Some time ago I published a photo of two Falklands war veterans, HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid out of commission in Fareham Creek and awaiting sale. Both went to the breakers.
Doug Willis, of Milton, Portsmouth, was an army cook who, bizarrely, once found himself posted to Intrepid.
Doug joined the Army Catering Corps in 1964 and after cookery training at Aldershot was posted to the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.
Eventually stationed at Hobbs Barracks, Lingfield, he was in an advance party flown to Bahrain from Gatwick in January 1968. He remembers the date as Pompey were playing Peterborough in the third round of FA Cup. He asked an air hostess if the captain could find out the results. He did and Pompey had won 1-0.
Doug adds: 'The squadron quartermaster sergeant (SQMS) called me and Private Mick Cooney to his office one day and said we were detailed to accompany A Company to board HMS Intrepid and work alongside navy chefs while ship-to-shore beach landings were carried out.
‘Transported from HMS Jufair in Bahrain by landing craft, we entered the stern of Intrepid, were given bunks and told we would be sent for. Nothing happened and in true service tradition we kept our heads down and said nothing.
‘For four days we went to the dining area, had four meals daily, drank tea and stood on deck in the sun. In the evening films were shown in the dining area on a screen suspended in the middle of the room. Depending on which side you sat the film was viewed either as normal or back to front.
'On the Sunday afternoon our little holiday came to an end when L/Cpl Willis and Private Cooney were summoned to the galley. The CPO cook told us we were doing the evening meal that was to be steak, chips, sausages and peas for the entire ship’s company plus soldiers. Navy chefs attend to other bits.
'I had never seen so many bins lined up in rows filled with so many chips, and I have cooked for some large numbers. Our little skive was over and neither of us wanted to see another chip, steak or sausage in our lives.
‘The next day we, the army, departed and on our return to Hamala camp kitchens told our SQMS we had been working really hard with not a lot of breaks. He gave us two days excused duties. So being a Pompey lad at least I had done a spell in the Royal Navy.'
• From the air the aircraft I have highlighted at Portsmouth Airport in 1948 look like today’s space shuttles. Can anyone identify them? The picture is of the De Havilland factory and airport along the Airport Service Road, Hilsea.