The 75th anniversary of D-Day will be marked with a special service at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.
The night before D-Day – 5th June 1944 – 24,000 Allied Forces made their way across the Channel to prepare for their landing on the Normandy beaches. Many of the ships gathered the night before in an assembly zone south-east of the Isle of Wight.
On the evening of 5th June this year, the liner MV Boudicca, which has been chartered by the Royal British Legion to carry 300 D-Day veterans to Normandy, will stand off the coast of Ventnor. It will be accompanied by a Royal Navy warship escort and pause for 20 minutes before sunset.
This will give people in Ventnor the chance to mount a series of commemorative events along the foreshore, to acknowledge the presence of the veterans and the special role of RAF Ventnor, the Royal Navy’s Y station, with RAF St Lawrence and GCI Blackgang, in support of Operations Maple and Neptune as the prelude of Overlord.
It was vessels from Trinity House that had laid marker buoys across the English Channel on 5th June 1944, to help the invasion fleet navigate its way to Normandy. And radar and listening stations in Ventnor and neighbouring villages provided a constant watch for Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe movements and guided the Allied response to these.
The commemorations at Ventnor will happen between 20:45 and 21:15 and will include the sounding of the ship’s horn, church bells being rung across Ventnor, commemorative prayers at the rotunda bandstand on the Esplanade, the chance to create D-Day objects in the sand at Ventnor beach and music from 1944. This event has been organised jointly by Churches Together in Ventnor and the Royal British Legion.