Commander’s secret role finally commemorated

Open day at a military base badse

  • Commander Harry Goulding’s role as head of the Special Boat Service was so secret even his own family did not know about it
  • Granddaughter discovered documents in 2010
  • Finally commemorated with blue plaque on Langstone foreshore
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WITH thousands of poppies scattered across the harbour, a Dakota fly-past and original Second World War cockle canoes, it was a very special way to commemorate a hero.

Commander Harold Goulding, who was in charge of the Special Boat Service during the D Day landings, was finally recognised yesterday after decades of his role being kept secret.

Major Ian Mattison with Harold Goulding's granddaughters Jill Goulding and Sue Garrahy and part of the canoe flotilla

Major Ian Mattison with Harold Goulding's granddaughters Jill Goulding and Sue Garrahy and part of the canoe flotilla

His granddaughter Jill Goulding, from Hayling Island, organised the commemorations and the unveiling of a blue plaque commemorating his war-time heroics after discovering a stash of papers documenting Cmdr Goulding’s role.

Although she knew he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order she had no idea, until 2010, that he had carried out more landings on enemy-occupied coast than any other officer of any service.

Yesterday a blue plaque was unveiled on a stone on Langstone foreshore looking towards Hayling Island Sailing Club where the Special Boat Service, the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties and Cockleshell Heroes were based during the war.

A flotilla of canoes, including an Mk2, Mk7, Mk8 and Mk9,and led by ML1387 Medusa, helped carry another plaque to the Langstone Hotel where it was given to the current owners of Moss Rose, the cottage where Cmdr Goulding lived. He died in 1945.

This shows what people thought of Cmdr Goulding and the units that he was part of the founding of.

Maj Ian Mattison

Ms Goulding said: ‘He worked for what is now MI6, he was also commander of the Special Boat Unit, he was flotilla officer for Blue Beach and he ended up being liaison officer and commodore or coastal forces.

‘This event is to celebrate the life and work of my grandfather.’

Retired Major Ian Mattison is the founder of the Blue Plaque Society and worked closely with Ms Goulding to organise the event, which saw standard bearers travel from British Legions across the UK and buglers play The Last Post and Reveille.

Maj Mattison said: ‘This shows what people thought of Cmdr Goulding and the units that he was part of the founding of.’

Canoeists scattered thousands of poppies in the creek next to Langstone Hotel in remembrance of all of those in the Special Boat Service during the Second World War.

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