Theresa May is called to find the cash to help Portsmouth pay for its D-Day 75 tribute

PRIME minister Theresa May is facing calls to find the cash to pay for Portsmouth’s tribute marking the anniversary of D-Day.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 8:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 8:21 pm
Theresa May is facing calls to help Portsmouth pay for its D-Day 75 tribute in June. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Frustrated city politician Stephen Morgan has demanded the PM to get the Treasury to loosen its clasp on Britain’s purse strings and give Portsmouth financial support to stage the D-Day 75 tribute this June.

The city has already been earmarked as the national focus of the anniversary of the pivotal Normandy invasion, which led to the downfall of Nazi Europe.

But dispute the importance of the occasion, Westminster has so far failed provided the city with any funding.

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It’s already forced cash-strapped Portsmouth City Council to scrape together £300,000  from its stretched budget to help stage the event.

While elsewhere, city officials have been begging charities and organisations for sponsorship to fund a spectacle ‘worthy of Britain’s D-Day heroes’.

Now in a letter to Mrs May, city Labour leader Mr Morgan has called on Downing Street to intervene.

The Portsmouth South MP said: ‘Portsmouth’s important role in Operation Overlord stretched beyond D-Day.

‘Troops, vehicles and supplies continued to pass through the city for months afterwards and it played a pivotal role in the extraction of wounded soldiers throughout the operation, with many of those who died from the injuries buried within our city.

‘All eyes will be on Portsmouth on June 5, where a major partnership between the city council and others will aim to provide support to veterans who wish to be part of the commemoration.

‘It is the nation who owes most to these brave men and women and it is unjust that the government it is not contributing anything to the commemoration of their actions.

‘The prime minister must know that Portsmouth people think this just isn’t good enough.’

Britain’s official commemoration is due to take place in Portsmouth on June 5 – the day before the official anniversary of D-Day – and will be screened nationally.

Thousands of visitors are expected to pack out the spectacle on Southsea Common, which is due to be attended by Royalty.

The Ministry of Defence will be providing the city with ‘substantial support’ with the use of ‘assets’.

These include a display by the famed Red Arrows, two marching bands, and lunch for hundreds of people – as well as offering troops to take part in the drumhead ceremony.

Portsmouth will then continue with its tributes throughout the week until Sunday, June 9.

When approached by The News last night, the Treasury was unavailable for comment.

Portsmouth was one of the main staging areas for the huge invasion force that overwhelmed the German defences in Normandy in 1944.

The operation was also planned just outside the city, at Southwick House.

As many as 4,413 Allied troops died on the day of the invasion. By the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a foothold in France. Within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated.