MILITARY might invaded Littlehampton over the weekend for one of the town’s most poignant Armed Forces Day celebrations to date.
To mark the national event on Saturday (June 28), the town once again pulled off a stunning spectacle paying tribute to the servicemen and women who have fought to defend our country.
The Green was jammed full of action-packed spectacles from tanks, armoured personnel carriers and Land-Rovers bristling with machine guns, to the horses of the Light Cavalry HAC and the death-defying displays of the Trig Aerobatic Team in the skies overhead.
The event was again organised by Littlehampton Town Council, Harbour Park and the uniformed groups from across the area.
And in the centenary year of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, this year’s opening veterans’ march and drumhead service held a particular poignancy.
Dozens of veterans from a range of conflicts joined the uniformed groups from across Littlehampton in the parade.
But it was not just the veterans paying an emotional tribute to all those who fell serving their country.
Members of the Royal British Legion Riders planted their own poppy field inside their display to mark the deaths of 453 servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan.
Attached to the remembrance crosses was a pack of poppy seeds with the name of each person killed in the conflict.
Jules Rutt, of the riders, said: “As the poppies grow, people can remember the soldier who died.
“The reaction has been very positive. People seem to be embracing the idea of it which is good.”
For many, the event was a chance to remember their own family members killed during the war.
Councillor Nigel Peters, vice-chairman of West Sussex County Council, is the authority’s military covenant champion, responsible for links with the forces.
He was one of those paying tribute to his family members who fought and died in the First World War.
He said: “We must look after our armed forces and remember those that have gone forth and sacrificed their lives so that we can have the freedoms that we enjoy.
“This is the 100th anniversary since the start of the First World War and a lot of people who were here today have lost members of their family – their immediate family – and they remember it.
“I lost two uncles in the First World War so it’s a poignant event.”
For the full report, plus a special picture spread, see this week’s Littlehampton Gazette (Thursday, July 3).