ROBERT Rowe has spent years tirelessly trying to get recognition for one of the Second World War’s forgotten tragedies.
On January 10, 1941, a bomb shelter at the junction of Arundel Street and Besant Road took a direct hit and the 80 people inside were all killed.
Over the years, the site has been a school, a school dinners’ kitchen service and now a petrol station – but Mr Rowe wants to put up a plaque to commemorate what happened there.
His one-man mission has received backing from relatives of those who died and the Total UK garage which now occupies the land.
Mr Rowe said that all his life he had been motivated by how close his mother came to joining the casualties inside the shelter.
He said: ‘My mum Noreen was making her way along Arundel Street with her friends when the bombing started.
‘They were running to the shelter when the heel of my mother’s shoe broke, forcing her to stop and take refuge in a shop doorway.
‘But her friend ran on to be with her family in the shelter, and they all lost their lives.
‘It has always been at the back of my mind, that if she hadn’t stopped I never would have been born.’
Mr Rowe, a building contractor from East Cosham Road, in Cosham, has planned a small ceremony to take place on Monday August 15.
The remembrance service will be held in front of the garage at 1pm and the 63-year-old will erect the plaque on the site where the shelter stood.
‘It has taken 70 years for what happened on that site to be recognised,’ he said. ‘Fortunately it will be in time for some of the people who lived through the war to see that those 80 Portsmouth men, women and children are gone but not forgotten.’
THOSE WHO DIED IN BLAST
Harry, Ethel and Brenda, Ayres; Doris and David Ball; Kathleen Barber; Emily Bartraham; Edward and Mrs Bradbury; Harold, Ivy and Jennifer Brown; Robert and Beatrice Hawthorn; Beatrice Elsie Bushnell; Edward and Grace Cleeve; Caroline, Lily and Ethel Cooper; Kate Cousins; Joseph Cuddihy; Anne and Gwendolyn Dagnell; Edward and Harriet Foster; Gertrude, Doris, John, Majorie and Donald Gordon; George Harris; Lilian Henrick; Doris, Emily and Raymond Hodgson; Rolinda Hounsell; Marjory, Phyllis, Audrey and Brian Johnson; Dorothy Kimber; Ernest and Winifred Male; Arthur, Ivy and Dora Monktom; Lucille Owers; Albert Paddon; Dorothy, Donald, Sylvia, Pamela and Frederick Pike; Alice Ralph; Charlotte, Doris, Evelyn and Ivy Richards; Myfanwy and Mary Rowland; Audrey Saunders; Lilian Slidel; Samuel Smith; Theodore and Kitty Stapley; Harry and Florence Stemp; George Tappin; Arthur, Ethel and Iris Taylor; Nellie, Pearl and Madge Tombs; Vera and Peter Tucker; Willamina and Lesley Watson; Sarah Wrigley.