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War veterans remember D-Day comrades
5:40am Tuesday 24th June 2014 in News
NAVY veterans gathered on Weymouth quayside to commemorate their comrades lost at sea on D-Day.
Spirits were high at the Royal Oak pub, which was filled to the rafters with old friends who came together to remember the Naval forces following last weekend’s commemorative services for the 70th Anniversary of the Longest Day.
Alvin Hopper, 67, of Walpole Street served in the Royal Navy Auxiliary service and organised the event.
He said: “D-Day is important to all of us here. This is the second annual service we’ve held at the Royal Oak and we hold it here because of its connection to HMS Royal Oak which is why the pub is painted in fleet grey”
“One of the most important things is that the Merchant Navy Association is remembered too.”
Paul Compton, 67, is chairman of the Weymouth and Portland branch of the Merchant Navy Association.
He said “The Merchant Navy tend to get forgotten because we’re not a part of the armed forces, but we lost 39,000 men during the Second World War and 2,000 on D-Day.
“The worst part was that when the ships sank, the men aboard who survived were considered as civilians and never received any pay. It was a very tough time for them.
“It is really important to commemorate the men that the Merchant Navy lost on D-Day.”
Dennis Matthews, 77, of Dorchester, and Paul Knapp, 70, of Weymouth, served together on the same ship during their time in the Navy, but never knew each other until they met through the Royal Naval Association.
Mr Knapp said: “Today has been wonderful. It’s great to get together with old friends and old shipmates and commemorate the lives lost.”
Mr Matthews, said: “Even though we didn’t serve with the men who lost their lives on D-Day, it’s still important to respect their memory.
“In the Navy, you knew that you could always rely on your oppo, they were better than family.”
Mr Knapp added: “We always said ‘Once Navy, Always Navy’ and that is still true today. You could always rely on each other if you were ever in any trouble.”
Lynwood Newman, 65, of Preston, is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Weymouth in 1989.
He said: “I go to this every year and this year is a really good turnout. It’s good to see so many people and lots of old friends”
Keith Treggiden, manager of the Royal Oak, said: “It’s really good to keep in touch with the past. That’s the great thing about the Royal Oak, we like to keep in touch with local people and the local history, and D-Day is really important to people here in Weymouth.”
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