NOSTALGIA: German pilot who shot Dunkirk troops, killed with spanner

Broad Street families all seemed to live on top of one another. Number 94 is on the far side of the Somerset Hotel.
Broad Street families all seemed to live on top of one another. Number 94 is on the far side of the Somerset Hotel.

THIS WEEK IN 1994: Patrols boosted as station cuts hours

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Regular correspondent Mike Nolan was born and raised around Broad Street, Old Portsmouth. He fondly recalls how close-knit that community was and how he grew up with a girl he later married. No doubt other old families from Broad Street and Point will know of Mike.

In the picture, above, look to the left of the Somerset Hotel and you’ll see a house with with big bay windows.

Mike and Tina Nolan on their wedding day in 1963.

Mike and Tina Nolan on their wedding day in 1963.

That was number 94 Broad Street where all his family lived in the 1930s, plus Mike's wife-to-be Tina’s dad and his first wife who died in 1940. Exactly opposite the Somerset was number 57 where Mike was born in January 1943. 

The Somerset and the Star and Garter Hotel were both bombed in the Second World War and 94 and 96 both damaged. This meant the family had to move out.

Mike's grandmother and step-grandad moved to number 53 and his parents to River Street, Southsea.

Mike’s dad was away in the army and his mother did not like it there so she returned to 57 Broad Street a month later.  

February 3, 1934, and the first flight from Portsmouth airfield to Ryde, Isle of Wight. Picture: Robert James Collection

February 3, 1934, and the first flight from Portsmouth airfield to Ryde, Isle of Wight. Picture: Robert James Collection

Mike’s grandmother and Tina’s grandfather, both widowed, were later married and Tina visited them often. That’s how he knew Tina from when she was a baby – they grew up together. Mike was four when Tina was born. She used to visit her grandfather at 53 Broad Street so their lives were entwined from then on.

Mike says Tina went out of his life for four years. He met her again through her uncle and it was if they had never been apart. He made sure he never lost her again.

On their wedding day MIke was aged 20 and Tina 16. People said it would never last but they were together for 55 years. Tina died in 2015. 

Mike told me about Tina’s father Fred who was an acting master of a tug plus a wherryman, a fisherman and top class seaman, a real Point man.

When Fred was in the army he was at Dunkirk picking up soldiers in a tug. An open motor boat was bringing out soldiers from the beaches and they saw the pilot who had been machine-gunning troops in the water. He had been shot down.

The boat altered course to pick up the German pilot but before anyone could grab him someone picked up a big spanner and beat him over the head killing him.The person who did it just said: ‘He wasn’t a very good swimmer was he?' That act stayed with Fred for the rest of his life. 

• In the final picture we see the aircraft that made the first flight across the Solent from Portsmouth Airfield. Aircraft fans who might know more and can explain the word ‘covers’ in this context, please let me know.