School formerly used as a military base dresses up to commemorate D-Day

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THE CHILDREN of Lyndhurst Junior School have been commemorating D-Day by dressing in 1940’s period costume.

Children arrived to school dressed in an array of period attire including military uniform, wartime evacuees and land girls. The event provided a poignant reminder of the role the school played in hosting soldiers preparing for D-Day.

(l to r), Ebony Marshall (eight), Sofia Heywood (nine). Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (040619-7)

(l to r), Ebony Marshall (eight), Sofia Heywood (nine). Picture: Ian Hargreaves (040619-7)

Year 3 pupil, Ellie Cochrane , aged 8, said: ‘I’ve come in 1940’s school uniform. It’s very different to the uniform we normally wear at school. I already had the tie from my old school and my mum bought the rest from Marks and Spencers.’

Classmate, Lennox Saines, also 8, added: ‘I’m dressed as a World War Two soldier - I bought the costume online. It has been fun to dress up and interesting to learn about D-Day. It was so important in stopping the German’s from taking over our country.’

As well as costumes, a number of girls also arrived to school with traditional 1940’s Victory Rolls hairstyles.

Jasmine Calladine, aged 9, commented: ‘My mum watched a Youtube video about how to put my hair up. It has been a lot of fun to dress up.’

(l to r), Joey Slevin, Lennox Saines both eight. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (040619-6)

(l to r), Joey Slevin, Lennox Saines both eight. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (040619-6)

Grace Hayes, also 9, said: ‘This is my mum’s skirt and I had to use lots of pins and hairspray to get my hair into this position.’

The key focus of the event was to educate the children about D-Day and raise awareness of the sacrifices made by past generations. All lessons had a D-Day theme with a range of activities based around childhood in Portsmouth during the war. Propaganda posters and wartime artifacts were on display and the children took part in cookery lessons using rationed ingredients.

Jasmine said: ‘We learnt about the blackout which took place and that people used to light fires on hilltops to attract the German bombers away from the city. It’s really important to remember those who gave their lives during D-Day.’

Grace added: ‘It’s important we remember D-Day as without their sacrifices we may not be here today.’

(l to r), Helen Merrel, Kathleen Hynes-Kelly, Ali Beechurst. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (040619-8)

(l to r), Helen Merrel, Kathleen Hynes-Kelly, Ali Beechurst. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (040619-8)

The initial idea for the event came from teaching assistant, Claire Giles, whose mother, Pauline Goodenough, lived on the street during the war.  

Pauline said: ‘One of my clearest memories is the 5th June 1944.  People heard that our troops were stationed in the Lyndhurst School playground.  My mother, her friends and neighbours brought whatever they could for the soldiers.  Large enamel jugs filled with tea and our sugar rations, sandwiches and cakes.  We handed it to them through the school railings.  I remember they were young men with kit bags prepared to fight for our country.  The next morning, they were gone.  They had left for the troop ships at Camber Dock and Clarence Pier to sail to France at the start of D Day on 6th June 1944.’

It’s this close association with the school which also inspired head of school, Ali Beechhurst and history lead, Katherine Hynes-Kelly.

‘D-Day is ingrained in the school’s history and so it was vital we commemorated this event. This city has such a massive service history and it’s only right we recognise that,’ said Mrs Beechhurst.

Mrs Hynes-Kelly added: ‘As time passes and generational links become more distant it’s even more important we remember what happened. I had relatives who link back to the war but for these children they don’t have that first or second generational link and so it is our role to help ensure this link remains.’