A NAVAL commander whose pivotal role in the Second World War was kept secret for decades is finally to be recognised.
A flotilla of cockle canoes will represent Harold Goulding’s role as the Commander of the Special Boat Unit during D-Day.
Commander Goulding’s grandaughter Jill Goulding has organised the event, on Hayling, which will include a Spitfire fly-past.
Miss Goulding knew little about her grandfather until 2010 other than he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
In 2010, she found a stash of more than 500 documents marked Top Secret and Most Secret in her mother’s attic.
They revealed he had carried out more landings on enemy-occupied coast than any other officer of any service.
I want my grandfather to have the recognition he deserves and I am very excited that it is finally happeningJill Goulding
Miss Goulding, of Hayling, said: ‘My grandfather died when my father was 15.
‘After the war my father wrote to the head of Combined Operations, Major General Sir Robert Edward Laycock, to ask for information.
‘Sir Robert wrote a lovely letter back saying he was proud to be a close friend of Harold’s and although he would like to tell my father what Harold did during the war, he could not due to the secrecy of my grandfather’s missions which need to remain as “closely guarded secrets”.
She added: ‘This is the first event to recognise my grandfather whose name has been excluded from all war memorial events and D-Day celebrations to date.
‘I want my grandfather to have the recognition he deserves and I am very excited that it is finally happening.’
The flotilla will be launched from Hayling Island Sailing Club on August 21 which was the secret operational base of Combined Operations Pilotage Parties during the Second World War.
The boats will travel up to The Langstone Hotel to deliver a blue plaque to Cdr Goulding’s former residence at Moss Rose on Hayling.
Another blue plaque will be unveiled on the foreshore in front of the hotel.