Thousands of people across the area stood together in silence to remember all those who have given their lives for the country.
Poignant services of remembrance were held across Portsmouth yesterday in memory of fallen servicemen and women.
At the Guildhall the crowds fell silent as a mark of respect, then applauded as military personnel and veterans marched onto the square led by the Royal Marines Band.
Sunshine and clear blue skies were the order of the day as representatives from RM Volunteer Cadet Corps, Air Training Corps, army and navy reservists and the Hampshire and Isle Of Wight Army Cadet Force took part in the parade.
The Guildhall steps were decorated with giant poppies to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in the same year as the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the 350th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Marines.
Arthur Bailey, 90, from Cosham, is a D-Day veteran who took part in the commemorations yesterday.
He said: ‘It was fabulous. It was the best turnout I have seen in a long time.
‘It was absolutely wonderful. The whole thing was done just right and it was so well planned.
‘It couldn’t have been any better.’
Among the thousands who paid their respects were Mary Dowdell, 79, and her husband Bob, 80, from Drayton, Portsmouth.
Mrs Dowdell’s father Mick Hart was killed in action in Italy during the Second World War, aged 39, when she was just eight years old.
She said: ‘I have been coming for 65 years.
‘The first time I came was after the Second World War, I have missed about three.
‘My father was in the Royal Artillery. He went to Dunkirk, to Sicily, to Italy – he was killed in Italy in 1943.
‘I was eight. I remember him quite well. He had been in the service in the 1920s and when he met my mother in 1924 he came out of the service and he was a reserve. When he was called up in September 1939 he had to go.’
‘My mother always wanted to see my father’s name on the memorial but she didn’t, she died in 1973 and she didn’t, so I promised I would always come down.’
The service was attended by Prince Michael of Kent, Honorary Rear Admiral and Commodore-in-Chief of the Maritime Reserves, who laid a wreath at both the First World War and Second World War memorials as well as taking the salute as the parade marched off from the square.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Steven Wylie, was joined by the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Colonel Charles Ackroyd, in leading the civic delegation, which included city council leader, Councillor Donna Jones.
The service of remembrance was led by Canon Peter Leonard of Portsmouth’s Anglican Cathedral and Father James McAuley of the Roman Catholic Cathedral.
A gun from Fort Nelson was fired at 11am to start the official two minute silence as the Last Post was played.
The crowd of thousands was wowed by performances from the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, joined by the Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir, who were accompanied by the Salvation Army and the Royal Marines bands, before the wreaths were laid at the memorials.
Speaking in Guildhall Square after the service, veteran Cyril Cochrane, 94, of St Mary’s Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, who was a non-commissioned officer in the RAF, said: ‘I’ve been here practically every year as I live in Portsmouth. you get to know people here. It’s important.’
Mr Cochrane, who still flies, joined the RAF in 1939, aged 19, and served until March 1946, by which time he was married with children.
Dozens of wreaths were laid at both war memorials, including those from the local royal British Legion, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Central Ambulance Service, the Association of Veterans, Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club, whose wreath was laid by manager Andy Awford.
Daniel Hayes, 74, from Southbourne, was at the service to pay tribute to his dad, John Patrick Hayes, whom he never knew.
Private Hayes, who served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment Second Battalion, was killed in action in Salerno, Italy, on September 9, 1943.
Mr Hayes said of his father: ‘I don’t really know much about him. I was a child, I never really knew him.
‘It’s very touching to see his name[on the war memorial.’
At Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common a poignant service was held earlier in the morning.
Elsewhere in the city the annual Remembrance service in the grounds of the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney was made even more poignant in the 350th year anniversary of the Royal Marines.
Visitors watched a Drumhead Ceremony by the Royal Marines School of Music followed by a wreath laying ceremony around the Lumsden Memorial and standard bearers from local RMA branches.
Meanwhile At Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson heavy draft horses drew an 18-pounder First World War gun across the Parade, followed by gun salutes.
Why I wear my poppy
Lieutenant Dicky Partridge, 26, of Portsmouth-based HMS King Alfred, said: ‘I wear my poppy to show my respect and thanks for the commitment of those who have sacrificed their own liberties for ours and future generations.’
Chief Petty Officer Mark Edwards, 51, from Hilsea, said: ‘I wear my poppy for the 255 military and three civilians who lost their lives in the Falklands conflict in 1982.’
Book explores city’s war role
IN 1919 the Evening News published a book to commemorate the First World War – and now we are bringing it back into print.
Edited by William G Gates, Portsmouth and the Great War was compiled to record the part Portsmouth played in the Great War. We are reproducing the original book to commemorate the 100th anniversary since the start of the war.
The book is available for £5.99. Call (023) 9262 2207 or visit portsmouth.co.uk/offers for details.