Fred. Olsen’s Boudicca on special mission for D Day veterans
- Credit: Archant
D Day veterans will be returning to Normandy this weekend on board a boat from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines of Ipswich.
They will be setting sail on the Boudicca, part of the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines fleet, for the Royal British Legion's (RBL) historic D Day 75 Voyage of Remembrance.
The Boudicca will depart Dover under charter to Suffolk-based Arena Travel, on behalf of the RBL, carrying up to 300 veterans plus their carers and companions.
They will be attending a series of commemorative events in both England and France to mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings on the five beaches of Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah, on June 6, 1944.
Boudicca's exterior has been decorated with the RBL's red poppy insignia, most notably on the bow, stern and deckhouse.
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Peter Deer commercial director at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said: "It is a tremendous honour for us to be part of The Royal British Legion's commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, in what is set to be a very emotional voyage for these veterans and their loved ones.
"We are very proud that our cruise ship, Boudicca, will be following the same path as the ships involved on that momentous day."
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Bob Gamble, the RBL's assistant director for commemorative events, said: "Seventy five years ago, the largest seaborne invasion force in history set sail for France on a mission to liberate Europe.
"Alongside their American cousins, nearly 160,000 men from Britain and the Commonwealth landed on the beaches of Normandy.
"Today, we stand in awe of their achievement and salute their bravery and sacrifice, on our journey back to Normandy."
Boudicca will arrive in Le Havre on June 6, 75 years to the day when thousands of Allied troops poured ashore on the Normandy beaches to begin the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.
Veterans will disembark early in the morning to attend a memorial service at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, followed by a late afternoon of local events at Arromanches.
The following day, after an overnight stay in Le Havre, veterans will have the opportunity to visit the British beaches - Sword and Gold - as well as Pegasus Bridge, the British Normandy Memorial and the Arromanches Military Museum.
Boudicca will return to Portsmouth on June 8.
To mark the Queen's birthday, a day of celebratory activities has been planned - including a screening of the Queen's birthday celebrations - and the city will be laying on a firework display in the evening.