NOSTALGIA: Men from Portsmouth battleship pose beneath big guns

For those interested in wartime novels a book is being launched in Portsmouth tomorrow from 11am until 3pm.

Monday, 13th August 2018, 6:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 3:22 am
The Quarter Deck Division on the focsle of HMS Duke of York in 1947. Picture: Doug Barlow

Called Bombweed it is drawn from personal experiences  written down after the war by the author's mother. Rosebay willowherb grew rapidly on bomb sites during the Second World War. Often called Bombweed, its image conjured up the terror of the Blitz and its aftermath; a reminder of the lifelong consequences of wartime loss.

Vivienne, a naive teenager in 1938, has to grow up in a world at war. Her family is shattered, like the buildings in her town, by the Luftwaffe. Vivienne and her sisters each seek ways to deal with loss. Memories are destroyed, blotted out with drink and sex, or clung to obsessively. Houses can be repaired when peace comes, but the heart is trickier.

Gillian Fernandez Morton grew up in post-war Portsmouth and Bombweed is her first novel. It is based on an unpublished story written in 1947 by her mother. Helped by her sister Maureen, she has turned their mother's extensive, rambling, narrative into a story of love and loss. Gillian will launch the book at North End library tomorrow.

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The hare and tortoise float in the 1974 Portsmouth carnival procession. Picture: Kevin Munks

'¢Â On August 6, I published the reverse of a postcard along with several dates on which it could have been sent. I asked readers for more information. As ever I was inundated, thanks to all you philatelists.

Mike Hill, the chairman of Waterlooville Stamp & Postcard Club, Dave Wimbleton and Gordon Cooper all agreed that the card was written in 1912. Although the year was not shown on the postmark the stamp design was the first issued for George V, known as Downey Heads. They were in use from 1911-1912. 

The stamp had a 1/2d value that was valid for postcards until 1918 when it changed to 1d. It was known as a Downey Head, after its designer. This changed after 1912 to what was called a profile head version (the king's head was not turned slightly towards the viewer). Issued in 1911 and withdrawn from sale in late 1912, the postcard would be no later than 1913. 

'¢The officers and men of the Quarter Deck Division from battleship HMS Duke of York are pictured in 1947. They are beneath A turret containing 4x14inch guns. In B turret above are 2x14in guns and above the turret are multiple two-pounder pom-poms. She was retired in 1949 but hung on until 1957 when she was ordered to be scrapped.

Different portraits of King George V on stamps of the period.

Back row second from the left is Doug Barlow who owns the picture and retired as a lieutenant commander after 40 years in uniform.

'¢And finally we have another picture from the 1974 Portsmouth carnival parade '“ the hare and tortoise float.



The cover ofBombweed.