NOSTALGIA: Memories of one of six Portsmouth sisters killed by German bomb

A coronation street party in Common Street, Landport, Portsmouth, in 1937. Audrey Blunn is bottom right.
A coronation street party in Common Street, Landport, Portsmouth, in 1937. Audrey Blunn is bottom right.
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On March 3 I wrote about the six Wilkinson girls who were killed when their Portsmouth home took a direct hit from a high explosive on December 5, 1940.

As a result I was put in touch with Audrey Goodyear, of Drayton, Portsmouth, who remembers going to school with one of the girls for a short time.

Cathy Wilkinson.

Cathy Wilkinson.

Audrey (née Blunn) attended the school along with Catherine Wilkinson whose name was always shortened to Cathy.

Audrey says: ‘I was only in the same class as Cathy for a short while but she has remained in my mind all these years as she was so much fun and a complete delight to be with.

‘She was one of those girls who had a bright future if the Luftwaffe had not called. She often crosses my mind.’

On another note, the only surviving sister died recently, aged 90. Irene lived in Epsom and I attended her funeral in Leatherhead to pay my respects.

Audrey Goodyear.

Audrey Goodyear.

She was so private that her son and daughter never knew about her six sisters who died in Portsmouth during the Second World War until they read my book Portsmouth – City of Gallant Hearts.

In 1937, Audrey was living in Common Street, Landport, and on the coronation day of George VI, May 12, 1937, a street party was held.

Audrey lent me this photograph of many of the children who attended.

She said she had a red and white dress but wanted something blue as other girls were dressed in patriotic colours. She wept because no blue material was available so her mother obtained some blue coloured crepe paper and cut a furl in the shape of a Toby dog collar and placed it over Audrey’s shoulders which satisfied her.

Pictured in 1954 is the mothballed reserve fleet at Penarth, south Wales. There are 14 in all.

Pictured in 1954 is the mothballed reserve fleet at Penarth, south Wales. There are 14 in all.

As the children in the picture are not lined up I cannot name them in order but I will name some recognised by Audrey.

Audrey is at the bottom right corner with that collar. To the left, arm in arm, are Dennis and Ron Cake. Others are Jessie Munden, Rene Harris, Connie Bean, Olive Tall, Phyllis Huggins, Joyce White, Gladys Parrick, Doreen Copus and Margaret Houghton.

The man at the door is Mr Bean. In the summer a small band of musicians who played in the local pub marched around local streets with the children following behind. Mr Bean was not a musician and led the band using a broom as a mace acting like a Royal Marine bandmaster throwing it high in the air and catching it without stopping.

Can you picture the scene? Lovely.

• I do not know how many ships are available for service in today’s Royal Navy but here we see 14 ships surplus to requirements after the Second World War at Penarth, south Wales.

They were part of a reserve fleet and I am told many were sold to African or South American countries.

In this 1954 picture we can see destroyers, corvettes and frigates all awaiting their fate. Many no doubt went for razor blades.

The first ship arrived at the dock in 1952 and many were still there in the 1960s.