War intervened to wreck winter sun Down Under

NO CRUISE HMS Theseus  leaves Portsmouth Harbour for the Far East, August 1950
NO CRUISE HMS Theseus leaves Portsmouth Harbour for the Far East, August 1950
You might struggle with this scene but it is in fact looking across Waite Street, Cosham. The tram is heading for Spur Road.  Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: When trams ran through the fire station’s offices at Cosham

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Here we see the aircraft carrier HMS Theseus leaving Portsmouth for the Far East for a six-month ‘cruise’ in 1950.

The ship’s company thought they were in for a cruise as well and perhaps a visit to Australia and New Zealand.

HINDSIGHT The cover of War-torn Portsmouth  coming next month

HINDSIGHT The cover of War-torn Portsmouth  coming next month

The carrier was to leave Portsmouth on August 14 and most of the company thought it would be great to escape from the English winter.

But on June 25 the outlook changed when North Korea invaded South Korea and the United Nations intervened. HMS Theseus had her route altered so she could help if needed. She was not to return to South Railway Jetty from where she had left for another 285 days, most of them spent at sea.

The picture shows Theseus leaving the harbour.

She remained at Spithead for another four days and departed on August 18.

LUCKY Richard Fraser Clark pictured in 1952. He survived the sinking of three of his ships in the two world wars.

LUCKY Richard Fraser Clark pictured in 1952. He survived the sinking of three of his ships in the two world wars.

n On June 14 my new book War-torn Portsmouth should be on the shelves of local bookshops.

I have been all over Portsea Island retaking photographs from the books Smitten City and Shattered City.

I am sure young and old will enjoy seeing the city as it was before the Second World War, how it was wrecked by the Luftwaffe, and how those same places now look.

n No doubt you have heard tales of sailors who had their ships sunk from beneath them, only to have the same thing happen all over again some time later.

Below we see Drayton man ARA Richard Fraser Clark who not only had one ship taken from under him, but three times he survived ships’ sinkings.

During the First World war he was in a minesweeper and a Q-ship which were mined. He was saved both times by a passing destroyer. And then, in April 1940, his ship was bombed off Norway and sank within three minutes. Just 20 men were saved.

If I had seen Richard boarding the ship I was serving in, I would have run a mile.