By Andrew Brown, Stand Up For Southport
A 102-year-old veteran who took part in the D-Day landings during World War Two will be a VIP guest of honour when Princess Anne visits Southport this Friday (29th September 2023).
Harry Howorth was a Signaller serving with The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry when he came ashore at Sword Beach in Normandy in France on 6th June 1944 as part of the Allied efforts to liberate Europe from Hitler’s Nazis.
Harry, who lives in Southport, was recently awarded the Legion D’Honneur by the French Government for his heroism in Normandy and beyond.
He is a popular figure within the local community, often joining former comrades of all ages at the weekly SSAFA gatherings at the Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport town centre.
The former soldier will take pride of place this Friday when HRH The Princess Royal rededicates Southport War Memorial to commemorate 100 years since it was unveiled.
The memorial was opened in 1923 by the Earl of Derby along with 320 children whose parents had been tragically killed on the battlefields in World War One.
The Roll of Honour in the four Cenotaphs of the Memorial initially included no fewer than 1,133 names of Southport residents who had died during World War One, a number which has grown significantly due to conflicts such as World War Two, Korea, Iraq and others.
Harry’s daughter, Edna English, said: “Dad is really looking forward to the event and to meeting Princess Anne.
“When World War Two broke out in 1939, Dad was in a reserved occupation, so wasn’t called up into the Armed Forces straight away.
“He was working as a plumber, doing jobs in hospitals and elsewhere.
“As the war became worse, he was called upon, and joined up, becoming a Signaller.
“He was serving with The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry when they landed at Sword Beach on 6th June 1944, the first day of the D-Day landings.
“He must have done something outstanding, because a couple of years ago, the French Government invited him over to present him with a Legion D’Honneur, their highest medal.
“When you hear Dad talk, he didn’t have it easy.
“When they went ashore on D-Day, there were only 32 of them in his group who came out alive, the rest were lost. It must have been an horrendous experience.
“He must have been strong. In those days, the radio sets the signallers had to carry were enormous, and they had to carry them along with their spare battery and full pack of kit. I don’t know how they did it.
“He never used to speak about his experiences in the war. And then a couple of years ago he was invited to Normandy to take part in the D-Day commemorations.
“Once he had spoken with some of the soldiers over there, he seemed to start talking a little bit about his past.
“The D-Day memorial that he travelled to see over there wasn’t complete when he went.
“In June next year, it will be 80 years since the Normandy landings, and Dad is really determined to go back and see the names of all his friends on the completed memorial. He talks about it a lot.
“Dad is looking forward to meeting Princess Anne this Friday. He has met several members of the royal family, but never Princess Anne until now.
“He is really looking forward to that.
“I am so proud to see him taking pride of place at this event and being recognised for what he has achieved.”
Paul McDonald, the owner of Cleveland Cafe on Lord Street in Southport, said: “This young man, Harry Howorth, is 102 years old and he comes to our SSAFA Hub every Tuesday.
“He is one of the last soldiers from the D-Day landings.
“Thank you for your service sir, God bless.
“Harry has been a regular with us for quite a long while.
“We always enjoy seeing him, he is a really lovely bloke.
“He is really looking forward to the royal visit and is excited to be taking part.
“It’s great to see him being celebrated for his role as a D-Day veteran. He is one of the Few. There are not many of them left.
“He is always great company, and he’s as fit as a fiddle. He is a very active person.
“Harry hasn’t spoken much about the war, but it must have been an incredibly traumatic time for him to live through.”
People from across the region are being invited to enjoy the royal visit by Princess Anne to Southport this Friday (29th September 2023).
Her Royal Highness will officially re-dedicate Southport War Memorial to commemorate its 100th anniversary.
The parade this Friday will form up at Victoria Park in Southport at 10.30am, departing at 11.15am.
The service at Southport War Memorial starts at 12pm, all welcome.
Veterans from across the UK are invited to join the parade.
Hundreds of local children from 27 schools in the Southport area will be involved in the event, in tribute to the youngsters who officially unveiled Southport War Memorial in 1923.
During World War One, between 1914 and 1918, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 men and women from Southport served with His Majesty’s Forces overseas or at home, out of a population of 72,500.
Event organiser, Major Nick McEntee TD VR REME and Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Southport, said:
“I am enjoying seeing the excitement continue to build in Southport the closer we get to the rededication of our Southport War Memorial.
“While we are organising this event to celebrate the centenary of Southport War Memorial and raise awareness of the Southport Royal British Legion Hub, we are also doing this for our town as a whole to raise Southport’s profile.
“There is no other town like Southport in the country.
“We hope everyone in our town gets behind this special event and supports it.
“Let’s put Southport on the map!
“We’d love to show the country how good we are as a town, honouring the 100th anniversary of our Southport War Memorial, and celebrating our heritage.
“All of those hundreds of names on the Monument are local people, many of whose relatives are living here still.
“They deserve to be remembered.”
The event will consist of a parade marching from Victoria Park in Southport to the War Memorial where a Drumhead Service will be conducted to mark the re-dedication of the War Memorial.
The re-dedication will be directed by Colonel (Retd) Monsignor Stephen Alker MBE and attended by senior civil dignitaries and senior military figures.
The parade will be led by the Band of the Royal Air Force College and be made up of Armed Forces personnel and Veterans from all three services, as well as Cadets from The Sea Cadets, Army Cadet Force, The Royal Air Force Cadets and Merchant Taylor’s Combined Cadet Force.
There will be contingents from 27 schools in the Southport area.
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Motorists are being advised to be aware of road closures in place when a royal visit takes place in Southport.
Lord Street, Duke Street and various side roads off Lord Street, Southport will be temporarily closed for the Military Parade and service in London Square, Southport on Friday 29th September 2023.
The closures will take place between 9am and 3pm, except Duke Street which will be closed for a maximum of 15 minutes at 11.10am to allow the parade to step off from Victoria Park until it reaches Lord Street, and then again upon its return at approximately 1.30pm.
Access will be maintained for Emergency Services, and wherever possible for residents.
The diversion route will be via Weld Road, Coastal Road, Marine Drive, Esplanade, Promenade, Leicester Street and vice versa.
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