Coronation Review of the Fleet - 15th June 1953

In March 1953 I joined the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and after a basic training at HMS Dorneless, a shore base at Burghfield near Reading, I went to HMS Deadalus, an outstation at Lee-on-Solent.

I had decided to become a driver and to do that is was compulsory for me to take the 8-week Naval Driving course although I was already able to drive.

The actual Coronation Day was free for anybody to go ashore or not. I spent the day in our mess listening to the Coronation Service on the radio. The whole base was very quiet with only basic staff on duty.

A fortnight later came the Fleet Review at Spithead opposite Lee-on-Solent. Several of us had volunteered to help at a crèche nearby on the beach which had been provided for the children. We had a grandstand view of the ships which looked a truly spectacular sight, dressed overall with the crews lining the decks.

As far as I can remember the day was fine with no wind.

From my vantage point on the beach I was now able to see the Royal Yacht as she progressed up and down the lines of ships. I was there!

In the review there were 325 ships of all kinds from 22 countries both foreign and commonwealth. The Review began at 3.30pm on the 15th June byt the Royal Yacht HMS Surprise which was preceded by the Trinity Vessel Patricia and the Admiralty Vessel HSM Redpole.

The Royal Yacht took a westerly course between the lines of ships and returned on an easterly course.

At 5.30pm after the Review there was a Fly Past by some 300 participants from the Fleet Air Arm which included Australian and Canadian squadrons.

The Queen's family dined aboard the HMS Vanguard, the flagship of the Commander in Chief Home Fleet. At 10.30pm illumination of the fleet was switched on followed at 10.40pm by an impressive firework display until 10.55pm.

Portsmouth and Lee-on-Solent were alive with people of all these different nationalities. It was a Wren's paradise with cocktail parties and dances galore.

Altogether the whole affair was a once in a lifetime experience.

M Jean Peace (Ansdell) WRN 110693