THE sacrifices made by Gosport families to protect our freedom will never be forgotten.
That was the message from the remembrance service held outside Gosport War Memorial Hospital on Sunday, as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the town’s fallen heroes.
In a poignant service, veterans from across the borough were joined by current service personnel and youth organisations in a parade in front of the hospital, which was built in part by the Royal Marines.
This connection between the armed forces, the hospital and the community is a bond that will never be broken, and neither will the stories of those heroes who gave their all for their country.
Veteran Peter White, 59, spent 34 years in the Royal Navy, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer.
His grandfather, Frederick Harold White, served in the 2nd Battalion of Royal Essex during the First World War – with his great uncle Jack Shields, who died during the war, also fighting on the front lines.
At the service, Peter wore their medals alongside his, to remember all they did for his freedom.
Peter said: ‘Remembrance services are an annual tradition for this country now – it is a chance to reflect on the atrocities of the past, and how to make sure it never happens again.
‘We may have reached the centenary of the Armistice, but this will never fade away – we say “lest we forget” for a reason.
‘This is something that we will always have, and woe betide the day where we don’t remember the sacrifice of so many heroic people.’
Music was played by Gosport Solent Brass as the parade, led by a guard from HMS Sultan, marched from Ann’s Hill Road towards the front of the War Memorial Hospital.
The guard, armed forces veterans and other organisations lined up and stood to attention as the lone bugler played The Last Post, before the streets fell silent.
Fellow veteran Frank Hayes, 69 from Gosport, not only remembered what those before him gave for the country, but also watched his granddaughter Alyssa march with the HMS Sultan Cadets in the parade.
He said: ‘It was a very proud moment, watching her march along.
'I thought the service was excellent, and a fitting way to remember 100 years since the end of the Great War. My great uncle died at Verdun, so I remember him and my father, who landed at D-Day in the Second World War.
'Remembrance is something that we must always continue doing – we need to keep their memories alive.’
Glenn Jones, 63 from Gosport, was a Chief Petty officer in the Royal Navy, serving for 25 years.
He said: ‘It’s great that there were so many people here today – it shows that people will never forget what these people did for our country.
‘The idea of hundreds of men simply walking into a storm of lead is a powerful image, but I think it’s important that things like that stay in people’s minds.
‘By commemorating remembrance, we remind ourselves of why atrocities like this should never happen again.’