THERE will be parades, concerts and Para spectaculars - but not in Southampton.

Dismayed Second World War veterans have accused the city of not doing enough to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

The local head of the Normandy Veterans Association says events here are not in the same league as those organised for Portsmouth.

Royal Hampshire Regiment veterans secretary John Evans said: "Disgust-ing isn't it? I've made my views known to the civic centre."

The city council, in reply, has apologised. "I'm sorry it doesn't meet with what Portsmouth are doing," said leisure boss Councillor Peter Wakeford.

D-Day saw the biggest sea invasion in history, a triumph of planning, nerve and courage in which thousands laid down their lives for their country.

It was the day that saw the beg-inning of the end for Hitler's Nazi regime when Allied forces began the liberation of occupied France.

Many of the surviving veterans who are still fit enough are heading for Normandy to pay their respects once again.

Many others can no longer travel or have financial constraints and will remain in this country.

In these unique circumstances, the French and the Ministry of Defence are pulling out all the stops to ensure this June is marked with arrangements of suitable magnitude.

Down the coast in Portsmouth, the council has joined forces with its twin city of Caen to organise a string of events between now and September.

There is a cathedral service, a march-past by veterans, concerts featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Beverley Sisters and the Glenn Miller Sound.

Then there's a film show on Southsea Common, a display of historic military vehicles, a commemorative website and a ceremony at the

D-Day stone.

A Royal Navy warship and a Brittany ferry will cross the English channel, echoing the maritime convoy of six decades ago.

Yesterday home secretary David Blunkett visited the city to formally open a special display which has been designed specifically to mark the 60th anniversary.

Meanwhile, Southampton's history is also inextricably linked with the invasion.

In the days running up to Operation Overlord, thousands of military personnel were held in a secure camp on the city's common.

All the major arterial routes down to the sea were jammed for days by troop convoys, with soldiers often touchingly giving away sweets and money to Southampton youngsters before sailing off into the darkness to meet their fate in France's beautiful Calvados region.

Down at the docks you would have barely been able see the water along the town's shoreline for the many hundreds of vessels tied up there.

Warships, landing craft and tank carriers were all teeming with military personnel waiting on tenterhooks for the off.

Everywhere was bustle and activity.

Up the River Hamble were hidden huge concrete chunks of the man-made Mulberry Harbour, some of which still act as wave breaks at Arromanches, Normandy today.

More than a million British, American, Canadian and French troops would eventually set sail for France from Southamp-ton and nearby Warsash.

Yet, when compared to Portsmouth, Southampton's plans seem thin on the ground, focusing on one ceremony and one exhibition.

The exhibition features rarely-seen work by 1940s photojournalist Robert Capa, showing the impact of Operation Overlord.

Archive footage will also be on display at the city's art gallery.

And there will be a Drumhead service at Mayflower Park, featuring a flypast by a Spitfire built at the Supermarine factory in Woolston on the exact anniversary date of June 6.

At the end of the service, a B17G - known as a Flying Fortress - will fly over before

dropping hundreds of poppies into Southampton Water, while a landing craft lays wreaths on the water and the Band of the Adjutant General Corps from Worthy Down beats the retreat.

However, unlike ten years ago, when QE2 and tCanberra sailed over to France, no Cunard vessel is taking part.

It seems the extent of events is not enough for some veterans.

Some have accused Southampton's council chiefs of failing to do enough to mark the prestigious anniversary.

Brian Gibson, 80, of the Normandy Veterans Association, described the city's arrangements as "minimal".

"It's a great, great shame. The commem-orations are rather better in Portsmouth. They have a series of events going on in Castle Field and Southsea Common. Southampton has sadly not entered the same league."

Mr Gibson, who served as an anti-tank gunner, said both cities played an imp-ortant role for invasion craft setting off for France.

"I feel a little bit dismayed that the city fathers here have not done more.

"All associations of ex-servicemen that were involved think if we could have done half of what Portsmouth are doing, it would be rather nice."

Another veteran, who declined to be named, described the arrangements as "an insult", adding: "I feel very sad about it and there are very strong feelings about it among members.

"Other countries respect veterans for what they've done."

Former commando George Bower, 82, of Southampton, would have liked to have seen a service at the cenotaph to remember the war dead.

And Charlie Jones, 80, of Fawley, added: "I think they ought to do as much as they possibly can.

"It's a good opportunity because Southampton played such an big part. It was certainly one of the main ports around which everything operated."

City council leisure boss Councillor Peter Wakeford was penitent.

He said: "I'm sorry if they (the veterans) feel that Southampton is not matching what Portsmouth is putting on.

"But I like to feel that what we're putting on is respectful. We're not in competition with Portsmouth.

"Some of it is about having the amount of finance available to do it. We haven't got a lot of money to put towards putting on

bigger events."

He said Southampton was at a disadvantage because it wasn't a military port like Portsmouth and officers had tried to get a lot of Army personnel but they were otherwise engaged, adding: "I would have loved to be able to do more but there are so many limitations. It's not unwillingness, it's the circumstances."