Can you help explain these sailors’ unusual webbing? – Nostalgia

Edward, Prince of Wales and the future King Edward VIII arriving in Portsmouth. Can anyone tell me about the sailors' webbing? Picture: Michael Harris Collection.
Edward, Prince of Wales and the future King Edward VIII arriving in Portsmouth. Can anyone tell me about the sailors' webbing? Picture: Michael Harris Collection.
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This photograph shows Edward, Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, arriving in Portsmouth on October 16, 1925, after a tour of South Africa.

When naval ships were used for royal tours they were nicknamed the Grey Funnel Line as opposed to passenger lines such as Cunard, White Star and Orient. 

The prince has landed at South Railway Jetty from the battlecruiser HMS Repulse.

The appearance of sailors, with their backs to the camera, wearing webbing, is something I have never seen before and I wonder if anyone can tell me more.

• Villages like Droxford in the Meon Valley, north of Fareham, had very little in the way of local entertainment. To visit a cinema meant catching a train (at one time) to Fareham or Alton or driving at a time when cars were few and far between.

In 1965 the church hall committee proposed an experiment to show films and turn the hall into a ‘cinema’ for the villagers.

The shows were to provide an amenity for the village and any profits would be used for improvements to the hall.

So successful was the cinema that an application was made to Hampshire County Council for a cinema licence. This was granted and a full season’s programme of films was arranged. But sadly the villagers’ enthusiasm waned after just two years.

In April 1967 treasurer  WF Casby said that since the previous Christmas there had been a marked decrease in adult audiences and seats had been mainly occupied by children.

Whatever the reason, television, more people with cars, or a lack of interesting films, the hard work of the committee was all in vain and after two years the ‘cinema’ closed. 

The village hall management committee said owing to rising costs and few patrons the cinema, which had opened in 1965 was to close in at the end of April 1967.

• With the news of President Trump about to visit the city for the 75th anniversary commemorations of D-Day we must think about those who died on the Normandy beaches and their sad return to these shores.

 Peter Sullivan tells me he used to work at Eastney bus depot. He says: ‘ A sad story I remember being told by one of the old hands who was on fire-watch duties on top of the main office building in the aftermath of D- Day, was of the  number  of lorries that brought back the fallen soldiers from the dockyard en  route to Eastney Barracks. He said there were hundreds.’  Does anyone else know of this at all?

• I wonder if there are rules to obey about eating and drinking in foreign countries as there were nearly 70 years ago?

I was reading a 1952 Naval Ratings Handbook recently and the rules to be observed about what to eat when overseas were remarkable.

Drinking water was top of the list and should not have been drunk unless it had been boiled and cooled.

Raw vegetables was another no-no, the  main reason was that human excreta was used for fertilising the soil. Only thick-skinned fruit could be eaten raw and anything like lettuce, spring onions and radishes were off the menu. Water melons were a fruit definitely not to be eaten .

Ice was another item that should not be had in drinks unless prepared on board ship.

There should be no consumption of raw shell fish such as oysters, although recently-cooked shellfish such as lobsters and prawns were allowed to be eaten.

In hot countries the biggest worry was flies and food in the galley was to be kept covered to protect from flies and mosquitoes and the galley had to be screened.

Do modern seamanship manuals have the same directions?

• I wonder if any of you horse racing followers remember a horse called Chocolate Box, possibly from the late 1950s?

The reason I ask is that last Saturday I wrote about Ian Tungatt’s book Portsmouth’s Living Legend and I then received an e-mail from a former schoolmate of Ian's, Trevor Jenkins.

He tells  me about the time Ian rode a former racehorse called Chocolate Box. Apparently it belonged to Mr Madgwick, of Lower Drayton Lane.

I informed Ian who adds: ‘ It’s funny how people bring things up that I forgot a bout, but I do remember the ex-racehorse only because it was a devil when in traffic as it was highly strung. The name had escaped me. I can have a laugh about it now but it was hard to stay on him.’

• I’ve been told that m y  first two books, The Naval Camps of Bedhampton and Leigh Park and Portsmouth, City of Gallant Hearts  are  now out of print,  but I am told that Adelphi Books in Albert Road, Southsea, may be able to help if you are  interested.