Putting names to faces

Kathleen Miles on her lunch break from Knight & Lee

Kathleen Miles on her lunch break from Knight & Lee

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It’s time to call a halt to my search for the names of people pictured in photographs in Smitten City, the recently reprinted News book about life in Portsmouth during heavy wartime bombing (order your copy at portsmouth.co.uk/newspapersales or call (023) 92 622207).

Please do send in any other information for my own interest though – and can I thank all who have contributed a mine of family information over the past few months.

Lilian Chadwick, left, with her friend Audrey, and in front, Royal Artilleryman Cyril Kimber

Lilian Chadwick, left, with her friend Audrey, and in front, Royal Artilleryman Cyril Kimber

Last Saturday there was a blow-up photo of two girls pushing cycles along Commercial Road and I’m delighted to say that I can now name the two girls and the soldier walking in front of them.

My thanks to Graham Chadwick of Cosham, who tells me that the girl on the left was his late mother, Mrs Lilian Chadwick, nee Cox, and her friend was called Audrey.

Lilian and Audrey worked for Smith & Vospers the bakers. At night Lilian was an ARP messenger, aged just 15. On the night of April 17, 1941 she was cycling around Baffins Pond to the ARP post (where the library is now) when a parachute mine exploded in nearby Hayling Avenue and the blast blew Lilian and her bike into the stagnant water of the pond

Later she was working for the NAAFI and remembered the eve of D-Day when she handed out chocolate to American troops.

At the end of her shift she and a friend cycled along the line of tanks parked up the old A3.

They cycled to the top of Portsdown Hill down through Widley and on to Purbrook. Through Waterlooville and Cowplain, the queue of tanks and other vehicles went on until Horndean, some 11 miles north of the embarkation points.

The soldier seen marching ahead of the girls was Royal Artilleryman Cyril Kimber, whose family lived in Crasswell Street, Landport.

His son, Jeff, told me that Cyril was then aged about 22 and had come home on leave from London where he operated searchlights.

He was searching for his bombed-out family and found them in a nearby police station.

Finally, I received a letter from Marilyn Durant of Curdridge, near Southampton, who tells me that the lady in the open coat in the picture above (from page 49 of Smitten City) was her late aunt, Kathleen Miles.

At the time she was engaged to Frank Shill and they were married shortly after the photo was taken.

Kathleen was on a lunch break from Knight & Lee, where she worked and was also a fire watcher.

After the war she moved to Torquay and died in 1997.

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