Pompey and Plymouth go to the limit – and beyond

jpns-31-01-14 rw pmo field gun

The men of the Portsmouth Command Field Gun team at the wall in their first race of the 100th Royal Tournament in 1980 ENGPPP00120140130170216
jpns-31-01-14 rw pmo field gun The men of the Portsmouth Command Field Gun team at the wall in their first race of the 100th Royal Tournament in 1980 ENGPPP00120140130170216
jpns-19-08-17 retro Aug 2017

Wedding - Sgt Brian Brown and his wife Shirley on their wedding day

THIS WEEK IN 1980: Parachute sergeant’s mum had premonition her son had died

0
Have your say

There will be no quarter asked – and none given – as Pompey and Plymouth go head to head at Fratton Park tonight.

But whatever the passion in the League Two play-off semi-final first leg clash, it will surely not match the blood-and-guts intensity of Pompey-Plymouth clashes in a much-missed annual race to the line.

Devonport Field gun crew 1951

Devonport Field gun crew 1951

Those were the annual command field gun contests in which Devonport and Portsmouth would go to the limit and beyond in the battle for Royal Tournament supremacy.

Together with the Fleet Air Arm, they were the mainstays of the post-war clashes that upheld the tradition of a trial of strength and strategy born out of a conflict from the Victorian era.

The official Royal Navy record charts its beginning thus: ‘The origins of Royal Navy Field Gun lay in 1899, in the Second Boer War, and in particular the epic 119-day Siege of Ladysmith.

‘As the British Army was besieged by Boer fighters in the garrison town of Ladysmith, Natal, the Royal Navy landed guns from HM Ships Terrible and Powerful to help in the relief of the siege.

171111 REMEMBER WHEN REP: BH

CAPTION: Here we see the gun-run champions of 1929. They all look fit and well. Can you recognise anyone from this eighty-two year old photograph?

GUN RUN CHAMPIONS
Pictured some eighty years ago we see the champion gun running team of 1929. Notice how fit and handsome all the boys are. In the posed photograph are the instructing sub-lieutenant and two petty officers.
The boys seem to be wearing long sleeved white fronts. I have never seen these in a photograph before. Can anyone enlighten me on these please.

PICTURE: Submitted by Ray Childs ENGPPP00120111116093357

171111 REMEMBER WHEN REP: BH CAPTION: Here we see the gun-run champions of 1929. They all look fit and well. Can you recognise anyone from this eighty-two year old photograph? GUN RUN CHAMPIONS Pictured some eighty years ago we see the champion gun running team of 1929. Notice how fit and handsome all the boys are. In the posed photograph are the instructing sub-lieutenant and two petty officers. The boys seem to be wearing long sleeved white fronts. I have never seen these in a photograph before. Can anyone enlighten me on these please. PICTURE: Submitted by Ray Childs ENGPPP00120111116093357

Special carriages and mountings for these guns had been improvised by Percy Scott, before the Naval Brigade manhandled six field guns each weighing nearly half a metric tonne over rough terrain to assist their opposite numbers of the British Army.

‘The gallant defenders were helped enormously by the arrival at the last minute, of Captain the Hon Hedworth Lambton of the Naval Brigade with his 280 Blue-Jackets, four 12 pounders and two 4.7 inch guns. After the siege of Ladysmith was finally lifted on February 28, 1900, Her Majesty Queen Victoria I sent a telegram: “Pray express to the Naval Brigade my deep appreciation of the valuable services they have rendered with their guns’’. Displays of this magnificent feat began in London that year.’

Whisper it quietly in these parts, but Devonport more often than not had the edge in the years that preceded that fateful moment when the tournament was ended in 1999.

Let’s hope history does not repeat itself tonight.