A train ride to safety from Portsmouth – far from Hitler’s aerial blitz

ADVENTURE Evacuees leaving Portsmouth in June 1940
ADVENTURE Evacuees leaving Portsmouth in June 1940
Looking down London Road circa 1903. The Horndean Light Railway tracks are on the right.  Picture: Barry Cox Collection

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On June 28, 1940, Portsmouth children were evacuated from the city to the countryside.

It was hoped that if there were to be raids by the Luftwaffe then at least the children would be safe, miles away from the horror of it all.

Sir Denis Daly seems to find something amusing as he trails behind Lord Simon inspecting a parade for Ship Week in 1942

Sir Denis Daly seems to find something amusing as he trails behind Lord Simon inspecting a parade for Ship Week in 1942

Their escape from the city came just in time.

Thirteen days later, on a sunny Thursday evening, 24 German planes brought carnage to the city in the first air raid of the Second World War.

It was the first of 67 aerial attacks on Portsmouth.

Here we see children in a third class compartment of a train at the low level platform of Portsmouth and Southsea station.

I am sure many a mother broke her heart having to send her children away to strange homes, but these youngsters seemed happy enough as they set off on their adventure.

I know it is 76 years ago, but is there anyone in the photo still with us? Please do contact me.

During the war there was an event in Portsmouth called Ship Week when funds were raised for the thousands of sailors in the Royal Navy at that time.

Here we see Lord Simon, along with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Sir Denis Daly, inspecting a parade close to South Parade Pier, Southsea.

For some reason or another, something has caught Sir Denis’s eye and he seems very amused by whatever it was.

The sailors have Lee Enfield .303 rifles with long bayonets. They are also wearing long gunnery gaiters, part of the rig at that time.