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D-DAY MAP ROOM VISIT AT SOUTHWICK HOUSE, PORTSMOUTH
Sunday 27 September 2015

Having contacted the offices of the military base some time ago, filled in forms, had numerous emails go back and forth and visited the venue about three weeks before the event, it was a little alarming just a few days before we were due to go, that an email in response to one of mine, requesting the name of the person giving us the lecture in the map room, and requesting confirmation of the fee etc, was responded to by: 'We have no record of the booking and nobody available to do it, and in any event it is far too late to organise the necessary insurance by 27 September.'

This heart stopping news, bearing in mind we have about forty visitors booked in, was to say the least, extremely worrying! However, the catering manager, who I had dealings with, managed to resolve the problem and we eventually received an apology and confirmation that there was a miscommunication, and all was in hand.

  Southwick House

The Lecturer, Colonel Jeremy Green, retired, a military historian, spoke for about three quarters of an hour and gave us an extremely interesting and informative lecture on the events that took place in the map room, interspersed with some wry humour. He explained the extraordinary secrecy that surrounded the planning including the imprisonment of the map manufacturers, Chad Valley's personnel, who actually installed the map. They were held until the operation was over just in case they let slip any of the map details - a period of nearly three months!

Regrettably, the miscommunications from the onset led to our not being able to see the historic vehicle collection that they have, and we nearly did not get to see the Marine Museum, which for the same reason had not been opened. However, a polite word with Colonel Green manifested a set of keys and enabled the opening of the museum.

Prior to being requisitioned, the Squire of the Southwick Estate was an eccentric chap called Colonel Evelyn Thistlethwingayte. In the early years of the war he frequently invited various admirals to while away a few spare hours on his estate to join him in some pheasant shooting. These admirals made a note of the spectacular situation of the house whilst firing at dozy game birds and by late 1941 the entire estate was requisitioned by the Navy to house the Royal Naval Navigation School, which had had to be relocated from the heavily targeted Dockyard in Portsmouth.

The site is now a training ground for the Marine Military Police, the outbuildings appearing sadly unused and the one-time beautiful manor house showing many signs of underinvestment. Internally it is nonetheless a very impressive building with marble columns and huge rooms and ante-rooms.

Chris Tween - Section Chairman


Memberw with their cars
Photos: Chris Tween