Sailors protect city from River Itchen flooding

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HUNDREDS of sailors from the Portsmouth area helped a city tackle its floods.

Around 450 servicemen and women from HMS Collingwood in Fareham, HMS Sultan in Portsmouth, the Royal Marines band service, and Portsmouth ship’s HMS Illustrious and HMS Lancaster, deployed to Winchester yesterday.

Some of them helped a historic school which is battling to keep the waters at bay.

The Pilgrims’ School in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral has already sustained flood damage to its historic hall – which dates from 1310 – and its grounds as the neighbouring River Itchen burst its banks.

Petty Officer Alistair McLeod lead a unit of 10 phase two trainees in filling sandbags and building a wall alongside the river.

He said: ‘It’s great for them to see what the forces can be called upon to do.

‘It’s also good to see the navy getting recognition.’

Elsewhere, 30 ratings were filling thousands of sandbags at a Winchester City

Council depot. The sailors shifted more than 30 tonnes of sand in a couple of hours and faced another 100 tonnes before their duty ended.