In under two weeks' time Portsmouth will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day with a programme of events in honour of our Normandy veterans.
The national commemoration event on 5 June is being organised by the Ministry of Defence on behalf of HM Government in conjunction with the Royal British Legion.
On 5 June Portsmouth will host an international event for D-Day veterans attended by the Queen and world leaders. The official commemoration ceremony will be televised by the BBC and shown on big screens on Southsea Common.
It will include a Royal Navy frigate firing a naval gun salute followed by a spectacular flypast of up to 25 historic and modern RAF aircraft including the Red Arrows and the iconic spitfire. Later in the afternoon the Red Arrows will return for a breath-taking display above Southsea Common.
That evening the public are encouraged to wave off The Boudicca - The Royal British Legion's chartered ship - as it departs Portsmouth taking up to 300 veterans to Normandy escorted by a Type 23 Frigate and met in the Solent by a line of Royal Navy vessels for a sail past salute. This will be followed by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight over Portsmouth to mark the departure of The Royal British Legion’s ship.
The national event leads on to four more days of commemorations in the city, which are supported by a range of organisations in the city, including the most recent sponsor BAE Systems - which has a long and proud history of supporting the UK’s armed forces in Portsmouth and around the globe.
6 June will be commemorated in the city with a special event taking place in Southsea streets and a Remembrance Service at the D-Day Stone (opposite South Parade Pier) with music from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood. Events from Normandy will be screened live on the big screen on Southsea Common including an inauguration at the site of the Normandy Memorial Trust’s British Normandy Memorial and The Royal British Legion’s services at Bayeux Cathedral and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemetery, Bayeux.
On Friday 7 June between 10.30-11.30am the Portsmouth Music Hub will perform a special composition for D-Day 75 - with over 600 local children performing on the stage on Southsea Common. At 5pm there will be music from a military concert band and at 6pm a performance Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and young people's choir followed at 7pm by an open air cinema family film screening of 'Bedknobs & Broomsticks'.
On Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June the Southsea common will host The Portsmouth Revival - a weekend of entertainment and activities for all the family 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.
The Red Arrows will make an appearance in the sky above Southsea around 4pm and special 1940s themed Sunset Concert for Heroes will take place on the D-Day 75 stage at 7:30pm, with performances from the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, the D-Day Darlings, and the Royal Marines Association Concert Band.
Events on Saturday will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display at 10pm, sponsored by Gunwharf Quays set to music from the period to mark the 75th anniversary.
On Sunday 9 June the Portsmouth Revival festival continues from 10am-6pm on Southsea Common, featuring music and dancing from the 1940s, arena displays, military and vintage vehicles, exhibitions and displays, a 1940s vintage market, vintage fun fair, and archive and war film screenings. Anyone coming along is welcome to enter into the revival spirit of the weekend and wear 1940s-inspired dress.
Cllr Steve Pitt, Deputy Leader Portsmouth City Council said: "The scale of D-Day 75 is unprecedented, with Portsmouth at the heart of commemorations, providing the back-drop for the government's event on 5 June and our own programme of events from 6-9 June. Portsmouth City Council would like to thank all our sponsors including BAE Systems for helping us mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and ensuring we can deliver a high-quality event for the veterans.
"We hope that people join us in the events on Southsea Common and mark this historic anniversary with us."
Glynn Phillips, BAE Systems' Acting Group Managing Director – Maritime and Land UK said:
“We are delighted to sponsor the events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Our long history of supporting the UK’s armed forces stretches back to the Second World War and beyond. This history, and what we continue to do today, is a source of great pride to everyone who works at BAE Systems.
“The eyes of the world will be on Portsmouth for the D-Day 75 commemorations and it's a real privilege to share in the recognition of the brave men and women who gave so much to protect our country and help liberate Europe.”