HUNDREDS of ‘unsung heroes’ killed in Portsmouth by Nazi bombers in the Blitz have finally been remembered thanks to one tenacious pensioner.
For 27 years, Jean Louth has been battling to create a monument to honour all those from the city killed during the Second World War.
The 82-year-old’s efforts have already seen the names of hundreds of RAF and army personnel from the area killed in the conflict between 1939-1945 added to Portsmouth’s war memorial in Guildhall Square.
Now Mrs Louth has gone one step further – by honouring some 1,000 civilians from the city killed during the six-year war, alongside the 2,000 servicemen and women already on the monument.
It’s one of the few memorials of its kind in the country and has left city leaders stunned in admiration.
Mrs Louth, of Wakefords Way, Havant, said: ‘It has taken 27 years but now we’re there. I’m thrilled.
These men and women were heroes. They were ambulance drivers and police officers who were doing their duty trying to help people in Portsmouth during the BlitzCampaigner Jean Louth, of Havant
‘There was nothing paying tribute to the civilian men and women who were killed in Portsmouth.
‘These men and women were heroes. They were ambulance drivers and police officers who were doing their duty trying to help people in Portsmouth during the Blitz.’
The names have been added to the war memorial and will be revealed during an official unveiling next month.
It completes a 27-year campaign by Mrs Louth, which started as a way of honouring her father, Harry Short.
He never made it home from the Second World War and was killed in action on May 26, 1940, at Dunkirk.
His body was never found, leaving Jean and her brothers, Ron and David, in limbo with no grave to visit.
The brave bombardier was the inspiration for Jean’s incredible campaign.
‘It’s been a labour of love getting all the names of servicemen and women,’ added Mrs Louth.
‘My dad was the inspiration. He fought for the country but here in his home city there was nothing to remember him by.
‘It was an injustice and was something that I wanted to change.’
Mrs Louth added that she was horrified by some of the stories of the city’s residents killed in the Blitz when, on January 10, 1941, 300 German bombers set their sights of Portsmouth, killing or injuring nearly 600 people.
‘There was one case where a Scout hut got a direct hit and everyone inside was killed,’ she said.
‘What really got me was the servicemen of the Merchant Navy who were lads of 16 or 17.
‘They were only kids and they were out there in the Atlantic when their boats were sunk.
‘It was just horrible.’
Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP was amazed by Mrs Louth’s determination and said more cities should follow her example.
‘I take my hat off to Jean. It must have taken so much time and research,’ Mrs Drummond said.
‘It’s such a fantastic idea paying tribute to these unsung heroes – the paramedics, firefighters etcetera – killed during the Blitz.
‘As a naval city, it was a truly horrific time.’
Former city council boss Gerald Vernon-Jackson has been supporting the campaign for ten years.
He helped drum up £35,000 to help pay for the city centre monument.
‘This makes our memorial very special – it’s one of the few where civilians are honoured in the same way as servicemen,’ added Cllr Vernon-Jackson.
The memorial will be officially unveiled on Tuesday, September 6, at 11am.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added there is more space on the monument for additional names, if needed.