Memorial won’t be in place for D-Day after blocked bid

PLAN The proposed D-Day memorial in Stokes Bay, Gosport
PLAN The proposed D-Day memorial in Stokes Bay, Gosport

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A D-DAY memorial dubbed ‘concrete henge’ will not be built before major commemorations later this year.

The structure was due to be put in at Stokes Bay, Gosport, but is now on hold after a conservation group opposing the memorial asked English Heritage to survey the area.

It means Gosport’s council cannot put in a planning application in time to build it for the 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration in June.

As reported, the £25,000 plan attracted criticism from the Friends of Stokes Bay and Gosport Society.

Tony Belben is the chair of the Gosport D-Day Fellowship, which came up with the idea for a new memorial.

He said it would have promoted Gosport’s role in the Second World War.

Mr Belben said: ‘We feel terrible. As a committee we all feel we put an awful lot of effort in.

‘It’s all gone bottoms up. We weren’t doing it for ourselves, we were doing it for Gosport.’

Mr Belben added he wanted to move the Canadian stone. He hopes the plan will go ahead in the future.

Falklands veteran, Councillor Derek Kimber, was leading on the project for the council.

He said: ‘Because somebody asked for the field behind the memorial to be considered for a heritage site, we have had to withdraw the plans.

‘It also comes along at the same time I was transferring my responsibilities for civic to Councillor Roger Allen as I’m standing down in May.

We have another (memorial) effort going on in Hardway.

‘The effort is now being transferred to putting the D-Day stone at Hardway.’

Terry Hinkley, from the Friends of Stokes Bay, said the ‘concrete henge’ plan was ill-advised.

‘I was horrified – it looks like a pagan henge,’ he said.

Roger Mawby, head of Gosport Society, asked English Heritage to look at where Mulberry Harbours were built as he was worried concrete remnants might be damaged during construction.

Mr Mawby and the head of the Friends of Stokes Bay argued against the memorial during a debate where funding was approved.

An English Heritage spokesman said it was running a study in Gosport looking into its military and civil history.

She said: ‘They will be reporting back in March. We will also be carrying out more detailed studies of the Stokes Bay area to improve the heritage protection of significant buildings and structures.’