D-Day anniversary: Veteran unveils plaque to mark importance of HMS Daedalus to wartime effort
A SPECIAL D-Day 75 commemoration event held at arguably the Allies’ most strategically important airfield in the UK touched those attending.
None more so than Stanley Richardson, 99, who was based at Solent Airport, Daedalus, working as a petty officer for the Fleet Air Arm to check aircraft to make sure they were ready for battle in 1944.
Veteran Stanley, who was driven down to the area from his home in Littlehampton today, had no idea he was to be guest of honour at the plaque unveiling to pay tribute to those who bravely served their country.
Up to 175 pilots flew from Solent Airport during D-Day - with the plaque honouring them.
‘I’m lost for words by it all,’ Stanley said. ‘I’m very proud to represent all my colleagues. A lot of them aren’t here today but I’m here for them.
‘I’m so overwhelmed to be here. I had no idea what was happening today, it’s all a big surprise. My son Stuart organised it. It’s been very special. I’ve met so many nice people today.’
Speaking of his memories of D-Day, Stanley said: ‘We knew very little about it. We were just getting planes ready. I met a lot of good people and lost a lot of good friends.’
Fareham Borough Council mayor Pamela Bryant said: ‘HMS Daedalus played a very significant part on D-Day. It was the busiest allied airfield in the UK with more than 400 missions flown over Normandy.’
She added: ‘We are here to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings. I would like to thank all our veterans for their service and to remember those that sadly didn’t come home.’
Mayoress Louise Clubley said: ‘It’s wonderful to have all the veterans here today. It’s a great privilege to meet them. It’s incredible to hear what they went through.’
The special event also had a number of flying aircraft lined up to take to the skies including the world’s only wing walker display team, the AeroSuperBatics and the Great War Display Team, who were due to fly over Fareham in replica World War One aircraft. Due to the windy weather some of the displays were cancelled, organisers said.
A display of static aircraft on the ground included an Islander, a Defender, a Moth, a C42, a C182 Seaplane, a P51 Mustang and a Gazelle and Lynx from HMS Sultan – and a vintage car display. Children's activities, fun fair rides, face painting, stage and arena performances, food stalls, gift and community stalls, were also laid on for the hundreds of people who turned out.