans from the campaign, including Chelsea Pensioners and members of the Normandy Veterans Association. A Douglas C-47 Dakota flypast along the Thames on behalf of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight then followed...

Also this week, HMS Bulwark gave a taster to the people of Gosport of what it will be doing as part of the commemorations on 5, 6 and 7 June...

The assault ship will lead the Royal Navy’s contingent of 5 ships and Royal Marines, as well as an international flotilla, to the beaches of the coast of Normandy, France, where a number of high-profile ceremonies and services will be held. The events will begin with a demonstration of the ship’s amphibious capability, in Southsea on 5 June, and culminate in services at the Bayeux Cathedral cemetery and Arromanches, and ceremonies at Sword Beach on 6 June and then at Port-en-Bessin on 7 June.

As part of the Royal Air Force’s contributions to the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations, a specially-painted Typhoon jet with D-Day invasion stripes was unveiled at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, where it also completed a dual flypast...
D-Day commemoration events at Lee-on-Solent

For those in the Portsmouth/Gosport area:
Portsmouth News 21 May 2014 said:
MORE than 90 families will open their doors to aircrews and parachutists coming to Lee-on-the-Solent for D-Day commemorations. A huge flypast is due to take place next month with crowds expected at Marine Parade East to watch the aircraft.

Jon Butts is the chairman of the Lee Flying Association, which is organising the two-day event on June 3 and 4. He said people from across the area had offered a space in their homes.

He said: ‘It’s going very well indeed, we’ve got two weeks to go now. There’s 64 aircraft crew as well as 95 parachutists. We are talking about 159 people needing accommodation. There’s a lot of things that all combined should make an historic occasion. The real draw is that we are honouring and remembering the D-Day veterans who are still with us.’

As reported, a fleet of eight Dakota aircraft will take part in a series of flypasts in Lee-on-the-Solent on June 4 at 11am.

First, an RAF Lancaster, two Spitfire planes and the eight Dakotas will fly past three times in the Battle of Britain memorial flight. Inside the Dakota craft the parachutists will be waiting to reach France to perform a memorial D-Day landing.

Then a Sea Fury will soar through the sky in the Royal Navy’s historic flight.

After that a civilian Dakota aircraft will take to the skies before dropping biodegradable poppies into the sea.

All of this can be watched from Marine Parade East. Access to Daedalus is limited to those taking part. Mr Butts added veterans of the Second World War have been invited to attend. And he said a 91-year-old woman will host a person at her home ahead of the flight.

On June 3 there will be a meeting at Lee’s village centre between 4.30pm and 8.30pm. On the same day there will also be a memorial service at the war memorial on the corner of Pier Street and Marine Parade East..
From today's Portsmouth News:

IT’S 70 years since the horrific events of the time, but those who were involved can still remember the D-Day landings like they were yesterday.

Two veterans of the Second World War have been at the D-Day Museum in Southsea talking to visitors about their wartime experiences and the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. Dozens of people listened to them recount their vivid memories of the war.

Eddie Wallace, 90, of Milton, was a sergeant in an artillery regiment which stormed a beach in Normandy.

Gordon Dance, 88, of Aldershot, was a Royal Navy stoker who helped to build an undersea pipeline which would connect Britain to France.

They will both be in Portsmouth for official D-Day anniversary commemorations next week. The veterans regularly meet visitors to the museum during school holidays...

Mr Wallace and Mr Dance will be at the museum again tomorrow talking to visitors from 11am to 3pm.
UK Gov website said:
On 6 June 1944, around 4,300 Allied personnel lost their lives serving their country in what would be the largest amphibious invasion ever launched. Next week, more than 650 veterans are expected to make the journey to the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Thousands of people, including Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, will join them to pay their respects to the Allied troops who fought for the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

Across the 2 days, the events will be supported by more than 1,700 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force through displays such as a parachute descent and a flotilla of ships crossing the English Channel...


Lantern Swinger
Anyone know if there is any protocol laid out for the flying of the union flag on the 70th anniversary?
Just wondering as it's such a huge occasion, should I bring my flag to half mast between certain times on the day?
With it reportedly being the last time the Veterans will attend officially, is the anniversary being acknowledged with a half mast to remember all who were lost?
Portsmouth News 1 June 2014 said:
SEVENTY years ago, Ted Turner helped to storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day. As an 18-year-old Royal Marine, he helped Canadian troops secure a beachhead on Juno beach in the decisive invasion of France in June 1944.

Ted, who lives in Waterlooville and is a regular worshipper at St John’s Church, Purbrook, will tell his story on a special Songs of Praise programme to be broadcast on on BBC1 at 5.10pm today. And on June 6 – 70 years to the day since the D-Day invasion – he will be in Normandy for the anniversary...

He will be presented with an insignia by a local headteacher on behalf of the French when he returns to France next week. He also hopes to visit Ranvilles Cemetery.
While looking for information to apply for my father's Artic Convoy Medal, I found a medical report. I quote, "Early in 1943 he was suffering from a blocked nose and chest problems and was put ashore. But in fact was employed in Naval Party 165 which was a mobile beach repair unit and he was heavily involved in the D Day landings. How crafty was that!

If anyone knows anything about Naval Party 165 I would love to hear more about it.