‘I think about my past friends who died...’

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Silent tributes were paid to veterans young and old who sacrificed their lives in conflict.

Young families, ex-service personnel and politicians turned out at Remembrance Sunday parades across Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport yesterday to pay respects.

Two-minute silences took place as veterans’ medals shone in the bright winter sun.

Watched by crowds of hundreds of people, the mayors of Portsmouth and the surrounding boroughs laid the Poppy Appeal wreaths at memorials.

Together with his family, veteran Paul Owen, 35, attended the Gosport service.

Paul, who served in the artillery for eight years, was with his wife Monique Owen, 35, and children Bradley, nine, Katlyn, six, Idelle, three, and Jackson, one.

During the poignant silence he reflected on colleagues who lost their lives on and off the battlefield.

‘I think about my past friends, people who have died by suicide after being in traumatic areas,’ he told The News.

‘I’ve had more friends who died from post-traumatic stress disorder than serving abroad.’

Praising younger people for turning up for the occasion outside Gosport War Memorial Hospital, in Bury Road, he said the services was ‘integral’ to life in the country.

He said: ‘We’re here to pay our respects to friends and colleagues.

‘I’ve come since I was in my teens. It’s quite sad it’s getting less and less. You still see young people coming through and making the effort.

‘It’s part of our history.’

Spontaneous applause from the crowd broke the sombre mood when the veterans platoon marched past at the end of the service. Sailors from HMS Sultan also marched in the parade.

Cllr Lynn Hook, Mayor of Gosport, laid the poppy wreath before youngsters read out poems commemorating the occasion.

Kev Robinson, 49 of Foster Road, Gosport, served in conflicts in Northern Ireland and the second Gulf war.

He served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and was with pal Steve Hope, 50, of Howe Road, Rowner, who was also in REME.

Kev said: ‘I’m glad the population of the town turned out for Remembrance Sunday to honour the dead.

‘It’s good to see that the kids are being taught what Remembrance Sunday is all about.’

Veterans’ parade commander John Culross, 71, of Whiteacres Close, Gosport, added: ‘They’re not turning up because they’re told to but because they want to. A lot of families have got people that they remember.’

Over at the sunken garden memorial and the Fleet Air Arm memorial, both in Lee-on-the-Solent, hundreds turned out.

Cllr Graham Burgess, Lee East ward member, was at the sunken garden. He said: ‘It was a very moving ceremony.’

The names of 1,000 fallen Fareham service personnel were read out by The Society of Old Priceans before the ceremony in West Street yesterday.

A parade, including sailors from HMS Collingwood, left from the Duke of Connaught’s Own Club in Western Road and went to the memorial outside Holy Trinity Church.

The Mayor’s Cadet, Able Cadet Adam Pryce-Jones, was the wreath bearer and scores of scout and guide groups also attended.

Meanwhile in Havant, hundreds of people gathered for a parade and act of remembrance at the war memorial outside St Faith’s Church, followed by service inside the church.

Havant MP Alan Mak was there. He said: ‘Once again the whole community came together to honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans, armed forces and those who have given their lives for our freedom and security.

‘The service and parade was a moving, well-supported occasion with many community groups and uniformed services taking part. It was an honour to take part again this year.’

There were also services and parades in Hayling Island, Waterlooville and, in the afternoon, in Emsworth.

Soldiers from 12th Regiment Royal Artillery and 16th Regiment Royal Artillery, based on Thorney Island, were at the Emsworth parade.

Five-year-old Ryan Healy was delighted to meet them. His mum Terri said: ‘It was really good to be able to watch the parade. Ryan loved it.’