Waiting for the boys in blue

In the summer sometimes during the 1950s, two war ships used to anchor about ¼ mile off the Palace Pier: an American Ship and a British ship (H.M.S. Brighton I think). That weekend or week the town was bustling. Prostitutes used to come down from London and, if you were brave enough, you would find them in The Belvedere or Fortune of War, waiting for the sailors.

Although the gay community of Brighton wasn’t as prolific, they used to come to the town for the same thing. There was quite a bit of trouble between the British and the Americans because the American sailors were paid more than their counterparts. There was a lot of envy, and there were quite a few fights over the period that the Navy was there. If any American sailors got into any trouble, they were quickly taken back to ship, thus missing civilian action.

The George was a favourite place for the British sailors as there was live music. There was a small homosexual man called Bunny, who used to frequent the pub and dance with the sailors. He always wore a pink suit and loved the song When Mexico Gave up the Rumba to do the Rock and Roll. He was well liked by everybody. He lived in a tiny house by the side of the old Salisbury Hotel called (what do you think?) the Warren! Brighton seemed to be dead when the sailors went back. It was a great time.

Comments about this page

  • Ah Bunny, lovely, funny Man, I used to hang about outside both these pubs as a kid and look through the windows. Bunny used to wear rabbit fur bootees and sing. “I’m Rose of Regency Square,
    The Matelots, they call me Rose.
    They don’t know what I am,
    but they think I’m one of those.”

    And who remembers, Buster who used to play the drums?

    By Jerry Homeward (22/10/2007)
  • Jerry, was that Buster Brown who played drums? Shortish chap, fair haired and wore glasses. If so I did know him

    By Barrie Searle (12/02/2011)
  • From my memory, War Ships routinely visited Brighton during the 50s, mainly British but sometimes other Countries.  I seem to remember that HMS Eagle, an aircraft carrier was one such because the Eagle was a popular boys magazine of the time.  

    By Mike Mackeddie-Haslam (24/09/2018)

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