James Daly, of Portsmouth City Council, describes Southsea’s role leading up to D-Day and local soldiers who later died in combat.
Portsmouth played a crucial part in D-Day, and Southsea was particularly important.
The preparations for D-Day began long before June 1944. The seafront was closed off from 1943 onwards – people who lived near the seafront had to have a special pass to leave their houses. The beach itself was closed off with barbed wire for most of the war.
Thousands of troops boarded landing craft from South Parade Pier, the Camber, Portsmouth Harbour Station and what is now Portsmouth International Port. Local people watched them marching through the city, and no doubt wondered how many of them would come home again.
27 men from Southsea were killed on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy. Among them was Private Stanley Anslow, aged 27, who lived at Bush Street East. He was killed on 6 August 1944 serving with the 7th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment during Operation Bluecoat, when the 43rd (Wessex) Division captured Mont Pincon during the Battle of Normandy. He is buried in Hottot-les-Bagues War Cemetery in Normandy. Before the war he worked as a plumber’s labourer.
Since the end of the war Portsmouth has become the place where Britain comes to remember D-Day, with Southsea Common being the focal point. Southsea is also home to the D-Day Stone, which is opposite South Parade Pier. The D-Day Museum opened in 1984, and re-opened in 2018 as The D-Day Story after a £5m lottery-funded transformation.
Now, in June 2019, the eyes of the world will be on Portsmouth as the city plays host to the national commemorations for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
As part of Portsmouth’s programme to mark the anniversary Portsmouth City Council will be installing panels around the city to mark the homes of the 118 men from the city who were killed between D-Day and the end of the Battle of Normandy. These include 16 year old Private Bobby Johns from Stamshaw, a paratrooper who was killed in July 1944. He is believed to be the youngest British soldier killed during the Second World War.
To find out more about Portsmouth’s events to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day visit www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/d-day-75
For more information about The D-Day Story visit www.theddaystory.com