D-Day 70: Portsmouth delivers

The '1940's Concert' held on Southsea Common during Saturday evening included a big band finale and a spectacular firework display to end the event 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (141688-4173)
The '1940's Concert' held on Southsea Common during Saturday evening included a big band finale and a spectacular firework display to end the event 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (141688-4173)
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PORTSMOUTH delivered when the world was watching.

That’s the verdict after around 200,000 people came to the area to take part in commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

With many men leaving for France from Portsmouth and Gosport back in 1944 for the landings in Normandy, Southsea Common was one of the world’s focus points over four days of commemorations.

And the area has been praised for its tributes to the brave men who saved Europe from Nazi rule.

Seafront manager David Evans said: ‘It has been awesome, just phenomenal.

‘It could not have been better. It is certainly the best of any of the events I have ever seen on Southsea Common.

‘It was a family event from start to finish with mums, dads, grandparents.

‘There has been no trouble or bother because everyone has been too busy enjoying themselves while paying their respects.’

Thursday’s commemorations, which included the Red Arrows fly-past, is estimated to have drawn 60,000 to the seafront. There were around 10,000 on Friday and an estimated 40,000 people attended Saturday’s D-Day Experience, with field gun, marching bands and RAF Falcon parachute display which finished with a rousing 1940s concert and a spectacular firework display.

And yesterday’s lindy hop and swing afternoon, which kicked off the bandstand season, saw at least another 60,000 descend on the common.

Mr Evans added: ‘It was a fitting commemoration for D-Day.

‘Portsmouth City Council has always put the veterans first and made sure they were the most important people and at the heart of the events.

‘Portsmouth has played its part on the world stage. I was staggered to hear that last week the first item on Breakfast America was what was happening here.

‘From social media we know that people all over the world have been talking about how much they wish they were here in the city.

‘In terms of advertising we think it has been worth around £100,000.’

Events elsewhere in Gosport, Southwick and Havant are thought to have pushed the number of people taking part in the commemorations up to 200,000.

Despite the huge numbers of people descending on the area there were no major traffic or transport problems.

Portsmouth was the centre of commemorations for D-Day in the country this year.

The area had a huge part to play in the preparation, execution and aftermath of D-Day, which was crucial in helping the Allies win the Second World War.