Portsmouth fishmonger who went ashore on D-Day landings | Nostalgia
My recent mention of Sydney Slape’s fresh fish shop at Drayton, Portsmouth, prompted Teresa Whichello (née Speller) to send me two photographs of her late father, Albert Speller, plus one other.
Her father was a shop manager for Mr Slape in Albert Road, Southsea, and Drayton, of which more later.
One of the photographs is of her father kneeling among his men on the sands of a D-Day beach, and a very dramatic picture it is too.
I do not know if it was taken by a war photographer/journalist or a soldier with a camera.
Of course, if it was the latter, it would have been against all the rules, but I have never seen such a photograph before.
The soldiers must have just reached the beachhead after struggling ashore from a landing craft through the surf.
Every chap, including Albert is looking pensive and they must have been wondering how long they would survive. A truly remarkable photograph.
Albert was a sergeant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and like most who were there he rarely spoke of the experience and the horrific sights he saw until later life when he made light of his time in the army.
Teresa says he used to say the only reason he survived was because he was only 5ft 4in tall.
As the bullets went over his head the taller men, who made better targets, were the ones who were shot.
He lost many mates during the war and he missed them for the rest of his life. The rifle Albert is holding, a Lee Enfield .303, has some type of waterproof covering to protect it as the men waded ashore.
Albert was always known as Alby or Bert and in the 1950s he became a manager at both the Albert Road and Drayton shops.
The family lived in the flat above the shop at 104 Albert Road for four yearsand Teresa can still recall the smells of the fish and seafood that wafted up from below.
Albert is the one holding the fresh fish and he was very proud of the window displays he constructed, for which he won awards. He died in 2000, aged 86.
As Teresa was only five to nine years old when she lived in Albert Road, she is not to sure if the elderly man in front of the display window is Mr Slape. Perhaps readers know?
The photograph of Albert in his shop has live cockles at 1s 6d (7p) a quart. That was equal to two pints or two pounds in weight.
Just how many cockles were picked from the mud around Portsea Island I wonder?
In the final picture is the man who Teresa thinks might be the founder of the company, Sydney Slape. Does anyone know?