Medway commemorates D-Day

A group of people stood on the bow of HMS Cavalier. The Union Jack flag is flying on the front.
Brigadier Peter Gilbert QVRM TD DL VR, Deputy Lieutenant of Kent; Mike Billingham, Medway’s Town Crier; Marian Nestorov, The Mayor of Medway, and his wife, Mrs Liubov Nestorov; Dr Gillian Fargher, High Sheriff of Kent; Richard Morsley, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust; Veterans from the Royal Naval Association.

Published: Thursday, 6th June 2024

HMS Cavalier at The Historic Dockyard Chatham provided the backdrop of a commemoration event to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

On Thursday, 6 June, members of the armed forces, veterans and representatives from Medway Council and the dockyard – which jointly organised the service – came together to remember everyone impacted by the events in 1944.

Medway’s Town Crier, Mike Billingham, opened the ceremony with the ringing of bells and reading the D-Day Proclamation.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham was a fitting location for the day’s event in this 40th anniversary year since the closure of the working dockyard.  Welcoming guests to the event,  Richard Morsley, Chief Executive of the Historic Dockyard Chatham Trust reflected on the vital role played by the dockyard in the war effort.

The Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Brigadier Peter Gilbert, speaking at the commemoration.

The Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Brigadier Peter Gilbert, speaking at the commemoration.

Brigadier Peter Gilbert QVRM TD DL VR, Deputy Lieutenant of Kent talked about the historic and heroic effort that took place on 6 June 1944 that ultimately marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War “In commemorating the eightieth anniversary of D-Day, we pay homage to the resilience and fortitude of the British veterans who played a crucial role in this pivotal moment of the Second World War. These brave men—many just teenagers—left their families and their futures behind to liberate Western Europe from the grip of the Nazis. We must remember the sacrifices they made. We are forever in debt to them.”

Veteran Tim Stopford read an extract from petty officer Roy Emmington, Royal Navy, who was from Chatham, and someone Tim knew personally: “We escorted four troop ships over to Normandy from Southend and I watched as the troops filed onto various beaches. We thought there would be thousands of guns firing but it was deadly quiet. It warmed up afterwards but that first morning it seemed very, very quiet.

“From a young boy I’d been trained for this job and we just took it all in our stride. The really hard bit was, one morning, we looked out and we were steaming through soldiers, hundreds of them, all floating in the water dead. That was the worst thing I saw on D-Day. 

“We couldn’t even stop to pick them up – we had to keep moving because there were hundreds of U-boats and E-boats around so we had to keep going.” 

The High Sheriff of Kent, Dr Gill Fargher led the Exhortation after the Union Flag was raised on HMS Cavalier.

The Mayor of Medway closed the moving service in a speech acknowledging Medway’s proud historic connections to the Armed Services, which will be celebrated at Medway’s Armed Forces Day event being held at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, on Saturday, 29 June.

The official D-Day 80 Flag of Peace is also flying on the ship and at Medway Council’s HQ in Chatham.

If you’d like to share with us how you’re commemorating D-Day, please tag Medway Council on social media and use #DDay80

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