Torch of Liberation returns to Portsmouth

Prince leads service to mark giant new tanker in Portsmouth

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IT IS a symbol of peace and freedom that has travelled Europe – and it started right here in Portsmouth.

A ceremony took place at the D-Day Stone in Southsea to welcome back the Torch of Liberation, first introduced after the Second World War.

ETERNAL FLAME Europe's 67-year-old Flame of Freedom returned to Portsmouth carried by Lady Arabella Stuart-Smith, the granddaughter of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, during a ceremony at the D-Day Memorial Stone in Southsea. Pictured from left is D-Day veteran Frank Rosier, Lady Stuart-Smith, veteran John Ainsworth, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Steven Wylie,  veteran Ray Lord and Dutch naval officer Lt Cdr Marcel Burm. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150806-2)

ETERNAL FLAME Europe's 67-year-old Flame of Freedom returned to Portsmouth carried by Lady Arabella Stuart-Smith, the granddaughter of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, during a ceremony at the D-Day Memorial Stone in Southsea. Pictured from left is D-Day veteran Frank Rosier, Lady Stuart-Smith, veteran John Ainsworth, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Steven Wylie, veteran Ray Lord and Dutch naval officer Lt Cdr Marcel Burm. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150806-2)

It was lit in 1948 in Portsmouth by Field Marshal Viscount Bernard Montgomery, better known as Monty.

From there it started a journey throughout Europe, carrying with it a message of hope, peace and the importance of having freedom.

Over the years the story was forgotten until now.

Group Freedom Flame, in Hull, brought the torch from the Netherlands to Kingston upon Hull, and with the South Parade Trust (SPT), brought it back to Portsmouth.

Veteran Ray Lord and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Steven Wylie lay a wreath

Veteran Ray Lord and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Steven Wylie lay a wreath

It was lit by Monty’s granddaughter, Lady Arabella Stuart-Smith, before taking the same route along the seafront and down South Parade Pier – which is currently being renovated after being closed for five years.

Lady Stuart-Smith said: ‘I thought the ceremony was incredible.

‘It’s great to see the flame back in Portsmouth.

‘The Hull Freedom Flame committee did a wonderful job of getting the flame here, where it was lit by my grandfather in 1948.’

Hull has been looking after the torch for the past year.

D-Day veteran John Ainsworth said: ‘The torch is a symbol of liberation and of remembrance for those who lost their lives.

‘We hope it will help younger people and future generations remember the cost of their freedom, that we as a nation enjoy, as without freedom we are nothing.’

D-Day veteran Ray Lord laid a wreath in front of the D-Day Stone.

After that the procession followed the same path as it did in 1948 and went along the seafront and down South Parade Pier.

SPT chairman Leon Reis said: ‘The pier played a part in the D-Day storming.

‘And although it’s been closed for the past five years, it was great to open some of the renovated part and allow the torch to come back.’

The flame will now go to France before heading back to the Netherlands for a ceremony on May 5.