A fundraising campaign is under way to enable a former WWII Navy warship to take part in this year’s commemorations of D-Day in Normandy.

Shân Merritt of Venn Ottery, whose father was involved in the D-Day landings, is helping to raise the money needed to bring the Coastal Forces boat HMS Medusa to the commemoration events in June.

June 6 2024 will be the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings – the largest seaborne invasion in history, which began the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi occupation.

With so few D-Day veterans still living, this year’s commemoration is particularly important to those who were involved in that historic military operation and who lost friends and colleagues in the fierce fighting.

Sidmouth Herald: The Medusa in Portsmouth harbour, 2020HMS Medusa was a significant part of the D-Day operation. She was one of the Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDMLs)  in the Coastal Forces, and was Channel Leader for Omaha Beach in June 1944, shelled by German forces onshore while guiding other vessels to the coast and protecting the American troops. Today HMS Medusa, originally known as HDML 1387, is the only remaining HDML fully restored to wartime condition, and is based in Gosport. Supporters of the HMS Medusa Trust feel that she should take part in the D-Day commemorations and are hoping to raise £8,000 towards fuel and other necessary costs.

Sidmouth Herald: Map showing the locations of the Medusa and Lt Merritt's boats on D-DayShân’s late father Lt Dennis Merritt was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). He was the Commanding Officer of another Harbour Defence Motor Launch during D-day, HDML1392, which was Channel Leader at Gold Beach, another of the five crucial landing zones.  HDML 1392 was sold off after WW2, renamed Sarinda in the 1970s and is now privately owned.  

Shân is supporting the fundraising to bring HMS Medusa back to Normandy – something she knows her father would fully support.

She said: “The plans for Medusa's activities during the D-Day commemorations are still fluid at present, but I understand that veterans will be taken to France on a ferry and a number of vessels from wartime will escort the ship on the way to France. It will perhaps bring back some memories of the veterans' own experiences.”

A JustGiving page has been set up for online donations to the Medusa Trust for the Normandy trip, and Shan is hoping her father’s story will help attract some donations from the local area.

To find out more and contribute to the cause, visit JustGiving and search for Medusa.