Top brass galore turned out for Portsmouth funeral of legendary admiral

The gun carriage bearing Admiral Frasers coffin passes over the bridge to enter HMS Excellent, Whale Island, in 1981. Picture: Mike Smith collection/The News archive.
The gun carriage bearing Admiral Frasers coffin passes over the bridge to enter HMS Excellent, Whale Island, in 1981. Picture: Mike Smith collection/The News archive.
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It is not often we see a ceremonial funeral in the city. On February 12, 1981, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser of North Cape died at the age of 93. 

He had retired from the Royal Navy in 1951 after 47 years’ service.

The admirals attending the funeral of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser.  Picture: Mike Smith collection/The News archive

The admirals attending the funeral of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser. Picture: Mike Smith collection/The News archive

A few weeks later his funeral was held in the chapel at HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth, attended by some eight admirals, a Royal Marine band as well as many sailors lining the rout of the cortege.

But apparently there was some controversy surrounding the event.

 The navy had applied for a full ceremonial service with the gun carriage being hauled from HMS Nelson to Whale Island. This would have meant the route passing along the M275 to Rudmore roundabout then entering Whale Island Way.

Mike Smith, who provided these  photographs, says the request was denied and so the service began from Rudmore with the gun carriage being drawn the short route on to the island.

Admiral Fraser while serving in the Far East, 1945.

Admiral Fraser while serving in the Far East, 1945.

 The route was lined with sailors presenting arms along with a Royal Marine band and many top brass officers attending, including those eight admirals.

Admiral Fraser was born in 1888 and joined the navy in 1904. He rose to the position of First Sea Lord and his career included a spell as Commander-in-C hief Portsmouth  1947/1 948.  

After qualifying as a specialist gunner y officer he attended Greenwich and returned to Whale Island as an instructor in 1913.

During the First World War  he saw action at Gallipoli and took part in the internment of the German High Seas Fleet.

Pompey schoolboys in 1959 at Bridport, Dorset. Picture: Brian Carmichael collection.

Pompey schoolboys in 1959 at Bridport, Dorset. Picture: Brian Carmichael collection.

He was commander of the Home Fleet leading the force that destroyed the German battleship Scharnhorst.

  His rise to the top continued and during the Second World War he became a full admiral taking command of the Eastern Fleet.

He was the British signatory to the Japanese s urrender on board the USS Missouri at Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. He later became the First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George VI. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Fraser of North Cape and Fraser Road at Bedhampton is named after him.

• Brian Carmichael has sent me three photographs of Pompey Schoolboys in 1959. I shall publish another on Monday.

Here’s the team that played in the English Schoolboys Trophy in 1959 at Bridport, Dorset, which the boys won before going on to play in London against a team from Hackney. Brian has no names so I am hoping there are still a few surviving who can enlighten me.

The colours are as most older Pompey supporters remember, white shorts, blue shirt with white collar and possibly red socks.