Race on to create lasting Gosport memorial to D-Day landings

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THE race is on to build a fitting tribute to Gosport’s role in the D-Day landings in time for the 70th anniversary.

Gosport D-Day Fellowship, chaired by conservation enthusiast Tony Belben, is appealing to the public for help in funding the relocation of the town’s existing memorials to a site in Stokes Bay before 2014.

The plans, backed by members of Gosport Borough Council, will see shelters at Stokes Bay demolished, creating a space for the memorials, which Mr Belben hopes will stand out.

He said: ‘It’s definitely a rush. We haven’t even got a feeling of what people want and designs haven’t been finished. First of all we’ve got to come up with a design that everyone will like.

‘My feeling is that if it’s not going to happen for 2014 then it won’t happen.

‘The few survivors we have will disappear and interest will be gone.’

D-Day ceremonies are held every five years in Stokes Bay at the memorial to Canadian troops, which marks the point they embarked for the landings.

But Mr Belben says that it has become unsuitable, with a wine bar and petanque pitch overcrowding the site.

The monument to Canadian troops will be moved to the new site, as will the plaque at Stokes Bay commemorating the construction of portable Mulberry harbours in Gosport, used in the D-Day landings.

The third stone, which commemorates Gosport’s wider role in the D-Day landings, located in the Falkland Gardens near Gosport Ferry terminal, will be replicated using the original architect’s plans rather than moved.

A fourth monument, an anchor with a plaque at Hardway, will not be moved but Mr Belben hopes that future plans will see a new information board at the monument, making it more prominent.

Councillor Derek Kimber will be in charge of the ceremony in 2014 and supports the fellowship’s plans.

He said: ‘It’s important, there’s a need for public funds for this, that’s why the fellowship is appealing for help.

‘I’d like to see a prominent memorial.

‘The one thing we’ve got to be mindful of is that we are losing people involved in D-Day. We need to record the history of Gosport.’

To contact the Fellowship email secretary Penny Harris on penny.harris56@yahoo.co.uk.