The Central Band of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra took part in the National Commemorative event for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 5 June 2019. The event was broadcast live on BBC1 from Southsea Common in Portsmouth and can be watched on the BBC iPlayer for a limited time.
The commemoration was just one part of a wider programme of events between 5-9 June in the UK and in France. Royal Air Force Music Services’ involvement for this event was as part of a tri-Service Orchestra on stage alongside the Bach Choir. In attendance were over 300 veterans from D-Day, as well as Her Majesty the Queen, Prime Minister Theresa May, American President Donald Trump, Canadian President Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Also featured at the event were acclaimed opera singer Sir Willard White, TV and West End star Sheridan Smith and the actor David Haig.
Rehearsals for the tri-Service Orchestra began at Royal Air Force Northolt on 30 May with musical arranger Michael McDermott and producers from the BBC. Rehearsals continued in Portsmouth from the 2-4 June with RAF Music Services’ Principal Director of Music, Wing Commander Piers Morrell, taking over the conductor’s podium.
Portsmouth was one of the key strategic locations for D-Day. From the city and the surrounding coastline, thousands of troops left for the beaches of Normandy. On 6 June 1944, the world saw the largest amphibious assault in history, leading to the end of the World War Two and the liberation of Europe. Sailors, soldiers and airmen from 14 nations displayed immense bravery and determination, whilst the operation was only made possible due to the efforts of allied forces in Europe and beyond.
You never forget your comrades, because you are all in it together. It’s right that the courage and sacrifice of so many is being honoured 75 years on. We must never forget.
John Jenkins MBE
Article: Corporal Jonathan Hill.
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