IN THE early hours of the morning Jane Allen was carrying a tea tray when suddenly the room shook around her.
Mrs Allen, now 98, still remembers working on the labour ward at the former St Mary’s Hospital as bombs fell around it.
She was one of around 30 people who were invited to the official opening of the St Mary’s Community Health Campus, in Milton Road, Milton, yesterday.
Mrs Allen, who lives in Wiltshire, joined St Mary’s as a student nurse in January 1936.
She was working on the labour ward when a Luftwaffe bomb exploded nearby, damaging the nurses’ home.
Fortunately, no-one was injured.
She said: ‘It must have been around 5.30am and I was getting the tea ready for the 6am rounds.
‘To this day I don’t know what happened to that tray.
‘But when I looked down the corridor I felt sick because there was a giant crater.’
Mrs Allen qualified as a state nurse in the city before moving to Swindon.
And yesterday was the first time since leaving in 1940 that Mrs Allen had come back to Portsmouth.
‘I had always wanted to come back and visit,’ added Mrs Allen.
‘It’s wonderful to see such a modern and impressive building and facilities.’
Mrs Allen brought along pictures of herself as a trainee nurse.
Other retired NHS or former St Mary’s staff who attended were a former deputy matron, midwives, two cleaners, a ward manager, radiologist, theatre sister and a mother and daughter who both worked as secretaries in the oncology department.
The £18.6m health campus, which welcomed its first patients last December, was opened by Dr Jim Hogan, the chief clinical officer for the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group.
He said: ‘I’m very pleased with the services offered here, particularly as it means people can get treated on the island of Portsea.’
The scheme received £17.1m from the Department of Health, with NHS Portsmouth providing the other £1.5m.
Its facilities and services include a new outpatients’ department, a midwife-led maternity centre, sexual health services, podiatry, blood tests, speech and language therapy and chronic disease management.