Portsmouth police officers and firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice

The City of Portsmouth Police Memorial in the Portsmouth Room at the Guildhall.
The City of Portsmouth Police Memorial in the Portsmouth Room at the Guildhall.
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Of all the remembrance services that took place during the past week perhaps one of the most poignant was the one that took place in the Portsmouth Room at the Guildhall last Friday beginning at 11am with two minutes’ silence.

I was honoured to be invited to the Service of Remembrance for all those members of the Portsmouth Police Force who gave their lives during past wars.

One of the lounges on board the Black Pearl moored in Malta.

One of the lounges on board the Black Pearl moored in Malta.

More than 60 family members plus members of the Portsmouth and South-East Hampshire Retired Police Officers Association attended along with serving members of the force.

Those commemorated were 39 Portsmouth police officers who gave their lives either in the armed forces or who were killed by enemy action in the city.

During the First World War alone, 154 men from the Portsmouth Borough Force enlisted from a total strength of 300. Twelve officers were killed and the Home Office of the time decreed that no further volunteers would be accepted from the force. 

During the Second World War, 154 men from the Portsmouth Borough Force volunteered for the armed forces of which 17 lost their lives.

Heading south along Northern Parade, Hilsea, Portsmouth, in 1937 is a trolleybus on its way to South Parade Pier.

Heading south along Northern Parade, Hilsea, Portsmouth, in 1937 is a trolleybus on its way to South Parade Pier.

During the worst days of the blitz during 1940 and 1941 nine police officers were killed on active service fighting fires during the raids on the city.

The first was 28-year-old Stanley Spooner, believed to have been the first serving police officer in the country killed on duty during the war.

During the service the names of the fallen were read out. The youngest in the First World War was Lance Sergeant Trevor Bonham, 21. In the 1939-45 war the youngest killed was 21-year-old Ronald Clark.

Those killed by enemy action in the blitz were Walter Colley, Bertram Davis, John Dunford, Albert Fleming, Harry Whiteman, George Hooper, Wilfred Miller, Stanley Spooner and Harold White. Most were Portsmouth Police/Firemen based in Park Road alongside the Guildhall.

The service was conducted by the Rev Sylvia Martin. Members of the Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir took part accompanied by Nigel Smith on piano.

• I must also mention Angel Radio based at Havant. How many other radio stations closed for two minutes on Remembrance Day? Tony Smith, the station’s owner, instigated the silence.

Married on board the Black Pearl

Some final notes on the Black Pearl, now berthed in Malta as a restaurant ship. She spent some time in Portsmouth in the 1970s. All correspondence is now closed.

Pat Field, of Locksway Road, Milton, tells of a wedding she attended on board. Her niece’s daughter was married there in 1998. The whole occasion was perfect, even the vicar who married the couple attended the reception. Pat’s niece Mary worked on the boat as a waitress. 

Circuitous route to South Parade Pier

With little building either side of Northern Parade, Hilsea, we see a trolleybus in 1937.

It began its journey at Cosham station and went to South Parade Pier via Alexandra Park, Guildhall, and Bradford Junction. Perhaps the engineers built the wide roads with the future in mind. 

Behind the pub you can see the sign for the now closed Oakwood. It shut in 2009 and became a Co-op.