Last week I met up with fellow antiques presenters Tom Keane and Paul ‘Mr Morecambe’ Hayes at the unveiling of a blue plaque at Langstone Hotel on Hayling Island.
We were guests of our mutual friend, Maj. (Retd) Ian Mattison, the founder of the British Plaque Society, a non-profit organisation set up to honour people and organisations that have made contributions to British society.
Harold Goulding is something of a Hayling hero
This presentation was of particular interest to me, given my love of military history, as it was being given in honour of Cmdr Harold Goulding DSO and HMS Northney, the name given to several marinas on Hayling that were used during the Second World War for training soldiers in the use of landing craft.
Without a deepwater port in which to unload large numbers of soldiers, landing craft were crucial for the D-Day’s Operation Overlord and, unbeknown to me, the island had played an important role in preparing the troops.
The Lakeside and Sinah Warren Holiday camps still occupy these former HMS Northney bases.
Harold Goulding is something of a Hayling hero, being based there during the Second World War where he lived in Moss Rose Cottage, St Peter’s Road, Northney.
During the war he was Commander of the Special Boat Unit and Commander and Pre-Planning Officer for D-Day. His intimate knowledge of the French and English Channel coastline was second to none.
He was a senior landing officer during the raid on Dieppe and worked with both the Special Operations Executive (Churchill’s secret army), and the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6.
One plaque was being later installed at the cottage where he lived and the second at the shore of The Langstone Hotel, who sponsored the ceremony.
A flotilla including a Second World War motor launch carried the plaque and seating stone from H.I. Sailing Club to Northney Marina where a large crowd had gathered for the official ceremony.
Standard bearers from the British Legion were in attendance, with Mayor of Havant Leah Turner and Conservative MP for Havant Alan Mak.
Sadly, due to work commitments, I missed the champagne reception. However, I arrived in time for the speeches and Last Post before the unveiling.
As a child, I spent many a summer holiday at my grandparents’ caravan on Fleet Farm, north Hayling, and canoed around waterways of the coastline, unaware that the likes of Blondie Hasler, of Cockleshell Heroes fame, and Cmdr Harold Goulding DSO had navigated those very same waters.