Hodge, John Albert (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 22384
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 200, Number Of Items 7
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British rating served aboard HMS Manxman in Mediterranean, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, 1940-1942. Sunk aboard HMS Manxman, 1/12/1942. Served as gunner yeoman aboard HMS Bullen in North Atlantic and North West Approaches, 1942-1944. Sunk aboard HMS Bullen, 6/12/1944. Served as gunner yeoman aboard HMS Sussex in Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific, 1945-1946

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Peckham, London, 1922-1942: social circumstances, education; work as shop boy; work barrelling tat and pitch at Ordnance Wharf, Greenwich; reactions to outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; increased work load; background to recruitment underage to Royal Navy, ca 1/1940. Aspects of training at HMS Ganges Shore Station, Shotley, ca 2/1940-4/1940: kitting out; hut accommodation; signal training; seamanship; rifle training; period acting as barrack guard. Period at Chatham Barracks, 1940. Recollections of period as ordinary seaman aboard HMS Manxman, 1940: escorting prisoners to join ship; first impressions; reception; relationship with crew; mess; hammock; food; action stations on Oerlicken; routine duties and cleaning guns. REEL 2 Continues: seasickness; loading with mines at Rosyth; role as quartermaster; high speed of ship; story of minelaying disguised as French cruiser off Leghorn; faulty mines; move to Freetown, Sierra Leone; 'bumboats'; story of confusion whilst stopping Free French liner; shore leave in Simonstown; picking up gold shipment at Aden for Madagasgar; operations at Madagascar including situation, story of refusing to open fire with .5" machine gun at Siarra Diayesh and absence of opposition to landing parties; passing gunnery badge at Mombasa, meeting fleet in Indian Ocean; visits to Bombay, Malta and Calcutta, India. REEL 3 visit to Columbo and Tricomolee, Ceylon; visit to Aldo Atoll, Maldives; story of disguising ship as island prior to cancellation of operations off Burma; move to Mediterranean; failed Italian torpedo bomber attack; story of air attack on Convoy Substance en route for Malta, 1940; reception at Malta, 1942; unloading merchantmen of munitions and petrol; stories of drinking visits ashore; hospital eye examination; loading up with mines and minelaying activities of Libya. Recollections of being torpedoed aboard HMS Manxman, 1/12/1942: effects of torpedo hit; taking up action stations on starboard Oerlicken; opening fire and dropping depth charges; going below for kit; arrival of destroyer and use of grappling iron to steady ship; moving equipment onto quayside at Oran; sea burial of casualties; tow by tug to Gibraltar; temporary repairs; voyage towed by tug in convoy back to South Shields. REEL 4 Continues: decommissioning. Period at Chatham Barracks, 1943: acting as runner to padre; parades; effects of German air raids. Voyage aboard Queen Mary to New York, US, 1943: opinion of Bofors guns and success in practice shoot; first impressions of New York. Period at Fargo Barracks, Boston, 1943: food rations; hospitality of US civilians; fights with US sailors. Recollections of initial period aboard HMS Bullen, 1943: first impressions; bunk beds; opinion of welded construction; role as Gunner Yeoman monitoring magazines and office on port side; opinion of 3" guns; action station on No 2 starboard Oerlicken; story of nearly hitting bridge during practice shoot against parachute target; use of Hedgehog mortars; cruising station on depth charges; working up trials; opinion of Gunnery Lieutenant Spencer; trials at Bermuda. REEL 5 Continues: story of false alarm during encounter with HMS Goodall whilst escorting convoy back to GB; refit at Belfast, Northern Ireland. Aspects of period based at Gladstone Docks, Liverpool, 1943-1944: escorting ships to Iceland; efforts to salvage drifting captured U Boat; escorting HMS Nelson, 6/1944; escorting convoy to Gibraltar; lookout duty in crow's nest; role monitoring magazines and hedgehog mortar shells; contact with U Boat; shore leave and naval canteen in Liverpool. Recollections of sinking of HMS Bullen off Cape Wrath, 6/12/1944: report of U Boat and response from 19th Escort Group; torpedo hit on port side amidships; period of concussion; orders to abandon ship; cutting free Carley float and corks rafts; failed attempt to rescue trapped stoker; swimming to Carley float and holding on; advice to keep moving; action of Leading Seaman Drew in cutting free line attaching Carley float to sinking ship; arrival of HMS Hesperus; oil in water; rescue by HMS Hesperus; view of ship sinking; question of saving Lieutenant Commander Parish; reactions. Period at Chatham Barracks, 1944-1945: reception; compensation claim; survivor's leave and prior report as missing in action; effects of oil; personal morale. REEL 6 Continues: duties as parson's messenger. Recollections of period aboard HMS Sussex, 1945-1946: nature of ship; cruising station on twin No 3 Oerlicken on starboard side; action station on Oerlicken on top of 'B' Turret and effect of 8" guns firing; opinion of gyroscopic Oerlicken gunsights and preference for using tracer; mess; ruses as rum bosun; food; crew morale; storage of Oerlicken ammunition; voyage to Malta; story of shooting down aircraft target during practice shoot; shore leave at Malta; sandstorm whilst passing through Suez Canal; move to Trincomalee, Ceylon; story of punishment for accidental loss of Oerlicken barrel; success in hitting kamikaze aircraft during attack whilst escorting minesweepers operating off Penang, Malaya; discovery of remnant of Japanese pilot's corpse; repairs at Trincomalee; question of effects of atomic bombs, 8/1945; move to Singapore; story of visit form Mountbatten. REEL 7 Continues: surrender of Japanese admiral and general; treatment of British POWs by Japanese; question of demobilisation; move to Java, Indonesia; period with shore party guarding dock area at Surabaya including discovery of Japanese stores, successful air attack at machine gun post, moving into town and putting out fires; fire from ships 8" guns; evacuation of Indonesian refugees; relief on arrival of British troops; return on LST to Singapore. Period awaiting demobilisation at Singapore, 1946: news of mention in despatches; stories of duties supervising party of Chinese workers; preparing accommodation for WRENS. Voyage aboard HMS Cleopatra to GB, 1946. Demobilisation at Chatham Barracks, 4/1946. Post-war career: return to work barrelling tat and pitch at Ordnance Wharf, Greenwich; effects of war service; membership of naval associations.

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