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Dead Man's Wood

Published: 23rd August 2007 21:16

By Peter Keat 

Another place on top of Portsdown that we frequented as children and teenagers was a place we called Dead Man's Wood which was situated at the top of the hill end of Crookhorn Lane. The copse of trees was planted in the 1930's on Ministry of Defence land to assist airmen to line up on Portsmouth Aerodrome. An ecological group that was called The Men of the Trees did the planting and the actual planting was done in the shape of a shield with the point facing the City.

In the 1950's several small memorial plaques were erected in the copse. Only three of these plaques remain today. One is a memorial to an RAF flying officer from Widley, James Kelly, who was killed in action over Normandy in 1944 and was chosen to represent WWII Servicemen. The second was in memory of Hampshire Servicemen who died in Korea. The third is desecrated and illegible, but was dedicated to 2nd Lt. Wilfrid Hanbury Grenville-Grey, 1st Bttn. K.R.R.C. killed in action at Festubert, May 15th 1915, aged 19 years. These memorials are low and look like small tombstones, hence the name 'Dead Man's Copse'.

How well I remember going into these trees and finding these stones. Of course at that time all sorts of rumours began about people being buried in the copse, anything to make a good story and to scare the other kids away. This copse was also popular as a place to take Cubs and Scouts to learn about the trees and nature. The land was taken over by the City Council and one of these days I am going to have to walk through the trees one more time. Just for old times sake.

Just a little more from the old memory banks with a little help from the internet search engines.

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