Does anyone remember this long-forgotten secret D-Day landing strip near Portsmouth?

Marked with an X, the field where Southwick airfield was located. Picture: Eddy Amey/Google Maps
Marked with an X, the field where Southwick airfield was located. Picture: Eddy Amey/Google Maps
Share this article
0
Have your say

I thought I would continue the D-Day theme as I have received an e-mail from Eddy Amey, a regular correspondent to this column.

He wants to know if anyone remembers an airfield south of the B2177 running from the top of Portsdown Hill to the Southwick roundabout?

The battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth dockyard. Picture: Barry Cox postcard collection.

The battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth dockyard. Picture: Barry Cox postcard collection.

Eddy says: ‘On D-Day I was 10 and living in Wymering with Portsdown Hill as our playground. We knew something big for the war was going to happen.  

'We had scrounged lifts on tank transporters and begged candies from the crews as the vehicles struggled up Southwick Hill Road. Our only football had been crushed under a Sherman tank. 

'Does any reader know of the airfield at Southwick? It is rarely mentioned. We had seen senior American officers flying to and from the grass airfield at Southwick.’

He adds: 'On D-Day itself I had come home from Portsdown School with my best mate Georgie Deathers for lunch when the one o`clock news announced the landings in Normandy.

Why are so many wartime secrets still kept under wraps? Was a  member of HMS Dasher's company the real Major Martin?

Why are so many wartime secrets still kept under wraps? Was a member of HMS Dasher's company the real Major Martin?

‘As we walked along Lowestoft Road returning to school, I said to Georgie: “They`ve gone in.” “I know,” he said. “Do you want to play cricket after tea?” Georgie always got his priorities right.’

• The largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth is alongside in Portsmouth Harbour. Her predecessor, the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, was built in Portsmouth and launched in October 1913 at a cost of £3m – £337m in today’s money. The modern ship cost about £3bn although the whole programme of design was double that. 

• Many thought it a great shame when the Royal Marines left Eastney Barracks in 1991. Here we see the Royal Marines Light Infantry at divisions. Can anyone help date it?

• You might remember the wartime film The Man Who Never Was telling the story of fictitious Royal Marine Major Martin whose body was placed in the sea off Spain with documents showing the Allies would invade Crete not Sicily. The Germans fell for it.

In what must be the early years at Eastney Barracks, here we see the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Portsmouth Division, on parade. Picture: Barry Cox postcard collection

In what must be the early years at Eastney Barracks, here we see the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Portsmouth Division, on parade. Picture: Barry Cox postcard collection

The public was told the body was Welsh tramp Glyndwr Michael. It has since been revealed that Michael poisoned himself and any forensic pathologist would have realised it was not the body of a fit, 36-year-old Royal Marine.

I recently wrote about the loss of HMS Dasher in the Firth of Clyde with great loss of life and the disappearance of the bodies. In the book The Secrets of HMS Dasher the authors explain that Major Martin was more than likely one of those lost when Dasher sank.

It’s a cracking read which I recommend to anyone interested in the many secrets still held in the vaults of the National Archives.