Military music echoed across Southampton Water, down which many British soldiers sailed to take part in the invasion of France. The veterans then stood in silence for two minutes in memory of the men who were killed.
Kenneth Kendall, the former BBC newsreader, said: 'The thoughts of everyone will go to those who did not return.' The two-minute silence was followed by a flypast of Second World War and modern aircraft.
The rally, at Netley, was part of the Hampshire Remembers D-Day programme, one of the biggest of many such local events now taking place in the run-up to the anniversary on 6 June.
The veterans were inspected by the Duke of Edinburgh from the back of an open-backed Range Rover. He then boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia to review hundreds of yachts in the Solent. Former soldiers, sailors and airmen from Britain, Poland, the Netherlands, Canada and France were joined by others who played their part at home, including nurses, the Women's Land Army, railwaymen, the Women's Institute, and the WRVS. 'Operation Overlord could never have been successful if the military had not been supported 101 per cent by all at home,' said Sir Tom Normanton, chairman of the Hampshire Remembers D-Day Anniversary.
A recording of the broadcast by John Snagge announcing the invasion was played.
Hans Teske, 70, a former German paratrooper, who was taken prisoner and has lived in Britain since 1946, was among the crowd. He said that he believes that reconciliation is now well advanced.
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