Portsmouth veteran: D-Day 75 would be '˜one of the best things' to ever happen in our city

A VETERAN who witnessed the drama of Operation Overlord first-hand has backed the bid to bring D-Day 75 commemorations to Portsmouth.Â

Monday, 6th August 2018, 3:56 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 2:53 am
D Day commemorations on Southsea Common in 2014. Picture: Paul Jacobs

John Jenkins had spent five years in the Merchant Navy when he was called up to work the ammunition at Gold Beach in Arromanches, France, as a young man. 

Now 98, the Portsmouth-born armed forces man still plays a key role in sharing tales of that fateful Allied victory  '“ as a twice-weekly volunteer at the revamped D-Day Story in Southsea. 

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Should The News' campaign with Portsmouth City Council launched today succeed, Mr Jenkins, who has an MBE, no less, says history would be made. 

'˜It would be one of the best things that has ever happened to Portsmouth,' he said. 

'˜We were a national hub of the D-Day operation, let's face it. And this is the home of the Royal Navy, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose, HMS Queen Elizabeth '“ the list goes on.

'˜This city needs to be lifted up to the top in recognition of the role it played and this could give us a boost.' 

Mr Jenkins, who still enjoys a sprightly life and also serves as a boardroom steward at his beloved Fratton Park, says D-Day 75 is Portsmouth's chance to pay the ultimate respect to those who, unlike him, did not return home after the Second World War. 

He said: '˜I don't suppose there are too many survivors now and there are a lot of lads left behind in cemeteries overseas. 

'˜It's very important we remember those who paid the ultimate price.   

'˜And Portsmouth '“ which to me is a place like no other and will always be home '“ could do that in style.' 

Mr Jenkins added the possibility of a Red Arrows flyover would be '˜amazing'.