Portsmouth pays respect to fallen World War One soldiers on Armistice Day

There were solemn faces all around as Portsmouth fell silent for two minutes to mark Armistice Day.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 9:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm
Veterans at the war memorial in Portsmouth Picture: Sarah Standing (161553-6470)

Hundreds headed to the war memorial in Guildhall Square to pay their respects to those who have fallen in battle fighting for their country.

It was the biggest turn out yet for the November 11 service as councillors, schoolchildren, veterans and current servicemen all turned out. As this year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme there was a focus on the First World War.

Bob Beech, from the Pompey Pals organisation, said he used to visit the war memorial when just a handful of people would attend on Armistice Day.

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The remembrance service at the cenotaph Picture: Sarah Standing (161553-2412)

Mr Beech said: ‘The service was excellent – it was fantastically attended.

‘It has got bigger and bigger every year and it’s important that everyone came together.

‘What touched me was the infant school that attended.

‘Every one of them was so respectful and it was great to see.’

Bradley Stroud, 12, from HMS Excellent Royal Marine Cadets. Picture: Sarah Standing (161553-6482)

Research by Pompey Pals estimates that around 6,500 for the city died during the First World War, as well as hundreds from across the Empire who fought alongside them.

Bob added: ‘Portsmouth was built purposely as a military city and was used to sacrifice during wars.

‘It had never seen anything like it did before the First World War and it completely changed things. Days like this make you proud to be from this country.’

Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones was astounded by the coming together of the city.

The remembrance service at the cenotaph Picture: Sarah Standing (161553-2412)

She said: ‘We had an absolutely fantastic turnout.

‘It’s been a big year with the 100th anniversary of the Somme and I think that is why so many people have turned out. There were children of young ages to veterans near the age of 100.

‘Schoolchildren were here because they wanted to come and pay their respects.

‘It is the 98th anniversary of the end of the First World War so it is a very poignant day. Portsmouth really comes together on days like this being a military city.’

Bradley Stroud, 12, from HMS Excellent Royal Marine Cadets. Picture: Sarah Standing (161553-6482)

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor David Fuller said that the ceremony brought a lump to his throat.

He said: ‘If it wasn’t for those who fell for us we wouldn’t be able to walk the streets like we do today.’