Commemorations to mark 80th anniversary of D-Day

Published: 6 June 2024

Prince William with Roy Hayward

Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day later this month will include a special commemoration to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Ryde and The Solent played a significant part of Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare which became a turning point in the Second World War.

As dawn broke on the morning of 6 June 1944 thousands of Allied warships made their way towards the coast of Northern France. D-Day had finally arrived.

Ian Dore, Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day organiser, said: "This year we wanted Armed Forces Day to commemorate the commitment made by so many, at the location that overlooks the fair shores where troops were at sea, ready to depart. Hence the inclusion of The Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).

"Sadly, the BBMF is currently grounded but is still booked to display. On stage, tipping their hats firmly in that direction though, we have the Vintage Trio who will take you back to yesteryear with songs from the era."

Portsmouth took centre stage yesterday as the focal point for a National Commemoration to remember those who took part in the Normandy landings.

Hundreds of people gathered on Southsea Common to mark the occasion.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla said the event was to "honour" the nearly 160,000 troops who travelled from Portsmouth to embark on that mission that would "strike a blow for freedom".

The emotional day involved more than 500 members of the Armed Forces, including a 79-piece orchestra, a 25-strong choir and drummers from the Royal Marines.

It was hosted by Dame Helen Mirren and showcased incredible stories shared by actors or told first hand by some of the surviving heroes of D-Day. One of whom was Island-based Roy Hayward who took to the stage to raucous applause.

Ian said: "He was the first veteran on stage and the atmosphere rocketed, people hanging on his every word. As always, he was truly magnificent with his delivery, humble to the last.

"When he was with the Prince of Wales, I asked Prince William if he would pose with Roy for a quick photo. He duly obliged, dropped down and there it was. Roy grinned on, chuckling.

"Roy is a very humble, warm and witty man. A true gent of a bygone era. He doesn’t consider himself to be a hero but like it or not, those present yesterday felt otherwise.

"He’ll tell you he was just doing his job. It was quite a whirlwind yesterday and there is much to reflect on. Roy and many like him took part in the biggest military operation that the world has ever seen.

"Operation Overlord was the turning point in the Second World War and the sacrifices made saw Allied forces break through occupied Europe, changing the course of history.

"We must never forget and always remember them. That feeling was ably communicated by the hundreds that attended yesterday.”

Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day takes place at Ryde on Sunday, 30 June.