D-Day anniversary: Southwick goes back to the 1940s to mark village's vital role in D-Day

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THE village of Southwick was transported back 75 years to commemorate the anniversary of the D-Day Landings and gain top secret insight into the crucial plans that helped save the world.

Southwick D-Day Revival 75 took visitors on a nostalgic trip down memory lane to discover how the Allies defeated the Nazis during the Second World War.

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival  Picture: Steve Deeks

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival Picture: Steve Deeks

'The Bells of Victory' from St James' church and a motorcade of military and vintage vehicles navigating their way through the village signalled the start of the experience to give an insight into how things really were three quarters of a century ago  at the nerve-centre of Operation Overlord.

With the village awash with re-enactors the spirit of the Second World War was fully embraced. Steve Bell and John Panter, dressed as US Navy officers said: ‘We thought we’d be different and come as Americans from the navy as they played a big part in D-Day.

‘We come every year and it’s always great fun. Everyone gets in the spirit and has a great time. All the women look good and they love a sailor. We have 1940s music playing from our stall which helps set the scene.’

Visitors came from all over to be at the distinguished event. Eve and Guy Barker from made the trip down from Nottingham. ‘We have been in Southsea this week for D-Day and wanted to come to Southwick’s event, which we’ve heard a lot about,’ Eve said

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival  Picture: Steve Deeks

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival Picture: Steve Deeks

‘It’s really good with everyone making a real effort. There’s so much going on.’

With the entire village reverting to the 1940s, the event shone a light on exclusive visits to the D-Day Map room at Southwick House and included captivating military history talks by distinguished speakers.

The Five Beaches, performed by Bay House School,  vividly depicted the 1944 Allied invasion of France and walking revealed the story of Southwick village.  

The D-Day Memorial Hall was transformed into Mother Attwell's 1940s tea rooms with children taking part in 1940s school lessons and a village-wide treasure hunt.

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival  Picture: Steve Deeks

The D-Day 75 Southwick Revival Picture: Steve Deeks

Jim Watson, parish council chairman, said: ‘This is our sixth year and the first time we’ve been challenged with the weather and wet fields but everyone is still having a great time.

‘We’ve got a lot going on for this special event including high level military historians and the likes of war correspondent Martin Bell.’

A weekend-long Field Gun competition saw the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Voluntary Cadet Corps face off. A period funfair and family picnic area provided entertainment for all.  

The home-front were represented  by the Baker Street Boys and a host of other re-enactors were mingling throughout the village. War-time sing-alongs, performances from Amy Baker, The Spitfire Sisters and the Southsea Belles, as well as swing dance lessons, a vintage market and food stalls, helped raised spirits.

Martin Bazeley, chair of the organising committee, said: 'We feel privileged to have several veterans joining us and will most definitely be remembering all those who fought for freedom in Europe; especially those who fell in 1944.  As well as entertaining our visitors we hope to give them an insight into the 1940s; the camaraderie, hardship and heartbreak.

'Our first event was organised for D-Day 70 and we never imagined it would grow to such proportions and attract so many attendees  from both the UK and overseas. Last year we welcomed around 5,000 visitors and  raised over £32,000 to help refurbish our village hall and support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.'  

To stage the event  the volunteer group Southwick D-Day Revival has  joined forces with the Southwick Park Defence College of Policing and Guarding while The National Museum of the Royal Navy was the event partner.

All funds raised will be divided between Southwick community projects and SSAFA.