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D-Day vessel which marked entrance to Omaha beach is moored at Poole Quay
A ROYAL Navy vessel that took part in D-Day by marking the entrance to Omaha Beach, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of World War Two, is moored at Poole Quay.
The harbour defence motor launch, HDML 1387 Medusa, made its return home yesterday, 70 years after being built at the town’s Newman’s Yard.
Now restored and owned by the Medusa Trust, the vessel will open to the public this afternoon.
Skipper and chairman of the trustees, Alan Watson, told the Daily Echo: “Her actual role on D-Day was to mark the entrance to the narrow swept channel through the German minefield guarding the beach.”
American troops suffered heavy casualties at Omaha after meeting stiff German resistance. Hundreds of young men never made it off the beach alive.
Decades later the bloody landings were immortalised on film in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Saving Private Ryan.
Alan believes that keeping the Medusa seaworthy is a way to honour the servicemen who served on her.
“It is the only way you can pass on what it was like for the young men that went out and did what they did,” he said.
“The interest here in Poole has been tremendous, lots of people have been stopping to take a look. It is only when you come and take a look around that you’ll appreciate what these young men did and what the vessel means for us now.”
After the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, Medusa went on to take the surrender of Ijmuiden, Holland, and was the first Allied vessel to Amsterdam.
Medusa made her first return to Poole since the war in 1993, on the 50th anniversary of her launch.
Alan said: “Another important thing is to keep the knowledge of how she operates, how she works and what she’s like at sea. That knowledge is with us, the last crew of one of these ships.”
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