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The NAAFI at war

As well as servicemen and women and people killed in bombing, a number of civilians were killed while on active service during the Second World War. A number of them were working for NAAFI, the Navy Army and Air Force Institute. Between 1939 and 1945 the NAAFI ran 7,000 canteens and had 96,000 personnel, in Barracks, shore bases, airbases, and onboard ships the world over.

Onboard ships the NAAFI employees faced exactly the same dangers as the other members of the ships company. This was shown in the Falklands in 1982, when the NAAFI Canteen Manager onboard one of the ships, an ex-soldier, went up on deck and manned an anti-aircraft machine gun. And sadly, when a ship was sunk, NAAFI employees were at exactly the same risk as the other crew members – at sea there is no option of going to the rear. Wherever the ships goes, so go the men onboard her.

Canteen Assistant Alan Daysh, 19 and from Cosham, was onboard HMS Royal Oak when she was sunk in Scapa Flow on 14 October 1939. Canteen Manager Gordon Huggins, 36 and from North End and of HMS Foylebank, died on 8 July 1940 and is buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth. Canteen Assistant James Henwood, 19 and from Southsea and of HMS Kashmir, was killed on 23 May 1941. On 24 May 1941 Canteen Assistant Frank Ayling was onboard the Battlecruiser HMS Hood when she was sunk by the Bismarck. Canteen Assistant Leslie Ayling, 20, was onboard HMS Calcutta when he was killed on 1 June 1941. 34 year old James Noyce, from North End, was onboard HMS Galatea when he was killed on 15 December 1941. And Canteen Manager Edgar New, 24, was onboard HMS Audacity when he died on 22 December 1941.

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Filed under Navy, portsmouth heroes, World War Two