Princess Anne leads D-Day 70 commemoration service at Southsea Common

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Princess Anne led the nation’s commemoration of D-Day 70 at Southsea Common today.

The princess, who is Commodore in Chief of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth was greeted by the war memorial on the common, before taking to a dais to receive a salute.

Princess Anne at Southsea Common today

Princess Anne at Southsea Common today

See our gallery of pictures from the service here

She then inspected the parade, which marched from Clarence Pier over to the memorial earlier, as part of the drumhead ceremony.

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth played Globe and Laurel, By Land and Sea, Where’er You Walk and World in Union as she inspected the parade.

Today the Princess Royal paid tribute to those who had been involved in D-Day.

After the princess inspected the parade, a drumhead ceremony began.

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, Veterans, cadets and serving members of the Armed Forces took part in the event next to the war memorial on Southsea Common.

The band performed many pieces of music, including Hymn to the Fallen, Band of Brothers and Judex.

The service was led by The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, Revd Christopher Foster, with The Dean of Portsmouth, Revd David Brindley.

Prayers based upon what was said by the Allied supreme commander General Dwight Eisenhower on D-Day were also shared.

Portsmouth was the departure point for the troops heading to Sword Beach, the easternmost of the five beaches targeted in France.

Nearby Southwick House also became the headquarters of the main allied commanders, Admiral Ramsay, General Eisenhower and General Montgomery, as they planned the invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord.

More than 200 veterans and military personnel, including 80 Normandy veterans and representatives from the armed forces of the UK, Canada and France, attended the parade with a marching band which arrived at the common for the drumhead ceremony which involved prayers for those who lost their lives in the military operation.

Following a rendition of the Last Post, a silence was held to remember those who died in the landings and the service concluded with the National Anthem sung by the hundreds of people who had gathered to watch the ceremony.

During the service, one of the standard bearers collapsed and was assisted by medical staff.

After the ceremony, Anne had a chance to meet and talk with many of the Normandy veterans.

Matthew Guymer, 90, from Stafford but originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who served as a major with the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), said: “I feel honoured and delighted and grateful to the people of Portsmouth for being so kind to us all.

“I think it’s the last time I will be able to come down at my age. I am a very proud man and I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet the other veterans.”

Albert Lilly, 90, from Portsmouth, who served with the Royal Engineers, brought his grandson to the ceremony.

He said: “I think it is a great day. It is emotional for me, it’s about paying our respects for those who died.”

He added that he felt it was important to pass on the message of what was achieved to the younger generation.

His grandson, Jack Metcalfe, 14, said: “It’s a big even. I have always known about it but it’s good to learn more.

“I am very proud of my grandfather and his generation and what they did for us.”

Click here for details of the 70th anniversary supplement published by The News to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day