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27 February

Today in Gosport’s Past:- on the night of 27 February 1941, Gosport fell victim to another German air raid; during this attack, the police station in South Street was hit, and considered as ‘destroyed by enemy action’.

Although I haven’t been able to discover any other casualties of this particular raid, Gosport was badly affected by air attacks during World War Two, particularly in 1940 & 1941.The worst raids occurred on 12th and 16th August 1940, and 10th January, 10th March, and 14th June 1941.

During the whole war, the town experienced 1,591 alerts and 61 raids; over 400 high explosive bombs hit Gosport (plus another 200 or so landing in creeks etc), and over 10,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. The Gosport statistics for WW2 were 114 deaths, 454 properties were destroyed, 933 badly damaged, and 10,866 damaged with more than just broken glass, out of a total of around 13,000 buildings at the outbreak of the war.
Here’s a list of roads & locations which suffered bomb damage during that time (these are just those I know of, I daresay there were more):- Admiralty Terrace, Anthony Grove, Avenue Road, Beach Street, Bemisters Lane, Bournemouth Avenue, Bury Hall Lane, Chapel Row, Church Path, Dolman Road, Dunkeld Road, Eastbourne Avenue, Elson Lane, Elson Road, Fisgard Road, Fort Blockhouse, Fort Brockhurst, Forton Road, Gordon Road, Gosport engine shed, Gosport station, Grange Airfield, Grove Avenue, Hamble Road, Hartington Road, Haslar Bridge, Hastings Avenue, High Street, HMS Daedalus Airfield, Holly Street, Joseph Street, Lavinia Road, Leesland Road, Marina Buildings, Moreland Road, Prince Alfred Street, Queens Road, School Road, Selsey Avenue, South Street, Spring Garden Lane, St Andrews Road, St Edwards Road, Stoke Road, Sydney Road, the fuel depot, the market house, the police station, The Ritz, Thorngate Memorial Hall, Village Road, The Whitworth Arms pub, and Zetland Road. The attacks on the airfields largely involved Stuka dive bombers.
The first photo is of the wrecked police station, taken in 1949, before it was demolished; the rest are of general bomb damage incurred locally, mostly in 1940/41.

Credits to original photographers.

Also Today in Gosport’s Past:- on 27 February 1902, “C1” was launched on Tyneside; this was the largest floating coaler in the world. The coal hulk, ordered as an Admiralty contact in 1901, never recieved a name as such, but was always known officially as “C.1”; it was launched at the Tyneside shipyard of Swan Hunter & Whigham Richardson.
Work continued on board after the launch, and the cranes were assembled elsewhere in the shipyard, the vessel being completed in June 1904. The four large cranes were dismantled and stowed in the hull for the journey to Portsmouth. “C.1” was towed from Tyneside on 23 June 1904, arriving in Portsmouth three days later, on 26 June.
Once in Portsmouth, the cranes, deck trackwork (the cranes ran on tracks on board), and associated odds & ends were assembed, and “C.1” was ready for action by October 1904, at which time she was positioned near Portsmouth dockyard.
I’d better explain that C.1’s only role in life was to dispense coal to Royal Navy ships, and others under the control of the Admiralty (tugs, port auxiliary vessels, RFAs, and the like). She was equipped with four massive rail-mounted cranes, with a jib either side, so there were effectively eight cranes, each with large buckets for dropping coal into ships. When not in use, the cranes towered 100ft above the water. The hulk was ‘longer than a football pitch’ (424ft), and could stow 11,000 tons of coal in hoppers and 1,080 tons in sacks. Coal could be channelled into sacks (if required) through any one of 80 coal chutes.
C1 remained near the dockyard until sometime in the 1920s, when she was anchored some 300 yards off Hardway, where, apart from a visit to the dockyard for her last refit during the last three months of 1946, she remained until 1964. In the late 1950s, the demand for coal dwindled, owing to the ever-increasing use of diesel as a source of fuel, and during this time, much of C.1’s superstructure, and two of the four cranes were dismantled and removed.
This was a very unique vessel, and as I said earlier, THE largest coal hulk in the world, but with the virtual disappearance of coal as a marine fuel, she had outlived her usefulness by the early 1960s, and was towed off to Holland for scrap on 16 January 1964. The departure of this ugly old lady went completely unnoticed in any press reports, sadly. Such an eyesore was rarely (if ever) the subject of photographs, so these are mostly photographs of scenes, or other ships in which C.1 happens to appear in the background – a big black unsightly thing.
Credits to original photographers, and the details of C.1 are thanks to the writings of David Maber, a venerable local historian