HMS Sheffieldwas a Type 42 guided missile destroyer and the second  Royal Navy ship to be named after the city of Sheffield in Yorkshire. Commissioned on 16 February 1975 the Sheffield was part of the Task Force 317 sent to the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War. She was struck by an Exocet air-launched anti-ship missile from an Argentinian Super Entard aircraft on 4 May 1982 and foundered while under tow on 10 May 1982. 
     Ordered in 1968 Sheffield was laid down on 15 January 1970 and built by  Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness. Sheffield was launched on 10 June 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II and was estimated to have cost £23,200,000 to build.
     In March 1982 the ship transited north through the Suez Canal to participate in In response to the Argentine Invasion of the Falkland Islands, Sheffield was ordered on 2 April 1982 to join the task force being assembled to retake the islands. Departing for the South Atlantic on 10 April, Sheffield reached Ascension Island on 14 April, accompanied by HMS Arrow, HMS Brilliant, HMS Coventry, HMS Glasgow to be later joined by RFA Appleleaf. They joined other vessels of the Task Force 317 and commenced operations in the Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands on 1 May 1982.
     At approximately 10:00 on 4 May, Sheffield was at defence watches (second degree readiness), the southernmost of three Type 42 destroyers (the others being HMS Glasgow and HMS Arrow) operating as a forward anti-aircraft picket 18 to 30 miles (29 to 48 km) to the west of the main task force which were south-east of the Falklands. The weather was fair and the sea calm with a 2-metre swell. HMS Invincible which was with the main task force was responsible for Anti-Air Warfare Coordination (AAWC). Sheffield had relieved her sister ship Coventry as the latter was having technical trouble with her Type 965 Radar. Prior to the attack, Sheffields radar operators had been experiencing difficulty distinguishing Mirage and Super Étendard aircraft, and the destroyer may have lacked effective radar jamming. Despite intelligence briefings that identified an Exocet attack by Super Étendards as possible, Sheffield had assessed the Exocet threat as overrated for the previous two days, and disregarded another as a false alarm. 
     The flagship, HMS Hermes, dispatched the escorts Arrow and Yarmouth to investigate, and a helicopter was launched. Confusion reigned until Sheffield's Lynx helicopter unexpectedly landed aboard Hermes carrying the air operations officer and operations officer, confirming the strike. 

With the main fire fighting systems out of action due to the loss of the fire main the crew were reduced to fighting the fire using portable electrically powered pumps and buckets. The control of firefighting lacked cohesion and was uncoordinated with no emergency HQ being established, while crew members were unclear as to where Command was located. Arrow and Yarmouth assisted in fighting the fire from the outside (to little effect) by stationing themselves to port and starboard respectively. 
     The crew of Sheffield fought for almost four hours to save the ship before Captain Salt made the decision to abandon ship due to the risk of fires igniting the Sea Dart magazine, the loss of the combat capability of the destroyer, and the exposed position to air attack of Arrow and Yarmouth. Most of the Sheffield's crew climbed over onto Arrow, a few transferred by Gemini RHIB to Yarmouth, while some were taken by helicopter to Hermes as  Sheffield's crew departed in Arrow. 
     Of the 281 crew members, 20 (mainly on duty in the galley area and computer room) died in the attack with another 26 injured, mostly from burns, smoke, inhalation or shock. Only one body was recovered and the wreck is presently a war grave.



From the Portsmouth Evening News of 15th December, 1885

     Marriage certificates play a very important, generally, however, a factitiously important part of the novels of our day; but even the most audacious novelists have seldom, if ever, dared to offer so large a sum as £50,000 for the production of a marriage certificate; yet that is the amount which has been daily advertised in a newspaper or newspapers lately as a reward for producing a certain marriage certificate. If that desired certificate be not forthcoming, its existence has probably always been doubtful as that of the celebrated Mrs Harris, and many mouths will have been watered at the advertisement in vain.



     The ever-growing database of statutory burial and cremation records has some exciting additions planned for 2019, including Brookwood in Surrey, the largest cemetery in the UK. There will also be a million more burial and cremation records from South London, 750,000 from the Manchester area and 1.5 million from the Midlands.



     The first bridge across the River Itchen within the town boundary was a wooden construction built in 1799. Ninety years later, that was replaced by an iron bridge. The bridge was run by a turnpike company, which collected tolls from those crossing the river. In 1929 the town council took over the bridge and rendered it toll free.
The iron bridge was replaced in 1954 with a third bridge made of prestressed concrete and it is this bridge that still stands today.







     Findmypast has agreed a deal with Surrey County Council that includes digitising and indexing nearly 1.5 million records, and it recently added 450,000 more burials. It also has an ongoing partnership with Kent History and Library Centre and has now released an additional 500,000 plus parish records. It has added 81,000 Hampshire records too, and added 63,000 records to its Berkshire Marriage Index.



     The Domus Dei, or Royal Garrison Church, has a curious history. It was founded in 1212 by the Bishop of Winchester as a hospice - offering accommodation to travellers and pilgrims as well as to the sick and the elderly. It was dedicated to St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.
     In 1450, the Bishop of Chichester, Adam Moleyns, was murdered near the Domus Dei. He had been sent by the King to pay some of the soldiers and sailors. However, the amount did not equal what the men were owed so they killed the Bishop. For this crime the whole town was excommunicated and remained under an interdict for fifty years.
     The Domus Dei was closed when the monasteries were dissolved in 1540. After a brief spell as an armoury, part of it became the residence of the military Governors of Portsmouth. As such it was used for the marriage of Charles II to Catherine go Braganza, the Infanta of Portugal, on 21st May 1622. Catherine brought Tangier and Bombay to the King as part of her dowry and this was the beginning of the British interest in India.
     In 1827 the Governor’s House was demolished except for the infirmary hall and the chapel which became the Royal Garrison Church. It was diligently restored in the 1860s by the eminent Victorian architect, G.E. Street, but was badly damaged during the Second World War. The chancel largely dates from the thirteenth century, the roofless nave is nineteenth century. It is owned by the Department of the Environment and is open to the public, but it is still a consecrated church.



     Private cremations had been taking place sporadically since the 1880s. In 1902 the Cremation Act came into force, extending the rights of burial authorities to allow them to establish crematoria from 1st April, 1903. No crematorium could be closer than 50 yards to any public highway, or within 200 yards of any dwelling house without the written consent of the owner. Private cremation on an open-air pyre was subject to a penalty of up to £50..



     Almost 1,700 new burial plots could be created at Hound Cemetery in Netley Abbey. The proposal is to convert a disused field behind St Mary the Virgin Street in Hound Road.



     More than four billion digital record images are now searchable by place on The world’s largest free family history website holds billions of historic images, but about eighty per cent, have not been searchable by name. However, members can now type the name of a city, county, state or country into a new Explore Historical Images tool at and view collections of browsable records.



     At the beginning of the last century there were as many as 200 working mills in Hampshire, although very few have survived until today. Most of the mills were situated on the many chalk streams in the county, which provided the power needed to turn the machinery, but these were costly to maintain and corn iron and paper production dwindled away.



     Southampton’s Highfield Church of England School welcomed its first pupils in 1840 to its original premises, comprising the Master’s House and one classroom. At that time Highfield was considered to be a rural community with pupils attending a country school, which served as agricultural area. In 1869 the school logbook reported: “School short, haymaking” while a year later says: “Grass crop, a failure.”



     Back in the 18th century Hampshire people convicted of even the most trivial offences faced harsh punishment at the hands of judges sitting in local courts. For instance, one local man was sentenced to “two months of hard servitude” at Winchester prison after being convicted of stealing a piece of bread. Another defendant, who knocked a man on the head with a stick in the New Forest, was ordered to be transported to Australia for the rest of his life.



     Forces War Records, which hit the 20 million records milestone on 2019, has a target of 25 million names by the end of 2020. These will be fuelled in part by a partnership with the National Library of Scotland to transcribe its First World War casualty lists compiled from daily and weekly War Office lists. The team expects to reach more than two million records from this collection alone. 










Because of the current virus situation, we are unfortunately closed. Please watch this page for further details 





was 13,971

and has now reached 7,235,913

Total updated 6th July, 2020




     By order of the Prime Minister, we are not allowed to hold our meetings for the foreseeable future. This means that our website pages will be our only communication to our members and patrons and so we are very grateful as this usually totals over 2,000 each week. However, our computer network is also ‘down’ at the moment.

     I would also like to thank the many Emails and Messages that have come in each week and for these I personally, thank each and every one of you.

     Obviously like everyone else, we are not fully operative at the moment, so please keep in touch with these pages. Thank you very much.



     I don’t know about you, but I am not a great fan of the adverts on the television. But there is one that I particularly like and that is on at the same time every day. Nothing to do with history, but I watch it on purpose every day at 0913 on the Channel 5 children’s show Milkshake. It is when four beautiful and energetic children say their goodbyes at the end of the show. It is short and sweet but I have to watch it every day, for if I don’t I miss something to lead me into a happy day.



     We wish we were, but funding much lower than normal and telephone charges also monthly, it was good news earlier this month when we won two prizes in the National Lottery. It's the first time that has happened although a single one every so often has been known, but while we never reject a 'proverbial gift horse in the mouth' even a carrot is always welcome.



     Many websites covering this period feature memories and oral histories, but when it comes to hard evidence, the 1939 Register is the nearest we have to a census. It records the 40 million-plus people alive in England and Wales on 29th September, 1939, just weeks after Operation Pied Piper began. The register reveals more about your ancestors’ war-time experience than just a census. It includes Home Front roles such as the ARP Warden, special constable or St John’s Ambulance volunteer. The register is available on Findmypast at



     Our patch of the woods has the greatest concentration and variety of fortifications anywhere in the British Isles. When war broke out with France in 1415, the King, Henry V, ordered the improvement of defences including the building of a tower so that ‘….the safe custody of the King’s ships might be assures’. This was the beginning of the Round Tower, the first defensive building in Portsmouth. It was one of a pair of towers at each side of the harbour entrance
     The Round Tower has been altered many times since it was built, but the base of the fabric appears to be Tudor. There were many reconstructions during the Elizabethan period and the Napoleonic Wars and then in the 1850s it was modified again and built up to its present height. The Square Tower was built in 1494 by order of Henry VII and like the other defences in the town, it was designed for a new form of warfare which employed gunpowder and had thick walls to resist cannon fire rather than high ones to resist scaling.



leather cutter - cutter of leather in the manufacture of shoes in medieval times. Generally worked in the same buiding as shoemakers. 
marriage house keeper - Keeper of a ‘chapel’ for marriages before the laws of marriage were regularised. The person conducting the marriage was often a publican or other non-minister of religion and collected a fee for the ceremony.
novice monk/nun - Entrants to monasteries had to pay a fee in either cash or land to train as a monk. Novices were on probation for a year and could not join a monastery under the age of 18
poetaster - A petty poet who sold or read his own work in exchange for small amounts of money.
sedan carrier - Carrier of a 17th/18th century form of carriage in which two poles were used to carry a passenger chair (sometimes covered), with two men carrying, ne man being at the front and one at the back.

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