WATCH: World War II veterans set sail to Normandy for D-Day 80 commemorations

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Crowds cheered a ferry carrying D-Day veterans to France for the 80th anniversary commemorations as it set sail from Portsmouth.

The Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel was accompanied by Royal Navy patrol vessels Trumpeter, Medusa and Basher as well as HMS Cattistock and the Training Ship Royalist, with tugs spraying water as it travelled out of Portsmouth Harbour. Several small boats and yachts also waited outside the harbour to see the ferry off on its journey to Caen.

Crowds waving Union and D-Day flags gathered on the Round Tower and harbour walls in Old Portsmouth and cheered and clapped as the ferry passed, with the veterans and families waving back from the ship’s decks.

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Janet Welling, 71, from Portsmouth, said: “I came here to remember the day and to reminisce. It shouldn’t be forgotten, what those poor lads went through, leaving here and embarking on France, and what they put themselves through. They said they weren’t scared – they must have been petrified.”

Maisie Brown, 20, also from Portsmouth, said: “I came down with my nan to celebrate D-Day and that it should always be remembered. Being the younger generation, and my dad and my uncles being in the Navy, I feel it’s always important to remember and never to forget.”

As the ferry headed out into the Solent, an RAF A400 aircraft flew past to honour the veterans. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The veterans, travelling with the Spirit of Normandy Trust and the Royal British Legion, will carry with them a commemorative torch from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which will form the centrepiece of the vigil at Bayeux War Cemetery on June 5.

“A young person will pass this symbolic torch to a veteran before they board the ferry. At 1pm (ship’s time), a wreath-laying will take place on the ferry to remember those who never made it to shore.”

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Watch the video taken by Express FM and Ellie Hughes embedded in this article to see the ships leaving Portsmouth.

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