Step back in time for D-Day commemoration

Emsworth will host D-Day commemorations
Emsworth will host D-Day commemorations

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THE contribution made by the people of Havant towards D-Day will be commemorated thanks to a £100,000 lottery grant.

The people behind arts festival WemsFest have secured the cash to hold a series of projects and events in the lead-up to June 6, the 70th anniversary of the event which changed the world.

Schoolchildren will be given the opportunity to make DVDs exploring people’s memories of the war.

There will be exhibitions, creative writing courses, and part of Emsworth will be transformed into a typical 1944 town.

Shops, homes and buildings will have sandbags outside, blast-tape across windows, and shopkeepers in period costume will recreate a wartime feel.

Organiser Mark Ringwood said: ‘Few people living in the borough are aware of the scale of activity in Havant.

‘It included the construction of the innovative Mulberry Harbours, the manufacturing of miles and miles of camouflage netting, building landing craft, and staging mock invasions.

‘Of course there was also the detailed invasion planning, and the thousands of overseas troops who were billeted and camped in the area.

‘All of this made a significant impact on normal civilian lives and the importance of gleaning this knowledge from those who were alive at the time is paramount.’

Large scale images from D-Day and inspired by D-Day will be projected onto a building in the centre of Emsworth.

A specially commissioned play has been written by two local playwrights focusing on how the D-Day preparations affected normal working lives.

To accompany this there will be a big-band, jitterbug dancers, and input from local school children.

The News will distribute a map and booklet showing the role the local area played in the run-up to D-Day.

And a dedicated website will shortly be up and running.

In the meantime Mr Ringwood would like to hear from anyone who has stories, anecdotes, or memorabilia they think may be of interest.

Contact the WemsFest office 01243 378742 or email wemsfest@btinternet.com for more information.