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‘Second World War stories are a vital lesson for pupils...’

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VIVID memories of D-Day and the Second World War were recounted by pensioners as part of an engrossing school project.

Pupils listened intently as a group of pensioners recalled their memories of June 6, 1944, and what it was like to live during a world war.

The project was organised jointly by Christ Church Portsdown, Purbrook Park School and Purbrook Junior School.

The recollections were recorded and will be kept for posterity so future generations can learn about the war.

Marian Avery, 87, of The Dale, Widley, recalled watching the landing craft gathering near South Parade Pier.

‘We knew something big was going on,’ she said.

‘I often wonder how many of those came back again.’

She remembered how cold it was. ‘There was no central heating,’ she said.

‘We had coal rationing which was not very nice. My mother opened the stove and we had to sit round to get some warmth.’

Tony Calway, 78, of Lansdowne Avenue, Widley, remembered watching the troops from Portsdown Hill.

He added: ‘The Americans were on Purbrook Heath and we used to go there as children.

‘They used to give us dried apricots to bring home. They put us in trenches and said stay in there and don’t come out.

‘My mother was worried sick where I was.’

The classroom at Purbrook featured war-time posters, including one stating ‘freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might’.

Jean Matthews, 84, of Grant Road, Farlington, told the pupils how her late husband Robert was a prisoner of war in a German camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

She said: ‘A lot of people in prisoner of war camps did have hidden radio receivers and were able to get the news about D-Day.’

She added: ‘It’s important for them to learn that war is not a nice thing.’

Jordan White, 15, said: ‘It’s important that young people learn about the war as a background to this country.’

The other young people taking part were: Charlotte Belcher, 15; Rhys Harding, 13; Abi Hobby, 14; Oli Page, 15; and Callum Tiller, 14. The other interviewees were: Gwenn Marks, Pat Ferrier, Nell Harvey, Ron Venn and June Parncutt.

The Rev Annie McCabe, from Christ Church Portsdown, said: ‘They are precious memories that will not be here forever. When someone tells a story in their own words, that’s when you can step into someone else’s shoes.’

 

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