NOSTALGIA: My daddy's home from war and he's dressed as a penguin!

Tuesday, November 10, 1936, was the last day of tram services on Portsea Island. On that day four gaily-decorated cars ran in convoy and souvenir tickets were issued.Â

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 10:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:06 pm
The last tram to run in Portsmouth, but is it leaving the depot or arriving? Picture: Barry Cox

The last service ran from Guildhall Square at 11.45am running to Bradford Road, along Victoria Road, Albert Road and Highland Road to the Eastney Road depot. Number 106 was the last car in the convoy.

The trams must have been decorated in Eastney depot before arriving at the Guildhall, so does this photograph show car 106 leaving the depot for the final run through Milton or has it just arrived at Eastney after that trip?

The houses in the background are still standing and the street is packed so this form of transport must have been popular. Above the tram are double trolleybus wires. Immediately the trams were taken off the road the first trolleybuses ran on the 17-18 and 6-6 routes. I know it's more than 80 years ago but is there anyone still with us who witnessed this occasion?

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'¢Â Two weeks ago I published a photo of HM Ships Intrepid and Fearless both of which saw action in the Falklands war. I asked for memories of the ships and Graham Mellers, a former communications yeoman, sent me this about Fearless's commander, Capt Jeremy Larken.

Graham says: '˜The captain ordered that a look-out had to be stationed on the roof of the bridge to face the elements during an attack. Rather than send that man out alone, he went up there with him during an air raid and led the ship from there. What bravery. I realised the meaning of true leadership.'

Arriving back in Portsmouth, Graham remembers his family waiting to greet him but they did not recognise him. '˜We knew we would get a good reception, so my then young family of two small children, Clare and Andrew (aged seven and four respectively), made a '˜welcome home daddy' poster on a bed sheet to display as we docked.

'˜They knew I was part of the communications department and should have been somewhere on the flag deck. Excited they waved it but as we pulled alongside they were unable to see any sign of me. The reason was because the navigating officer, Lt-Cdr John Prime, thought it a good idea to have someone dressed as a penguin, because we had seen so many, on the bow behind the Jackstaff! Yes, it was me!'

'¢Â Last week I mentioned the Horsa glider crash in the Meon Valley at Warnford. I have found out more about the crash and how the King's Own Scottish Borderers were involved.

Airspeed Horsa 1 crashed on a training mission on April 4, 1944. One of the glider pilots was Sgt Henry Joel, a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment Army Air Corps 2nd Wing based at RAF Keevil at Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Sgt Joel was one of two pilots on that fateful mission and was part of a group training exercise codenamed Dreme. The Horsa was being towed by a Short's Stirling Bomber LJ842 and the exercise consisted of a cross-country night tow comprising three legs after which the gliders were to be released over RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

On the leg from Lewes to Winchester the cloud base was low and the Stirling's pilot decided to fly below it. This being wartime it would have been extremely dark below the cloud and the tow aircraft and glider hit the top of a tree. The Horsa was immediately released and crashed into a field east of Warnford church. The Stirling flew on for about 15 minutes before crashing at 9pm near Romsey, killing the pilot and five crew.   

In the Horsa, Staff Sgt Joel, 22, and the other pilot, Sgt William Walker, 24, were killed. Also on board were 24 members of No3 platoon, A Company, 7th (Airborne) Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers who were also killed. Sgt Joel is buried at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Great Burstead, Billericay, Essex.