FoSJP Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of D‑Day – Sunday 8th June 2014
The FoSJP History Research Group commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D‑Day landings with a public talk at Shirley Parish Hall entitled “Southampton from Blitz to D‑Day” by Jake Simpkin, accompanied by an exhibition.
Jake’s talk was packed with information, which was delivered professionally and sensitively. It was divided into two sections:
- The development of World War II – the Blitz and the Battle of Britain
- The lead up to D‑Day and the end of the War.
The talk was illustrated with photos, maps, diagrams, and tables full of information about Southampton’s World War II history.
The contribution that Southampton made to the War effort was astounding – from assembling Spitfire parts all across Southampton, producing naval destroyers at Harland and Wolfe, building Mulberry Harbours, and of course as a port of military embarkation – over 3.5 million service personnel had passed through the port by the end of the war [source: “Southampton and D‑Day”, Peckham I, 1994].
The roles of both civilians’ and the forces’ war efforts were recognised. Michaela Lawler‑Levene added local World War II examples from around the St.James’ Park area and encouraged the audience to share their own experiences.
Examples of the exhibition artefacts included a World War II kitbag, a fold‑up chair, World War II recipes, and Southampton bombing maps. The exhibition also included accounts of local people who were Air Raid Wardens, Home Guard, map makers, engineers making Spitfire parts, a Land Girl, and involved in local Spitfire production (several of whom were in the audience), and an account of the Southampton General and Royal South Hants Hospitals’ roles in caring for the D‑Day wounded.
Bunting, buns, doughnuts, and World War II dress completed the occasion and made it feel like a worthwhile celebration and dedicated remembrance of the events of 70 years ago.