#D-Day70Anniversary- As reported yesterday, the Royal Navy joined by allied naval vessels formed an overnight flotilla from Portsmouth and are currently off the Normandy Beaches on this D-Day 70th anniversary, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Throughout today, major religious and commemorative services are been attended by the dwindling number of allied World War II veterans. This morning members of the British Royal Family headed by Queen Elizabeth attended a service inland at Bayeux Cathedral.
Also today the largest D-Day ceremonial commemorative event takes place in Quistreham near Caen, as allied nations will be joined by around 19 states marking the proceedings the most 'international' when held on 'Sword' beach. This beach is one of five code named beaches that are within a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast.
Joining the World War II veterans at Quistreham will be royalty, political leaders, heads of states and dignitaries in a mark of respect and recognition to all those who fought and lost their lives in this critical and momentous campaign on 6 June 1944.
The Royal Navy's 'flagship' HMS Bulwark (L15) which as previously reported took part in the overnight allied flotilla is anchored offshore of Arromanches, where on 'Gold' beach naval landing craft are beached presenting a mere semblance to the battle scene to liberate France. Thousands of visitors are thronging the beaches and mass-scale cemetaries.
The other two beaches to the west of Arromanches is where the US fought on 'Utah' and 'Omaha' and to the east Canada took part on 'Juno' beach. The final beach is 'Sword' at Quistreham which formed the second beach in which Britain took action as part of the allied forces. This is to be last occasion of the Normandy Veterans Association in attending D-Day commemorations due to the dwindling numbers and as such the association is to be disbanded.
Among the flotilla from Portsmouth is HMS Express (P163) a small patrol boat which visited Dun Laoghaire Harbour in April and also that month when HNLMS Johann de Witt (L801) a landing platform dockship of the Royal Netherlands Navy called to Dublin Port.
In addition to the English Channel crossing flotilla and other navies are several cruiseships making commemorative cruises and berthed in Caen are Silver Cloud and Sea Cloud II. The city quays is also where the Royal Norwegian yacht K/S Norge is paying a visit, the vessel in recent years has made two tours to Irish ports.