By Mack Cowling, 6.1
On Wednesday 5 June, I attended the D-Day Memorial Service on Portsmouth Common with my two veteran grandfathers. It was an incredible experience for them, as they were able to receive merit and respect for the service they gave to the country.
One of my great grandfathers, Roy Purnell, was a troop who arrived on Juno Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944. I also had John Castleton, my great grandfather on my other side, with me. John was part of the 76th Royal Air Force Bomber Command. He flew a Lancaster Bomber during the war until he was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war.
Due to the tremendous significance of the war in their lives, being able to reminisce and relate with stories being read by the multiple guest speakers – including the Prince of Wales, President of the United States and Her Majesty the Queen – was incredibly rewarding for them. The event itself was on for most of the day and featured music and dance, themed to the 1940s era to commemorate wartime culture.
I think the most special part of the day for everybody involved was the chance to meet and talk with the guest speakers. My great grandparents were spoken to and personally thanked for their service by Charles, Prince of Wales, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Overall it was an incredible experience and one which I will truly not forget.