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Armed Forces Day event celebrates service past and present

Shadow Armed Forces and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan was joined by Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, veterans, and Navy cadets for a tour of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard on restored landing craft to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

Veterans from the Second World War, the Falklands and the first Gulf War were joined by 12 cadets and three adult volunteers from 6 Royal Naval and Royal Marines Volunteer Cadet Corps based in Whale Island, HMS Sultan in Gosport and HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

Politicians, veterans and cadets boarded the restored F8 landing craft, used in the Falklands, HSL102, which rescued airmen during the Battle of Britain, and MGB81, used at Normandy on D-Day.

They then toured around the harbour, taking in sights of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, before landing on the slipway.

Joe Cattini was one of the veterans in attendance. Now 98, Mr Cattini served with the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, including D-Day and the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland.

Originally formed at Eastney Barracks in 1901, the Volunteer Cadet Corps celebrated its 120th birthday in February 2021.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“I am delighted to be honouring the service of personnel past and present in the home and heart of the Royal Navy this Armed Forces Day.

“We stand squarely behind our armed forces. The enduring example of service and duty set by those I have met today should be celebrated all year round, not just this week.

“That’s why we’ve launched our veteran’s survey and why Labour has put forward amendments to the Armed Forces Bill to make real improvements in the day-to-day lives of our forces.

“The Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust have been instrumental in bringing this event together. I’d like to thank their brilliant staff and pay tribute to their ongoing efforts to preserve our City’s strong naval and military history.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence John Healey said:

“Our Armed Forces work to protect the country and keep us all safe, theirs is the ultimate public service. They’ve played an essential part in helping the nation through the Covid crisis and Labour is proud that British Forces are respected worldwide for their all-round excellence – training allies, fighting terrorism, securing open seas, peacekeeping in conflicts.

“Armed Forces Week is a special week when we can all say a special ‘thank you’ for the service and sacrifice of our Forces, their families and veterans.”

Hannah Prowse, CEO of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said:

“We are honoured to be the custodians of this part of Portsmouth’s naval heritage.  The civilian story of the support for our armed forces – exemplified by the Dockyard – can not be underestimated.  We are justly proud of the role played by the men and women of the armed forces – and by the families, businesses and communities that support them.”