THOUSANDS of people across Hampshire yesterday remembered all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we take for granted.
Seventy years ago thousands of soldiers lost their lives when the largest ever sea and airborne invasion was launched upon the Normandy coastline and into one of the bloodiest theatres of war.
It was from Hampshire that many of these bands of brothers embarked for France to push back the forces of Nazi Germany.
At a series of events and commemorations yesterday lumps rose in people’s throats while thousands stood to hear the bugle sound the last post and pay respects to those who never made it home.
While standard bearers lowered their flags, former servicemen and women saluted their fallen comrades.
Wreaths and crosses of remembrance were left at memorials across the county while families joined in the commemorations.
At Hamble foreshore the Rev Dr Peter Crick led a service and spoke about the role the village played in what he described as “one of the most important days in world history”.
Children from Hamble Community Sports College read out the Royal British Legion exhortation for which every word has a special meaning for D-Day and Dunkirk veteran Lionel Tucker.
The 97-year-old former mechanical engineer said: “I think that all our minds should be on those that haven’t made it back.”
Stan Rickeard was one of the veterans of the Battle of Normandy who was involved in transporting troops and supplies to and from the coast of Britain.
Speaking about the ceremony, the 89-year-old said: “I think it was a wonderful display of thought for all those who lost their lives. They are the real heroes, those who gave their lives for our freedom.
“I think we must never forget that.”
At Calshot Spit a stone memorial was unveiled by Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust co-founder Kenneth Bannerman and Hampshire Councillor Keith Chapman at the former site of RAF Calshot where planes set off for Normandy.
At Admirals Quay in Southampton’s Ocean Village the Mayor of Southampton Sue Blatchford was joined by crowds to see the arrival of HMS Medusa which was deployed in the waters of Omaha beach, where the Americans faced fierce fighting.
Last night a D-Day concert was held in Ocean Terminal where the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, joined crowds to listen wartime songs and anthems from the Band of the Hampshire Constabulary.