In addition to the extensive list of events planned to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in the UK, Lee Flying Assocation (www.eghf.co.uk) and partners have created a unique Daedalus D-Day 70th Airmen and Airborne Commemoration, as Karl Drage examines here.
The site of the former Royal Naval Air Station Lee-on-Solent (HMS Daedalus) is no stranger to hosting D-Day commemorative participants with the airfield, now known as Daedalus Aerodrome, regularly acting as a staging point for para-trooping aircraft embarking upon flights to the D-Day beaches each June.
On 4 June, the formation of up to eight Dakotas expected to take part in the Dakotas Over Normandy commemorations will do just that. The aircraft are scheduled to start arriving on the afternoon of 2 June and should get airborne, subject to weather and serviceability, between 1100 and 1200 on 4 June ahead of their 100 parachutist drop at Carentan, Normandy.
Between the arrival and departure phases, a public D-Day 70th memorial service will be held at Lee-on-Solent seafront Civic War Memorial at 1830 on Tuesday, 3 June. A two-minute silence will take place at 1900 followed by wreath laying by civic representatives and members of the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and United States Navy.
At 1915, at the conclusion of the wreath laying, flypasts from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfires and Dakota, plus Royal Navy Historic Flight Sea Fury and a civilian Dakota will take place on the Lee-on-Solent seafront at Marine Parade.
Lee Flying Association’s Jon Butts also expects to welcome back Bill Charney, aka Capt Biff Windsock, and his Beechcraft D17S, “The Red Rockette”, which was operated by the Fleet Air Arm at HMS Daedalus during World War 2, Beech 18 Expeditor G-BKGM / HB275 and a number of other types relevant to the significant rold of RNAS Lee-on-Solent on D-Day.
Regrettably, public access to Daedalus Aerodrome is not permitted by the land-owner, however, the Lee-on-Solent Branch of the Royal British Legion has organised a public seafront D-Day 70th Memorial Service, closed by a Memorial Flypast organised by Lee Flying Association. Any surplus generated by the Daedalus D-Day 70th Airmen & Airborne Commemoration will be donated to the Royal British Legion.
The following Dakotas are expected to operate from Lee-on-Solent:
Tradewind Aviation – C-47 Skytrain ‘Union Jack Dak’
Airventure Ltd – C-47 Skytrain ‘Drag Em Oot’
Dakota Norway – C-53D Skytrooper LN-WND
Breitling – DC-3 Dakota HB-IRJ
DC-3 Association Finland – DC-3 Dakota OH-LCH
DC-3 Vennerne – DC-3 Dakota OY-BPB
France DC-3 – DC-3 Dakota F-AZTE (F-BBBA)
Goldtimer Foundation – Lisunov Li-2 HA-LIX
For more information, please refer to the Lee Flying Association website.