Journalist visits Gosport to share stories of war

Kate Adie at the Explosion museum in Gosport
Kate Adie at the Explosion museum in Gosport

Top American admiral visits Portsmouth Naval Base

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BROADCAST journalist and writer Kate Adie paid a visit to Gosport to talk about the role women played in the First World War.

Kate spoke at the Explosion Museum in Priddys Hard as she was promoting her book called Fighting on the Home Front.

The area was used during the early 20th century to meet the evolving needs of naval ordnance technology and to improve the security of the site from both landward and seaward attack.

The site was fully used during the Second World War with the introduction of 2,500 women who filled jobs vacated by men on active service.

Kate said Gosport was a good site for her to visit.

‘One of the interesting things is trying to conceive what the war effort looked like in 1915, which is quite difficult because so much of our industrial and military heritage has gone,’ she said.

‘At least when I come to Portsmouth and round these ways, you get a notion of how big the naval operation used to be.

‘It’s still here with buildings like this.

‘It’s very interesting because elsewhere in the country, most of it has gone.’

Kate’s book is about what women did in the war and the jobs they had to do to fill in for men who were called away for duty.

And Kate said it’s good for her to be able to meet people who had relatives who worked at the site during the war.

‘They are long memories now, but there are still families who know some very remarkable stories,’ she said.

‘If you report on modern war, and I have done quite a bit of conflict reporting, I don’t think you report it properly unless you report what happens to everyone.

‘There isn’t a war that happens today that doesn’t impact on everyone.

‘War has changed their lives. It doesn’t matter that they haven’t got a gun, they are fleeing for their lives. That’s modern war.

‘If you look back at the First World War, it was the first time in Britain that everybody at home was deeply touched by war.’

Around 100 people turned up to the talk. Kate spoke about her book, and then signed copies of it. People also had a chance to ask some questions.

Marc Farrance, operations manager at the museum, said: ‘It’s a really big thing for us, especially given the relevance to the First World War at the moment, that we have someone like Kate coming to this site.

‘It’s fantastic. Most people in Gosport, if they were born and bred in the town, they most likely have someone who had a grandmother or aunt who worked here.’

Kate used to be the chief news correspondent for BBC News, during which time she became well known for reporting from war zones around the world.

She was awarded an OBE in 1993 and has honorary degrees from several universities.