Armed Forces Day: Military convoy leaves Southwick to travel through Hampshire to Basingstoke as part of commemorations for Falklands and celebrations for platinum jubilee

A CONVOY of military vehicles assembled to mark Armed Forces Day, the platinum jubilee and the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War has rumbled through Hampshire.

The 60-strong cavalcade gathered at Southwick Park from 7.30am today, leaving at 10am. It made its way up the Meon Valley and then on to Basingstoke, following the route taken by General Dwight Eisenhower on the D-Day before D-Day.

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Richard Graham, right, of Guildford in his 1943 Willys Jeep with left, Colin Shackel of Drayton Picture: Tom Morton

John Leete, one of the organisers, said: ‘It’s to say thank you to our veterans and also to remember those who paid the ultimate price in giving service to their country.’

Included in the convoy were representatives from the Royal Naval Association and the South Atlantic Medal Association.

Jack Thomas, 33, and his dad Simon Thomas had come down from High Wycombe in a Dodge Command Car.

Simon said: ‘We were asked if we wanted to take part and we were happy to agree to it. The vehicle has just come out of a 12-month restoration. It’s spent 40 years in a French museum.’

Rex Ward from Pangbourne near Reading with his Dodge Command Car Picture: Tom Morton

The car’s history is unknown, but given that it was taken to France there is a good chance that it was used during the war.

Rex Ward, from near Reading, is the Military Vehicle Trust’s vice-president and was also in a 1942 Dodge Command Car.

He explained: ‘These were used by high-ranking officers in combat conditions – they weren’t very popular during times of fighting as the Germans would keep shooting at them! This one never left the UK, and it’s believed it was used by the US embassy.’

Jack Thomas from High Wycombe in a Dodge Command Car Picture: Tom Morton

Rex, who was a reservist at the time of the Falklands but was not called up, said that the car, before he owned it, had appeared in several films, including being driven by Robert Ryan in the Dirty Dozen.

Richard Graham, of Guildford, was joined in his 1943 Willys Jeep by Colin Shackel of Drayton. The jeep is configured to the British Airborne Royal Artillery Signals set-up, and everything in it is original except for the wooden battery box. This jeep was left behind in Holland after the war and after being released by the Dutch government spent 20 years ferrying veterans around the drop zones in and around Arnhem

Jack and Simon Thomas's Dodge Command Car Picture: Tom Morton