Daedalus D-Day 70th Airmen & Airborne Memorial Service – Lee-on-the-Solent – 3 June 2014

A memorial service was held at the Civic War Memorial on the Lee-on-the-Solent seafront in the evening of 3 June to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of D-Day – one of many such events each side of the Channel. The Memorial is located just a few hundred yards from HMS Daedalus, an airfield which played a major part in the embarkation of troops for ‘Operation Overlord’. Much of the local area became a launch point for the huge military operation – both airborne and seaborne. A record 435 sorties operated from the airfield on D-Day itself, with aircraft from the RAF, FAA, USAAF, USN, SAAF, RAAF and RCN working around the clock.

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The Service was followed by flypasts from a number of aircraft representing some of those air arms, themselves flying out of the same airfield. Additional aircraft had gathered at Lee – including a eight C-47 Dakotas/Skytrains – and would depart the following day for mainland Europe and further commemorations and troop-dropping re-enactments. A number of those crews and ‘troops’ attended the Service, alongside veterans and local dignitaries.

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The weather for the service was luckily better than forecast, though the timing of the flypasts coincided with a tall and threatening front moving in from the west which blocked out the light, making photography awkward.

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A planned poppy-drop by C-47 ‘Union Jack Dak’ when passing the memorial met with a slight technical difficulty which sadly caused the petals to fall beyond the intended dropping point. This Skytrain is a D-Day veteran, having departed in the early hours of 6 June 1944 heading for Normandy towing a Waco glider.

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Those onboard in 1944 – and the tens of thousands of other brave souls airborne at that time – were spearheading the Allied attack on ‘Fortress Europe’, from which they might not return.

‘Lest we Forget’

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