THE cross of St George flew proudly over Emsworth as patriotic crowds cheered on a military parade through the town.
Under bright blue skies and a sea of red and white decorating the buildings, troops from the 12 Regiment and 47 Regiment Royal Artillery were given a rapturous welcome by the hundreds of people who lined the streets.
Poignantly, the young soldiers were joined in their march by men well over twice their age.
Veterans of the Aden conflict and Korean War – some almost 90 years old – joined together for the parade.
This year was particularly significant as it is 60 years since the end of the Korean war – sometimes called ‘The Forgotten War – which claimed 1,087 British lives and was one of the most brutal in history.
Each veteran was presented with the Emsworth Rose as a mark of their service by Havant’s Mayor Gerald Shimbart and Mayoress Elaine Shimbart.
The red roses were prepared by Citrus Flowers of Emsworth.
Florist Carli Strugnell, 25, said: ‘It’s nice being part of it. I feel honoured because I have been asked to do this for the veterans.’
Korean War veteran Robert Warrior, 86, from Petersfield, was a picture of pride as he was presented with his rose.
He was held prisoner of war for three years in Siberia and held in a camp where he survived on animal feed.
He said: ‘It’s not forgotten.
‘We will never forget it. We lost a lot of friends. I don’t know how I survived. I feel very proud today.’
George Batchelor, 81, of Richmond Road, Southsea, served 14 months in the Korean War in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
On getting his rose, he said: ‘It felt good.
‘I have never been to this parade before, but I am beginning to wish I had.’
Bill Tuttiett, 79, of Melville Road, Gosport, who served in the Korean War, said: ‘It’s quite emotional coming here with all the veterans.
‘We meet old friends and comrades. We have worked through the mill together. You can never forget it.’
Spectator Barbara Rice, 51, of Victoria Road, Emsworth, brought along her 14-month-old grand-daughter Faith.
She said: ‘I love the atmosphere here.
‘This is an experience for my granddaughter because she has never seen anything like this before.
‘I think that the soldiers don’t have an easy job. I just think that it is amazing what they do and they should have our support.’
Roger Boughen, 67, of Emsworth House Close, Emsworth, was dressed top to toe in St George and Union Jack colours.
He said: ‘I’m English – I think it’s a great country.
‘We have so much in England.’
Carol Price, from Emsworth, added: ‘The sun is shining and its such a lovely atmosphere. It’s good to support local lads and forces.’
Soldiers were joined by children from Thorney Island Primary School – most of whom have parents in the military – for the parade.
Brendan Gibb-Gray, who organises the event, said: ‘Some of them were marching behind their parents in the parade and it must have given them a huge sense of pride.’
Children from Glenwood Primary School, in Emsworth, also watched the parade.
Pupil Jordan Powell said: ‘I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to seeing the tanks.’
Following the parade and presentation of roses, the crowds joined together to sing God Save The Queen.
It was followed by loud cheers and applause.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Sawyer, commanding officer of 47 Regiment, made a speech and said: ‘We on Thorney Island are only as strong as the community in which we live.
‘A great debt of thanks to you, the people of Emsworth, who support us every year.
‘We serve all over the world, but we come home here to recuperate and regenerate ourselves.’
After the speeches, Mayor Shimbart told The News: ‘It’s very important to commemorate St George’s Day and the link between Emsworth, Thorney Island and Havant Borough Council. The soldiers do a great job.
‘It’s lovely to see the bright weather – it couldn’t have been better.
‘Handing out the Emsworth roses is a lovely way of honouring veterans who have done do much for the country.’
Shops and pubs added to the atmosphere by decorating their windows with English memorabilia.
Classy Cooks, in North Street, had a huge display in the window with red and white aprons and a castle made of gingerbread.
Rivka Cresswell, 66, works in the shop and is originally from Israel, but moved to England 43 years ago.
She said: ‘I think all important national days should be celebrated.
‘St George is the symbol of England. I am very patriotic.’
This was the fifth year that Emsworth staged the event.
Ray Cobbett, who volunteered to be a steward and served in the RAF in Malaysia, said: ‘It’s good to see an old English tradition coming back and being so successful in Emsworth.
‘The guy who gets real praise is Brendan Gibb-Gray as he got it all going.’
Proceeds from the day raised money for Army Benevolent Fund, The Soldiers Charity.
Sheena Ross, a liaison officer for the charity, said: ‘It means we can help the people who need assistance.
‘The need has gone up significantly over the last 10 years. We need to raise more money.’