Hundreds of people commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day during October’s Portland at War weekend.
Members of the public were treated to the sights, sounds and even smells of wartime Britain as living history enthusiasts re-enacted Allied and German camps at the time of the D-Day landings in 1944.
The British and US camps in the grounds of Portland Castle included a field hospital and war correspondents’ tent. The troops were joined by plenty of authentic military vehicles, including ambulances, jeeps and trucks, many of which drove in convoy over to Weymouth from Portland.
The Portland ferry My Girl transported volunteers playing the part of wounded soldiers and German prisoners of war to the D-Day Centre at Castletown from Weymouth Harbour. This gave My Girl a chance to re-live her own personal Second World War history, when she ferried US troops stationed in Weymouth and Portland.
Reflecting on the weekend D-Day Centre curator Stephen George said: “We hold two Portland At War Weekends a year – in April and October. Everyone really gets into the spirit and the event transports you back in time – the clothes, the music, the smell of fuel and the canvas tents, and of course all our amazing military artefacts. We had re-enactors playing civilians who had been bombed out of their homes. One lady escaped clutching only her budgie and a carpet beater, and she used the beater to give the German soldiers what-for! My thanks go to the re-enactors and volunteers who took part. I’m lucky to have great support from people who share my passion for bringing such important stories to life.
“While we were on Weymouth Harbourside watching the troops board My Girl, we got talking to some American tourists. They were so impressed by what we were doing, and fascinated by the stories we told them about the US troops based in Weymouth and Portland during the Second World War.”
Castletown D-Day Centre (open daily 10:30am to 3:30pm) is an authentic recreation of the wartime dockyard on the Isle of Portland, from which in 1944 thousands of American troops of the 5th US Corps and the US 1st infantry embarked for the heavily-defended beaches of Nazi-occupied France. More information at castletownddaycentre.com
The Tank Museum at Bovington has hosted the launch of the Royal British Legion’s 2019 Dorset Poppy Appeal (see cover photo). The annual Remembrance Sunday service will take place at the War Memorial, South Walks, Dorchester on 10 November at 10.30am. There will also be a selection of Remembrance readings at Max Gate from 2-3pm and 3-4pm (usual admission prices) by the New Hardy Players.