DAN SNOW HONOURS THE COPP HEROES
Wednesday 21st May was a very big day for Hayling Island, when the final event was held to celebrate the work of Combined Operations Pilotage Parties. Many hundreds turned up to celebrate and commemorate the achievements of Hayling’s wonderful WWll COPP unit, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and their vital contribution to the success of the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944.
There were speeches led by the Association president, Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, the former Chief of Defence Staff Sir David Richards, wreath laying and the unveiling of a dedicated COPP seat by the Hon Timothy Knatchbull, the grandson of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Head of Combined Operations in WWll.
The service was beautifully conducted by the Reverend Anthony Ingham, Padre of 47 Regiment R.A. supported by the Hayling College choir, while throughout, the brass ensemble of the Queen’s Minden Military Band provided fine musical support.
The celebration was presented by Sally Taylor of BBC South Today, and we were absolutely delighted to welcome TV historian Dan Snow who delivered the keynote address. Dan commented on how honoured he felt, to be asked to give the background to the day’s events and the bravery of Hayling’s COPP Heroes.
The Three Belles vocal group entertained us with songs from the times, and the men and women of our local 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, who did such a great job for us 18 months ago, helped us once more on the big day. The 3 Platoon Hayling Army Cadets assisted plus the Hayling College senior students and choir. We had a spectacular display of military colours which gave real gravity the Last Post and Reveille, so ably played by our Royal Marines bugler.
Sadly over the past seven months we have lost several of our COPP veterans, so this will probably be our very last opportunity ever to publicly celebrate their great courage. Three were present, John Bowden, John Ashford and Roger Gilbert, but sadly Peter Palmer was too unwell to travel. Jim Booth was unfortunately taken ill the evening before, so his granddaughter Polly, bravely stepped in at the last minute to deliver his address with great aplomb. She was absolutely terrific, commenting later it was the most wonderful day of her life.
Chairman COPP Heroes Memorial Asociation