Three decorated ex-servicemen from the Isle of Wight are being given VIP treatment by Wightlink Ferries at the start of their trip to France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Tom Bodman, Antony ‘Bert’ Cuthbertson, and Peter Evans, whose combined service over nearly half a century has taken them all over the world, are attending numerous commemorative events in Normandy next week in a tour organised by the Royal Marines Association. They will depart for France on Tuesday 4th June.
The Islanders will represent the Association at some of the sites most crucial to the success of the D-Day landings and subsequent campaigns. There will be poignant visits to Port-en-Bessin, the town captured by Royal Marines of No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando inOperation Aubery and used as the terminal for PLUTO (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean) and they will also take part in a major commemoration event in Bayeux.
The trip will be a mixture of pride in the achievements of D-Day, of nostalgia as they swap soldiering tales with ex-military colleagues and contemplation as they remember fallen or now deceased comrades.
Peter, 62, who saw service in places including Northern Ireland, the Falklands , Kenya and the former Yugoslavia during 23 years of service with the Welsh Guards, said: “We are all proud and very much looking forward to be involved in these commemorations.
“We were delighted to be chosen as representatives of the Royal Marine Association and really looking forward to the trip. It will be a busy few days but a very great honour for all of us.”
Bert, 80, who spent 14 years in the Royal Navy and saw service in countries including Aden and Cyprus, said: “We are three of just 17 members of the Association’s southern section to be making the trip and we are very proud to be doing so. It is a very busy itinerary but we are all raring to go.”
Tom, 87, who served in the Royal Marines between 1956 and 1965 and who saw active service in Malaya and Borneo, said: “I will be placing a few small wooden crosses to remember the people we know who are no longer with us. We are looking forward to entering into the spirit of things and, of course, swapping stories as us old service people like to do.”
Wightlink, which is hosting a number of activities to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, is providing free travel to all ex-servicemen and women attending official D-Day commemorations. Peter, Bert, and Tom will be invited to meet the Captain on the Bridge and treated to an early morning breakfast, given their early start from Fishbourne.
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield said: “The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings is a huge occasion in every sense. We are honoured to be doing our bit to remember the momentous events of 1944 as well as helping distinguished ex-servicemen like Peter, Bert and Tom to make their own personal commemorations.”