Memories of Gosport in the 1940s

The Memories of Gosport in the 1940s from a Number of People

Nora’s Memories of Gosport in the 1940s

– Hello there I am in South Australia now but in the forties I lived in Gosport .in the house next to a hotel in Clarence Road opposite a naval Barracks and had to cross the road and walk to school at Newtown Primary I think. It was still there in 1971 as I took my 3 sons to see the house I lived in and the school I went to before we left for Australia there were 6 houses then a masonic hall the houses were all bombed in the rest of the street until someone bought and made the Bambi Café which I used to help in.I think there was a beautiful church called St Marys but that was not there in 1971, this brings back nice memories. Nora
– We lived at the first house next to the pub in the forties they built a cafe called the bambi cafe at the end of the road next to St George Barracks that backed onto Clarence Road and I used to help at the cafe when was quite young but I used to get a pot of tea for the men in the barracks at the cafe accross the road and I was given sixpence for that a small fortune to me .  had 3 sisters and lived with our mum in clarence road in the 40’s..before going to Egypt to see Dad. Where we used to play in the backwash of the sea near houses that were bombed in the war according to an ariel view of the area is now I believe a marina or it looked like one .Do you know Ian when we my sister and I used to go past the barracks gate which was accross the road from where we lived then we walked along right then we turned a left then we were walking to school and had to pass the guards on duty they used to give us big blocks of choclate yumm.I think we had some good times in Gosport ,going to the fairs.Do you know that on the way to school we had to pass a large house which everyone said was haunted, us kids used to think funny things.Nora from Austrailia. (Added 4th Aug 2007)

Frank Ayers Memories of Gosport in the 1940s

– My mother was the district midwife for gosport and my farther a  submariner (lost on Orpheus 1941) mum her brother and I lived in a flat  over Burtons the Tailors in High Street I went to a school which was  just behind us in the next road until it was bombed one night then we  went to the senor school across the road and down an ally can’t remember  the names of the schools or the roads. There was solders bivouacked on  the park and most of the open spaces. One of my fathers previous  shipmates sent me a model aircraft carrier which floated upside down in  the local static water tank due to being top heavy a couple of American  service men took it away to their workshop down the road in Camber and  Nicholson’s yard and fitted some lead to the keel which fixed it fine,  next they said they would fit an engine in it for me but the next day  when I went back for it no one was there the invasion had started and  even though I went down on the barges looking for them I never saw them  or my aircraft carrier again, Frank Ayers (Added 4th July 2010)

Don Sutherland’s Memories of the AACU and Grange Gosport

It was while compiling photo’s of Portsmouth & Southsea I decided to cross the harbour and visit Gosport. Low and behold! the first photo’s I came across were of Fort Rowner and Fort Grange, 2 photo’s of which I never thought existed. It so happened I was posted to AACU (Anti Aircraft Cooperation Unit) stationed at Grange in November 1939 and there until June 1942. Being a Flight Mechanic I was assigned to a Blackburn Shark – similar to that of a Swordfish – and used principaly for Target Towing over the Naval Gunnery School at Eastney. Our other duties included low-level attacks and high dive bombing. It was on Xmas Day 1939 we had been informed Winston Churchill would be present at the Gunnery School so were looking forward to the target-towing exercise. Being Xmas Day there were only a handful of us present in the hanger as the remainder were on leave. Some bright spark suggested we paint A MERRY XMAS on the target and almost immediately the 12 foot by 6 foot target was spread- eagled on the floor and 2 riggers went to town on it. The type of paint used dried fairly quickly so it wasn’t long before it was rolled up a placed it it’s compartment alongside the Shark. Such was the response when unfurling the target, it was obvious the gunners were not trainee’s. It was at that moment in time it began to snow and we were concerned as to their safe return. By the time we had put the Shark to bed in the hanger, the snow was coming down fairly heavy and by mid-afternoon it was more than ankle deep. From all reports, it was the heaviest fall of snow the U.K. had experienced for years. As to be expected, I could write a book related to want went on during my stay but not wishing to bore you, will close now and send a photo of interest. Don Sutherland (Added 4th February 2008)

On parade by Don Sutherland Grange Airfield Gosport 1939-42

Another episode of interest while at Fort Grange. It  was the last week in may 1940 when assisting a fitter do a major overall of the  Skua to which I was the Flight Mech We had it stripped down to the last nut and  bolt – the Riggers also did their part. On the morning as to when it was near  completion, our C.O. accompanied by another senior officer paid us a visit and requested we have it ready for flying by mid-afternoon. It was  about 3-30 PM when we pushed it out onto the tarmac and as there was no time for  an air test I had the job of sitting in the cockpit and keep the engine running  – revving it up at intervals. A short time later, Trevor Verrier – the wireless  operator – was loading the rear cockpit with cartons, one I assumed was coffee  and sandwich’s but no idea to what the others contained. Eventually they took  off about 4 PM and disappeared into the bright blue yonder. That evening I paid  my usual visit to Saint Judes church in Southsea – for a dancing session – and  during the conversation with my now wife, it was suspected something was amiss  for she was aware to all boats having been ordered out to sea. It was 2 days  later when my Skua returned and astounded by the situation as described by  Trevor. I was later to become informed that the Skua plus another one flown by  Nobby Clarke had been towing flares over Dunkirk. We were never told about it  officially. It was good to learn we had a hand in the rescue of those poor  souls. Don Sutherland

Mick Leech Memories of Gosport in the 1940s with comparison to later Austrailia

Gid ay cobber, is the dive cafe there now? last time I went down there was was around 1945,the bloke serving the tea would make 10 cups at one blow, real swift a good place in an air raid, it was real solid down in the ground. The Germans were after the subs so there was lots of bombs droping all around. Catch ya later.Tuck

Thanks cobber, you asked where was the ”dive” cafe ,as you went down the High Street towards the bus station and ferry, well the dive was on the left hand side on the corner right opposite the bus station, it was underground and all brick, like a tunnel, seats on each side and a dead end at the far end. I was having a cuppa down the dive one night when jerry came over and let loose 6 bombs, I can still hear the whistle of them bombs today [funny a] next day I went to have a look at where they landed because by the way the ”dive” shook and the clear sound of them falling it was fairly close. Can you or somebody in Gosport remember the swimming pool and the houses close to the pool and also Wallpole Park? well the bombs landed very close to that area damaging the homes and some of the shops in the High Street [close to the Townhall ] as far as I know there wasn’t any person killed but that could be quite wrong.”Boots” was a shop that was damaged that night because I went into the shop the next day but couldn’t get served, bit of a fire had started and lots of damage.

At home in Whitworth Road we had a shelter and I would watch the huns start a run for the subs at Dolphin, it was a great sight with the bombers just skimming our roof and the tracers from the harbour guns coming over the roof trying to hit the German, barrage balloons everywhere and smoke screens that was parked right outside the Junction pub on the corner of  Whitworth Rd and Leesland Rd [I think].

Well blue hope your readers can remember the Dive. Mick.——–can anybody remember the doodle bombs that flew over Gosport on there way to Southhampton I think [that was the direction they were on anyway. The motors stopped well away from Gosport.

Information about Holbrook school,I used to play ”cowboys and Indians”,with a few of my mates on the ground that Holbrook school was built on,work started and we had to find a new area so we moved to ”Blue bell woods”[alongside military bridge]in 1944-5. We changed the game because the Fleet-Air-Arm would tow aircraft over the bridge on there way to HMS,SULTAN, [I think] and cowboys and Indians just didn’t seem right so we played English troops against Germans and a few months later [give or take a few months]we English won, I can remember thumping the ???? out of one of the lads that was a German officer, great days. Mick Leech

Bridgemary 1947 that’s when mum and dad moved into number 16 Layton road Bridgemary, we were the first family to move into the council estate of Bridgmary, we moved from Leesland Road [24] because mum was having another child [total 13 -7 died tough times them days,] there were 4 sisters and 3 boys including me; eldest was Pat-Barbara-Yevonne-Lesley-me Michael-Peter-Paul, ages from 17- to one just about to be born, a girl it was, Lesley. Only 3 bedrooms so we had to bunk in together [lot of fights].Dad was in the Navy and stationed in HMS Collingwood [demoped around 1949] he was in the submarines and had a very traumatic time at sea .[another story] Mum was Irish and a real good woman, she would talk to the girls and say when you marry its for life, find a way around the times that are tough because there is a way for everyone, take the time and look for your way of coping. My mum was so great, when I got married she told my wife [18 at the time] that if she wanted a long happy life with me then she must make sure our life in bed, was always in good nick, and that was [I think] the best mother a boy could have [boy did it work]. Well that’s a bit of life in Bridgemary there is lots more, but I don’t think you would be interested—–Michael. P.S. the picture [16 Layton road]was taken by my sister Yevonne in 2006 and nothing has changed even the bushes out front haven’t changed [in fact the house looks better than I remember].another ps. my wife and I sailed away from Gosport in 1966 and have never been back [can’t afford it]. The winter of 1947 was a shocker 3-4 foot of snow and weeks of freezing snow-rain-and black frost[we were so cold].
16 Layton Rd, Brdgemary Gosport Hants 2006 by Mick Leech
1947,the weather was a shocker and Bridgemary was at that time quite isolated no bus service because Nobes Avenue only went as far as Layton Road. To go into town we had to walk to Fareham road and catch a bus outside [I think] Frater or Bedenham naval yards. Layton Road houses were naval homes just for service men at that time. The roads were being put down by a company called ”LAINGS” and almost all the labour was being done by GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, very hard workers and were very friendly men. People could hire a German for a weekend to help dig the garden or other work, dad hired a very young German Prisoner and he could stay over the weekend and get back on the roads Monday morning. All we had to do was feed him and have a bed for him. Dad took him for a few beers after work and they got on very well.

The railway line went past the bottom of our garden and I would have great fun putting my ear to the line to hear a train coming and then place a coin [penny] on the track and watch the train go over the coin, sometimes five or six of us would do this just for fun to see what damage could be done. We played cricket and football in the streets sometimes till it was dark,we would play against other streets or with just 3 or 4 kids but always in our street [Layton Rd]. Mum would get me to go to the coke yard in Gosport [Walpole Park, the gas station]she would tell me to take the pram and don’t come back until it was full of coke and coal, it was a long way to walk but I would have fun on the way talking to kids that I knew and chasing a few dogs off. To get the coal you had to sift through the coke and find coal which was hard to find because most of it was treated somehow to take the gas out of it[still don’t know how that was done, but the smell was so strong.] One time Mum said I had to take my younger brother with me in the pram and she said make sure he sits in the pram so he will be safe, well I used to get back home black as coal, anyway my brother helped me find coke and coal that day and all you could see of him was his eyes, I tried to clean him up but he was crying and things just got blacker, but Mum had one look at him and couldn’t stop laughing.

No TV in them days just the radio and papers plus books so I would listen to the radio some nights and read a lot of books, some books, I didn’t really know what it was about but it still interested me. Strange somethings that stick in your head. I remember when going to St Johns school which was on Forton Road, and it was war time, 44-45 and there were concrete blocks each side of the road ready to slide out and block the road so German troops would have a bad time getting past, also with the concrete blocks was huge steel V shaped girders standing on end about 10 foot tall. Well one day at noon coming back from having dinner at home, I just turned the corner and watched one of the steel girders falling down and a child of my age was under its fall path and landed on him cutting his head straight off. I was stunned and then watched a driver jump from his double decker bus without stopping his bus to try to help the child, I don’t know what happened to the bus because I was in shock. Yes you got it, the council then moved the steel so that kind of thing couldn’t happen again. Sometimes I think that no matter what the government or council does things will happen no mater what is done, its a part of life and can’t be changed.

Where I live in Australia [Brisbane] the streets are empty and no children play and I live very close to a high school and primary school, but the children can’t be seen after school. Sometimes I walk the streets and don’t see any person, only cars, no children playing football or cricket. My wife tells me its change and I must except what I can’t change. But I remember the streets in Bridgemary and the children playing every where, and its hard to except that the children have been taken away from our society and hidden behind a computer or TV.I don’t like what is happening in our society but I must keep trying to forget my life in Bridgemary and just hope the children are enjoying their life as I did. We had cars when I was playing in the streets and would stop playing to let the traffic go, no problem at all, in fact some drivers would stop and watch a game. Whats the rush. The only time I got in trouble in the street games was when I let loose a full blooded hook and smashed a window, but then they had to catch me a.

Trevor Rogers’ Memories of Northcroft Crescent Gosport in 1943 to 1945

Thank you for the further information you sent me, but I  cannot trace on your site the Middlecroft Pub and the “lane”  photo’s.

I have attached a photo of a street party in Northcroft  Crescent where I lived. When  I looked at your Northcroft Road photo’s I  lived on the left about the 3rd car down…number 25.

The street party I believe was about 1943-45, the closest I  have, but probably D-Day ?? I was born in Dec of 1941 and I am back row fair  haired, sitting front of the women in the white “pinny”

If you have time could you confirm where the Middlecroft  pub is and the Lane photo’s, as I would like to print off and send to my Dad  (93/4 age). The Orchard mentioned in the write-up in the lane  enroute to the cemetery, was my favourite “scumping” ground, we used to climb  the fence and pinch the apples.

Trevor (Added 21st September 2015) (From email 13th March 2004

Northcroft Cresc, Gosport 1943-45 by Trevor Rogers