Peter Holman Smith – St. Vincent


Thanks for the picture of the mast at St Vincent. In the 40s I rode my bike past it on my way to the Gosport grammar school and heard the bugle calls for whatever purpose they served. In 1956 I did my NS in the Fleet Air Arm and was taken to St Vincent to be instructed how to survive a dunking in the ocean wearing a boiler suit by being thrown in the deep end of swimming pool. Also, I climbed the mast and actually touched the golden ball on top before making a rapid and welcome descent. At the ripe old age of 23, I was a little more nervous than the 14-year old apprentice seamen who preceded me. I remember being able to see across the Solent to the Isle of Wight from the top.

As regards the name Gosport. There is a small, south Alabama town by that name. It’s in the deep south and close to cajun country. I wonder if there is some connection with the colony of French who, I believe, were Huegenots who made a home in Gosport. My father was a milk delivery man in the late 1930s and part of his round was a collection of houses between Leesland Lane and Trafalgar Square ( a small street across the street from the Criterion Cinema). There was an archway at the entrance to the little enclave and I was told that the occupants were French. The site is directly across from the old wallpaper factory. (At the time called Asleys, now the Sanderson Business Centre). Many French Heugenots settled in the Louisiana Territory and I wonder if there is a connection.

By Peter Holman Smith

Memories and Stories from Gosport People Page 1