A D-Day memorial voyage due to sail into Weymouth tomorrow has hit choppy waters.
Anniversary events to mark the Allied invasion of the Normandy beaches in June 1944 launch in the borough this week with a memorial service at the harbourside on Thursday. A ‘poppy petal trail’ will be laid along the quay where vessels embarked for France 70 years ago in the famous advance towards the end of the Second World War.
The port has also been selected as a stop-off point for a unique remembrance voyage.
A replica of the bagpipes played by 21-year-old Bill Millin who famously led commandos onto Sword beach is being transported around Britain in a relay. Calling in at ports instrumental in the D-Day landings, the pipes on the ‘Millin-Montgomery’ voyage will end up in France on June 6.
The Royal British Legion is helping to organise ceremonies to welcome the symbolic pipes, which are being transported on each leg by a different vessel and are being played at each stop by piper Karl Wainwright.
However as of yesterday, there was no boat available to bring the pipes from Exmouth to Weymouth.
If no-one comes forward, the pipes will arrive in Weymouth on Wednesday by car.
They will leave on Friday for Poole aboard Motor Torpedo Boat 102, the flagship of the Dunkirk evacuation and which carried Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower to inspect the fleet before D-Day.
MTB-102 is due into Weymouth tomorrow.
John Phipps, chairman of D-Day Revisited charity, which is organising the Millin-Montgomery voyage, said the association was relying on the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ to transport the pipes on a 1,000 mile journey from Fort William to Portsmouth. Transport so far includes a yacht, a coastguard cutter and a Stena Line ferry.
He said: “We are trying to get a boat for the Weymouth leg. If we don’t get one the pipes will come by car. The service on the quay will still go-ahead.”
Chairman of the Weymouth branch of the RBL Naomi Turner said the voyage was a ‘wonderful idea’ but it was only recently she had been made aware of the visit and the need for a boat which meant ‘everything had been a bit rushed.’ If you can help contact Naomi Turner on 01305 760495.
n A D-Day service will take place next to Weymouth Pavilion at 10.30am on Thursday.
A free D-Day picnic is at the Nothe Gardens on Saturday, June 7 from 1pm to 3pm.