Coppists will be honoured for final time

The dedication service of the memorial in  2012
The dedication service of the memorial in 2012
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THE brave men of an elite Second World War covert surveillance unit will be honoured for the last time.

Television historian Dan Snow, pictured, and top military figures will visit Haying Island next month for a commemoration ceremony for the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (Copp) at the seafront memorial.

The Coppists were based at Hayling Island Sailing Club during the Second World War and under the cover of darkness using small submarines and canoes they surveyed the beaches for the D-Day landings.

Robin Walton and Douglas Sharpe campaigned for years to get a memorial to them in Hayling.

In 2012 it was finally unveiled, with the help of Prince Charles, whose godfather Lord Louis Mountbatten established the unit.

Prince Charles is the patron of the memorial committee and was instrumental in arranging for the granite to be provided.

Mr Walton said: ‘The island will celebrate and commemorate the achievements of the wonderful Second World War Copp unit, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and their vital contribution to the success of the Normandy landings on June 6 1944.’

He added: ‘The show will be presented by Sally Taylor of BBC South Today, and we are absolutely delighted to report that TV historian Dan Snow will deliver the keynote address.

‘The men and women of our local 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, who did such a great job for us 18 months ago, are very keen to help us once more on the big day. And there will be one or two surprises too.’

There will be speeches led by Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, the associate president of the Copp Heroes Committee, the former Chief of Defence Staff Sir David Richards, and will feature a march past, band, wreath-laying and the unveiling of a dedicated Copp seat by the Hon Timothy Knatchbull, the grandson of Lord Louis Mountbatten.

‘Sadly over the past seven months we have lost several of our Copp veterans,’ said Mr Walton.

‘This will probably be our last opportunity ever to publicly celebrate their great courage.’

The event is on May 21.