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Ferry taking D-Day veterans to France given Royal Navy escort

Crowds waved off the ex-servicemen and their families as they sailed from Portsmouth harbour.

Brittany Ferries’ MV Mont Saint Michel leaves Portsmouth harbour escorted by a flotilla of ships from the Royal Navy and Dunkirk small boats association, as it takes D-Day veterans to France, organised by the charity D-Day Revisited (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Brittany Ferries’ MV Mont Saint Michel leaves Portsmouth harbour escorted by a flotilla of ships from the Royal Navy and Dunkirk small boats association, as it takes D-Day veterans to France, organised by the charity D-Day Revisited (Andrew Matthews/PA)

D-Day veterans have been given an escort by a Royal Navy frigate and a flotilla of small boats as they set sail for France ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

The ex-servicemen and their families sailed on-board the Brittany Ferries’ MV Mont St Michel from Portsmouth harbour accompanied by Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans and four P2000 patrol vessels – HMS Puncher, Biter, Pursuer and Explorer.

A flotilla of Dunkirk little ships also sailed behind the ferry as it entered the Solent before crossing the English Channel for the tour organised by the charity D-Day Revisited.

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Brittany Ferries’ MV Mont Saint Michel is escorted by HMS St Albans (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Another group of 250 veterans also set sail from Dover on Sunday night on the MV Boudicca chartered by the Royal British Legion.

They will arrive in Portsmouth for the national commemorative event on Wednesday before heading to France.

Defence secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “It is the Government’s hope that D-Day 75 leaves a lasting legacy and provides an opportunity for people young and old to reflect on the achievements and sacrifice of our Second World War generation.

“Over the next few days it will be a privilege for us all to learn more of these extraordinary men and women.”

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People wave from on-board Brittany Ferries’ MV Mont Saint Michel as she leaves Portsmouth harbour (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “It’s wonderful to see the veterans going across to France.

“This is a really good start to a week of commemorations.

“D-Day was designed here, executed here, launched here, so Portsmouth is the home of D-Day and we take our duty really seriously to commemorate it properly.”

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