D-Day 80 Anniversary: Portsmouth engineer creates stunning beacon for city's commemoration

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A Portsmouth-based engineer has designed a beacon which will lit the city during the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations.

Max Leonard, a 25-year-old BAE Systems’ engineer, put together the plans for the signal which will be used during the memorial service on June 6. It includes samples of sand from the five Normandy beaches where more than 4,400 Allied personnel lost their lives during the launch of the largest amphibious invasion in history.

The beacon, as well as others across the country, will be lit as a tribute to the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedoms. Scott Jamieson, managing director of BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, said: “It’s a privilege to be involved in this project to give recognition to the brave men and women who gave so much to protect our country.

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Max Leonard, Portsmouth-based engineer, designed the principal beacon which will be lit during the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations. Picture: John GasserMax Leonard, Portsmouth-based engineer, designed the principal beacon which will be lit during the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations. Picture: John Gasser
Max Leonard, Portsmouth-based engineer, designed the principal beacon which will be lit during the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations. Picture: John Gasser | John Gasser

“We have a long and proud history of supporting the UK Armed Forces and are committed to serving those who serve and protect us which is a source of great pride to everyone who works at BAE Systems.”

D-Day beacons will be lit across the country. Picture: John GasserD-Day beacons will be lit across the country. Picture: John Gasser
D-Day beacons will be lit across the country. Picture: John Gasser | John Gasser

Portsmouth will take centre stage for the commemorations this summer, with military veterans, serving personnel, dignitaries, politicians and members of the royal family all expected to congregate in the city.

Bruno Peek CVO OBE OPR is the pageantmaster for D-Day 80 and he commissioned the principal beacon, which will be installed at HMNB Portsmouth. He said: “The base was the headquarters and main departure point for the naval units and associated ground forces destined for Sword Beach on the Normandy coast, on 6 June 1944. This was one of the five beaches landed on by many thousands of brave individuals who sacrificed their lives, helping to secure the freedom we all enjoy today.

“I was keen that young people like Max were seen to be involved in this 80th Anniversary Commemoration of the D-Day landings. He has more than captured the essence and significance of the occasion and we are all looking forward to seeing his design brought to life. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Max and the team at BAE Systems for their generous support in the design and manufacture of the Principal D-Day 80 Beacon.”

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