The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Portsmouth

The DDNF holds a Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance every June in the Cathedral, and it is the home of the Fellowship's Memorial Window. Books of Remembrance containing details of all past and present members of the Fellowship are on display at the Cathedral.

The Cathedral has a long history. The original church dates back to 1185. It was dedicated to St Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who had been murdered in 1170. In 1927 the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury was chosen as the Cathedral for the new Diocese of Portsmouth. Work began on enlarging the building, but stopped on the outbreak of war in 1939. A temporary red brick wall was built to close off the west end of the nave.

The Cathedral survived the Portsmouth blitz, but it remained incomplete for many years after the war. Then new plans were produced, and on 6 June 1966 Field Marshal Montgomery unveiled a stone at the Cathedral, bearing the inscription that it marked 'the resolve to complete this Cathedral in commemoration of the liberation of Europe 1944-45.’

This led to his becoming the first member of the DDNF when it was formed to support the Cathedral Appeal in 1968. However, the plans for completing the Cathedral had to be shelved for the time being when the Appeal failed to reach its target.

The Cathedral was finally completed in 1991, and the new nave was consecrated in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in November of that year.

Meanwhile, Operation OVERLORD, which marked the beginning of the liberation of Europe, had been commemorated at the Cathedral when the Fellowship’s Memorial Window was unveiled in 1984 by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, to mark the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

Field Marshal Montgomery at Portsmouth Cathedral.

Field Marshal Montgomery at Portsmouth Cathedral, 6 June 1966.

The DDNF Books of Remembrance

The DDNF Books of Remembrance.