Bid made to immortalise names of Portsmouth heroes who perished after D-Day during Battle of Normandy

PRIVATE Robert Johns from Stamshaw was just 16 years old when he was killed during the operation to free Nazi-occupied France in the Second World War.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 11:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 12:40 pm
Private Robert Johns from Portsmouth who served with the Parachute Regiment and was killed on July 23, 1944 during the Battle of Normandy aged 16 - the youngest man from Portsmouth to die

Bobby was among more than 100 brave Portsmouth men who gave their lives between D-Day and the end of the Battle of Normandy almost 75 years ago.

And now their names will be memorialised in line with D-Day 75 commemorations this year, with the help of city residents.

Portsmouth City Council will pay tribute to those who fell during Operation Overlord with plaques bearing names and photos displayed in the roads they lived.

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James Daly, local historian and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, with an example of the plaques. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-874)

But your help is needed. Of the 119 Portsmouth men who will be remembered, so far the council only has five accompanying photographs and some of their addresses and ages remain unknown.

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The 119 brave Portsmouth men who died during D-Day or the Battle of Normandy in ...

Council Leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'The D-Day landings were a pivotal moment in the Second World War and we want to honour those who took part in the campaign this year more than ever. These plaques will allow us to remember those who died while we commemorate D-Day 75 with our veterans in June.

'We hope Portsmouth people will get behind this and hope us find photographs for each of the men. It makes it much more powerful to see the faces of the men who lost their lives.

'These will be people's great-uncles and grandads and I expect people will be able to find photos of many of these men. It is right we remember them properly.'

Names were gathered by council officer James Daly, who recently helped memorialise 1,500 Portsmouth soldiers from the First World War in new bronze plaques on the cenotaph.

Mr Daly urged local people to get involved. 'We want to use the time between now and the plaques being in place from May 6 to gather more information about these men and other local people involved in D-Day.

'If you have a story or images of any relatives from Portsmouth who took place in the campaign please get in touch.'

It comes after hundreds of roads across the city displayed boards with the names of soldiers who died in the First World War last year.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson added: 'It's a really good way of building on the huge success and interest in the boards of those who died in the First World War.

'Portsmouth is where D-Day was launched from so it is right that we do this.'

The ages of the men range from 16 years from Private Robert Johns, who served with the Parachute Regiment and was killed on July 23, to 47-year-old Warrant Engineer William Smith who was killed on June 15 when HMS Mourne was torpedoed.

If you have a photograph of one of the men or some more information to share you can do so via the D-Day Story website : theddaystory.com/discover/about-us/tell-us-your-d-day-story or email [email protected]

Plaques will be in place on May 6.