Portsmouth father’s desperate hunt for daughter who went for change

DECEMBER 1940 Devastation at Clark's Corner, Southsea

DECEMBER 1940 Devastation at Clark's Corner, Southsea

A magnificent photograph looking south over Portsbridge with the Hilsea arches in the background. 		                   Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Where there’s a wheel there’s a way – straight down Portsmouth tramlines

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My new book War-Torn Portsmouth Then After and Now will be published next Tuesday and here are two photographs from the book, one showing a scene of devastation taken on the morning of December 23, 1940.

A customer entered Clark’s general store on the corner of St James’s Road and Brougham Road, Southsea.

TODAT The spot where Clark's shop once stood on the corner of St James's Road and Brougham Road, Southsea

TODAT The spot where Clark's shop once stood on the corner of St James's Road and Brougham Road, Southsea

He made his purchases and offered a £5 note to pay for them.

Unfortunately there was not enough change in the till and so one of the shop girls, Joyce Penfold, offered to run across St James’s Road to her father’s butcher’s shop to ask him to change the fiver. It cost her her life.

The store was owned by George Clark and his wife Beatrice, thus Clark’s Corner.

It was a popular place to shop as it was one of those places that sold everything.

Mr Clark agreed to Joyce running across the road to get the change, but as she did so the air raid siren sounded.

Her father, also called George, changed the note and said to Joyce: ‘You had better get in the shelter in the back yard.’

But she said: ‘I’ll just run this change back to the shop and I’ll come back to you.’ She never arrived.

As she entered Clark’s shop it took a direct hit from a high-explosive bomb destroying the building and killing all inside.

George Penfold, who was waiting at the door of his butcher’s for his daughter’s return, was blasted through his shop out into the back yard, but survived.

He was shocked and shaken but came to his senses and ran across the road with an ARP warden and entered Pugsley’s wine merchants (seen on the left of the original photograph) and ran down into the cellar.

George thought his daughter might have been in the adjoining cellar and grabbing an axe knocked down an adjoining wall, but to no avail.

After making a search of the wreckage there was no sign of Joyce, and George, along with his son Dan, made their way to the family home at 3, Lower Farlington Road, Farlington, where George broke the news to his wife Daisy that their daughter was dead.

In the centre of the original photograph you can see the back of a man in a white shirt and black trousers (to the left of the man facing camera).

That is George Penfold searching for his daughter.

The others who were killed that day were Mr & Mrs Clark; Lilian Barton, 27; Charles Payne, 15; Kathleen Paine, 24, and Thomas Pinnock, 16.

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