My Hero

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My Hero

Postby RLN » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:47 pm

That would be my Dad. He served in the Navy in the War in destroyers, mainly HMS Onslow. This was flotilla leader for the Russian convoys. They had to chip away the ice all the time for fear of capsizing. At the Battle of the Barents Sea my Dad's ship took on the Hipper which was one of 2 Battleships and escorts sent against the convoy his flotilla was protecting. Obviously, Dad's ship came off worst with the skipper being seriously wounded and many dead. The Jerries were fought off when our big ships turned up (after 3hours) and this changed the German strategy for naval warfare. (Please see Wikipedia article). The convoy didn't lose a ship, but the escort did. Dad's ship was laid up in Russia for essential repairs where a Russian made my Dad a knife in exchange for 5 Woodbines. I still have the knife, not the fags (cigarettes, D4th). Dad's skipper was awarded the VC, but dedicated it to the ship's crew.
When The Onslow returned to Scapa Flow, she was ordered to pass through the fleet to receive their salute. All ships at anchor had all ratings at the rail giving the traditional 3 cheers.
Not long after, his ship was flotilla leader for the convoy that the Scharnhorst was after when she was sunk at the Battle of North Cape.
I shall always remember my Dad saying when there was a thunderstorm (when I was a kid) "Don't worry, lad. It sounds just like a sea battle". He always said he was scared as battle loomed, but when his ship opened fire, he felt better.
When I returned from Iran in 1969, we went to Scarborough for the day and I was ill (change of climate, food - who knows). It was hot and I was freezing. I had everybody's coat on me as we sat on deckchairs on the beach (except Grandad's jacket - he never took that off) and Dad talked to me for hours about his service. I was fascinated.
I feel honoured to have this kind,gentle man as my Father. He didn't hold a grudge against the Germans - he just loved his time in the Navy. That is why my heart will always be with the Senior Service. These pictures may give you some idea of what they were up against.


(HMS Onslow)
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with damage
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The Hipper (boooooo)
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Re: My Hero

Postby Tom.com » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:03 am

I can see why he is your hero
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Re: My Hero

Postby Mayfly » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:53 am

thats lovely RLN you have every right to be proud of him, WWII produced some very special people & we should respect them & be pround of them all :ymapplause:
In memory of a very dear friend - Mike Pearson

Very fond memories of Robbie Gilvary - DTs 1st Vulcan Captain who taught DT all he knew.
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Re: My Hero

Postby Tom.com » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:55 am

Mayfly wrote:thats lovely RLN you have every right to be proud of him, WWII produced some very special people & we should respect them & be pround of them all :ymapplause:


I agree
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Re: My Hero

Postby Wedgy » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:57 am

Im loving these stories. BBC Breakfast have been showing many like this too. It really brings it home :)
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Re: My Hero

Postby Wedgy » Sat Nov 08, 2008 12:16 pm

Just before he died, my grandfather (with the help of my mum and dad) wrote a 157 page book on his family history. Many pages of which described his time in the RAF. Just read through it this morning and it contains too much personal family information to publish on a forum, but I have found some great old photos. Photo's from this era just have something about them :)

Here is a very short excerpt from his book:

There was no conscription in Northern Ireland. I enrolled at the Town Hall in Ballymena. I had an oral exam and I may have seen other examiners as well, but I thought at the end of it all that I did well. There was some form filling and I said that I wanted to be a Flight Mechanic (Airframes). Later, I went to Belfast for my medical. That evening, a young man named Speirs called to see me in Alfred Street and asked if I would consider being trained as a Pilot. However, the training would be in Canada. After some discussion, I said I did not wish to go to Canada. I had my medical and was passed ‘A1’. I cannot remember the early details, but I was ‘kitted out’ in Padgate, Lancashire. Sammy Allen, James Turtle and I parted company. James
Turtle went on to be trained as a Flight Mechanic, but not to RAF Halton where I went. Sammy Allen chose to do something different in the RAF. That was the end of a long period of friendship.

RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire was well known for RAF Apprentice training in peacetime. The course then took five years. During the war, it had to be completed in six months because of the emergency situation. At first, it was all strange to me as everything was different. I was ‘all at sea’ as I had no mechanical experience and knew absolutely nothing about tools or drawings, but I managed to complete the course. Some exams were held weekly. Most of the work was from drawings but there was also some practical work. If the work produced was not up to standard we would be taken off the course. I remember marching to and from the workshops, morning and afternoon, to drums and bugle to keep us in step.


My Grandfather in RAF uniform, Skegness, 1941.
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RAF Group Photograph - my Grandfather second row, third from the left
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RAF Group Photograph: ‘Squad 10’ Skegness, 1941
My Grandfather front row, second from the left.
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Lucky he didn't go to Canada, he met my Grandmother while serving in the RAF.
Here she is pictured in the Land Army (far right)
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Re: My Hero

Postby 34053 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 12:19 pm

Thank you RLN for such a remarkable story about your Dad. No wonder you are so proud of him, and rightly so. It is also very appropriate that we appreciate and never forget all that those people in the Navy, RAF and Army went through during WW2, at this time of Remembrance.
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Re: My Hero

Postby RLN » Sat Nov 08, 2008 12:20 pm

When you look at these photos, you realise that they were just boys. Amazing.
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Re: My Hero

Postby Mayfly » Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:09 pm

The one thing DT will always tell you is how, when he flew the Lanc on BBMF, is how old the 'old guys' became young again when they started to talk about their time in the air force & the freinds they lost.

2 or 3 incidents come to mind...............

there was the guy who approached the a/c very wobbly on 2 walking sticks & asked if could look around it, when he was told of course, he hung his sticks on the ladder & shot up like a 2 year year old.

Then there was another who was an engineer, who bent down to look into the nose section & something fell out of his pocket, DT picked it up & it a DFC - the a/c had been shot up & his stomach ripped open by shrapnel but he stayed at his post & continued throwing chaff out of the window with one hand whilst holding his guts together with the other,

& then the was the German ME101 pilot who apologized to DT because he shot down 3 Lancs & the crews were killed, DT said it was war he should feel no guilt he did what he had to do, later that day his son approached DT & said his father finally had made peace with his past & felt relived had had been able to 'confess'............

these are just 3 that come to mind but DT reguallry came home with such tales ........it is all very humbling
In memory of a very dear friend - Mike Pearson

Very fond memories of Robbie Gilvary - DTs 1st Vulcan Captain who taught DT all he knew.
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Re: My Hero

Postby Tom.com » Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:49 pm

Mayfly wrote:The one thing DT will always tell you is how, when he flew the Lanc on BBMF, is how old the 'old guys' became young again when they started to talk about their time in the air force & the freinds they lost.

2 or 3 incidents come to mind...............

there was the guy who approached the a/c very wobbly on 2 walking sticks & asked if could look around it, when he was told of course, he hung his sticks on the ladder & shot up like a 2 year year old.

Then there was another who was an engineer, who bent down to look into the nose section & something fell out of his pocket, DT picked it up & it a DFC - the a/c had been shot up & his stomach ripped open by shrapnel but he stayed at his post & continued throwing chaff out of the window with one hand whilst holding his guts together with the other,

& then the was the German ME101 pilot who apologized to DT because he shot down 3 Lancs & the crews were killed, DT said it was war he should feel no guilt he did what he had to do, later that day his son approached DT & said his father finally had made peace with his past & felt relived had had been able to 'confess'............

these are just 3 that come to mind but DT reguallry came home with such tales ........it is all very humbling


That last one is rly nice
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Re: My Hero

Postby Saracenman » Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:54 pm

astonishing stories all round

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Re: My Hero

Postby Mackrick » Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:57 pm

Fantastic stories and an insight into the young men an women who went to war on behalf of a nation.
This ties in nicely when you read the current forum banner.
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Re: My Hero

Postby 34053 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:14 pm

For Remembrance Sunday and in memory of all members of the armed forces who have lost their lives in conflicts, past and present:

'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.'
['For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon]

We Will Remember Them.
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Re: My Hero

Postby Nickolas » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:57 pm

Mayfly wrote:The one thing DT will always tell you is how, when he flew the Lanc on BBMF, is how old the 'old guys' became young again when they started to talk about their time in the air force & the freinds they lost.

2 or 3 incidents come to mind...............

there was the guy who approached the a/c very wobbly on 2 walking sticks & asked if could look around it, when he was told of course, he hung his sticks on the ladder & shot up like a 2 year year old.

Then there was another who was an engineer, who bent down to look into the nose section & something fell out of his pocket, DT picked it up & it a DFC - the a/c had been shot up & his stomach ripped open by shrapnel but he stayed at his post & continued throwing chaff out of the window with one hand whilst holding his guts together with the other,

& then the was the German ME101 pilot who apologized to DT because he shot down 3 Lancs & the crews were killed, DT said it was war he should feel no guilt he did what he had to do, later that day his son approached DT & said his father finally had made peace with his past & felt relived had had been able to 'confess'............

these are just 3 that come to mind but DT reguallry came home with such tales ........it is all very humbling


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