D-Day veterans face delays at Calais amid French workers strike

UK veterans on a ferry to France as part of the D-Day commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the landings in Normandy
UK veterans on a ferry to France as part of the D-Day commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the landings in Normandy - LOU BENOIST/AFP

D-Day veterans returning from commemorations in Normandy are facing long delays after French port workers launched industrial action severely disrupting Calais to Dover ferries.

P&O Ferries, Irish Ferries and DFDS have cancelled, delayed or rerouted ferry sailings because of a strike over pension reforms.

The crossing, the shortest between France and the United Kingdom, is one of the most popular routes with British holidaymakers and was used to take some people commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

P&O Ferries issued an alert to customers shortly before 8.00am on Friday stating: “Our check-in is currently suspended.

“Rest assured if you miss your booked departure, we will get you on the next available [ferry].”

It advised passengers travelling to Calais to use toilet facilities before they reached the port, bring refreshments and “plan for a wait on arrival”.

DFDS rerouted all its Calais-Dover crossings to Dunkirk, which is around 30 miles to the east of Calais
DFDS rerouted all its Calais-Dover crossings to Dunkirk, which is around 30 miles to the east of Calais - ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Irish Ferries cancelled at least four sailings on Friday, while DFDS rerouted all its Calais-Dover crossings to Dunkirk, which is around 30 miles to the east of Calais.

Other passengers – including many holidaymakers returning to the UK – were diverted to other ports, to try to ease the pressures on Calais.

DFDS said: “Passengers affected should proceed to Dunkirk port, where they will be rebooked and accommodated onto the next available sailing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

A Port of Dover spokesman said the strike was understood to have been held from midnight for four hours but was due to resume on Saturday from midnight.

She said: “We will monitor the situation closely in liaison with our ferry partners and the Port of Calais, however, please note that there may be delays to some services.

“We apologise for any delays or inconvenience as a result of the industrial action in France.”

John Nurden, who had travelled to France for the D-Day celebrations, became embroiled in the delays as he attempted to return home via coach.

He wrote on social media: “Marooned in France! We had been making excellent progress after 6.00am departure to beat D-Day delays in Calais.

“Now, Shearings coach with 46 passengers diverted from port because of blockade. Waiting for instructions to Euro Tunnel.”

He praised Shearings, a coach holiday company, for “acting quickly” to book their passengers in on a Euro Tunnel crossing.

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