Of course Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are serious occasions and wreath-laying and silences should be observed solemnly. But there are also family days out to be had as part of the weekend’s commemorations, as our area’s military museums hold some exciting and interesting events and activities.
Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill will ring to the sound of gun salutes to mark Armistice Day today and on Remembrance Sunday.
An original 18-pounder field gun from the First World War will be fired in salute today to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, commemorating when the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918. A further gun-firing follows at 1pm.
The fort will also join the nation on Remembrance Sunday in honouring those British servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the two world wars and later conflicts – including Iraq and Afghanistan.
These commemorations will include the firing of a First World War field gun, manned by a uniformed crew at 11am, followed by two minutes’ silence. A local battery of Royal Artillery (V), from the Territorial Army, will be in attendance.
The fort is home to the Royal Armouries Museum and its many family attractions include a collection of the nation’s big guns and a network of underground tunnels. This weekend is a fitting time to visit.
It will open early on both days at 10am and museum admission is free.
Royal Navy Submarine Museum
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport will be displaying the military medals of George Weston from today until Sunday.
George’s is a story of gallantry and dedicated military service spanning two world wars.
While serving as Private in the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions in rescuing wounded comrades at the battle of St Aubers Ridge in 1915.
Under heavy fire he brought many wounded back to the trench, before himself being injured.
He served with three different army regiments and then enlisted in the Royal Navy as a stoker.
He served in many different submarines, including the ill-fated HMS M2 and was awarded the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
During the Second World War, he served in HMS Sea Nymph.
More of his story can be learned at the museum this weekend from 10am until 4.30pm daily.
National Museum of the Royal Navy
Portsmouth children will be taking over the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s learning department tomorrow.
The event is being organised as part of Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Day 2011 (today), a national event led by the Children’s Commissioner for England, which gives children and young people the chance to shadow jobs, get involved in decision-making and offer their opinions on key issues.
Tomorrow the youngsters will spend the afternoon with learning staff running the Forget Me Not family activity, helping other children to make postcards inspired by those sent in the First World War and remembrance poppies they will display on the ship’s wheel from Nelson’s flagship in the museum’s Victory Gallery.
The workshop at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard-based museum is a free drop-in session running from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm.
The D-Day Museum in Southsea is throwing open its doors for free from 10am to 5pm on Sunday.
There will be talks by James Daly on Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes at noon and 2pm. James is the author of the book of the same name, to be published in early 2012, based on research into the 2,549 men and women from Portsmouth who died in the conflict.
Families can learn about a bomb disposal man and a 16-year-old paratrooper killed in Normandy, as well as visiting the museum’s other attractions.