D-Day veteran says Portsmouth 'has done us well’ as commemoration takes place at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
D-DAY veterans were welcomed to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard today as the country marks the 77th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
The veterans arrived at the site by landing craft and were piped ashore by pipers playing the ‘Millin Pipes’ used by William Millin.
Alberto Joseph Cattini, known as Joe, served for five years from 1941, before taking part in the landings.
At Normandy he was a bombardier in the 86th Field Regiment Royal Artillery of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, initially involved in the action at Luc sur Mer.
Mr Cattini, 98 and living in Fair Oak, said: ‘I must say that Pompey has done us well.
‘I never expected the reception that we received in Pompey.
‘It's quite the occasion.’
Mr Cattini lifted his walking stick holding it as if it were a rifle after coming ashore in the restored Falklands-era F8 landing craft.
The veterans, who supported by the D-Day Revisited charity, met with dignitaries and enjoyed a private lunch.
Nick Hewitt, head of collections and research, at The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: ‘It's been amazing, such an important event. It's been absolutely fantastic.
‘As a historian, we can get a bit in our bubble, but an event like D-Day punches us out of that bubble. It really shaped the world we're living in today.
‘To see the veterans coming out was really moving, really important.
‘We don't always think about the enormous battle to get the soldiers there on D-Day, and the naval effort that went on for months.’
Visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard also enjoyed musical performances, model boats, boat rides on historic vessels, and a display of military vehicles.
Hannah Prowse, chief executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: ‘We're really pleased to have pulled this off, my team have done an amazing job getting it together.
‘It's lovely to get the veterans in Portsmouth, it means such a lot.
‘It's been a total success because the veterans are happy, the look on their faces as they went in off the landing craft was amazing.’
Dominic Tweddle, director general for the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to mark the D-Day anniversary this year not just with our incredible displays at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and through our website, but also with our wonderfully conserved ship LCT 7074, finally open to the public thanks to the support of National Lottery players.
‘Her role in the landings, and those like her, was of crucial importance and it is fantastic to see her displayed so proudly on the city’s seafront as part of the D-Day Story.’
Councillor Ben Dowling, culture cabinet member at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Portsmouth’s role in the Normandy Landings is one that we can all be incredibly proud of.
‘It is wonderful to see it being marked by our heritage attractions and I hope that local communities will take this as an opportunity to come into the city and discover more about the landings and those who undertook them.’