Your Stories – Commando training in Ventnor in WW2

My wife and I recently visited the Ventnor Heritage Centre which we both found very interesting, I was particularly interested in the information on the second world war as my father had told me many stories about his time stationed on the Isle of Wight as part of their initial training before going to fight the Japanese in Asia.

He was in No 5 Commandos & they trained both in the highlands of Scotland and on the Isle of Wight, in Sandown, Shanklin & Ventnor. The one story he told which was particular to Ventnor, was the time they were having training on using explosives and at the end of the training the Officer carrying out the training stated that the explosive was now armed and that they had approximately 30 minutes to dispose of it before it would explode.

Being in Ventnor near the sea, several of them grabbed the device, rushed down to the foreshore, purloined and boarded a row boat , rowed a suitable distance from shore, quickly attached weights to the device  and  threw it into the sea.  As they rowed back to shore,  they were horrified to see that the explosive device suddenly appeared on the surface and subsequently exploded.  The explosion resulted in the windows of the Winter Gardens and many other building in Ventnor sea front being blown out.

I have attached a link (below) to a story which my nephew found in the Imperial War Museum archives. It is told by a gentleman who was also in the commandos and trained on the Island, though his version is different to the story my father told us.  [The description of the Ventnor incident is in reel 2, starting 24 minutes in.]

Michael Skipper

Imperial War Museums Oral History Collection