As a member of the 47 Royal Marine Commando Association I attended the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. The Association is a charity which remembers the actions of this Unit during the Second World War and assists its veterans. D-Day was its first action.
On D-Day the Commando were given the task of capturing and securing the small fishing port of Port-en-Bessin. The unique importance of this was that through this port the supplies of petrol were to be landed, initially in pipelines running from tanker ships, but after a few days, through a pipeline – PLUTO – running from the Isle of Wight.
It was decided that after the failure of Dieppe, the Commando consisting of 420 men would land at the extreme end of Gold Beach and moving as surreptitiously as possible behind the enemy coastal defences in a long march attack the port from the rear. By 8 June they had succeeded. Only 276 could be mustered on 9 June; 46 were killed or drowned, 64 wounded, 6 captured and 28 missing.
This year three veterans came with families and friends. We all attended the main Commemorative Service at Bayeux War Cemetery. Then to three memorials in Port-en-Bessin itself. The French population still welcome the veterans with thanks (and kisses) for liberating them from four years of Nazi occupation. Unfortunately, this could only be done by fighting.
On the following day we all went to the beach where the Commando had landed. In a simple private ceremony two families scattered the ashes of veterans who had died over the last twelve months. It made a poignant moment to the whole visit.
Leslie L Pike, Fairfield Hall resident