75th Anniversary of D-Day

75th Anniversary of D-Day

2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Southampton played a central role in preparations for the D-Day landings, with hundreds of thousands of British and American troops based around Southampton Water.

There are several D-Day themed events and activities taking place in the city.

A 75th anniversary of D-Day Photographic Exhibition is on display at the Royal British Legion Pop-In Centre, 104 Above Bar Street until 12 June 2019. This unique exhibition of photographs, by Tony Martin, commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day, honouring the combined allied operation on the beaches of Normandy.
Free entry 10am – 4pm.

75th anniversary of D-Day Photographic Exhibition
75th anniversary of D-Day Photographic Exhibition

On the evening of Thursday 6 June, The O2 Guildhall building will be illuminated red, white and blue to commemorate D-Day.

O2 Guildhall
O2 Guildhall

You have the chance to Explore the D-Day Wall on Saturday 8 June. The Maritime Archaeology Trust’s Discovery Bus will be by the D-Day Wall in Western Esplanade between 10am and 4pm where you can see the inscriptions carved 75 years ago by waiting soldiers, find out about the American troops in Southampton and the ‘D-Day Stories from the Walls project’. Plus free D-Day themed family activities.   

D-Day Wall
D-Day Wall courtsesy of Maritime Archaeology Trust

You can enjoy a free talk, Southampton, the Blitz and D-Day by SEE Southampton Guide Jack Wilson at Portswood Library, on Wednesday 12 June at 7.30pm.  Free, all welcome.

D-Day Talk
Southampton, the Blitz and D-Day


Events so far

On the 5 June Wessex Heartbeat, See Southampton and the Dancing Man Brewery organised a special walk and talk event with a WWII 75th Anniversary of D-Day Landings theme. 

On the morning of Thursday 6 June at the Cenotaph, veterans from the Royal British Legion and Southampton Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club, the Mayor and Sheriff of Southampton and members of the public, congregated to give thanks and pay respects with the laying of wreaths and flowers. A two-minute silence was observed.

Portsmouth is hosting the national commemorative events for D-Day,
please click here for more information

Did you know?

Southampton D-Day Embroidery
An embroidery was created to commemorate the role Southampton played in the D-Day landings of June 1944.
The idea was proposed by Miss Elsie Sandell in 1947, and Miss C Christison spent over a year creating the design. The first stitch was worked by the then Mayoress, Mrs Blanchard, on May 3, 1950 and completed by 76 embroiders representing 14 women’s organisations in Southampton.
The last stitch was put in by another Mayoress, Mrs Burrow, on February 4, 1953 producing a unique panel which celebrated Southampton’s part in the success that was D-Day.
The unveiling ceremony took place in the presence of her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, on April 2, 1953.

D-Day Embroidery
The Mayoress (Mrs Blanchard) putting the first stitch in the D-Day embroidery. Beside her: Mrs Norman Cook (left), expert borderer, and Miss C. M. Christison, designer. Back row (left to right): Mrs F. Dibben, Miss Elsie M. Sandell and Mrs F. S. Smith.

The viewpoint of the embroidery is taken from above the Town Quay, with transports moored alongside the quay wall. The Bargate dominates the centre, with the Civic Centre to the left beyond. Columns of British and Allied troops march down the High Street, including soldiers, sailors, airmen and women of the WAAC, WRAF and WRNS – representatives of all of the units that assisted with the invasion force.

The D-Day Embroidery will be on display in SeaCity Museum from Wednesday 5 June and can be viewed until the end of June. It is free to view to the Galley Café customers inside the museum.

D-Day Embroidery
D-Day Embroidery

While you are at the museum, why not visit the latest exhibition Southampton Stories which features a newly installed D-Day section where you can hear first-hand on what it was like to live in Southampton and the docks during the build up to the biggest military invasion in history from Southampton’s outstanding oral history collections.
Tickets for Southampton Stories
: £3.50 / £2.50 concessions (Under 16s and over 60s).

The D-Day (American) Wall

On the 6th of June 1944 the Allies invasion of Normandy began. Operation Overlord or D-Day saw over 2 million American servicemen pass through Southampton, en route to Normandy as it was one of the main embarkation points for the invasion. The 62ft (19m) wall on Western Esplanade, Southampton, has more than 100 names etched by the soldiers who were waiting for landing craft from the nearby docks. 

A brick from the American Wall with ‘1945’ written on it, is on display in the Gateway to the World exhibition at SeaCity Museum. (Admission to the museum applies).

BBC News Website: D-Day 75: US veterans visit Southampton graffiti wall
The group, which arrived in the city on board the Queen Mary 2, went to the wall as part of its visit to the UK to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 31 May 2019.


Southampton – Central to D-Day Success

The role of Southampton during D-Day was substantial in respect of transiting troops and the use of the docks for landing craft, etc. Between D-Day and the end of the war, 3.5 million service personnel passed through the port to France (including over 2 million Americans). Immediately prior to D-Day, all commercial shipping in the docks stopped and the Port of Southampton was turned over specifically for the war effort, even Winston Churchill visited to inspect the preparations.

As the build-up to D-Day gathered pace, all roads leading to the city were lined with military vehicles and hardware and the city became a virtual fortress.

Pressure on accommodation was intense, a huge military camp was established on the Common and American forces were billeted at available buildings across the city, including the Civic Centre and the Star Hotel. Educational establishments were also put to imaginative use: secondary schools were requisitioned as mortuaries, King Edward VI School was used as a barracks, and Richard Taunton School became a prisoner of war camp.

Southampton was also home to two of the groundbreaking technological aspects of Operation Overlord.

Plans for PLUTO – the pipeline under the ocean that ensured oil reached the Normandy beaches were finalised at 21 Upper Vicarage Road, Woolston.

The vast components of the artificial Mulberry Harbours - that were towed across the Channel to provide unloading points for essential supplies - were constructed in and around Southampton’s dry docks, which were a prime embarkation point for millions of tons of military hardware.

Armed Forces Day
Sunday 30 June /  10am - 6pm /  Guildhall Square /  Free event 

This year's Southampton Armed Forces Day celebrations will be taking place in the city centre.

It is shaping up to be a fun-filled day and will feature a parade along the streets of Southampton, followed by plenty of entertainment from live bands, military dog display, children's assault course and re-enactors! 

Armed Forces Day

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