Diocese of Portsmouth

    D-Day Memorial dedicated in Gosport


    Category
    General
    Date
    6 June 2024
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    HE was among the first to set foot on the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago. Now George Carpenter has helped to dedicate a new D-Day Memorial in Gosport.

    The 98-year-old, who served in the Royal Navy's communications branch, arrived at Utah Beach with US Forces on June 6, 1944 - the first of the five Normandy beaches to be invaded by Allied Forces. He had previously taken part in Operation Tiger, a rehearsal for D-Day in Lyme Bay, in April 1944, when American forces were attacked by German E-boats. Then ahead of D-Day, he sailed from Dartmouth to join the Allied invasion.

    Eighty years later, he ceremonially dug the first piece of ground ahead of the creation of a proposed new D-Day Memorial in Stokes Bay. He was helped by Martyn Cross, the son of Gosport D-Day veteran Ron Cross MBE, who died in 2021 aged 100. They held the spade while the Bishop of Portsmouth prayed a prayer of dedication for the new memorial.

    Scores of local residents, military personnel and veterans assembled around the existing Mulberry Harbour Memorial in Stokes Bay. Meanwhile, the Band of the Royal Marine Volunteer Cadet Corps, Gosport, led a procession along the seafront from the second existing memorial in Stokes Bay, which marks the point where Canadian troops embarked for Normandy. The eventual idea is to bring both of these memorials together, along with a flagpole, a new memorial stone and five D-Day benches in a semi-circle to represent the five D-Day beaches.

    The Band of the Royal Marines Voluntary Cadet Corps, Gosport, led the procession along the seafront
    D-Day veteran George Carpenter in the procession along the seafront at Stokes Bay, ahead of the service of dedication and commemoration
    The service of dedication and commemoration took place around the site of the proposed D-Day Memorial

    Bishop Jonathan welcomed those who had come for the service of dedication and commemoration, and spoke of the honour of being there with both George Carpenter and Martyn Cross. He said: "We gather with the whole nation to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, and to honour the physical, moral and spiritual courage of the young men who fought their way onto these beaches.

    "D-Day was a remarkable pinnacle of military planning and logistics, and we should remember all those involved - men and women, civilians and military, codebreakers, engineers and Armed Forces. We also remember the crucial role that Gosport played in the preparations and embarkations ahead of D-Day and we are thankful for that."

    After the dedication, Gosport Parliamentary candidate Caroline Dinenage unveiled the plaque to commemorate the dedication of the new memorial, and Commander David Bartlett, RN, who commands the Air, Engineering and Survival Equipment School at HMS Sultan, led the Act of Remembrance, including the Last Post, Kohima Epitaph and Reveille.

    The Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Richard Earle, read a poem by D-Day Fellowship member Ann Wilkinson, before a blessing from Bishop Jonathan. The Gosport Sea Cadet Corps helped with logistics.

    And there was a reception afterwards in Stokes Bay Sailing Club, where guests recalled Ron Cross, who had campaigned tirelessly for a new D-Day Memorial in Stokes Bay. He had landed on Juno Beach as a corporal with the Royal Engineers, with the task of removing obstacles and defences to allow Canadian troops to advance. He made three further landings in Holland and was mentioned in dispatches, receiving his MBE in 1980.

    One of the Royal Marine Volunteer Cadet Corps during the singing of the National Anthem
    Bishop Jonathan greets George Carpenter after the service

    Gosport played a central role in the D-Day preparations and embarkations, and the new memorial aims to be a historical touchstone.

    The idea of the five benches, placed in a half-moon shape, is to allow people the opportunity to sit and quietly reflect on the sacrifices made on D-Day as they look over the Solent, where thousands of Armed Forces departed from. The whole area will be surrounded by red robin bushes. For more details, see here

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