The D-Day anniversary may have passed but the memories are still very strong amongst local people who lived through that time. As part of the 2014 D-Day 70 commemorations, Portchester Community Association has compiled a booklet drawn from first-hand accounts of people living today who remember this critical period of the war. Some were children at the time, others already at work as young adults. Their reflections on the build up to D-Day, the movement of troops and supplies through the village, and recollections of key incidents – whether exciting, sad or amusing – provide an interesting account of what it was like then as D-Day approached -especially from a child’s perspective. Volunteers from the Portchester D-Day 70 project interviewed twenty people and then transcribed the recordings from which quotes were taken to vividly illustrate the period in 1944 as D-Day approached. Additional memories were drawn from correspondence and less formal meetings. Most had never been interviewed before so the transcripts provide a useful and original contribution to existing accounts of the period.
The booklet is illustrated with contemporary photos, many from the Portsmouth News courtesy of the collection held by the D-Day Museum, Southsea. Mik Norman, project co-ordinator thanked the hard-working Steering Group who collected, compiled and drafted the booklet of memories aided by advice and resources from Amy Radford and colleagues at the D-Day Museum. The Museum also provided part funding through a Heritage Lottery Fund grant as did Hampshire County Council. Mik Norman project co-ordinator thanked the funders which will enable copies to be given free to anyone living in Portchester wards born on or before 6 June 1944 and to year 6 students in Portchester Junior Schools.
Mik Norman said “there have, quite rightly, been major events recently commemorating D-Day across Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire at the actual anniversary weekend and we didn’t want to detract from those –indeed many local people attended or were involved with them. Our modest contribution adds to the memory bank of the time and has a local perspective. Volunteers have worked hard to produce this booklet and we hope local people will find it of interest.”
The Project doesn’t end here – the Steering group is keen to continue to seek out further memories, especially from “Civvy Street” during 1944 – what were ordinary people doing locally at study, in the workplace, home, shops and businesses in Portchester during 1944?
Meanwhile, volunteers would be pleased to talk to schools and other groups about the project and how the booklet came about.
Anyone interested in these should contact the D-Day Project via The Hub, 2, New Parade, 38 West Street, Portchester PO16 9UY; phone 023 92231 0048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org