Royal Navy warships to attend D-Day 70 Commemorations

As the international commemorations for the 70th anniversary of D-Day inch closer, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark is gearing up to play her pivotal role.

The assault ship will lead the Royal Navy’s contingent of five ships and Royal Marines, as well as an international flotilla, to the beaches off the coast of Normandy, France where a number of high-profile ceremonies and services will be held.

The events will begin with a demonstration of the ship’s amphibious capability in Southsea on June 5 and culminate in services at the Bayeux Cathedral, cemetery and Arromanches and ceremonies at Sword Beach on June 6 and then at Port en Bessin on June 7.

“HMS Bulwark, as the nation’s very high readiness warship, is ideally placed to lead the Royal Navy’s contribution to the D-Day events,” said HMS Bulwark Commanding Officer Captain Dean Bassett. 

“After demonstrating her capability to around 35,000 people in Southsea, HMS Bulwark will provide a backdrop to the commemorations on June 6 where the various British landings took place.

“She will provide a degree of modern capability to offset the historic nature of D-Day and provides context as to what the sailors, marines and soldiers experienced 70 years ago.”

She will provide a degree of modern capability to offset the historic nature of D-Day and provides context as to what the sailors, marines and soldiers experienced 70 years ago.

Captain Dean Bassett RN

On Monday HMS Bulwark used Browndown beach in Gosport to practise her forthcoming demonstration, sending landing craft filled with marines from the ship to the beach and flying a Merlin and Sea King helicopter to provide air cover.

“We launched landing craft from HMS Bulwark onto the beach where they were then involved in a short firefight,” explained Royal Marine and Amphibious Operations Officer Lieutenant Colonel Rich Maltby.

“We also sent the quick reaction force, which is a group of Marines held at short notice to move, to engage the enemy and neutralise the threat.

“This is similar to what we will demonstrate in Southsea but there will be more craft available to use as well as elements of 40 Commando to make it a spectacular, crowd-pleasing event.”

As well as HMS Bulwark Royal Navy frigate HMS Richmond will join the international flotilla to France as well as minehunter HMS Ledbury and patrol vessels HMS Ranger and HMS Express.

The Royal Marines will be represented by elements of 1 Assault Group.

Attendance at the commemoration is expected from the Royal Family, the chiefs of all three Armed Services, the Prime Minister David Cameron, Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond as well as 15 Heads of State and VIP representation from the Allied countries.

The D-Day landings on June 6 1944 involved a combined force of British, Canadian, American and French forces, which involved hundreds of units from the Royal Navy.

Around 132,000 Royal Marines and Allied soldiers were transported by ships and injected onto the beaches off Normandy by landing craft and sea boat with 23, 400 arriving by air.

The Royal Air Force and Allied aircraft provided air support with 11,000 aircraft. The largest sea-borne invasion ever launched, it was pivotal in heralding the end of the Second World War in Europe.

However that was at a cost of around 4,300 British and Commonwealth casualties listed as dead, wounded or missing.

For a breakdown of D-Day events across UK and France please visit: