Southampton's heritage steamship SS Shieldhall is to stage two D-Day 80 themed cruises this weekend (June 8 and 9). 

Saturday’s trip will see Shieldhall steam to the Solent and Lepe, while Sundays cruise will pass into Portsmouth Harbour. 

Operation Overlord, launched on D-Day - 6th June 1944 - was the largest military invasion in history, with 156,000 troops landing on the Normandy beaches on the first day alone.

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On D-Day itself, Southampton was the embarkation port for British and Canadian assault troops, with two-thirds of the entire British assault force passing through the port. Between D-Day and the end of the war, about 3,500,000 military personnel passed through Southampton. Military vehicles, equipment and stores were also moved through the port. Shieldhall will pass down Southampton Water and journey to Lepe, with a commentary recalling the events of June 1940.

On board on Saturday, between 2pm and 6pm, will be Southampton City Council’s Curator of Maritime and Local Collections, Maria Newbery and See Southampton’s Jack Wilson, with D-Day related displays and slideshows featuring in the saloon.

On Sunday, between 11.30am and 6pm, Shieldhall stages an extended trip into Portsmouth Harbour, home of the Royal Navy. 

Daily Echo: Steamship Shieldhall entering Portsmouth Harbour

By the spring of 1944 southern England was fast becoming a huge armed camp, as men, vehicles, stores and ammunition moved to their marshalling areas. Portsmouth was the headquarters and main departure point for the military and naval units destined for Sword Beach on the Normandy coast. Many of the specialist ships and landing craft used on D-Day had been modified at Portsmouth Dockyard, whilst parts of the Mulberry Harbours (the artificial harbours that were used by the Allies for landing troops and supplies in Normandy) were built there. It was also an embarkation point for troops.

Both D-Day cruises will see a service take place onboard conducted by the Shieldhall Padre, the Reverend Dennis Mould, to which all are welcome.

Steamship Shieldhall is one of the country’s most important historic vessels, her heritage significance underscored by her listing as part of the National Historic Fleet. She is fully operational, each year providing thousands of people with the opportunity to experience steam-powered sea travel.

Limited tickets remain available for both trips at