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D-Day veterans share experiences with Portsmouth schoolchildren

Portsmouth schoolchildren had the rare opportunity to meet and learn from D-Day veterans at an event hosted at The D-Day Story museum on Monday 3 June.

Around 70 children from eight local secondary schools met with veterans in small groups, asking questions and hearing the powerful stories from some of the last survivors of the Normandy Campaign.

It was part of an event to honour brave veterans, jointly hosted by Portsmouth City Council and the Spirit of Normandy Trust (SONT), at the start of a week of D-Day 80 commemorations.

A Portsmouth City Council spokesperson said:

“It was an honour to host around ten veterans at The D-Day Story and have them share their experiences with children of a similar age to them when they went to fight for our freedom 80 years ago.

“The education programme we run ensures the events of World War II are passed down to younger generations, so the chance for these children to hear directly from those involved was incredibly powerful. We’re extremely grateful to these veterans for taking part, and to the Spirit of Normandy Trust for its support.”

Mark Waring, SONT Vice Chairman, said:

“The Spirit of Normandy Trust is grateful to Portsmouth City Council and The D-Day Story for their help and support in hosting a pre-departure event, where local schoolchildren were given the opportunity to meet some of the last remaining veterans for the Normandy Campaign.

“The education of the younger generation is a major objective of the charity and the interaction between the children and veterans will help ensure the legacy of the deeds of 1944 are not forgotten.”

The schools involved were: Trafalgar, Mayfield, Admiral Lord Nelson, Springfield, The Portsmouth Academy, Castle View Academy, Priory School, Portsmouth Grammar.

Serving Royal Marines were at the event and spoke with veterans about what service was like during WWII compared to the modern day.

There were performances from Jedburgh Pipe Band and the D-Day Darlings, who performed famous songs including Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

There was then a public ceremony to pass on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Torch of Commemoration, which has travelled around the UK and will go with veterans to France for a vigil in Bayeux.

The day finished with veterans answering questions from members of the public who obtained free tickets, as well as questions people asked online.
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