NOSTALGIA: When Portsmouth was an army garrison as well as home of Royal Navy

Fancy this picture on your favourite mug? HMS Queen Elizabeth entering Portsmouth Harbour.
Fancy this picture on your favourite mug? HMS Queen Elizabeth entering Portsmouth Harbour.
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To read somebody else’s letters is always seen as the height of being nosy, but a new book by local author David Bickerton is just that, letters written during the war between two sweethearts –  his late parents Don and Linda. 

When they died within a year of each another everything was left to David including about 150 letters exchanged between the two lovers.

A map of Old Portsmouth from 1911 showing the many army barracks there were then in the old town.

A map of Old Portsmouth from 1911 showing the many army barracks there were then in the old town.

They were written between 1942 and 1945 and are full of passion but also include details of films seen, books read and swing music.

The 106-page book of letters also gives an insight into conditions in the Royal Navy of the period.

Don joined as a rating but was soon commissioned and promoted to a lieutenant in the RNVR in Coastal Forces. He took command of a minesweeping motor launch seeing much action in and around the Mediterranean.

As I say, the letters are very personal at times but well worth reading as is the description of life on small craft during the Second World War. Parents At War is available from New to You Bookshop, High Street, Cosham, or via david.bickerton1@ntlworld.com.

Parents at War - a good read if you like other people's love letters.

Parents at War - a good read if you like other people's love letters.

• At one time Portsmouth was a garrison town and barracks could be found all over the city –  from Old Portsmouth to Eastney and Hilsea.

I’ve been given a book by ‘Dave of Copnor’,  Portsmouth, A Handbook and Guide 1911, and it includes this map of Old Portsmouth showing its many barracks.

You can see  Cambridge Barracks, now Portsmouth Grammar School; Clarence Barracks now demolished with housing on the site, and Victoria Barracks mostly demolished but part remains and houses Portsmouth Museum. In Broad Street can be seen Point Barracks.

Other points of interest are Highbury Street when it crossed Warblington Street and went as far as Gunwharf Road. To the top is St George’s Square but it was behind the church. Above ‘Park' in Park Road is a turntable beside the railway line east of Portsmouth Harbour station.

The Newshound in action at Portsmouth carnival 1974.

The Newshound in action at Portsmouth carnival 1974.

• My colleague Paul Costen, an expert in photography who has repaired many torn pictures in his Waterlooville studio, has launched a new venture producing photographic mugs. You can have a relation, football team, pet dog or cat put on to your favourite drinking vessel. You may have a friend or relation serving in HMS Queen Elizabeth or any other ship. Contact Paul at 3, Highfield Parade, Waterlooville on (023) 9225 0246.

• One last photograph from the 1974  Portsmouth Carnival. Here we see The News Newshound mascot in the procession handing out free copies of the papers. Kevin Munks, who owns the photo says he was scared witless by the frightful creature.