D-Day anniversary: Thousands attend Portsmouth Revival on Southsea Common and enjoy a Red Arrows flypast

CROWDS soaked up sights and sounds of a bygone era today as commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day continued.

Saturday, 8th June 2019, 8:02 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th June 2019, 8:13 pm

The Southsea Common site seen by the world during Wednesday’s D-Day 75 event became a hive of activity once more for the debut Portsmouth Revival Festival.

Food, music, dancing and a display of military vehicles from the 1940s were all enjoyed by scores of families from 9am, with a two-and-a-half-hour Heroes Concert and a fireworks display still to come tonight.

The day also marked the third Red Arrows flyover in Portsmouth this week – off the back of two spectacular displays on Wednesday.

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Sisters in law Donna and Rachel Chandler with their children, at Portsmouth Revival

Seeing the aerobatic RAF team’s famous red, white and blue smoke trails was overwhelming for Clanfield mum Steph Parker.

‘I’ve never seen them before so I felt quite emotional and very proud to come from Portsmouth,’ the 52-year-old said.

Her husband Scott, 49, added: ‘This is a great thank you to those men who fought on D-Day because nobody quite understands what did go on back then, and I think today and this week’s events have brought it home to everybody.’

From midday until 6pm the Revival saw a host of community performances command the main stage – the very same place some of the world’s most prominent leaders, including US president Donald Trump, gave speeches on Wednesday.

Scott, Josh and Steph Parker, from Clanfield

Mum-of-three Donna Chandler from Leigh Park snacked on a picnic with her children, brother, parents and sister-in-law as dance troops impressed the crowds.

‘The girls have loved watching the dancers on stage and, because they're on the screens, we had a great view and they were dancing along and copying them,’ the 36-year-old said.

'It's been a really nice day, the weather's held out and the fly-by from the Red Arrows was fantastic.

'The fact the event is open has given the kids a chance to see how big a part of our country this is and that the people who fought in World War Two should be remembered.’

Alex Budd and Sarah Botting, near the restored DUKW

At the northern end of the site, adjacent to the Queen’s Hotel, an array of military vehicles drew attention as revellers arrived.

One in particular, a restored DUKW vehicle dubbed a ‘lorry that swims’ and the ‘backbone of Normandy’, struck a chord with Alex Budd from Portsmouth as he perused the site with Sarah Botting, from Bognor Regis.

‘We saw all of this on TV and when I was a little kid I went to the D-Day museum, so I thought I’d come back and see it again,’ said Alex, 34.

‘This feels like the last chance to be involved while there are people who were still alive who were actually there.’

He added: ‘I was saying the other day, I’m 34, and it was 75 years ago. When you put it in that context it’s not very long ago at all. It shouldn’t be forgotten.’

Portsmouth Revival will continue tonight with a Heroes Concert from 7.30pm until 10pm, featuring the Military Wives Choir at 7.30pm, the Royal Marines Association Concert Band from 8.25pm until 9.10pm and the D-Day Darlings until 10pm.

A fireworks spectacular, organised by Gunwharf Quays, will follow at 10pm.

This will replace the shopping hub’s famous November display.