Some time ago we had the pleasure of making contact with Mr John Parfoot. This gentleman has been the driving force behind an organisation known as RAF Gosport–HMS Siskin Veterans and is the Editor of their newsletter Tin-Fish Times. HMS Siskin began, as some of you may know, with a simple landing strip, back in the early days of flying in 1912. It was officially named RAF Gosport in 1918, and remained so until 1945. Then the Royal Navy became the prime administrator and renamed it HMS Siskin. During WWII it had become a major training establishment for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm but remained primarily an RAF base to be known as The Grange (or as some may have it, simply Grange) The RAF finally moved out and on to Culdrose in 1959.
So much for the brief history.
John Parfoot over the years has been working hard with his passion of recording events and history of his home town—Gosport, Hants—during which he has had several articles published and collected many items of interest, some of those items he has kindly passed over to us.
He has sent four copies of a war-time HMS Hornet newsletter, entitled Buzz. A simple few pages of type written script that certainly gives a brief look at conditions of the time and the attempts that were being made for some sort of ‘normality’ in living while our country was still at war.
Some of the articles within are written in a light-hearted way, probably to keep up moral etc, while some are still quite humorous, even though more than 65 years down the road. We intend to re-publish further items to our web site – the first is from issue number 4. Priced at 1d and dated September 1944. With hindsight, we now know that the end of the war in Europe was less than 9 months away – but – the tragedy of Ostend was still in the future (for the Canadian 29th Flotilla and other ‘Hornet boats). While the land battles of ‘Operation Market Garden’ – ‘Battle of the Bulge’ etc would illustrate that the Axis powers could still inflict heavy casualties and at that time, it was certainly thought by some, that the final outcome may yet have to be with by settlement. Here then is just brief a glimpse of 1944 – HMS Hornet’s WREN sports report for the month of September.
The Wrens of ‘Hornet’ have had quite a busy time in the world of sport this summer. After many early disappointments caused by cancellations because of bad weather or shortages of ‘manpower’, we got down to things in earnest and from mid-June onwards, battled valiantly on the tennis court and cricket field for the honour of ‘Hornet’.
Unfortunately our deadliest rivals, and greatest friends, HMS Vernon have been unable to fulfil all the matches we had arranged at the beginning of the season and owing to their difficulty in raising teams, the fact that we have won all the matches we have played against them is not a fair indication of their usual form.
Among our tennis opponents have been teams from HMS Vincent, C in C Portsmouth, RN Barracks Portsmouth, Haslar VAD’s, HMS Collingwood and the WAAF Grange. Cricket fixtures have not been as numerous as last year, mainly because of the difficulty in raising teams, but we have had good matches against HMS Dryad, HMS Excellent and the WAAF, Grange. Since July we have been taking part in a Netball Tournament in connection with Gosport’s ‘Holidays at Hoo’ activities, involving interesting and well contested matches against the ATS, WAAF, WJAC and HMS St Vincent.
This first little step back into the past ends with a few jottings from the Personal Notes column. It would be very interesting if anyone could recognise themselves in any of those jottings after all these years. If so, please contact us.
Wren Gandy and AB Cooper were married on August 21st. Best Wishes Mr and Mrs Cooper and also to AB Charles Kelly and his wife, nee Thomas, both of this Parish.
Hornet’s own Church of St. Peter of the Little Ships was the scene of an interesting ceremony when the infant son of AB Burford was christened. This was the first occasion that the Church has been so used.