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Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

Article about: I work in Cosham and recently discovered a couple of period photo's showing bomb damaged buildings that are still stand today and all with in 5 mins walk from the Office I work in. So I thou

  1. #1

    Default Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    I work in Cosham and recently discovered a couple of period photo's showing bomb damaged buildings that are still stand today and all with in 5 mins walk from the Office I work in.
    So I thought I'd do a bit of research and give you a little information on the German raid that caused the damage. First picture shows an original Luftwaffe target map of Hilsea and Cosham suburbs of Portsmouth. Its dated April 1939, I have marked the bombed buildings positions with an X (I) and X (II) the centre of the X being the site of the bomb drop.
    As you probably know, following the initial German bombing/strafing attacks on the British RAF airfields, caused some say by a few German planes accidentally dropping their bombs on London making the RAF retaliate bombing Berlin. Some say the RAF bombed Berlin before London was bombed, either way Hitler/Goring were so incensed by this attack that they turned the Luftwaffe from attacking the RAF airfields on to attacking British City's. This was to prove a strategic mistake because the RAF who had been struggling to get airborne due to the damage, now had time to repair the airfields and once again get airborne in larger numbers. The Bombing blitz of the UK had begun. Many cities suffered from this bombing including London, Coventry, Liverpool, Exeter, Bristol, Southampton and Portsmouth to name just a few.
    Portsmouth was as today the home of the British Navy it was also relatively easy to get to being just a short flight from the German forward bases near the coast of France, so proved a prime target. Portsmouth was to suffer many raids over the next few years.
    Cosham was originally a village in its own right just to the North of Portsmouths Portsea Island. But had become absorbed into the City as it grew. It was and still is a Northern Suburb.
    On the night of Thursday 5th December 1940 the 25th German air raid on Portsmouth began. The raid was a major one beginning at 8.00pm with over 50 bombers dropping high explosive and incendiaries creating thirty incidents of fire across the City, two major fires taking hold in the dock yard on the Southern Railway jetty and No 8 dock where the old ex US Navy destroyer HMS Cameron was so badly damaged it had to be declared a total loss. Fires also started in the Royal Clarence Dock Yards and HMS Vernon.
    During this raid two bombs of note (because the results were photographed) were dropped on Cosham. The first believed to be a 250kg HE exploded on the pavement outside the Highbury Buildings built 1935 marked X (I) on the map the central section was brought down. Sadly a Sailor was found dead five months later when the debris was finally cleared away. He had taken shelter in a doorway when the bomb hit. Today the middle section of the building has been rebuilt exactly as it had been with the original ends of the building surviving. On close examination the cement between the bricks in the rebuilt section is slightly different from the original sections.
    The bomber flew on and its second bomb another 250KG fell to earth around 300m further up the road hitting the Carlton Cinema in Cosham High Street marked on map X (II) on the map. The bomb went through the roof and exploded in the projectionists room. Sadly a film was being shown at the time and there were two hundred and fifty people in the cinema. Casualties were 50 wounded and dead although I don’t know the exact figures. You can see in the original picture that the top of the Cinema was blown off and collapsed inside, I think its lucky there weren't more casualties.
    The Cinema/Theatre was rebuilt after the war to a different design but the room over the roadway to the left remains the same and was incorporated into the new building, making the comparison picture easy to line up. Sadly this cinema now looks like its been closed up for a number of years and a very spooky especially now that I know its history.
    I noticed after looking at the pictures I took that where the passers by are walking past they appear to be looking at a plaque on the wall that I'd missed. If it is and it remembers the victims I'll get another picture and post it with this.
    At the end of the raid across the whole of Portsmouth the total casualties were 40 dead (mostly from cinema) and one hundred and fifty injured.

    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Cosham Map.jpg   COSHAM 1.jpg  

    Cosham 2.jpg   Cosham 3.jpg  

    Cosham 4.jpg   Cosham 5.jpg  

    COSHAM 6.jpg  

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Thanks for this post Luckystrike, I love to see these before and after posts.

    Great work.



  3. #3

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    A very interesting post, a well done research...

    What you've done with those pictures is... is like

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Nice work, well done !

  5. #5

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    This sort of work really brings it home, If only schools would teach the subject more like this then, maybe the kids would be a bit more interested.

  6. #6

    Default Re: More Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Thank you for your kind comments, I personally find that merging the then and now pictures really brings to life the past showing the devastation that the bombs caused at the time.
    I popped out again at lunchtime today and took a couple more.
    The first shows the Portsbridge the main bridge onto Portsea Island where most of Portsmouth is built. The bridges crosses the tidal creek. For reference we're looking North toward Cosham.
    1) 1939/40 A sentry is posted to guard the Portsmouth side, his bayonet fixed, a sand bagged temporary shelter has been constructed at either end of the bridge. Notice the deco style glass lantern orbs on the tops of the pillars.
    2) A modern view taken 2009, the original bridge is now unused and sidelined relagated to a car parking area. The flyover in the background is the A27.
    3) 70 years between them a detail is merged 1939 in 2009.

    The second set of photo's shows a house of Mulberry Ave Cosham Nov 1940.
    1) The family survey the damage to their home thankful they have survived. Even the child in the cot was unhurt.
    2) The house was repaired and still stands in a quiet close. You can see that slight alterations were made to the front door area.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Mulberry Ave Cosham 1.jpg   Mulberry Ave Cosham 2.jpg  

    Portsbridge 1.jpg   Portsbridge 2.jpg  

    Portsbridge 3.jpg  

  7. #7

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Excellent work!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Very interesting for sure. Thank you for your time involved in doing those photos up!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    Nice work, however I think you have a problem with 3 Mulberry Ave. If you walk down the road there are about 3 houses it could have been but not number three. The first few houses have the wooden support around the door and the original door has, a small arch at the top the other house doesent. The houses in this area had differences when built that help reduce the choice but do not clear up the matter.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Cosham (Portsmouth UK) 1940 Then & Now

    thanks for being bothered to do something most of us cant be bothered to! great thread

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