Film star drops in to open a fete at Hilsea barracks

Dame Anna Neagle at the RAOC barracks, Hilsea, September 1941
Dame Anna Neagle at the RAOC barracks, Hilsea, September 1941
The telegram received by William Halls mother  still upsetting to read 78 years on.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Curse of the telegram: Dear Mrs Hall – your son is dead

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If I asked anyone of the period they would immediately recognise the beautiful young woman in the picture, above.

Miss Neagle was the star of many films. These included playing Queen Victoria in Victoria the Great (1937) and Sixty Glorious Years (1938). But perhaps she was most famous for playing the part of Edith Cavell, the British nurse shot by German firing squad in the First World War for helping soldiers from both sides. The film, Nurse Edith Cavell, was released in 1939, just as the next war with Germany was beginning.

Lady James making a presentation to a guide

Lady James making a presentation to a guide

The four photographs here were loaned to me by Patrick Daley, the son of Portsmouth’s wartime lord mayor.

In the second picture, the wife of Admiral James, commander-in-chief, Portsmouth, is seen giving a girl guide some type of an award.

Does anyone recognise the hall and doorway in which they are framed?

The third picture was taken in October 1950 at a Guildhall ball held to raise funds for Blesma (the limbless veterans’ charity for the United Kingdom).

Belles of the ball at the Guildhall, Portsmouth, 1950

Belles of the ball at the Guildhall, Portsmouth, 1950

I wonder if any of these well-dressed women are still with us?

And finally, to the fourth photograph. It was taken 74 years ago in 1941 and perhaps some of you might recognise yourselves among the children of St Swithun’s School in Portsmouth.

Pupils from St Swithun's School, Portsmouth, 1941

Pupils from St Swithun's School, Portsmouth, 1941