Memories of D-Day sought for new project

LOOKING BACK From left, Gary Cassey, Stuart Cuppelditch and Ethel Reeves. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (14674-3)
LOOKING BACK From left, Gary Cassey, Stuart Cuppelditch and Ethel Reeves. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14674-3)
Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget

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IT MARKED the beginning of the end of a world war, and Ethel Reeves remembers the part she played.

During the Second World War, Mrs Reeves worked in Priddy’s Hard, Gosport, where at the age of 16, she was loading equipment on to boats and ships.

And in 1944, when plans for D-Day were being laid out, Mrs Reeves said workers knew something major was being planned.

She is sharing her story as part of a project to find out more about the role Gosport people played in the run-up and after June 6, 1944.

The 87-year-old said: ‘I worked in Priddy’s Hard for about four years.

‘We all worked as one team and were happy, but we never knew what to expect from one day to the next.

‘Near D-Day we knew something was going on, but no one would tell us anything – it was all so secretive. We were scared, if you looked around us, we were surrounded by explosives, but I’m glad they never told us what would happen.’

Mrs Reeves lived at the time in High Cliff Road, in Gosport, before moving to Cheriton Road, where she is now.

Mrs Reeves said: ‘When you’re younger you don’t realise everything going on around you.

‘As you get older you realise exactly what happened and the role you play.

‘At the time I was busy thinking about my boyfriend Stanley Reeves who was a Royal Marine bandsman.’

The pair got married and have four children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

‘We worked jolly hard and would see soldiers leave from Gosport to go to Normandy.

‘Some of those men never came back – it was an awful atmosphere.

‘Some came back as casualties and were treated at the Royal Haslar Hospital.’

Mrs Reeves’ story has been recorded by the Gosport Discovery Centre, which is working on creating an exhibition.

Sally Beattie, learning and engagement co-ordinator, said: ‘We wanted to raise the profile of the role Gosport played for D-Day, and called upon people to share their memories.

‘These memories will be shared with young people, and a professional artist, and artwork will be created. This along with the video interviews will be displayed
inside the centre for people to see.’

The exhibition will run from May 31 to August 2.