An honour for Brittany Ferries – carrying La Flamme de la Liberté from Cherbourg to Portsmouth

15th May 2024
  • Captain Philippe Raimbeaux proudly keeps watch over the flame on board Galicia
  • Captain Raimbeaux and Flamme Ambassadors prepare to depart the ship in Portsmouth
  • French naval vessel Etoile leads Galicia into Portsmouth Harbour - image Strong Island / Portsmouth International Port
  • Flamme is taken on board Galicia in Cherbourg - Barfleur in the background
  • Galicia and Flamme pass Spinnaker - image Strong Island / Portsmouth International Port
  • President Jean-Marc Roue addresses Flamme Ambassadors on board Galicia before arrival into UK

Brittany Ferries is honoured to have carried La Flamme de la Liberté from France to the UK.

On 14 May, Galicia carried the French Freedom Flame (La Flamme de la Liberté) from Cherbourg in Normandie to the UK. It arrived into Portsmouth Harbour as part of a flotilla led by French naval ship Etoile at 19:00 local time

The flame’s journey started on 8 May in Paris. Representatives from “Opération Mirror” attended a ceremony and used the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe to light three candles  These were then housed in carefully designed lanterns to be taken on a reverse route, following the allies’ path to victory after the D-Day landings.

Under the patronage of President Emmanuel Macron, Opération Mirror and the Flame de la Liberté Ambassadors (around 40 young people) had been tasked with bringing heartfelt thanks from the French people to the allies for their sacrifices during World War II, from the D-Day beach landings and airborne support to the battle of Normandie and beyond. Along the way, they stopped to pay hommage in towns and villages in France, en route to Cherbourg.

Representatives from Opération Mirror sailed on Galicia, alongside one of the lanterns, which was accepted on board in Cherbourg by captain Philippe Raimbeaux. ‘Flame Ambassadors’ were also in attendance, to talk to passengers and proudly guard the flame in the reception area throughout its journey. Brittany Ferries was represented in Cherbourg and Portsmouth by company president Jean-Marc Roué.

Around 20 Flame Ambassadors will now continue the journey across the Atlantic. Its final destination is Arlington military cemetery in the United States.

The Eternal French Freedom Flame is alight in perpetuity at the tomb of the unknown soldier, located at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It pays homage to the ultimate sacrifice made by those – known and unknown – who perished in world wars of the twentieth century, fighting to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.

Commenting on the occasion, CEO Christophe Mathieu said: “It is a great honour for Brittany Ferries to have carried the Freedom Flame across the Channel, a symbol of great respect and humblest thanks to all brave veterans who crossed the channel, parachuted and fought the battle of Normandy nearly 80 years ago. Today, those arriving in Normandy by sea are faced with sweeping golden sands, full of happy families making joyful memories. But those very memories are thanks to freedoms we must never take for granted and the sacrifices we must never forget.”

Portsmouth International Port hosted the arrival of the flame, with a reception supported  by the Royal British Legion, the Royal Navy (including marching band) local MPs and councillors. Special guest of honour was Helen Patton, grand daughter of General Patton.