The City of Southampton Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

On Thursday 6 June, Southampton will join the rest of the country in commemorating 80 years since the Normandy Landings of 1944 with a service, parade and several events and activities.

D-Day preparations

Southampton’s Town Crier, Alan Spencer, will begin the city's commemorations at 8am with a special proclamation on the Civic Centre steps. The tribute will acknowledge the valiant Allied Forces who initiated Operation Overlord by storming the beaches of Normandy, a pivotal act that led to the liberation of Paris and the end of the Second World War.

In the run-up to D-Day, the docks were a hive of activity when millions of Allied troops, landing craft and weapons were transported across the channel for the Normandy landings. For more than three years, Southampton was home to the American Army 14th Major Port and 3.5 million British, American, Canadian and other troops passed through the port on their way to France. Sixty per cent of all American troops and equipment shipped from British ports to the Continent departed from Southampton with the headquarters of Operation Overlord located within the Civic Centre. A full itinerary of activity is detailed below:

Lancaster flypast

In honour of the D-Day commemorations, an Avro Lancaster PA474, one of the last two remaining airworthy examples of these legendary four-engine heavy bombers, was due to grace the skies over the Bargate Monument.

With deep regret, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will not be participating in the upcoming D-Day 80 commemorations. This decision comes as the BBMF remains grounded following the recent tragic Spitfire crash. Our thoughts are with all those affected during this difficult time.

Commemorative service and military parade

Holyrood ChurchA service will be held at 7:30pm on Thursday 6 June to recognise and honour the sacrifices made during the Second World War. The service will take place at Holyrood Church in the city centre, which was destroyed by enemy bombing during the Blitz in November 1940. It will be conducted by The Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Winchester and attended by the Lord Mayor of Southampton, veterans, and contingents from the 17 Port & Maritime Regiment.

Following the service, The Regiment, the RLC Corps of Drums and Army Band Tidworth will lead a parade through the city centre to commemorate this historic occasion. The parade will make its way through the High Street, passing the Bargate, and will conclude in Guildhall Square.

National Beacon Initiative

D-Day beaconWhen the troops arrive in Guildhall Square, the Lord Mayor of Southampton will light the D-Day 80 Beacon as part of the National Beacon Initiative, orchestrated by Bruno Peek CVO OBE OPR.

Additional beacons will also be positioned in other locations across the UK (United Kingdom) as well as Utah, Omaha, Juno, and Sword, all within Normandy, France.

The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Southampton, Councillor David Shields said: "The 80th Anniversary of D-Day provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the valiant heroes who fought for our freedom with unparalleled bravery and sacrifice and to delve deeper into the pivotal role that our city played in the Second World War. I encourage the people of Southampton to attend the service and parade as well as enjoy the unique activities available to explore our city’s significant contribution, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of our shared history."

Archie Parsons from Southampton Royal British Legion said: “Southampton played a crucial and relatively unknown part in the Second World War, and it is incredibly important that we continue to remember those  that fought and lost their lives. Commemorative events such as these bring the city together and I look forward to working with everyone involved for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day.”

Other events and activities taking place throughout the week

There are numerous events and activities taking place across Southampton that provide unique opportunities to discover more about D-Day in the city. From guided tours led by the Council’s Cultural team to historic archive and museum displays, library events and cruise trips.

Find the full programme of D-Day events on the dedicated Visit Southampton website.

Talks, walks and tour

  • Guided tourGo Jauntly: Self-guided D-Day Walk – available to download via smart phone app stores.
  • Thinking Thursdays: D-Day 80 Civic Centre and D-Day Guided Tour I Thursday 6 June at 11am
  • Talk - Wartime Knitting Thursday 6 June | 2pm - 3.30pm | Southampton Central Library
  • D-Day 80: D-Day Walking Tour I Sunday 9 June at 11am
  • Southampton Heritage Guides on a City walk to include the D-Day Wall, beacon, Town Quay Park and end at Westgate Tower, where there will be a D-Day exhibition I Sunday 9 June
  • SEE Southampton Heritage Guides are organising a Talk by Jack Wilson on Southampton, the Blitz and D-Day at Portswood Library I Wednesday 12 June at 7pm

D-Day themed cruises

Steamship Shieldhall is the largest working steamship in Britain and as a member of the National Historic Fleet she serves as a sea going tribute to Britain’s maritime heritage.

It is operated by a team of dedicated volunteers, rightly proud of Shieldhall’s No 1 TripAdvisor ranking in Southampton, you too can experience the golden age of steam on their special D-Day themed cruises on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June.

  • Saturday 8 June | D - Day 80 Theme Cruise to the Solent
  • Sunday 9 June | D - Day 80 Theme Cruise to Portsmouth Harbour

Things to see and do

Southampton D-Day Embroidery Display

D-Day embroideryThe D-Day Embroidery and special information panels highlighting D-Day topics including the Mulberry Harbours and the 14th Major Port, will be on display throughout June at the SeaCity Museum where they can be viewed by visitors to the café. More about its creation can be found at on the Southampton Stories website.

While you are at the museum, why not visit the Southampton Stories exhibition which features a D-Day section where you can hear first-hand on what it was like to live in Southampton and the docks during the build-up to the biggest military invasion in history from Southampton’s outstanding oral history collections.

Visit the American Wall

The ‘D-Day Wall’ or ‘American Wall’ as it has become known, is a 19-metre length of brick wall at the lower end of Western Esplanade in Southampton, etched with the names of American soldiers that passed through Southampton. What three words location: waving, union, venue.

Visit Solent Sky Museum

Solent Sky Museum is known as the home of the Spitfire which was designed and built in Eastleigh and Southampton and played its part in D-Day. There will be plenty for everyone to see and do at Solent Sky across 8-9 June between 10am - 5pm.

Southampton Stories

You can find out more about Southampton's role in D-Day on the Council’s Southampton Stories website which features content from Southampton Museums and Archive collections including firsthand accounts, photographs and oral history recordings.