NOSTALGIA: 'Ere we go again: old Portsmouth salts on parade – for the second time around

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspect sailors who have returned to the colours from civvy street, December 4, 1941.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspect sailors who have returned to the colours from civvy street, December 4, 1941.
The Coronation all lit up. A passing trolleybus gives it some scale.

NOSTALGIA: When Portsmouth really knew how to push the boat out

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With this year being the centenary of the signing of the armistice to end the First World War there will be many sad tales of men who were lost within days of the ceasefire on November 11, 1918

One of the saddest events was the sinking of HMS Britannia on the morning of November 9.

She was sailing in the Strait of Gibraltar when she was torpedoed by UB-50. It was generally thought that, like many ships destroyed during the war, a cordite explosion caused the sinking.

She remained afloat for two-and-a-half hours in which time most of the crew were taken off. Fifty men lost their lives, the majority through smoke poisoning.

Britannia was built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched on December 10, 1904. Joining the fleet in September 1906 she was obsolete three months later when the first Dreadnought was completed, again in Portsmouth Dockyard.

One of the men to survive the sinking was CPO William Booth who served as a boy when he joined up in 1914, until 1938 when he was demobbed and became a King’s messenger.

In 1940 he was recalled to service and served through to 1946 when he was again demobbed returning to being a King’s messenger.

The Portsmouth Evening News photographer of the time took this picture of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspecting a parade of returned-from-civilian life sailors on December 4, 1941.

In front of the Queen's face wearing a peaked cap and gas mask strap is the aforementioned Chief Petty Officer William Booth. He is the grandfather of  Dave Yates, of Cosham.

Most of the sailors look well into their fifties if not sixties and no doubt did sterling service, although not going on sea duties.

I know it is a long time ago but does anyone else recognise one of their relations in this picture?

n I must admit to seeing little bits of THE wedding last Saturday week. We had a houseful with my wife organising a party. Argh.

Thankfully I had my columns to write so managed to escape upstairs to my office.

Now, I can remember when police officers wore helmets and gabardine macs and patrolled around the edge of Fratton Park telling boys to get off the raised perimeter wall where we would all sit. Once he had passed by we would get back up again.

What an unbelievable change at the wedding. Different days and different ways I know but really, were police officers armed to the teeth with guns and body armour really needed?

One photograph showed seven of these arrogant looking people outside Windsor Castle’s main gate.

With the thousands of people lining the streets, had some lunatic hoped to spoil the event of the year would these policemen have opened fire like in the last scenes of The Dirty Dozen, mowing down many of the onlookers?  Would they have used to inane phrase ‘run,hide?’ Who could have run anywhere in those huge crowds? 

I am sure the guardsmen on duty could have handled the situation if something had occurred. Can we please have our police force back again?

n In last The News it was reported that a steam locomotive was shipped across the Solent on a Wightlink ferry. The loco was an Ivatt 2-6-0 and built at Crewe although later they were also built at Swindon and Darlington.

The chief executive of Wightlink said the engine was 20 metres long, 4.6 metres high and 2.9 metres wide. He then went on to say it weighed 88 tons.

As the loco was built in England it was not built in metres but feet and inches. But what gets me is that they can use metric in length but then change to imperial for the weight and not metric, 88,000 kilograms. You either have metric or you don’t.

Me? I’m 6ft 4in and 16 stones. I was born imperial and will remain so. So there.