Hundreds of people turned out yesterday to mark the start of Armed Forces Week. Reporters JEFF TRAVIS, RUTH SCAMMELL and ELLIE PILMOOR were there.
It was a day to recognise the huge contribution the forces make to our society – and to remember those who died fighting for our freedom.
Poignant ceremonies, steeped in tradition and full of patriotism took place across the area to mark Armed Forces Week.
Armed Forces Day Flags will now be flown until Saturday, which is national Armed Forces Day.
In Havant, the service was particularly significant as it marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.
It is believed soldiers returning home from battle took shelter in a hamlet on the London Road from Portsmouth – so beginning the birth of Waterlooville.
There was pride in every step as the forces marched through Havant to the Public Service Plaza.
Soldiers from 47th Regiment and 16th Regiment Royal Artillery marched behind the band of the Queen’s Division.
It was quite a spectacle and dignitaries, veterans, council employees, and residents gathered to welcome the parade.
The Mayor of Havant borough, Leah Turner, spoke of the history of Waterlooville.
Cllr Turner was all smiles as she was joined by the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Brigadier David Harrison, to inspect the troops.
Bombardier Joe Washington and Sergeant Neil Reilly, both of 47 Regiment, had the honour of raising the flag.
Bdr Washington is part of 43 Battery, which fought at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium to defeat Napoleon’s army.
He said: ‘It was nice to hear them talking about the history of Waterloo. It’s good for us to be here.’
The 16th Regiment is based at Thorney Island, near Emsworth, and the 47th Regiment is now based at Larkhill, Wiltshire, after moving from Thorney.
The 47th Regiment was given freedom of Havant borough three years ago.
Sgt Reilly said: ‘It was a massive honour for us to raise the flag.’
Enjoying the parade were the mayor’s four military cadets – Rebecca Smith, 14, from Waterlooville, Jessica Ross, 17, from Purbrook, Liam Smith, 17, from Waterlooville, and Harvey Denford, 17, from Purbrook.
Liam, an army cadet, said: ‘It’s quite an experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.’
Cllr Turner said 2015 was significant – 200 years after Waterloo, 100 years after the Battle of Gallipoli, and 70 years since Victory in Europe.
She told The News: ‘I think the armed forces are wonderful.’
Powerfully moving music accompanied proceedings, including I Vow To Thee My Country and Jerusalem.
Royal Navy veteran Mike Clark, 79, from Hayling Island, said: ‘It’s essential we have the armed forces to look after our interests. We want peace – and we want the rest of the world to live in peace.’
LEADERS and members of the Royal Navy gathered in Portsmouth city centre to mark Armed Forces Day.
Among those attending the service in Guildhall Square, which included the raising of the Armed Forces flag, were councillors, sailors, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas and Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond.
Children from Craneswater Junior School and St Jude’s Primary School were there.
The service was opened by The Reverend Canon Peter Leonard, from St Thomas’ Anglican Cathedral.
Prayers were read during the service, and Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, gave a speech to welcome the guests.
Cllr Jones said: ‘It’s massively important to Portsmouth because being home to the Royal Navy, thousands of servicemen live in this city and their families are here while they are away on deployment.
‘It’s about the nation saying thank you to these people. It’s not just a job for them, it’s a complete way of life.’
Helen Normington, a teacher at St Jude’s Primary, said: ‘We’ve brought the children because we think it’s important for them to realise that we value the work that their parents do, and we want the local community to know that as a school we acknowledge the hard work of the members of our community.’
April Jones, 71, said: ‘We’ve been invited to come and see the armed forces day and the raising of the flag. To me, the armed forces means the security of our country. The job they do is very good.’
Sally Beard, 64, said: ‘I feel that Britain has been a part of many wars, and fought in many wars, and many men and women have given their lives for this country. It is important to honour their bravery and dedication and say thank you.’
Fareham and Gosport
A PROCESSION through the high street and the raising of flags marked Armed Forces Day in Fareham and Gosport.
Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel from Fareham-based HMS Collingwood led a parade through Fareham town centre yesterday morning followed by members of the council.
Dressed in full mayoral attire, the Mayor of Fareham Councillor Mike Ford, led the civic party.
The procession made its way from Market Quay car park through the Falklands Arch to the flag poles in West Street, outside the shopping centre.
Cllr Ford addressed the procession and members of the public who had gathered to watch the event.
An Armed Forces Day flag was then raised by two service personnel from HMS Collingwood.
It will stay raised until Saturday.
Cllr Ford said: ‘I am very honoured to be leading the civic party at the Armed Forces flag raising event for Fareham.
‘I am honoured to be raising awareness of the contribution from our dedicated Armed Forces.’
In neighbouring town Gosport, the flag was raised at 7am in the Falkland Gardens.
A ceremony was not held like previous years as yesterday was the funeral of Alderman John Train.
Mr Train, who was a councillor for Gosport for more than 20 years, died aged 77.
Council leader Mark Hook said: ‘Normally we have a ceremony and raise the flag in the morning.
‘But a lot of the dignitaries would have been attending Alderman John Train’s funeral so out of respect, we just raised the flag.’
He added: ‘Armed Forces Day is very important to us in Gosport.’