After Jutland, it’s time to remember the Pompey Pals

Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Portsmouth Naval Base commander, lays a wreath at the war memorial on Southsea Common
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Portsmouth Naval Base commander, lays a wreath at the war memorial on Southsea Common
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CLIVE SMITH: What on earth does gay pride have to do with the National Trust?

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History is very important.

I’ve written lots of times about how I love living in an area steeped in history.

Often that’s focussed on the maritime history of Portsmouth, but growing up ‘over the hill’ I learned a lot about living in the Forest of Bere and that the forests became part of the docks’ supply chain – the timber being the ancient equivalent of steel.

I was really pleased to see how the city supported the commemorations of the Battle of Jutland.

It seems like you can’t really move in our little corner of the world without bumping into something historic.

It could be a pub name, a street name, or a crumbling wall once built to protect an entire coastline.

I’ve written, too, about the importance of protecting our history and preserving if for generations to come.

Not just so we can explore what life was like centuries ago, but so we can try to learn some lessons from our past.

I was really pleased to see how the city supported the commemorations of the Battle of Jutland.

One hundred years on and there are still wreaths being laid and prayers being said.

The stories of those who lost their lives – or didn’t – written in this paper and shown on telly were a stark reminder of the horror of war, and that Europe back in those dark days was a very different place indeed.

I also watched with great interest the BBC documentary looking into the reasons why so many British ships sank, while many vessels in the German fleet managed to limp back to port.

Not only was it odd to see signal flags flying from Southsea Castle, but it was an interesting look at how the ships communicated with each other, the tactics in play, how the guns were fired and, of course, suggestions about why the British losses were so devastating.

Which is, absolutely, the point.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the last devastating battle of 1916.

In September Portsmouth will once again mark a centenary, but this time it will be 100 years to the whistle sounding the advance of the Pompey Pals, who went over the top during the Battle of the River Ancre at the Somme.

Time, again, for us to remember our history.

WHO KNEW THAT DRINKING WINE COULD BE SO GOOD FOR YOU?

Talking about Cristal, I often get together with some friends for what we call ‘wine club’.

It’s an excuse to drink sparkling wine (£10 a bottle, not more than £100) and catch up on each other’s gossip.

Sometimes we come up with wine-fuelled schemes, which involve nothing more strenuous than pamper days.

But this year some of my chums took it one step further and decided to cycle to Paris, from Fishbourne.

Sobriety didn’t thwart the plan. In fact, it evolved until there were training rides, route conferences and conversations about kit.

I joined them up until they got on the ferry at Newhaven.Two-and-a-bit days later they were taking selfies under Le Tour Eiffel – who knew drinking could end up being so good for you?

BRAGGING ABOUT SUSPENDED SENTENCE WAS A STUPID MOVE

He called the man he stamped and kicked 14 times ‘scum’. A man he attacked, from behind, for no real reason.

But builder Ben Scott, who attacked Royal Marine Marc Jolly on Christmas Eve last year, was the real scum.

He originally got off with a suspended sentence, immediately ran out and bought a bottle of Cristal Champagne – notable for being wildly overpriced – and started bragging on Facebook about how he got away with it.

Apparently you don’t buy Cristal for its intelligence-giving powers.

So back to court he was hauled, and his sentence was changed as a result of his bragging to a year, with at least six months behind bars.

The best part? He was called stupid – twice - in open court.

Tattoo that on your biceps, Ben Scott, and stop whinging that people have been mean to you because you ‘made a mistake’. Bottoms up!