Contact Malcolm
Advertise with Us


Antigua Barbados Florida Grenada Kenya Nerja St Lucia St Kitts & Nevis Tobago

             Site Map >

Air Sea Rescue Base at Hardway

Quite frequently the powerful engines of the RAF launches would bark into life and local eyes would follow the boarding by a blue-uniformed crew from the end of the wooden pier opposite the Rose and Crown public house at Hardway. One or more launches would then carve a bow wave and race toward the harbour mouth; somewhat faster than the Harbour Byelaws suggested. My imagination followed them beyond the Solent to the Channel, there to recover British or German aircrew; however, my imagination misled me as it has now been revealed the usual duty of the Hardway crews was to recover dummy torpedoes dropped in the Solent by aircraft acting under cover of the ATDU unit at Grange airfield, Gosport. But, and this is a big BUT, many of the Hardway launch crews went on to carry out hazardous front line duties following postings away from Hardway. Take Les Brew, currently living in Devon.
“I was on launch 2505 at Hardway in 1942, a posting to Calshot followed where the launches were well placed geographically to carry out aircrew recovery. I was given a half-hour instruction then put in charge of the portside Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun on a launch; just as well we weren’t sunk at sea as it took an age to escape the turret when wearing a Mae West. Duties at Calshot were various and included transporting crews to launches as well as manning tanker launches to fuel up Sunderlands.
Prior to D-Day we were stationed off the Nab tower, on that 5th of June our launch was thrown about so much by the rough seas, we dared not go into the cabin for fear of being knocked out by flying china and other items. We went over on D-Day and sadly we lost several of our ASR launches during the landing operation.
There was just one thing I did not take to while at Hardway, and that was having to stand on deck when leaving harbour, I always imagined it was because some snotty Admiral wanted to show he was in charge of the port.”
More comments come from Alastair Stirrat, current Vice Chairman of the Scottish and Borders Branch of the Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Sections Club.
“I was posted to Gosport from Calshot in 1942 reporting to a rather dilapidated Moby House at Hardway. I was not impressed with the building until I entered it to discover that some of the interior walls were painted with beautiful murals. These had been done by one of the Coxswains, a Corporal Charles Sweeney.
After the usual formalities I took over as engineer on a 64ft Pinnace to operate on the Torpedo Range at Stokes Bay. The Coxwain ordered us away as quickly as possible. I queried the urgency as the four vessels tore down through Portsmouth Harbour at full speed. I was told that only three launches were required on the range, the fourth was to stand by tied up at a jetty where there was an opportunity to chat up Wren Torpedo Artificers – hence the rush to be first at the jetty.

When on Range duty recovered torpedoes were tied alongside and a lifting strap fixed to it, this could be a hazardous operation if the sea was rough as a member of the crew had sometimes to go over the side to slide it on to the torpedo. It was then lifted inboard by a derrick.
I was later posted to the Shetland Isles and soon realised that adverse wind and sea conditions in the Solent were relatively minor.”
My own true Air Sea Rescue story involves our family goat, Flossy. Flossy lived in our Priory Road, Hardway garden and she loved freedom to the point she would wander the local streets whether it was day or night.
Local people were used to seeing Flossy unescorted. One dark night (dark in the blackout really meant dark) Flossy decided she would walk to the end of the Air Sea Rescue flotilla’s pier….. the rest of the story was overheard by my parents who were enjoying a drink in the Old House at Home, Pub in Priory Road stood next to a couple of Air Sea Rescue crew members.
One RAF chap said to the next. “There I was on guard at the start of our pier, last night, pitch black night, when I heard a noise, it was definitely someone approaching, well, never mind all that ‘Halt who goes there, stuff’ I shouts, “Who’s that?” – no answer, then all of a sudden there was a bit of a clatter and a sort of whoosh and this bloody goat shot past me heading for the end of the pier, by the time I got to the end of the pier, the goat had his front hoofs up on a bollard turning his head from side to side as though he we scanning the harbour, anyway I rounded him up and helped him back where he came from with a gentle boot.”
My mother interrupted at this point. “That was my goat, Flossy, you were talking about, she’ll probably be back again tomorrow night.”

David Maber.



Click here


   Featured Hotel
 Alverbank Country Hotel
Without doubt one of Gosport's best  hotels that successfully combines style and elegance with a very relaxed atmosphere.

   Local Information

Advertise your business

Accountant Builder
Car Valet Cake Maker
Dance School Electrician
Fencer Garden Sheds
Hairdresser Interpreter
Joiner Lion Tamer
Mobiles Night Club
Operator Photographer
Quality video Restaurant
Signs Travel Agent
Video Websites

   Fun Facts
(August 30, 1941 - June 27, 1944) - Leningrad (Russia) was under siege by German forces for 880 days. This siege is known as the biggest in the history because 13-15 thousand soldiers and civilians were killed during that time.

© MDDM 2017

All trademarks and / or names are acknowledged and remain the property of their respective owners.   

Privacy Policy:  This site does not use cookies ( a function of your browser which identifies your computer - but not you - to a web server).  
We log browser types, URLs from which visitors came to our site and pages viewed by visitors while on our site.   It is impossible to identify visitors from this data.
We use this information to improve  the site and our ranking in search engines and directories.   We do not share this information with any 3rd party.

Feedback:  We continue with our efforts to  make this web useful and informative. We  welcome your feedback or suggestions - good or bad.  Please use this email link.