On the evening of Friday 10th January 1941 Portsmouth was the subject of a series of devastating air raids during which one hundred and fifty three German bombers unleashed their deadly cargoes of incendiary bombs onto the city. The first raid started shortly after 6pm and continued throughout the evening and on up to shortly after 10pm. Then as people started to come out to assess the damage a second wave started at about 10.40pm raining down yet more incendiary bombs. This went on beyond midnight and on into the small hours of the next morning.
The Southern Railway paddle steamer Merstone was alongside the Portsmouth Harbour Station at the time waiting to take the early morning mail run to Ryde. She used her fire pumps, sourcing water from the harbour, to help put out the blaze on the Harbour Station, in the general offices and the marine manager’s office.
It was a night of real carnage.