Next week a very special commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day – the largest seaborne invasion in history – takes place on Ventnor seafront, Isle of Wight.
Ventnor would have been the last place in the UK seen by many of the soldiers, sailors and pilots who didn’t return from the D-Day invasion.
Service in the bay
On Wednesday 5th June, following the large-scale commemorations in Portsmouth, 300 D-Day Veterans onboard the Liner, MV Boudicca, will stand off the coast of Ventnor for a special service delivered by St Alban’s and Churches Together, with the Royal British Legion.
The vessel – heading for the Normandy Beaches – will arrive and stand off the coast at Ventnor, accompanied by a Royal Navy escort warship, for 20 minutes before sunset (see timings below).
Series of commemorative events
This is to give the opportunity for Ventnor town to mount a series of commemorative events along the foreshore in acknowledgement of their presence and the special role of RAF Ventnor, the Royal Navy’s ‘Y’ station, together with RAF St Lawrence and GCI Blackgang in support of Operations Maple and Neptune as the prelude to Overlord.
What to expect
The commemorations at Ventnor will give an opportunity between 8.45pm and 9.15pm on the evening of the 5th June 2019 to:
- See Maroons of acknowledgement from Groyne
- Hear Ship’s Horn responding to Ventnor at arrival and departure
- Hear Church bells rung across Ventnor from Esplanade
- Commemorative Prayers at Esplanade Rotunda Bandstand
- Build ‘D-Day’ objects from sand on the ‘Liberation Beach’
- Occasional Wartime Music from 1944
Make sure you grab one of the commemorative booklets (£1) which sets out the history of Ventnor’s very own special role in Operations Maple and Neptune on the 5/6th June, heralding Operation Overlord ‘D’ Day landings on the Normandy beaches on 6th June. All proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion.
Heavy traffic and diversions
If you are going to be driving in Porstmouth next week during the D-Day commemorations in Southsea and Portsmouth, be aware of several planned road closures which, along with the heavy traffic, may delay your journey.
Thanks to Steve Gibbs for the heads-up on the road closures, and to Ian Bond and David Baldwin for details of the Ventnor service.
David Baldwin of st Alban’s church, Ventnor, shares this detail about Ventnor’s involvement in the D-Day operations.
The Allied invasion fleet to liberate Europe gathered in the assembly zone ‘Z’ south-east of Ventnor before heading for the ‘Spout’, marked with navigation lights and buoys to guide the ships across to their allocated landing beaches on the Normandy coast.
In preparation for this, on 5th June, Trinity House vessels gathered off Ventnor to await their Minesweeper escorts before heading off to lay their marker buoys across the English Channel overnight.
Meanwhile the Radar and listening stations in Ventnor and neighbouring villages provided a constant watch for Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe movements and guided Allied response to these before special shipborne radar could be deployed off the Normandy Beaches and Radar could be brought ashore.
This gave the liberating forces the best chance of success on the beaches – but could not protect them from the horrors of the hostile ‘Atlantic Wall’ visited upon many of those landing on the beaches and attempting to establish bridgeheads.