War veterans join Voyage of Remembrance to Normandy
PUBLISHED: 17:59 02 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:00 02 June 2019
War heroes have set sail for Normandy as the nation looks to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The troops set off from Dover this morning, travelling on the Boudicca, part of the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines fleet ahead of a historic D-Day Voyage of Remembrance.
The trip is organised under charter to Suffolk-based Arena Travel and on behalf of the Royal British Legion and will allow 300 veterans plus their carers and companions to travel to this momentous event.
Declan Treanor, Chairman of Suffolk-based Arena Travel, said: "Today has gone remarkably well. Dover have given us a resounding reception. The local branch of the Royal British Legion have had ex-soldiers out all day and the Sea Cadets group and their band were here for six hours greeting and saluting every veteran as they arrived.
"One veteran said to me 'this is the first time I have been back to Dover since I came back from the war'. That made me feel very humbled. And this is just the start."
Mike Rodwell, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, added: "It really has been a great day here at the Port of Dover today. It has been a huge honour to play our part in welcoming hundreds of D-Day veterans and their relatives and carers to the Port, and we can't wait to host them aboard the wonderful Boudicca for the coming week for this momentous Voyage and Remembrance."
Once in France, the veterans will be attending a series of commemorative events 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.
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.