Publish date: 8 June 2024

As a week of tributes for the 80th anniversary of D-Day come to a close and Portsmouth Armed Forces Day takes place today, we spoke with the Commanding Officer at Joint Hospital Group South (JHGS) about the close relationship between QA Hospital and the Armed Forces.

Many people and places have a connection with D-Day, and few more than Portsmouth. On 6 June 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare took place. Also known as D-Day, the historic operation saw the Allied Forces mount a large-scale invasion of Nazi-occupied France that ultimately tipped the course of the Second World War in the Allies’ favour. The invasion was carried out in two main phases – by air and by sea - with Portsmouth being the main departure point for over 5,000 ships and landing craft destined for the Normandy coast.

Portsmouth and the war effort 

This area has been medically important to the war effort since the 19th century with some Army casualties from the Peninsular Campaign (1808), Battle of Waterloo (1815) and Crimean War (1853-56) being admitted and treated in Gosport. In 1944, casualties from Normandy were not only received in Gosport, but also Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

Members of JHGS proudly attending D-Day 80

Queen Alexandra Hospital and D-Day 80. 

Queen Alexandra Hospital originally opened in 1904 as a military hospital and ahead of the D-Day landings, medical and nursing staff prepared to receive the wounded. On the evening of 6 June 1944, QA Hospital staff began to treat British, American, and Canadian Allied troops as well as German prisoners of war and French civilians who had been brought across the English Channel to receive care and treatment.

This close support continues today with military colleagues from Joint Hospital Group (South) being integrated alongside staff from Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, to work in partnership, learn from each other and share opportunities such as research and innovation. 

Members of Joint Hospital Group (South) proudly attending D-Day 80 

Earlier this week, tributes for the 80th anniversary of D-Day took place in Portsmouth and Normandy. More than 100 healthcare specialists from Joint Hospital Group (South) were invited to join the thousands of members of the public, Armed Forces personnel, military veterans, and special guests also in attendance to pay tribute to veterans of D-Day landings. 

As I reflect on the importance of D-Day 80 and some of the stories that were told from those who were there I am humbled by such an emotive tribute. It’s important we learn from and appreciate what has happened in the past and recently some of the Joint Hospital Group (South) team visited Normandy. While historical accounts, personal testimonies, and photographs will give you the story, the opportunity to stand where great human sacrifice happened gives you a unique perspective.

Members of Joint Hospital Group (South) at a British Military Cemetery in Normandy. 

I was proud to have the opportunity to attend the Portsmouth D-Day 80 commemorations and today as part of Portsmouth Armed Forces Day we come together to support the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community. After 80 years, only a few who survived that day and the rest of the war remain. The men and women of the Normandy campaign of June to August 1944 hold a special place in our hearts and should be honoured and remembered forever. 

I’m proud of the relationship we have with our local hospital and the support we provide each other. It’s a partnership that I hope continues to strengthen over the years to come.  

Lt Col Yardley, Commanding Officer
Joint Hospital Group (South)