D-Day anniversary flotilla stops off in island
A SPECIAL flotilla commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day has been in Guernsey.
Three boats from the memorial flotilla stopped off at St Peter Port en route back to Portsmouth from Normandy.
Motor gun boat 81 took part in the D-Day landings at Sword Beach, while motor anti-submarine boat 27 was part of the assault on Omaha Beach. High speed launch 102, which though not used on D-Day itself, was used to rescue downed airmen.
The vessels arrived in St Peter Port Harbour on Sunday and had been open to the public – with visitors including Guernsey veterans and sea cadets.
‘These boats are very special. They are the exact boats that took part in the Second World War, so we have spent much of our time restoring them,’ said Peter Goodship, chief executive of Portsmouth naval base property trust.
‘We’ve given them some new engines and strengthened the hulls of a few – we’re very lucky to have them but it is a battle to keep them maintained.
He added: ‘It’s very emotional for the veterans because it brings back such memories for them.
‘We also scatter ashes on these boats out at sea for those who were involved in the war – it is always very moving.
‘The purpose of the memorial flotilla is to tell the stories of the people who sailed these throughout the Second World War and we hope to be back here for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.’
Local skipper Gary Ward, 61, from the Trident ferry, came to see the boats out of interest as a mariner himself.
‘I think they are absolutely amazing,’ he said.
‘I really like the shape of them – I thought they were American, so to know they are British and as a young boy growing up watching all the wartime films, I’m blown away to see them in the flesh.’