Monty honours D-Day heroes in Portsmouth cathedral – Nostalgia

In 1966 Vice-Marshall Viscount Montgomery laid the D-Day Commemoration Stone in the nave of Portsmouth Cathedral.
In 1966 Vice-Marshall Viscount Montgomery laid the D-Day Commemoration Stone in the nave of Portsmouth Cathedral.
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With the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaching this June,  this is a good time to remember the occasion when Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery paid one of his last visits to Portsmouth.

It was in 1966 and he was laying a commemoration stone in the nave of Portsmouth’s Anglican cathedral to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.

Tenor Richard Tauber at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, 1943.

Tenor Richard Tauber at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, 1943.

I have no details of who sent me this photograph or its copyright, although I believe it to be an Evening News picture.

• Although not my style of music, I know that the great tenor Richard Tauber still has thousands of fans around the world even though he died in 1948 at the age of 56.

Of Austrian and Jewish descent he became a British citizen and was much admired for remaining in Britain during the dark days of the Second World War when many entertainers disappeared overseas.

While he was appearing at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, for a week in 1943, appearing in eight performances of the operetta Old Chelsea, he wowed audiences by singing My Heart And I, one of his best-loved arias.

With standards flying at her mastheads, here's a much-missed sight in Portsmouth, the royal yacht Britannia. Picture: Jenny Vincent

With standards flying at her mastheads, here's a much-missed sight in Portsmouth, the royal yacht Britannia. Picture: Jenny Vincent

We hear of modern singers having millions of sales of records, but let me tell you, Richard Tauber made more than 720 recordings during his career.

His grave, just inside the gates of Brompton Cemetery, London, still has many floral arrangements laid around it.

• A much-missed sight entering and leaving Portsmouth Harbour is the old royal yacht Britannia which will forever hold a place in the hearts of Portsmouth people. 

She is missed even more by the Queen and the residents of the city who would turn out in droves to see her wave at the crowds that always gathered to see her, and other members of the royal family, off on their summer holidays, usually for a cruise around the Scottish islands.

You might think that carving figureheads was a craft of the past, but Eric Walker still sculpts them.

You might think that carving figureheads was a craft of the past, but Eric Walker still sculpts them.

The caption on the back says the photograph was taken in July 1997.

However, this may not be correct as the yacht was in Hong Kong  in July for the handing back of the colony to China. The yacht was decommissioned the following December 11.

• I don’t suppose there are that many craftsmen left who still make sailing vessels’ figureheads these days or indeed if there is a need for them at all. But I have discovered one.

Eighty-six-year-old Eric Walker dropped me a line to say that he makes them and indeed wrote a book on the subject. It is called Lost Ladies of the Sea.

Eric sent me this photograph of one he made of our present Queen Elizabeth.