Last Friday a service of remembrance took place at Itchenor Hard. Village residents and Chichester Harbour Conservancy staff gathered to pay tribute to the 32 men of 601 LCM Flotilla who were lost at sea as they returned from the D-Day landings on 21 July 1945.
Organised by The Itchenor Society, the service takes place each year by the memorial bench outside the Harbour Office. Rear Admiral Matt Briers CBE, CEO of Chichester Harbour Conservancy gave a short history of the events leading to the tragedy.
On the eve of D-Day, the landing craft of 601 LCM Flotilla sailed down Itchenor Creek and across the English Channel to support the landings. Despite coming under fire, and then suffering storm damage, the flotilla was successful in its mission. They spent 6 weeks transporting men, supplies and ammunition ashore from ships anchored off the Normandy coast.
But tragedy struck as they made their journey towards home shores. The weather deteriorated and they encountered a formidable north-westerly gale. 11 of the 16 landing craft did not make it and foundered. 32 men perished.
Rear Admiral Matt Briers CBE said “It is right that we commemorate the sacrifices made by the men of 601 LCM Flotilla. Having spent many years serving at sea in the Royal Navy, I well understand the perils of the sea and it is fitting that we should continue to remember the lives lost so that we may live in freedom today.”
Captain Jo Cox, Harbour Master read the names of those that died and the exhortation was delivered by Mr Alistair Spencer of West Itchenor Parish Council before a minute’s silence.