Hayling has a number of wartime romances to celebrate. One of the best-known COPP stories is that of Sub-Lieutenant Robin Harbud’s
pursuit of Wren Evelyn Cross.
Evelyn, also known as “Kitten”, was a member of the four-strong WREN team stationed at COPP Depot, headed by Leading Wren Prue Wright, who later became Mrs Nigel Willmott. The WREN’s main role at COPP was to drive the two 15 cwt trucks, which were christened
“Tweedledum” and “Tweedledee”, and the three-tonner nicknamed “The Grand Llama of Tibet”.
Robin Harbud first met Evelyn Cross when she went to pick him up at Havant railway station, on his arrival to join COPP in 1943, as a keen nineteen-year-old midshipman. Harbud’s initial enthusiasm for Wren Cross was not reciprocated, and it took a prolonged courtship before she eventually agreed to marry him in October 1944.
Harbud was a member of the COPP team aboard the midget submarine X-20, working together with another team in X-23 in June 1944. They operated the vital radio beacons marking the way in, for the D-Day invasion fleet off Juno Beach in the British and Canadian sector.
When he returned to the depot, following the unit’s successful contribution to the Normandy landings, Booth wasn’t given much
time to savour his achievements. In January 1945 he was sent with the re-commissioned COPP1 team, now commanded by Lieutenant Peter
Wild, to the Far East to reconnoitre the Burma beaches. The team spent several weeks on reconnaissance of the inland waterways or “chaungs” along the coastal region, in canoes operating from motorboats. This was just one of the ongoing missions undertaken by the COPP unit up until the end of the war with the Japanese in 1945.