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Leading Seaman K. Forrester. P\JX 295085

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    Posted: 21 December 2006 at 12:55pm

Having had the privilege to read Chapter 3 of Ken Forrester’s privately published autobiography - I asked for, and was granted, permission to use certain ‘highlights’ of his war time experiences in the Forum.

Here is a light-hearted story of a Gun Test - although extremely dangerous - it had a happy ending – ie nobody was killed or injured. Only with hindsight does it become ‘funny’ but here I am probably showing a warped sense of humour.

To ‘set the scene’ it is well to consider that the ‘D’ boats, along with most other weaponry, were continually being up rated throughout the War.

MGB 606 (later MTB) was an early build of the type and was to be lost in action off the Dutch coast during November the following year (1943) – luckily Ken was not onboard – having his Leading Rate confirmed and drafted to another boat.

“…..My next incident also was with the Oerlikon gun, the hierarchy had decided that 606 should have another gun added to her armament and this would be a 6 pounder single shot hand operated gun with a large armour plate gun shield to protect the gun crew – this gun would be at the aft end of the ship and about 15 feet from my Orlikon guns that were in a more elevated position. Therefore my gun would have to have some safety device fitted to stop me hitting the crew of the new gun.  This device was fitted which would automatically cut out my gun from hitting the new weapon, eventually both new gun and safety device were fitted.  The gunnery officer came aboard to do the tests at sea.  He ordered me to load my twin guns with live ammunition (not practice ammunition as one would have thought), he then cleared everybody away to a safe distance and ordered me to my turret and elevate my guns to an angle of thirty degrees – my next order was to open fire and keep the trigger pressed while depressing the gun over the newly added gun and the mechanism would cut out and stop me hitting it – this did not happen, the next thing I saw was a number of blinding flashes and around ten high explosive shells hit the new gun shield spinning the gun around before I could stop firing. I had completed wrecked all the new equipment.  There was a lot of deliberations and red faces.  I just can’t remember the details but I do know that a new gun and shield had to be fitted and I was lucky not to have been injured….”



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Hello,

 

Just read the above and last post on 671, what an illustration of what these guys went through, if not the enemy trying to get them, then accidents with our own equipment nearly doing the job. Facinating reading, thanks to Pioneer for publishing these extracts, my respects  and thanks to Mr Forrester for writing up his experiences and allowing them to be published on the forum.

 

John 

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Continuing with excerpts from Ken Forrester’s autobiography – this reflects the strain of living under constant fear and tension.

The continued flooding of the blood stream with adrenalin – when in action – the ‘un-talked of’ - ever present nagging fear when back at Base awaiting the next trip – led all new recruits to find their own ways of the ‘self preservation’ - of their minds as well as their physical bodies. One of the most unpleasant occurrences recalled by Ken is when called to go on ‘Bangers’ (Operational Sorties) as a ‘relief’ in another Crew – away from your own Crew and Skipper and Officer’s with whom you had ‘grown into’

“…From there [HMS Excellent] I got a “draft chit” (posting) to HMS St Christopher which was the Highland Hotel in Fort William, Scotland.  It had been taken over by the Admiralty and being used as a training base for Coastal Forces.  We went down the pier head every morning to be trained aboard Motor Launches (ML’s) or Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB’s) and Motor Gun Boats (MGB’s).  We trained on Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil and Loch Leven.,,,”  “..Back at the base the “Highland Hotel“, things weren’t going too well, an epidemic of diphtheria had broken out and all leave and drafts stopped, we were confined to barracks apart from being marched up Glen Nevis each day (and always raining), also having cotton wool swabs placed down ones throat on a regular basis, this went on until mid January 1942 when a group of us were drafted to “Manor Naval Barracks” Brightlingsea, Essex, where we remained a few days before being moved onto my first boat which was a Harbour Defence Launch (HDML).  This was brand new and being fitted out at the yard of the Herbert Brookes of Potter Heigham on the Norfolk Broads.  The place I remember little about, only the builder’s yard, a nice looking bridge and a hotel. The boat was known as HDML 1060 and my duty was to be the seaman gunner in charge of an antiquated 2 PDR Hotchiss single shot gun from a previous war, fortunately I was never put in a situation to have to use it in anger, I was also trained on the Lewis gun which we had for use on the bridge….” “…Once we had commissioned the boat and provisions on board, we sailed down the Broads to Lowestoft, by that time it was late January 1942.  It was a cold winter with lots of snow around.  I had just been to the naval base for a bath when the air raid sirens sounded on my way back to the boat, the wind was blowing and it was snowing when out of the swirling snow came a German aircraft at zero height, machine gunning.  I lay prostrate in the snow and just hoped for the best, luckily I was unscathed.  A couple of days later and still tied up alongside a sea wall, the sirens sounded again for some reason I can’t remember I was one of a few that was on board at that time, but no officers.  I had just armed myself with the Lewis gun and put the ammunition pan in place, sure enough a German bomber, a Heinkle 111

came in view at a height that could just about be in range, so I fired the Lewis gun from the shoulder at the hostile plane, but alas nothing came down.  Thus were my first shots of anger duly dispatched.  I was not aware then of what was to follow in the next three years”…



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We jump a little forward in Mr Forrester’s tale – he has now been ‘drafted’ to MGB 606 – having arrived before the boat was completed he was sent home on Leave and returned to meet the rest of ‘his’ Crew

“…The leave over and back to Burnham on Crouch by this time we had a complete crew and the engines started up and we were haring up and down the River Blackwater, this was a thrill in itself 8000 horse power thrashing under you but alas our honeymoon period was slowly drawing to a close.  It was then out into the North Sea to Dover where we stayed overnight in range of the German heavy guns across the Channel.  It was here on the 20 July 1942 that our sister ship MGB601 had just completed her trials and running up at Weymouth had called into Dover harbour en route to her unknown destination.  She was under the command of Lt Gotelee RNVR when she was called out to engage enemy craft in the early hours of the next morning, in this action she received heavy damage – and casualties.  Regretfully she blew up in Dover’s Wellington dock on the 24 July 1942, a couple of days after the action which resulted in further loss of life, both on her and other boats too.The next day we passed the channel’s white cliffs to arrive in harbour at Weymouth where we would be joined by other MGB’s as they were completed.  They arrived within days so soon we had a nucleus of a flotilla, the numbers being 603 – 605 -606 – 610.  For the next month or so the four boats carried out all the sea, gunnery trials and tactical manoeuvres with 605 being the flotilla leader. If my memory serves me right we would finally leave Weymouth Bay where our workup took place and the four boats sailed via Dover – Felixstowe to bring our war for real, operating from Great Yarmouth with the Dutch coast becoming our second home or so it seemed.   With names like Brown Ridge, The Broad Fourteens, The Texel, Den Helder, Ijmuiden, Scheveningen, The Hook being our areas of visitation and blood letting.  Soon after arriving at Great Yarmouth we were soon being deployed across the North Sea and the radar fitted to the early ‘D’ boats was helpful but had its limitations in as much as it was “fixed” which meant  the actual boat had to be facing the target covering an area of probably 30° (out of the 360° available).  I have known us to be chased back across because of “Gremlins” having to keep turning the boat around to see who was chasing us which in fact might only have been a bunch of seagulls, such was the unreliability of the early sets.  However, these were soon replaced with apparatus that could search 360° without turning the boat.  The general run of the mill was the forays over the other side which we knew as “Bangers” which is self explanatory.  These often culminated in meeting a group of four enemy vessels who could most certainly liven you up with their fire power and determination, they were known to us as the Four Horsemen.   Presumably named after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (dictionary meaning “End of the World”).  I got off to a bad start on our first mission over the Dutch coast, we were spotted by a prowling messersmit 109 when we were approximately half way over, he never attacked us although we opened fire on him, myself included, but he kept us (MGB’s 606 – 603 -605, the latter being the leader) under surveillance and plotted our course, as night fell we lost him - But you can guess that the enemy ships were waiting for us – our Captain was Lt Truman (of the brewing family) who I had not a lot of faith in.  I soon learned that his voice quivered when under stress.  It was not long before tracer shells and bullets began firing at us and we were lit up as bright as day with star shells, it was my first time in action.  I was trembling like a leaf but being a twin Oerlikon gunner (I had been uprated to oerlikon by then), I had to do my duty and fire back, the shaking made no difference to my aim because the guns were hydraulically operated and not hand held, by this time shells were flying over us some ricocheting off the water and flying overhead and some hitting us, it was at this time we got badly hit with a shell in the engine room, my gun lost power, the engines stopped and we were a sitting duck. In a broken voice the Captain gave the order “Stand by to abandon ship”.  I thought to myself unlucky 13, my first action and at the very best I’m going to finish up in the water and be taken P.O.W., however I think it was 603 who came alongside in the mayhem that was going on around us and got us in tow.  The other boat was dropping smoke floats and luckily the enemy fire was directed at the flames that were coming from these floats.  We were gradually towed out of danger and a little later the motor mechanic and his staff got one engine going and we limped back to our base at Great Yarmouth.  It was unbelievable but I can’t remember any casualties being sustained on that mission which would take place in October 1942”…..”…. The 55th flotilla was the offensive group which did most of its operation over on the Dutch coast, weather permitting we seemed to be over there two or three times per week.  I will go into the notable events later.  It was about this time tension was growing as we became more and more involved.  There had to be some comfort somewhere, I then entered my phase of drinking heavily, people at home and in my home area could not (or should I say did not understand).  I was branded a drunkard by people who were supposed to be friends – when you think of it coolly, there was just no escape, there were mines to sail over, attack by aircraft while at sea - always seemed to be in action – always getting battle damage – at action stations all night – the sight of ambulances waiting as you returned – then straight to the refuelling wharf and all power cut because of the fear of explosion, that completed we could then get our breakfast - not forgetting we were liable at any time to be bombed by ‘planes while at Great Yarmouth…”

 

 

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2006 at 8:28am

Hello Ted,

 

Just read the further posts of Mr Forrester's book, I hope all who visit the forum read it to, as I said before, it shows the reality of war and that is something we should remember, great though saving the vessels themselves is, it would be almost worthless if we don't remember the people and what they went through on board them. Many thanks, all the best,

 

John  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dgray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2006 at 9:03am

Hi Pioneer,

Will the autobiography be published as a book, either commercially or privately?    It would be terrific if it was as there is very little new material in print 'out there'. I'm sure it would be of great interest to many people. I'd certainly buy a copy.

Please pass on my thanks to Mr Forrester for letting us read the excerpts above.

Regards

 

Don


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pioneer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2006 at 9:35am

Hello John and Don

Ken Forrester has had his autobiography published privately I'm told - these excerpts are from Chapter 3 of his life story - written for his family and descendants. He will be pleased, I'm sure, that his effort is appreciated (as I am) and I shall certainly let him know of your kind remarks. Now in his eighties - Ken is not 'on line' - he will be unaware of what parts of his 'Chapter 3' I have posted until I print off the page and send it to him via land mail -but  I have his full permission to use any or all of his 'Chapter 3' - 

Ted 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pioneer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 January 2007 at 12:11pm

The World War is entering the ‘middle phase’. With hindsight we now can see that the writing was firmly on the wall for the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany but that ‘reality’ was not clearly seen then – for Ken Forrester and the majority of the British Servicemen (and public), the future was still very much uncertain.

‘….Someone was looking after me and many ways it carried on as my yarn continues to unfold.  These missions - they were known to us as “Bangers” - continued until April 1944 it was difficult to cope with all the stresses.  Even when in harbour one such catastrophe happened, on the 18 March 1943 an enemy aircraft made a direct hit on the Wren’s quarters in Queen’s Road with forty dead or injured, it wasn’t a nice sight to see”…. “Morale was at breaking point – the skipper would send me ashore to the Commanders office to collect the sailing orders and I wished I could get knocked down and a leg or arm broken, [or] anything to be saved from sailing into the unknown.  Drink was our only comfort…” ‘….I remained on the ship until around early August when a memo came from the powers that be and I had to go on a course at HMS Ganges the shore base at Shotly near Harwich in Suffolk.  The course lasted about three weeks during which time I qualified as a professional Leading Seaman. 

Posted back to barracks at HMS Hornet at Gosport, I was there around one week when my name came up for posting back into the 55th flotilla at Great Yarmouth, but this time as second Cox’n and forward gunner on MTB 632 on which boat all the real battles took place.  Charles Ford the Skipper of 632 had been a rugby player, he was also the captain of the Minor Counties cricket team, he was a big, fit man and it was his aim to keep his crew fit also.  On a regular basis he would have us all on the quayside putting us through our paces, often after a nasty experience to clear our heads.  I have no knowledge of any other crew doing it.

Having now returned to Great Yarmouth, it was back into the lion’s den to continue with the forays across the North Sea, my first trip on MTB 632 was to be with my old boat MGB 606 and I can’t just recollect the third boat, however 606 was the leader 632 was second in line and I can clearly remember that we were about half way over and closing up to Action Stations.  Our boat was about twenty yards astern and in the wake of 606 when my friend Joe Thompson the PO Motor Mechanic of 606 waved his hand to me as he disappeared down the engine room hatch (which was at the rear of the boat), I waved back not knowing I would never see him again.  He and my other friend Jimmy Totten were both killed later that week together with a few more of my ex colleagues and many wounded when 606 was sunk on a secret service mission.

 “…On another occasion I have recollections of my seamanship being called into action – we had been holed with an enemy shell in the bows of the boat just on the water line which was allowing water to enter the mess deck when we moved forward.  The answer was to rig a collision mat over the hole (a collision mat is a rope and canvas patch about 5 foot square with ropes attached at each corner), one of these ropes has to be passed right under the boat from the bow and the other three ropes manoeuvred to get the patch over the offending damage and all ropes then secured tightly, plus the hole has got to be stuffed from the inside with rolled hammocks), it is then possible for the boat to move forward without filling with water.  Rigging a collision mat at practice is not easy – but under battle conditions and choppy seas is another ball game and still 120 miles from your home port.  If that did not work we would have had to travel astern (backwards) all the way home – I have known that to happen on one of the boats here at Yarmouth.

Amongst other sorties we escorted mine laying operations in enemy waters, another of our jobs was landing and picking up commando and raiding parties which did not always go to plan.  Some poor souls never made it back.  It was on one of these missions that my [old]  boat, MGB 606, was lost.

Of course there were lighter sides, serious at the time but amusing on reflection,

   “ I had graduated from the port twin .5’s (it was the port.5 gunner who seemed to be the ones to get killed nearly all actions seemed to have the enemy on the left hand side and the .5 turret was exposed there) to the twin Oerlikon on the coach deck abaft the bridge, these guns fired 20mm shells at a very fast rate and were of the graze fuse type, this meant that after two and a half turns in the barrel rifling, the shell would be activated to explode even touching the fabric of the older type of aircraft, each gun had 60 of these rounds in a spring operated dispenser that fitted on each gun and they weighed quite heavy when loaded.  However on this particular day I was instructed to reload some of the pans from the ready use locker – the shells were stored in the magazines at the aft end of the boat.  They were kept in what I would describe as a big cupboard that was accessed down a square hatch about 3 feet square, then down a vertical iron ladder which was approximately 7 or 8 foot in length and as I said these pans were heavy, so I had the bright idea of filling the pans up on the deck and transporting the ammunition up in a cardboard Heinz beans packing case about twenty at a time – this worked well for a time until I got bolder and began packing more shells in to save time – If I can explain that the deck of a boat is not level but cambered to allow water to run away, the shells are approximately 9 inches long and 1¼ inches in diameter.  On my last load up I had just got onto the upper deck when the bottom of the box opened up and all the shells fell onto the deck and began rolling to the sides of the boat making sissing noises.  I jumped behind a locker and waited for the explosion, which, thank goodness never came. The noise that I heard was rice like powder that was the charge that powered the shell forward - and as they rolled - this was the noise I heard.The third mishap whilst I was aboard 632 and a little later on, by this time I had been updated to Second Cox’n and I was to be the Forward Pom Pom Gunner, a gun I soon got used to and could handle quite well.  It was frosty and midwinter which meant the guns had to be manually worked in recoil (the same action as being fired) twice daily to stop them freezing up whilst in harbour.  Having been out at sea the day before I instructed my number two to dry the gun and disconnect the ammunition from the breech.  I worked the gun in recoil by manually cranking it back and released the firing mechanism spring to take the tension off it, that was early morning – to release the spring a lanyard had to be pulled.  Come 4 o’clock in the afternoon I repeated the process finally pulling the lanyard “Bang-Bang” two high explosive tracer shells went arching out seawards just missing the barrage balloons that were tethered to the many minesweeping trawlers that were working in the Sound. Heads popped up through hatches wondering what was happening – my number two had forgotten to disconnect the ammunition as instructed, with no damage being done a good dressing down was the end of the matter…”

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote S R Wilson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2007 at 1:37pm

Pioneer

I have just read the posts and extracts from Ken Forresters Book. Like Don, if I can find a copy I will gladly buy it. What a fantastic chap. How do you show your appreciation to him and his generation for what undoubtedly was deliverance from the tyrany of the "Jack Boot". We should as a Nation be so proud of what they achieved.

SRW
"Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy" WSC.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pioneer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2007 at 2:58pm

We are approaching the end of Ken Forrester’s story with this penultimate extract from his Chapter 3. Here he also describes the devastation of the Ostend explosion which virtually destroyed the 29th Flotilla - Royal Canadian Navy – and killed many British and Canadian Coastal Forces Servicemen.

“…Another hair raising encounter I shall never forget during this period 6 June to 1 July 1944, once again we were on night patrol outside the anchorage and to the east.  Two boats were together MTB 652 (Lt Jock Strang) and MTB 632 (Lt Charles Ford).  652 was the senior officer and we came upon an enemy destroyer around midnight.  (Can I say before I go any further, whilst at Gt Yarmouth, Cdr Brind, the Base S.O., called us to a meeting and told us we were not sinking enough boats by gunfire and one of his jibes was that we should hit them in the engine room.  I thought to myself he’s expecting a lot, 95% of our actions were at night and it was as much as one could do to even see the target ship let alone the engine room).

We challenged the destroyer and got the correct reply it was one our ours, safety catches to safe, and we began to go alongside her, at this point Sub Lt Owen had noticed she was not showing I.F.F. (Indication Friend or Foe).  The immediate order “Enemy, Open Fire” came, we were then only some 20 yards from the enemy destroyer.  I could plainly see her flag fluttering in the breeze what’s more I was right opposite the engine room.  I was the first to react and pumped four 6 PDR shells right into the engine room which at that point is as large as a barn door.  Then all hell broke loose, there were bangs and flashes, tracer shells and machine gun bullets flying everywhere (why I am here to write this story, heaven knows).  We, both boats made smoke and disappeared behind it with the destroyer’s wrath flying through it.  I have often wondered what happened to that engine room but sadly that was war and I put it down to ‘It was us or them’…”  “…Another one off was while on board MTB 632 and still operating in the North Sea we had instructions to test drop a depth charge – travelling at speed this operation was carried out.  A few seconds after dropping it a large plume of water erupted astern of us.  It was then hard to starboard and return to the dropping zone where we found lots of fish floating dead, mainly cod, with their white underside showing, so it was the time to place scrambling nets over the ship side and climb down to water level and fill buckets with these prime cod.  Can you guess, we lived off the most wonderful fish and chips.  The only price we had to pay was as usual a wet backside as the boat rolled in the swell.
There were many more actions that we fought and my memory hasn’t recorded the details like the ones I have described.  By this time we were back in
England – Teignmouth and the boat (632) was too badly damaged for quick repair and the crew were sent on indefinite leave.  I suppose the crew of MTB 632 would be somewhere at the top of the list for the most decorations for bravery in battle of any small boat in the Royal Navy.  One DSO, four DSC’s, four DSM’s and six Mention in Dispatches all individually shown in Seedies Coastal Forces list which I keep in my possession  I think it was four weeks while we awaited a new boat to be completed.  That new boat turned out to be MTB 771…”

“…we did sea trials out of Holyhead and after a couple of weeks we sailed north to Fort William and through the Caledonian Canal to Inverness – Aberdeen and back to Gt Yarmouth and eventually joined the flotilla which was now operating out of the recently recaptured port of Ostend.

It was whilst I was aboard MTB 771 based at Ostend that we did nightly patrols off the still occupied coast to the north which meant once in position we just sat wallowing in the swell and always talking in whispers.  The nights were often brightly lit by stars and the water would be like magic brilliantly glowing with phosphorescence.  I remember being on duty one night on the bridge with just a Lieutenant who was gaining experience of MTB’s, he was Danish and had the name of Dave Bredsdorff.  His English was not very fluent and he was quietly pointing at the night sky and naming all the stars, when he came to a bright one low in the sky, it was “Sirius” and in his broken English I thought that he thought I was not taking much notice of him and got agitated when I said I know it was “serious”.  Eventually the penny dropped and the quiet conversation continued.

Whilst talking about these northerly patrols there are not many people who have had the experience of seeing the enemy V2 rockets being launched and going almost vertical into the night sky and then being back at Great Yarmouth on the receiving end ( not the same rocket) but seeing a launch and the end result.

Fortunately while operating out of Ostend we were lucky in the way our patrols went, it was other boats who were having the odd scuffle.  I do remember though, we were doing the most northerly of the patrols, from that point surface ships stopped and from thereon the Fleet Air Arm did the patrols, it was yet another of those clear starry nights as usual we were laying with the engines cut.  When we heard the sound of approaching aircraft, the shape came into view, it was flying low, it had its flaps lowered and I said “Barracuda”.  The words barely out of my mouth when there was a big red flash and explosion, a huge water spout.  The deck went up and knees went down, the blighter had just missed us with a bomb, he had taken us for the enemy.

We had only done a couple of night patrols off the Schelde estuary when disaster struck.  It was the 14 February (St Valentine’s Day), I had just had a telegram telling me my Grandmother Parkinson had died.  The war was allowing big advances towards Germany.  It was a rest day and half the crew had been taken on a sightseeing trip to Brugge for the afternoon.  It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon I had volunteered to make the tea and went up on deck to go to the potato locker which was just below the bridge, before I got there I saw flames and smoke rising from the middle of a group of Tony Laws 72’ 6” power boats that were berthed in a large lock entrance some 30 yards away and our boat was tied up to the wall with two others of our flotilla tied alongside us, the tide was low which meant that our torpedoes were below the level of the seawall, there was a raised gangway over the torpedoes bypassing the .5 turret.  This gangway was level with the top of the wall.  On seeing the fire I ran to the forward hatch (the crews quarters) and yelled out “Fire” and ran to the stern of the boat, took hold of a fire hose that was permanently rigged and ran unreeling it as I went, I was just passing over the gangway that was level with the wall when the boat that was on fire blew up, with a huge “Wooph” like noise, there was a rush of seething hot air which blew me over.  The next thing I remember was picking myself up on the dockside with burning debris everywhere covering the quayside and all of our boats, our own boat had been protected somewhat with being shielded by the dockside.  I was still dazed, realised I’d lost my shoes and beard mostly singed off, I had blood running down my face by that time.  Someone was running past me so I ran while pandemonium was going on ammunition was exploding, torpedoes going off, pieces of flaming boats everywhere.  I remember one thought going through my head “I’m going to be killed the same day as my grandmother died”.  I knew there was a shallow bomb crater about 120 yards down the quay, I dived into that, curled myself into as little a ball as possible, protected my head with my hands.  By this time more boats were blowing up, it was like hell on earth.  I remember peeping up in a brief lull and there was two D class MTB’s still tied together drifting down the river and both burning fiercely.  The next thing when all was quiet, I was picked up by the Belgium army and taken to a sergeants mess where I was cleaned up, the blood had come from a diagonal cut across the front of my forehead, half an inch further forward and it would have taken my skull off.  I had this dressed, given a pair of brown brogue shoes, a khaki battle dress top, a rest and given a meal of white beans on toast and a drink.  By this time it was around 8.30 pm and everything was more or less calm.  My Belgium army saviours decided to go with me and see what we could find as we walked up the quay, we passed lots of carnage and the burnt out wrecks of many ships on both sides of the river.  Eventually we stumbled on 771 which was badly damaged (so badly she took no further part in the war, the force of the explosions had blown her out of square with lots of loose fittings).  By this time it was presumed I had been lost in the disaster, the Captain welcomed me aboard, thankful to see me alive.  The Captain and spare officer, [the] Dane, by the name of Bredsdorff were both decorated for fire fighting and life saving i.e. pulling sailors out of the water.  The fact that 771 survived at all was when the first boats exploded the quayside wall protected her, I believe the two D boats tied to her were cut loose and they would be the ones drifting and on fire that I had seen from the bomb crater.

 

 

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