Portsmouth army reserves row 100 miles to mark 72nd D-Day anniversary

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A GROUP of army reservists rowed 100 miles to mark the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.

The 295 Battery Royal Artillery, from Hilsea, took part in the challenge outside the D-Day Museum, in Southsea.

We have had a lot of support from members of the public who have come down to say hello.

Colin McQuillan

The distance reflects the journey Allied ships had to travel across the English Channel on the night of June 5 and June 6, 1944 before landing in Normandy.

With four rowing machines and members of the public cheering them on, the team started strongly completing almost one third of the 100 miles in the first two hours.

Captain Colin McQuillan said: ‘Initially we started doing 5km each before we swapped, but we were covering too many miles.

‘So after a couple of hours we started doing 2.5km.

‘We wanted to be outside the museum as long as we could to try and raise as much money.

‘We had to slow down a bit.

‘The guys have been trying really hard and it’s great to see.’

He added: ‘We have had a lot of support from members of the public who have come down to say hello.

‘Hopefully we can raise as much as possible for both charities.’

The team were raising money for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) as well as the Transforming the D-Day Museum project.

Tracey Blake, divisional secretary for the SSAFA Portsmouth branch said: ‘It is amazing to have the army reserves supporting us.

‘The support they have offered is fantastic and they really gave everything while rowing. We’re hoping to raise as much money as possible.’

Money for the D-Day Museum will go towards their £4.8m project to modernise the museum.

So far, they have been successful in bids from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the government with George Osborne putting money aside in the budget. Portsmouth City Council has also contributed cash.

Andrew Whitmarsh, D-Day Museum development officer, said: ‘It is fantastic the team have chosen to support our project. Rowing 100 miles is no mean feat.

‘The D-Day Museum is the only museum in Britain that focuses solely on the landing of Allied troops in Normandy on D-Day, which marked the start of the liberation of Western Europe and was a crucial turning point in the Second World War.

‘Our plans for upgrading our displays and transforming our activities will ensure that this important story continues to be told.’