Navy wife's biography looks back at her time in Weymouth and Portland

BIG DAY: Mary and Peter are married

NEWS: A newspaper article about Peter

STORY: Mary's biography Green Smarties: Tales of a Navy Wife

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A NAVY wife has written her autobiography remembering her time in Weymouth and Portland.

Mary Collingwood-Hurst, 71, who now lives in Bournemouth, has written about her adventures from Portland to Singapore, Hong Kong and beyond in her new biography, Green Smarties: Tales of a Navy Wife.

The title Green Smarties, comes from a navy myth – when a husband went away he would tell his wife to save up all the green smarties in a packet.

Then when he returned home, the couple would scatter the green smarties on the lawn outside and tell the children to go and find them.

This could take quite a while and give the couple time to catch up.

Mary was working at Poole Hospital when she met her husband-to-be, Peter Hurst, a helicopter pilot and examiner for the Royal Navy.

When the pair were courting, he was posted to HMS Osprey on Portland and Mary used to come down on the train to meet him.

The pair used to sneak into Peter’s quarters and listen to Scheherazade by Tchaikovsky – the story of a prince and princess.

The couple were married in Bournemouth on October 31, 1970.

They were due to go on honeymoon to Cornwall for a week but the Navy changed Peter’s posting, so they had one night in Cerne Abbas.

After the honeymoon Mary remembers Peter dropping her off at a holiday bungalow in Preston and going to HMS Osprey, and standing in the house surrounded by unopened wedding presents.

Mary got to know other Navy wives in the area and they used to play badminton at Osprey as well as attend dinners and parties.

She said: “After the parties a group of us always used to go to the Sea Cow pub.

“It was opposite the lovely cottages on Weymouth harbourside.

“I always loved it there.

“The food was very good and the atmosphere was wonderful.”

She said she loved her time in Preston as it had a ‘lovely village feel to it’.

Preferring to write and play the guitar, Mary said she didn’t know how to cook when she moved there, but had to learn fast as there was a lot of entertaining involved in being a Navy wife.

She said: “We didn’t have a telephone. I used to have to rush down to the telephone box in Preston to make calls.”

She ran down there to check on recipes by contacting her mum on occasions.

Peter was next posted to Singapore on an unaccompanied post to HMS Terror, this meant Mary wasn’t supposed to go, but the pair decided she should – so she travelled out on an RAF indulgence flight for £7.

The couple took a cottage in the Chinese village of Chong Pang and Mary got a job in the base.

From there the couple continued their adventures around the world, but Mary said she remembers Weymouth and Portland with great affection.

She said: “I absolutely feel in love with Weymouth. I used to love the atmosphere – it had the feeling of history about it.”

n To find out more about Green Smarties: Tales of a Navy Wife, visit greensmarties.co.uk or email mary@greensmarties.co.uk The book is £2.99 and the first four chapters are free to read online.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree