HMS St Albans to lead Royal Navy salute to commemorate D-Day landings

PUBLISHED: 16:57 26 April 2019

Leonard Williams, 93, boarding HMS St Albans with his daughter Lorraine Beynon ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary. Picture: Royal Navy

Leonard Williams, 93, boarding HMS St Albans with his daughter Lorraine Beynon ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary. Picture: Royal Navy

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HMS St Albans will lead a Royal British Legion ship in a salute marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

D-Day veteran Eric Strange, 95, with his granddaughter Michelle Reeves ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary which will see HMS St Albans leading a ship full of veterans from Portsmouth to Normany. Picture: Royal NavyD-Day veteran Eric Strange, 95, with his granddaughter Michelle Reeves ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary which will see HMS St Albans leading a ship full of veterans from Portsmouth to Normany. Picture: Royal Navy

The ship, which is the last of the Royal Navy's type 23 frigates to be built, will play a substantial role in the Ministry of Defence's tribute to remaining D-Day veterans.

On Wednesday, June 5 at 6.25pm, the evening before the anniversary of the landing, the Royal British Legion ship carrying up to 300 D-Day veterans, all over 90 years old, will embark from Portsmouth and head to Normandy, mimicking the voyage in 1944.

HMS St Albans will escort the ship along with four smaller Royal Navy vessels, with other ships docked alongside paying their respects. The ship will then be met by a flotilla which includes frigates, minehunters, small patrol craft and support vessels, which will sail past her in salute with sailors lining the decks.

Members of the public will line up at key vantage points to wave off the veterans as they retrace the journey they made 75 years before.

Leonard Williams, 93, ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary which will see HMS St Albans leading a ship full of veterans from Portsmouth to Normany. Picture: Royal NavyLeonard Williams, 93, ahead of the D-Day 75th anniversary which will see HMS St Albans leading a ship full of veterans from Portsmouth to Normany. Picture: Royal Navy

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Bob Gamble OBE, assistant director of commemorative events at the Royal British Legion, said: “The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings will be a momentous occasion and every Normandy Veteran that participates will be treated as a VIP throughout to ensure they have the memorable and remarkable experience they deserve.”

The commemorations will also include airborne landings over Normandy, with members of the army's 16 Air Assault Brigade dropping from aircraft alongside French Army paratroopers, veterans and re-enactors.

At 7.26am on Thursday, June 6, a lone piper will mark the exact moment a British soldier first landed on Gold Beach at Arromanches in Normandy.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “75 years ago troops from 14 Allied countries united together, many on the south coast of Britain, before launching the historic operation to liberate Occupied Europe.

“Britain must always keep the legacy of that special generation alive. I urge people to join our Armed Forces in showing that all of us, young and old, will never forget the price they paid for the freedom and peace we now enjoy.”

HMS St Albans is based in Portsmouth and captained by Commander Chris Ansell.

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