Servicing the Seafire at Lee-on-the-Solent

C140560-2 Chi Secret Linen  phot kate SUS-140528-165611001
C140560-2 Chi Secret Linen phot kate SUS-140528-165611001
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Here we see servicemen of the Fleet Air Arm based at HMS Daedalus, Lee-on-the- Solent in 1944.

In the front left hand corner is Frederick Belchamber, of Clarence Parade, Southsea, as a young sailor.

Frederick Belchamber today. PPP-140617-165300001

Frederick Belchamber today. PPP-140617-165300001

He is pictured with some of the maintenance crews at the base in May 1944 and all are with 897 Squadron.

Frederick told me they were all based in barracks, but in the run-up to D-Day and on the day we all had to sleep outside under canvas and be ready to get aircraft back up in the air as quickly as possible. They washed in galvanised buckets and had light meals from a Naafi van.

Sleep was hard to come by as they were always on alert.

Frederick was a right-wing armorer and a Seafire was fitted with 2x40mm cannons and 4x.303 machine guns and could do a lot of damage.

Having joined the navy as a Hostilities Only rating aged 16, Frederick spent the first two years of his naval career on a farm near Midhurst. He later became a hotelier in Southsea.