Weymouth and Portland have historically had an important military presence, in particular with the Royal Naval Base HMS Osprey (now, sadly closed) at Portland. However, Portland Port is active, with many visits from international naval and merchant vessels, as well as cruise ships.
There is also an army base at Chickerell, and a large sea cadet centre near the Nothe Fort. Small royal naval vessels and sea cadet training boats can often be seen in Weymouth Harbour.
Many of the armed forces and small boats that took part in the Second World War’s D-Day landings sailed from Weymouth, one of which (My Girl) now does Jurassic Coast trips from Weymouth Harbour.
Other military events in Weymouth include the Armistice Day parade in November which includes British, American, and Anzac Memorials on the Esplanade. Weymouth has strong links with the Anzacs, and there is a special service to commemorate Anzac Day on Weymouth Esplanade in April.
One of the most spectacular armed forces events in Weymouth is when the beach becomes a ‘battlefield’ every June when soldiers put on a wonderful display of bridge-building and tank warfare as part of the National Armed Forces Weekend celebrations.
Historical military re-enactments take place around the town and Harbour every February, to mark the Battle of Weymouth. Locally known as The Crabchurch Conspiracy, the seventeenth century night when hundreds of Royalists were killed in Weymouth Harbour marked a turning point in the English civil war and in the ensuing English history.
The Nothe fort is a Victorian fort built on a promontory, overlooking Weymouth Harbour. Part museum and part events venue, the Nothe fort puts on several historical and military events throughout the year, including Canon-firing and Family Evacuee Experience days. It is open to the public daily, so a visit is sure to thrill and fascinate, while educating the whole family at the same time!
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