PRINCESS Anne will join veterans, members of the armed forces and the public to mark this year’s 70th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth.
June 6 will mark 70 years since the D-Day landings – one of the most significant events of the Second World War – took place.
Portsmouth was one of the key locations across the south coast where thousands of Allied troops left for the beaches of Normandy.
This year, Portsmouth City Council says it wants the city to again be the British focus of the commemorations and has announced a line-up of events taking place from May until June.
It includes a major drumhead ceremony, which will be attended by the Princess Royal.
D-Day veteran Frank Rosier, 88, from Cowplain, has welcomed the events.
He said: ‘Portsmouth was at the centre of that operation and it’s right we hold these 70th anniversary commemorations here.
‘I was an 18-year-old boy who survived the blitz, had never seen a dead body, and arrived in the second wave and the carnage on that beach brought me to a halt.
‘It was a horror film, I can’t begin to describe it.
‘We must never, ever forget those boys who lay dead on those beaches, the army, the air force and the navy boys.
‘Pure and simple, they fought for something us Brits get a bit blase about – it’s called freedom.’
As reported in The News, there will be a series of events taking place from May through to June, including a 20-minute aerobatic display from the elite Red Arrows flying team.
Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Sarah George, 22, from Gosport, will sail to Normandy with her ship HMS Richmond.
She met veteran Frank at a launch event at the D-Day Museum yesterday.
ET(ME) George said: ‘It’s a very proud moment to be able to meet Normandy veterans and mark the anniversary.
‘It’s very important people actually listen to these stories and remember that a lot of people did lose their lives.
‘Otherwise these could just be distant memories soon.’
Portsmouth City Council is encouraging all Normandy veterans to contact them to make sure they are invited to all the events taking place.
Councillor Lee Hunt, the city councillor in charge of culture, said: ‘We want to honour the actions of all men and women involved and it’s important surviving veterans and those who played vital roles in the operation take centre stage. This is why it’s so important Normandy veterans and their families contact us so we can make sure they’re invited as guests of honour to all events.’
For more information, you can call (023) 9283 4109 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
D-DAY 70TH ANNIVERSARY EVENTS
May 10 to May 11
A two-day conference will take place to look at the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.
There will be a range of expert speakers and historians at the event, including Max Arthur and a visit to Southwick House where General Eisenhower gave the command for D-Day.
The conference takes place at the D-Day Museum.
A drumhead ceremony attended by Princess Anne will see veterans, cadets, members of the public and the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth remembering those killed during the D-Day landings.
There will also be a military parade along the seafront.
Later in the day, there will be an amphibious landing demonstration by Royal Marines landing on Southsea seafront.
The Red Arrows will also put on a 20-minute aerobatic display.
In the afternoon, a flotilla of ships from various nations will set sail from Portsmouth for France, where they will take part in international commemorations.
In the evening, a concert produced by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will take place on Southsea Common to pay tribute to the veterans and their families, who will be guests of honour.
The programme will feature film, music and moments of commemoration.
A remembrance service will be held at the D-Day Stone in Southsea to honour those killed during the D-Day landings.
After the ceremony there will be a military parade from the D-Day Stone along the seafront, past the D-Day Museum, and the statue of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery to Southsea Common.
People will be able to bring a picnic and watch live coverage of the commemorations in Normandy on big screens which will be put up across Southsea Common.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Portsmouth’s naval reservist unit being commissioned, a parade of reservists from HMS King Alfred will march along Southsea seafront.
There will be a family-oriented concert on Southsea Common featuring the hit music of the 1940s, with live singers and bands building up to a fireworks finale.
People are encouraged to come along in 1940s clothes and take part in the fun.
June 7 & June 8
A weekend of entertainment and activities for all the family, featuring music from the 1940s, arena displays and parades, military vehicles, lindy hop dancers, a 1940s vintage market, war film screenings, talks by local veterans, photographic displays and street theatre performances.
June 3 to June 8
A veterans’ village at Southsea Common will be set up for veterans to gather and meet up with former comrades.
The village will open on June 3 and will grow larger as more veterans arrive each day.
*Exact timings for these events have yet to be confirmed. Keep up-to-date with The News and portsmouth.co.uk