Meet the American veterans staying in Portsmouth ahead of D-Day 75 - and their Second World War Jeeps
AMERICAN veterans have spoken of their love for Portsmouth ahead of next week’s D-Day 75 commemorations.
Five men – Julius Lorentzson, Bill Reid, Bill Burruss, Benjamin Burruss and Eric Jarvis – have travelled from the United States to Portsmouth, before heading to Normandy for D-Day next week.
They will be joined across the channel by thousands of other ex-service personnel from the allied forces, to commemorate the sacrifice made by so many brave heroes 75 years ago.
These men did not take part in D-Day themselves – many weren’t even born at the time – but they are taking something special with them.
As part of their convoy, the men have two Jeeps, built in 1942, which were used during the Second World War and in mainland Europe after the conflict.
The group, who have visited Portsmouth on a number of occasions, are staying at the Homestead Guest House in Bembridge Crescent, Southsea – where they have stayed in the past.
Julius Lorentzson, 68 from Fairmont, WV, said: ‘Some of us came to Portsmouth in 2004 for the D-Day commemorations, so it’s not our first rodeo.
‘It’s a grand idea to have the national event here. There are so few veterans left from the conflict and Portsmouth had such an important role in the assault.
The Jeeps – one of which has been restored by Julius after he bought it off a farm in 1997 – were given to the French to help rebuild after the Second World War.
The men say that the United States doesn’t remember D-Day like Europe does,
Bill Reid, 77, said: ‘There’s some remembrance but not as much as there is here – perhaps because it was so far away.
‘I feel like we downplay it a bit, but it was the biggest amphibious operation ever; it’s not something that could be done again.’
The Americans say much on US president Donald Trump being present for next week’s D-Day event, but hope that the people of Portsmouth concentrate on ‘what’s important'.
Julius said: ‘I think people need to focus on the celebrations, not just the world leaders who are coming.
‘D-Day is about the veterans so let’s keep it that way.’