PORTSMOUTH will be saluting the city’s military heroes in with one of the biggest Armed Forces Day events ever staged on the island.
The stunning spectacle will be taking place on Castle Field, Southsea, on Saturday, and will feature a bumper line-up of family fun.
And to kick-start the celebrations, city leaders, veterans and serving military personnel united yesterday to mark the raising of the official Armed Forces Day flag in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square.
Councillor Frank Jonas, is Portsmouth’s armed forces champion. He said the day would be one of the city’s biggest and that it was ‘long overdue’.
‘This is incredibly significant for Portsmouth,’ he said. ‘We’re the home of the Royal Navy and up until the Second World War we were a garrison town. Our link to the military is very special. It’s in our blood.’
The action on Saturday is being staged by the city council and sponsored by defence giant BAE Systems.
Taking place from 10am to 4pm, the day will begin with a flag-raising ceremony by members of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines Cadets and veterans associations, followed by a veterans’ parade led by the rose and Thistle Pipes and Drums band.
The rest of the event will feature arena displays showcasing the armed forces, including a rifle display by the Royal Marines Cadets and a gun display by the Fort Cumberland Guard, from Eastney.
A variety of military charities and groups are expected to join the day, as well as a number of current-serving armed forces personnel.
And the action isn’t just confined to Castle Field. The Historic Dockyard will be packed with military vehicles and sights for its free event.
Highlights include a show by the Royal Marines School of Music at 1pm and a flypast by a Chinook helicopter at 2.30pm.
Commander Martin Evans, executive officer at Portsmouth Naval Base, said the day was would give locals a chance to meet members of the armed forces. He added: ‘This will be a fantastic event.’
Commander Chris Webb is the head of Portsmouth’s naval reserve unit HMS King Alfred – one of the nation’s biggest reserve bases.
The 56-year-old, who was at the flag-raising yesterday, said Armed Forces Day was a key way to commemorate service personnel and their families as well as those who have ‘given the ultimate sacrifice’ to defend the UK.