Plans for D-Day 75 commemorations in Portsmouth have been revealed

ACTORS portraying D-Day soldiers will march through the streets of Portsmouth as the city takes centre stage for commemorations this June.

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 4:54 pm
The D-Day landings Picture: PA

Other plans for D-Day 75 include 600 local children performing original compositions on Southsea Common among many others.

Portsmouth City Council today revealed its schedule for the anniversary of the pivotal Normandy invasion that will span June 4 to 9.

For Deputy leader Councillor Steve Pitt the city's tribute was so important. 'It has been made very clear that we are nationally at the centre of these commemorations,' he said.

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'And when you are the national and international focus of something like this we have to put on the very best event we possibly can.'

A budget of £300,000 has been set aside by the council for the date, however, tensions have flared over the involvement of the Ministry of Defence.

With just over two months to go the council is still in the dark about what the MoD will be providing for the spectacle, with Wednesday 5th set aside for the 'national commemorative event' that is meant to include loaned military assets such as the Red Arrows.

Cllr Pitt said: 'Most of the 5th has been left for the MoD. As a national event this is something that they should be involved in. But they haven't given us any details, nothing concrete.

'It is frustrating. We understand that the MoD has other commitments that need to come first, which is part of reason for the delay.

'We are ready for anything but just what anything is, we don't know.'

Portsmouth South MP and Councillor Stephen Morgan was also 'disappointed' by lack of information and funding.

He said: 'The government is letting down my grandfather - and others who have bravely served our nation - by not putting their money where their mouth is. You cannot deliver a programme marking the significant contribution Operation Overlord made to the peace and harmony we all now enjoy, without investing in resources to make it happen.'

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But an MoD spokesman explained why details could not be given until nearer the time. 'We expect a significant amount of defence assets to be committed to activities to reflect the area’s unique role in D-Day,' he said.

'These will include flypasts, bands, Royal Navy assets and personnel from all three services. Due to potential operational commitments we do not confirm the availability of some specific military units until nearer the time.'

Captain David George, captain of HM Naval Base Portsmouth added: 'The Royal Navy and HM Naval Base Portsmouth are incredibly proud to be taking part in the national commemorations for D-Day 75.

'Nearby Southwick House provided the headquarters for the operation while the naval base was the main departure point for forces heading to Sword and Juno beaches so it is only right that we commemorate those actions 75 years later.

'We will be dedicating personnel and ships in support of the event and I am sure that all those who attend will have a fantastic opportunity to salute the veterans.'

The programme so far

June 4-7:

Frigate and destroyer tours for local schools and colleges departing from Trafalgar Gate

Wednesday, June 5:

The national commemorative event will take place on Southsea Common

Thursday, June 6:

8am: Re-enactors will march through the streets of Portsmouth based on the embarkation routes from 1944. Seven local schools on the embarkation routes will play sombre 1940s music and the MoD are providing a piper to play at the pier

11am: Remembrance service held at the D-Day Stone in Southsea, opposite South Parade Pier

All day: Live coverage on the big screen on Southsea Common of events inNormandy

Friday, June 7:

10.30-11.30: Portsmouth Music Hub performing a special composition for D-Day 75 on Southsea Common. 600 children to perform three pieces of music and the Military Static Concert Band to play

18.00 - 18.45: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performing a special composition for D-Day 75 on Southsea Common

19.00: Children's film screening on big screen on Southsea Common, which will be voted for by the public

June 8-9 (Saturday and Sunday):

The Portsmouth Revival: A weekend of entertainment and activities held on Southsea Common featuring music and dancing from the 1940s, arena displays, military and vintage vehicles, exhibitions and displays, a 1940s vintage market, archive and war film screenings. On the main stage there will be community performances. In the arena there will be unarmed combat displays, Royal Marines marching band and RAF working dogs

Saturday 19.30: Sunset concert for heroes: A free 1940s themed concert featuring the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, the D-Day Darlings and The Royal Marines Association

Throughout the week:

There will be traders, bars, caterers, charities and 1940s fairground rides onsite throughout events

The D-Day Story will be open every day from 10am to 5.30pm (last entry at 5pm)

The Last of the Tide Exhibition at Portsmouth Museum, open 10am-5.30pm (last entry at 5pm)