FERRIES travelling from Portsmouth Harbour to ports in Normandy will be full to bursting next week.
Brittany Ferries is preparing for one of its busiest periods of the year ahead of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The company expects more than 18,000 passengers will travel to the beaches of Normandy from Portsmouth between now and June 6, which is when the major remembrance ceremonies will be held.
Port manager Martin Putman said 400 to 500 veterans of the Second World War would make the crossing.
Mr Putman said bookings were up 36 per cent on the same period last year.
He said: ‘Of course this year is a very special year because of the 70th anniversary.
‘As well as veterans making the trip, we’ve had bookings from relatives, historic military vehicle groups, and school groups.’
Brittany Ferries commercial director Mike Bevens said it was an honour to be involved in the anniversary of D-Day.
He said: ‘Our ships link the UK with Normandy year-round, making us ever-mindful of the special, historic bonds between the two.
‘But each year in June, when the veterans step aboard, it really hits home.
‘The numbers that still travel with us each year in spite of their advancing years are quite humbling.’
On Monday, 100 parachutists will cross from Cherbourg to Portsmouth before travelling to Daedalus airfield in Gosport.
There, they will board a fleet of vintage DC-3 Dakota aircraft before taking off for Normandy where they will recreate the airborne assaults of 1944.