AFTER 23 years of campaigning, the first 600 names have been added to a memorial to honour Portsmouth troops and civilians who died during the Second World War.
Jean Louth, 78, who has been the driving force behind the News-backed campaign for the memorial since 1989, beamed with satisfaction yesterday as she inspected the first names to go up on the wall near Portsmouth Guildhall.
But there’s still £60,000 of fundraising left to go to add the names of the remaining 2,400 local men, women and children who tragically lost their lives.
‘It’s brilliant that after all this time we are finally getting started but there’s still a long way to go,’ said Jean, who lost her father Harry Short in Dunkirk in 1941.
The pensioner started campaigning for the Second World War memorial because she ‘couldn’t believe there wasn’t one already’.
She said: ‘It goes back to the words we say every remembrance day – ‘‘we will remember them’’.
‘But how can you remember people if their name isn’t there?
‘They’ve got the names on the First World War memorial, but there’s never been anything like that for World War Two until now.’
June, of Wakefords Way, West Leigh, Havant, praised the people who helped her get to this stage.
She said: ‘The people of Portsmouth have been brilliant and one or two big firms have been as well.
‘It costs £30 a name so I’m hoping that now people have seen the first names go up they will help raise the money to finish the job.’
The memorial wall pays tribute to troops and civilians from the city who died in the conflict.
The first names that have been inscribed are of servicemen with surnames beginning A, B, C and D.
Colin Barrell, 74, of Port Solent, who is a member of Portsmouth’s World War Two Memorial Fund, said: ‘It’s a relief to get started.
‘It’s been an arduous task but Jean has done a lot of hard work and now it’s been started I hope it will spur everyone on.’
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Cheryl Buggy, who has helped with the fundraising, came to admire the memorial yesterday.
She said: ‘It’s good to see Jean’s tenacity and hard work paying off.
‘Hopefully, the first names going on will inspire people to help raise the rest of the money.
‘It costs just £30 a name so I think we can do it. One by one we can get all the rest of the names added over the next couple of years.
‘If you think that the average school class is around 30 children – if each child’s parent could donate a pound for a fun day or bake sale then we’d have another name.’
Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson is also backing the big fundraising effort.
He said: ‘It’s not right that this hasn’t been done in the city before. I hope people can dig deep to honour the sacrifice these people made.
‘I’m hoping it can be finished in time for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2014.’
Donations should be made to Portsmouth’s World War Two Memorial Fund, 194 Wakefords Way, West Leigh, Havant, PO9 5QD.