Poignant Ceremony Held At D-Day Memorial Stone In Southsea

6 June 2019, 16:16 | Updated: 6 June 2019, 16:18

D-day veterans in Southsea June 6

Second World War veteran Jimmy Ockendon wept as he remembered those who lost their lives on D-Day during an emotional memorial service in Portsmouth.

The 97-year-old wiped away tears during the commemoration at the Southsea D-Day Stone, which was attended by thousands of members of the public who paid their respects during a minute's silence.

Royal British Legion standard bearers along with the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines and a platoon of Royal Marines Cadets escorted veterans as they marched along the seafront to reach the memorial stone.

The service was conducted by Canon Bob White and featured the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir.

Mr Ockendon told the Press Association: "It was very emotional, the main person I was thinking of was my uncle who went on the Hood, his wife had died just beforehand and he left two young children and my father and mother adopted them.

"I was also thinking of my father."

As well as wearing his own service medals, Mr Ockendon, from Portsmouth, donned those of his father, Sergeant James Ockendon, who was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Victoria Cross for his role in the First World War.

Mr Ockendon, who was serving at the time of D-Day but not directly involved in the operation, said: "We were just off France and I heard on the Tannoy what was happening.

"We didn't worry much in those days, we just got on with the job."

Mr Ockendon, who attended with his wife Joyce, 84, attended the service after earlier this week naming a train The D-Day Story Portsmouth for South Western Railway in recognition of the 75th anniversary.

The service was also attended by Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan, whose grandfather James Kaminski landed on Juno Beach as part of the Normandy operation at the age of 17 while serving in the Royal Army Service Corps.

Mr Morgan said: "He lied about his age and joined the Army four months early and his first major operation was landing on the beach.

"One of my biggest regrets is not asking him enough about his story but he was quite reluctant because it was such a traumatic experience."

He added: "Yesterday we saw Portsmouth can do these events brilliantly at an international level, with Her Majesty the Queen and 15 heads of state in our city, and today, yet again, we have demonstrated we can do these events locally.

"This shows to me Portsmouth is a place for reflection, recollection and remembrance."