Opening day - visitors to the revamped D-Day Story in Southsea give their verdict on museum’s £5m makeover

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THE first visitors to the revamped D-Day Story in Southsea have given the attraction the thumbs-up .

The revamp includes interactive exhibits, holograms, more memorabilia, huge tapestry commemorating D- Day, and much more.

A British 25 pounder gun gun, a naval 15 inch shell of the type that would have been fired from a battleship, and a shift dress made from parachute silk in the refurbished D-Day Story museum Picture: Chris Moorhouse

A British 25 pounder gun gun, a naval 15 inch shell of the type that would have been fired from a battleship, and a shift dress made from parachute silk in the refurbished D-Day Story museum Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Staff member, Dr Jane Mee, said: ‘The day has been steady. It’s given us a great opportunity to see how the space works and how the visitors respond. The project has been four years in the making and it’s definitely paid off.’

Wendy Lipscombe also works at D-Day Story and said: ‘It’s been exciting to be open and welcome visitors on a rainy day.’

Among the staff and visitors was 98-year-old veteran John Jenkins who was at the D-Day landings. He handled ammunitions and also looked after German prisoners.

He said: ‘It’s very important for youngsters these days to know about the war, and the hands-on stuff at this museum is a great way to teach them about it.’

The first day at the reopened D-Day story in Southsea ''Guests at the D-Day Story

The first day at the reopened D-Day story in Southsea ''Guests at the D-Day Story

John has been a volunteer for the D-Day Museum for many years.

Sitting next to John was Jez Clark, 51, from Portsmouth, who thought the revamp was definitely worth it: ‘I thought the museum was good and informative.

‘I can’t fault it; they’ve done a sterling job. It’s good for all ages which I think is important because the sacrifice needs to be remembered. And the ones who didn’t come back, need to be remembered. Before we didn’t really know the scale of it, but the revamped D-Day museum explains the scale a bit more.’

Other guests thought the same. Ian Lewis, 59, from Emsworth said: ‘I came to the museum a few years back and it’s much better now. It was more informative, the interactive displays are brilliant for the children.

D-Day veteran John Jenkins and Jez Clark

D-Day veteran John Jenkins and Jez Clark

‘The scenes showing a war scenario make it seem a lot more real. I think it’s really important to remember what the people at the D-Day landings did for us, as a lot of values they had are now gone in the current climate.

‘It’s definitely worth a visit. It’s important to Portsmouth and we should use what’s on our doorstep.’

James Light, 41, said: ‘The war is really personal to people in Portsmouth. History is often blurred in Hollywood films and they make you think it didn’t affect people close to home, but it really did and people forget that Portsmouth played a big role in the war.’

Brian Mutter, 62, from Chichester said: ‘It’s really good. It’s a lot better and there’s much more information now. It was a massive event in history, people gave their lives and it must have been really scary.’

Staff at the museum, from left, Felicity Wood, manager James Batney, Ruth'Justice, Gabriele Ferreli and Wendy Lipscombe

Staff at the museum, from left, Felicity Wood, manager James Batney, Ruth'Justice, Gabriele Ferreli and Wendy Lipscombe

Morgan Banbury, 12, liked the tapestry and drew a picture of the man with bagpipes on it which was her favourite part. She said the museum was ‘really good’.

Adam Neal, 54, said: ‘It definitely needed refurbishing and it’s been done excellently.

‘It caters to all ages and covers so many sides of the story. It was nice to learn about the French and German sides as it emphasises just how difficult the landings were. The only thing that I think was missing was some oral historical voices.’

With Adam, was Penny, 48, Molly, 17, and Kiri, 12, McCracken.

Penny said: ‘Iit was nice to learn about all the other parts of the war outside of the military. It looks at families, women and even animals. It was moving, beautiful and perfectly pitched.’

Peter Smith, 75, from Kent, who came ‘many many years ago’ said: ‘It’s definitely improved, there’s more memorabilia, it’s more up to date and the screens with people talking on them, make it more real than just reading it.

‘D-Day is part of our heritage and freedom. Museums like this make sure we don’t forget it and the children don’t forget it. They don’t realise what was done for us and them and we need to honour our veterans.’

Peter added that ‘the tapestry was absolutely fantastic and explains D-Day perfectly’.

Peter’s wife Sue’s dad was a minesweeper on D-Day and part of the Normandy Veterans Society until he passed away 18 months ago. He recorded his experiences of D-Day on a CD. Sue said: ‘It was nice to see what they had to endure.

It’s really important.’

Father and son, Graeme, 41, and Daniel, 12, Moir came into town especially for D-Day Story. Graeme, who has visited the museum many times, said: ‘It’s really been freshened up and the modern technology is superb. The hologram of soldiers in the boats about to storm the beaches looks really good.’

Daniel loves learning about the Second World War, and said: ‘It was a big thing in history, people died so it has to be remembered. I want to go to Normandy next to see where it all took place.’

Sophie Barrett, 12, from Portsmouth said: ‘I really liked it. They’ve added more stuff to do. A few years ago it was just tanks and not much information. Now there are lots more. It’s important to remember it because it’s a part of history. I liked the embroidery the most.’