PLANS have been unveiled to immortalise the legacy of as many as 10,000 D-Day veterans with a commemorative wall.
The newly-revamped D-Day Story in Southsea will soon become home to a 35-metre structure emblazoned with the names of the heroes who served in Normandy in June, 1944.
Set to be dedicated at a celebration marking the landings’ 74th anniversary on June 6, the memorial will invite residents to buy an engraved brick – featuring the name and unit of the person they wish to remember.
Tim Rusby is one of seven trustees at the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust.
He and his peers hope the wall could become a site of ‘international importance’ – honouring the lives of soldiers the world over who did battle in France.
Tim said: ‘This will give families the tremendous opportunity to remember their loved ones in a poignant and sophisticated way.
‘While we are sadly losing D-Day veterans from our communities, through initiatives like the Normandy Memorial Wall we have the chance to capture their memory and the unthinkable contributions they made to their nation forever.’
When the first foundations for the Clarence Esplanade monument are laid next month, an initial total of 2,500 bricks will go on sale to the public.
These can be purchased and engraved for £100 – with spaces for plaques, badges and crests on sale for £500 for regiments, corps, ships and squadrons wishing to record their sacrifice.
All proceeds beyond the cost of installation and maintenance will go to the D-Day Story’s educational arm, which will spearhead visits and outreach events in local schools and among the wider community.
Tim said: ‘Young boys were called up to do mens’ work at D-Day – I know for a fact my children, in their 20s, could not even begin to understand what it would have been like.
‘We are extremely fortunate some men and women who served at the time are still among us, but by carrying out vital educational work we can keep their legacies alive for generations to come.’
Councillor Steve Pitt, the newly-appointed cabinet lead for culture, leisure and sport at Portsmouth City Council, dubbed the wall a ‘huge asset to the city’.
He said: ‘Museums have changed over the years and people are at the forefront of what they offer – the D-Day Story is a shining example of that.
‘This memorial will further compliment the amazing audio-visual experience inside the museum, by making veterans’ stories even more personal and tangible than before.’