75th Anniversary D Day Exhibition
Emsworth and its People
The exhibition depicting the 75th Anniversary of D Day from the perspective of local people has been well received. Many aspects of local involvement with D Day on 6th June 1944 have been covered concisely, enhanced by photographs. Teenage memories from Eileen Cunningham describe the military build up on the day with considerable tank movement making it difficult to cross the roads in Emsworth, but the next day the vehicles had all gone.
Rationing was in place from 1939 with 70 % of the food being imported and ration books introduced the day after war was declared; even petrol was rationed. The role of women saw a great change for in 1941 mainly unmarried nurses, teachers and domestic staff helped in the war effort but this situation had changed by 1943 with married women joining the services and WVS with 17,000 women in the land army.
Every town has its heroes and the exhibition reveals people from Emsworth and district were no exception including Sapper Len Butt and Michael Jennings who took part in the Normandy landings in 1944 and he received the Legion d’honneur for his war exploits.
In the display there is considerable information about preparation for and about D Day itself. Emsworth and the surrounding area was used for troops to practice landings and underwater activities so temporary landing strips were built. 1.000 of the landing craft were loaded along with men and equipment. Leaving the Solent area were 230 landing craft and 12 ships carrying 10, 000 men altogether. The towns of Thorney and Hayling Island were also involved in this operation and thousands of troops were located in the woods around Southwick as the D Day manoeuvres were planned in the house. Stansted Park shielded 2,000 soldiers, Havant had troops hidden and Rowlands Castle green was full of tanks.
The exhibition also gives interesting information about different craft used in the operation such as Hobarts Funnies, Duplex Drive and the Crocodile .The allies ace card was the Mulberry as an assembled Mulberry could provide port facilities to sustain off loading of thousands of troops to support Operation Overlord. A staggering number of troops were involved in the D Day landings. – 156,115 allied troops landed on the first day: British, American and Canadian with 4,413 allied soldiers dying on that day.
Steve Miller is primarily responsible for this excellent exhibition, helped by his grand daughter with the information gleaned for Bob Duncan’s diary which was provided by his daughter, Sonya Teale.
The Exhibition can be seen on Saturdays 10.30am - 4.30pm and Sundays 2.30pm - 4.30pm from May 25th to June 30th 2109
The image at the top shows Dr Trevor Davies at the opening of the exhibition