Cdr HW Goulding RNR


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Friday 21st August there was a ceremony at the Langstone Hotel on Hayling Island to mark the career of Commander HW Goulding DSO RNR, a master mariner who, after an adventurous start to WW2 delivering agents to occupied Europe, was assigned to train canoeists for Special Forces missions including SBS. His service only came to light when his granddaughter discovered secret papers from WW2 (and a ‘gun’, possibly a Sten?) in 2010 after his wife died. His activities had been so secret he seems to have had his own personal D notice.

The proceedings included the presentation of a plaque to the present owners of Moss Rose, the house in N Hayling where Goulding was accommodated, and the unveiling of a plaque on a plinth to mark the use of the site of the hotel and the neighbouring marina as HMS Northney, the base from which Goulding conducted his canoe training activities.

Moss Rose plaque.JPG

Moss Rose plaque and owners.JPG

HMS Northney plaque.JPG


War Hero
Book Reviewer
ML 1387 1.JPG

In attendance were the restored ML 1387 (wearing a defaced red ensign) and a Dakota painted with Invasion stripes. I got a good look at her but only a poor photograph.

ML 1387 2.JPG



War Hero
Book Reviewer
Cockleshell 4.JPG Four canoes paddled by suitably clad reenactors delivered the plaque from their start point of Hayling Island Sailing Club on the SE tip of Hayling which had been the base for COPP (Combined Operations Pilotage Parties), some of whose activities involved canoes.


Cockleshell 2.JPG

Cockleshell 3.JPG

Also present were RBL and RNA standard bearers and various old boys in blazers and medals - I spotted a DSC, an MC and an MBE. The hotel was pushing the boat out for them and I reflected that if I had dolled myself up in blazer and rack instead of being there in scruff rig I might have blagged a free drink.

It is to be hoped that the upcoming book will contain fewer howlers of terminology than the ceremony handout.
Thanks for that. I had a holiday on Hayling Island a few years ago and wish that I'd know about the role it played in WW2.

Also like the idea of a QR code on the plaque. Ideal for the smartphone generation.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Its five miles of beach, its coastal inlets, its holiday camps with ready-to-use accommodation, its boatyards and sailing club made Hayling immediately useful in WW2.

Two RA AA gunsites were established, one took a direct hit and is preserved as a memorial although one of its concrete ammunition stores is slowing tilting over into the marsh.

Dummy fires were lit in Langstone Harbour to decoy German bombers from Portsmouth, with some success.

All sorts of people were trained on the island including Fleet Air Arm Supply ratings.

One boatyard was used for the initial training of landing craft crews.

Canoeists were trained at one of the holiday camps and in its adjacent water (as above).

The sailing club was wired off and used in great secrecy to train Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP).

The beach was used as one of the sites for the Exercise FABIUS D-Day invasion rehearsals, witnessed by Churchill and the King (allegedly).

MULBERRY harbour PHOENIX caissons were constructed in the Kench inlet - one of the broke its back and can still be seen in Langstone Harbour.

All not without loss as the war memorial bears witness. It was a busy war on Hayling and the population just about doubled. All fed by the quirky little railway that closed in 1963. The beach was out of bounds to civilians until late 1944.

There is an interesting map of wartime Hayling on show in The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant.
''It is to be hoped that the upcoming book will contain fewer howlers of terminology than the ceremony handout.''
Please elaborate on you above comment Seaweed! Nice photos! Thank you
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