PORTSMOUTH is set to become the focal point of D-Day commemorations after securing hundreds of thousands of pounds in European funding.
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which started on June 6, 1944, and was the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
And plans for Portsmouth to lead the way in marking the milestone have become a reality after Portsmouth City Council secured a share of £1m from the European Union.
The funding will be shared in partnership with Caen, France, and both cities will work together to commission artists from each country to create a piece of public art.
The cash will also be used to host an evening of debates with a live link-up across the channel to discuss how the landings have shaped modern Europe.
And there will be joint work between Portsmouth’s D-Day Museum, in Clarence Esplanade, Southsea and the French Memorial museum.
It follows a £90,000 grant given earlier this year by the Heritage Lottery Fund to spread the word about the attraction to young people. The museum is working with the Pompey in the Community charity’s Respect programme. The funding will also focus on local stories, by working with the community to record the experiences of people who witnessed events, and veterans who took part in the Normandy landings.
And some of the money will also go towards redesigning the visitor experience of the museum, to improve appeal for a wider audience.
Councillor Lee Hunt, who is responsible for culture, leisure and sport at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘This is all excellent news arising from our ongoing hard work in partnership with many others, constantly bidding to improve the city’s cultural offer. It sees us winning a share of £1m from EU funding, meaning we can work with our Caen partners.
‘The funding means we commemorate the 70th D-Day anniversary with the respect and style the veterans deserve.
‘It will help keep the memory alive for future generations and make sure the sacrifices are never forgotten.
‘We hope the government will make Portsmouth the focal commemoration point for next year’s anniversary.
‘I am proud to deliver this good news to launch our plans for 2014.’
The council is still waiting to find out if it will be awarded £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It would be spent on revamping the entire D-Day Museum.
D-DAY INVASION MARKED THE BEGINNING ON THE END
IT WAS one of the biggest invasions in history and a key turning point in the Second World War.
On June 6, 1944, a massive military force set out from England to the shores of Normandy, in France.
It was dispatched to overthrow Nazi Germany, which had taken over nearly the whole of Europe, and the war had been going on for five years.
The allied attack lasted for 11 months, and the landing involved more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and more than 150,000 servicemen.