Hitler's last throw of dice kills 25 in Portsmouth - Nostalgia

I meant to mention it last week but it went out of my mind, but on June 13, just seven days after D-Day, it was the 75th anniversary of the first V1 flying bomb to land on London.

Devastation on Newcomen Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. This was July 16, 1944, after a V1 landed between Newcomen Road and Winstanley Road, killing 25 people.
Devastation on Newcomen Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. This was July 16, 1944, after a V1 landed between Newcomen Road and Winstanley Road, killing 25 people.

From that date in June 1944, about 10,500 of these terror weapons were launched, 8,800 by ramp the rest from aircraft.

Two missiles landed on Portsea Island, one in Locksway Road, Milton, and another between Newcomen Road and Winstanley Road, Stamshaw.

But thanks to the diary of Arthur Jones, the estate manager to Sir Dymock White who owned a large estate north-west of Havant, I can tell you it was not quite like that.

On June 24, 1944, he recorded: ‘In the past week nine FBs (flying bombs) landed within a radius of 20 miles of Havant.

‘Three have gone beyond the district, the rest have fallen short. Two passed over and three more would have done so had they continued their flights further. All have fallen in open country or in water although there has been blast damage to buildings.

June 25: One FB fell in Locksway Road, One FB fell on Stubbington, one killed, five injured. Other fell on Lavant. Two injured.

July 3: FB passed 500ft over house and crashed into wheat field a mile from Waterlooville.

July 4: FB fell on army encampment along Emsworth Common Road. Most soldiers had left a month before for D-Day invasion. Two injured.

July 5: FB fell into woods at Emsworth Common.

This is only part of what Mr Jones recorded. The rest can be read in the book Front-Line Havant 1939-45 which is available from Havant museum.

Worse was to come with the V2 vengeance rocket. More than 500 of the 1,400 launched against us landed on London. Luckily, all passed over the Portsmouth area.

The VI that landed between Newcomen Road and Winstanley Road, Stamshaw, dropped on July 15, 1944.

It killed 25 people including four from one family, the Channons – Frank, 63, his wife Maud, 65, along with two sons Frank, 40, and Cecil, 39.

Catching up. Here are replies I have received from readers about recent articles.

Southwick Park airstrip: On June 10 I published a photograph showing the Second World War airstrip near Southwick House used before D-Day.

Mike Murphy says: ‘During the D-Day build-up the US Army used an airstrip at New Barns Farm a short distance from Southwick House, the Forward HQ of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force).

‘The strip was used by L-5s of the 112th Liaison Squadron. Pilots and other personnel were accommodated in tents along the east hedge of the field. The strip was also used by visiting light aircraft L-4s and L-5s of other US units, also RAF Austers.

Beverley Sisters’ last appearance in Portsmouth: I said some months ago, following the death of Babs Beverley, I thought the last time the Beverley Sisters performed in Portsmouth was in the 1980s.

In fact, says Nick Anderson of Milton, that performance was on a temporary stage at Castle Field, Southsea, in June 2004 to mark D-Day 60.

When Arethusa was a hotel: On June 13 I wrote about the training ship Arethusa. Former naval officer Doug Barlow, of Emsworth, says it was the name of a requisitioned hotel during the war.

He says: ‘In 1943 I was 14, leaving school and like my peers desperately wanting to get into uniform of dark blue.

‘My headmaster made an application for me to join Arethusa which then was a requisitioned hotel in Salcombe, Devon, so off I went from home in Woking.

'This seaside resort, like others, was dreary, empty of visitors, empty hotels, bleak beaches festooned with barbed wire entanglements.

‘Then into this drabness came hundreds of American troops, like the 5th Cavalry.

‘Hotels were soon packed with troops, empty areas filled with Nissen-hutted colonies.'The empty harbour became home to many types of landing craft. We reckoned it was possible to cross the harbour via a bridge of assorted vessels.’Doug continues: 'One evening our captain led us out to Bolt Head. What a sight!

‘There was an assortment of hundreds of landing craft as far as the eye could see, some with barrage balloons attached, all making their way to Portsmouth.'I have visited Salcombe several times since and I stand before the memorial dedicated to those young men who once again came over here to go over there.‘I did see Peking, the former Arethusa, in New York a couple of times. She was sadly neglected.

‘When I passed out as an officer I was presented with my sword from Admiral Mountbatten on the quarterdeck of Arethusa,’ he adds.