Christ Church, Portsdown, is on the northern outskirts of Portsmouth. It is situated just over the top of Portsdown Hill, which runs roughly east to west behind the city.
At the time of D-Day, the headquarters of British 2nd Army – which controlled the British and Canadian ground forces that landed in Normandy, was nearby at Fort Purbrook, under the command of General Sir Miles Dempsey. On 4 June 1944, the staff of 2nd Army Headquarters held a church service here as the troops under their command departed for Normandy, for the landings on the following day. The service is sometimes described as a ‘knight’s vigil’, after similar practices carried out by Medieval squires before they were knighted. In the event, bad weather forced the recall of the Allied fleet at the last minute, and D-Day was postponed until 6 June. The service is still commemorated today, at the time of the D-Day anniversary.
The church was also on one of the main routes that Allied troops took from camps north of Portsmouth to locations in the city at which they embarked for France.
There is a military cemetery in the churchyard, though the graves do not relate to D-Day.
|Address||London Road, Portsmouth, UK|
|Site Ownership and Access Information||Anglican church. Interior of church not accessible at all times.|
|Contact details||Please see Christ Church website|
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