Brutal new memoir tells how Royal Navy veteran, 94, would 'watch Portsmouth burn' during the Blitz

AT THE age of 14 he was forced to watch Portsmouth burn as it was ravaged by the Blitz.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 6:00 am
Stanley Street in Portsmouth during the blitz

Now a former News delivery boy has written a memoir detailing his experiences of the Second World War from the comfort of a care home.

Fred Beedie, now 94, spent the past two years writing the 93,000-word book before it was typed up and published by his daughter Jackie.

It begins with the calm of August 1939, as Fred, 14, leaves school while his younger brothers, Reg and Ron, are evacuated to Broughton.

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Portsmouth-born Fred Beedie, 94, has published his memoir Acting Able Seaman - Hostilities Only. Picture: Jackie Ahern

But his quiet days as a newspaper and meat delivery boy are turned upside-down when the first bombs fall on Portsmouth in July of 1940.

Fred’s mother is bundled into a refrigerator at Cooper and Sons butchers as a day raid takes place – but he is on his bicycle outside.

He writes: ‘I dropped off the bike and lay in the gutter putting my hands behind my head as told to do in school.

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The front cover of Portsmouth-born Fred Beedie's memoir, Acting Able Seamen - Hostilities Only. Picture: Jackie Ahern

‘A terrific blast of hot air picked me and the bike up in the air and took us diagonally across the road some 30 feet before dropping me back to the ground. I was a little bruised and the bike was a little bent.’

Mr Beedie, who now lives in a care home in Bridport, Dorset, lost a friend in the blast who died hitting the ground after it threw him into the air.

He added: ‘I used to go out with my dad and a neighbour to help put out incendiary bombs after raids.

‘We would stand and watch Portsmouth burning.’

The father-of-four, who went on to join the Royal Navy aged 17, trained in Portsmouth and was at HMS Collingwood when it was bombed in a raid which killed 30 young sailors.

He said: ‘One of them could so easily have been me, as I was in the next hut.

‘After my training, as a gunner, I was drafted to HMS Alresford, a coal-burning ship which had served during the First World War.

‘I remember going on shore leave but struggling to find a pub that had not been bombed.

‘Aggie Weston's sailors rest home had been bombed as had most of the other sailor's rest homes and cinemas.’

Mr Beedie, who was born in Byron Road, Copnor, was joined by loved ones and the mayor as he recently launched his book at the care home.

Jackie said: ‘We are all very proud of dad. People had been telling him for years that he should write his stories down.

‘Once he had made his mind up to do it he was very focused, writing for at least a couple of hours most days.

‘He was so delighted to see the book when it was finally published, to write over 90,000 words between the ages of 92 and 94 is no mean feat.’

Mr Beedie’s book, Acting Able Seaman – Hostilities Only, is available on Amazon and SilverWood Books for £10.99.