Friday, 09 April 2021 05:58

Prince Philip trained in Corsham Featured

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PRINCE Philip trained at the Royal Navy College in Dartmouth and then later was posted to the former HMS Royal Arthur leadership training centre in Corsham.

He was still living in Corsham when he proposed to the then Princess Elizabeth, later to become HRH The Queen.

Commander Patrick Hoare was captain of the former HMS Royal Arthur in Corsham from 1956 to 1958.

He was at the Royal Navy shore training establishment at a time when one of its most famous conscripts was Philip Mountbatten, later to become Prince Philp, Duke of Edinburgh.

In 2008, the then 90-year-old who lived in Corsham town centre, penned a book about his experiences, a copy of which sits in the Imperial War Museum.

In his book, Mr Hoare recalled his time spent at HMS Royal Arthur with much fondness.

At the start of the Second World War, HMS Royal Arthur was established at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness to train new naval conscripts.

Towards the end of the war, and at the height of National Service, the operation was moved to the outskirts of Corsham in Westwells Road.

The Royal Navy started a Petty Officers’ Leadership School, which trained up to 40 petty officers at any one time.

It was led by a team of about 15 officers and an overall Commanding Officer.

Perhaps the most famous recruit was Philip Mountbatten at a time when he was courting the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth.

Commander Hoare, who had his picture taken next to Prince Philip, said: “It was an old custom and courtesy that when an officer got engaged he would ask permission of his commanding officer.

“Accordingly, the Duke went to his CO and said: ‘request permission to get engaged sir, and my fiancée says that if you refuse it won’t be very good for your career!'”

The training carried out at the camp comprised lectures, public speaking, religion and ethics as well as physical training and parading.

Mr Hoare said: “The great advantage of having the place in the middle of Wiltshire was that the Petty Officers were not distracted by family matters.

“Our establishment had a particularly close liaison with the town, partly I think because we were small and our activities could be seen by the locals and we also had a close link with the local British Legion.”

Many members of the Corsham branch of the Royal British Legion recall seeing Prince Philip driving around the town in a sports car.

He was also often spotted in the Methuen Arms playing darts or skittles with the locals.

Town councillor Peter Davis said: “I’ve lived in Corsham my whole life and I remember HMS Royal Arthur being a real presence in the town.

"You used to see the recruits in their uniforms or Prince Philip driving around in his MG.”

HMS Royal Arthur was closed in 1993. Mr Hoare died on June 27 2011, aged 94.

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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