Pocock, Herbert Edward (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 27296
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 240, Number Of Items 8
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British boy seaman trained at HMS St Vincent and aboard HMS Dunedin in GB, 1938-1939; served aboard HMS Royal Oak in GB coastal waters, 1939 including sinking in Scapa Flow, 11/1939; boy seaman and seaman served aboard HMS Manchester in GB coastal waters, during Norwegian campaign and Mediterranean, 1939-1941; served aboard HMS Canton in South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, 1941-1943; petty officer served with Royal Navy Commandos in GB and Mediterranean, 1943-1945; trained as diver at HMS Excellent, Whale Island, GB, 1945; served as diver in Malta, 1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Portsmouth and Reading, 1922- 1938: family. Aspects of education at Royal Hospital School, 1934-1936: background to joining school; sport seamanship; leaving school. Recollections of period as boy seaman with HMS St Vincent, Gosport, 1938-1939: background to enlistment; haircut and issue of uniform; accommodation; role of leading boy; messing arrangements; origins of boy seamen; daily routine including breakfast, physical exercise, seamanship classes, educational classes and sport. REEL 2 Continues: messing arrangements; evening activities; fatigue and physical exercises; drill and colour guard; weapons training; instructors; Sunday Divisions; religious matters; inspection prior to passing out parade; presence of civilian photographer; gunnery training; boxing activities; discipline and pay. REEL 3 Continues: Aspects of period as boy seaman aboard HMS Dunedin, 1939: drafting to ship at Portsmouth; purpose of training ship; gunnery training; selection for seaman branch; use of hammocks; cleaning deck and guns. Recollections of period as boy seaman aboard HMS Royal Oak in GB coastal waters, 1939: initial impressions of ship; messing arrangements for boy seamen; reasons for segregation of boy seamen from ship's crew; conditions on mess deck; problems bringing rations to mess deck; character of rations; watch system; action stations in shell room; conditions in shell room; cruising station as lookout above A Turret. REEL 4 Continues: carrying luggage for Royal Princesses; move to Scapa Flow; change to wartime conditions, 3/9/1939; reaction to declaration of Second World War, 3/9/1939; patrolling in North Sea. Recollections of sinking of Royal Oak in Scapa Flow, GB, 11/1939: removal of water damaged cordite; reaction to first torpedo hit; climbing out of boy's messdeck after further torpedo hits; abandoning ship and being picked up by trawler Daisy; loss of vest and pants; attending burial party; number of boy seamen who escaped the sinking; further details of torpedoing and abandoning ship; lack of emergency lighting; number of casualties; last sight of ship; conditions in the water; survivors leave and drafting to HMS Manchester. REEL 5 Continues: Aspects of operations as boy seaman and seaman aboard HMS Manchester in GB coastal waters, during Norwegian Campaign and Mediterranean, 1939-1941: loss of Supermarine Walrus crew; duties in telephone exchange; obtaining masthead lookout duties; embarking troops during Norwegian campaign; climbing up to masthead; duties as masthead lookout; duties as loader in Y Turret; sailing for Mediterranean; in action against Italian Fleet; pattern of activities in Mediterranean; move to Ordinary Seaman's mess; attending gunnery course at Gunnery School, Whale Island including method of laying guns. REEL 6 Continues: Aspects of period as seaman aboard HMS Canton in Indian Ocean and South Atlantic, 1941-1943: drafting to ship at Southampton, 8/1941; role as captain of 3 inch gun crew; patrol duties; ashore in Freetown and South America; disguising ship's guns in South American ports; ashore in South Africa; return to GB and volunteering for special service, 1943. Recollections of operations as petty officer with Royal Navy Commandos in GB Sicily and Italy, 1943-1945: taking examinations for petty officer; learning to drive; role of unit; preference for 1st Army rather than 8th Army rations; landings in Sicily; discovery of sandbar and dealing with Italian positions; disembarking vehicles from LCTs; character of beach lights. REEL 7 Continues: clothing worn and rations; duties on beach; move to North Africa and return to Sicily; character of series of landings in southern Italy; work with army Z craft in Mediterranean; reasons for volunteering for diving work. Aspects of training as diver at Diving School, HMS Excellent, Whale Island, 1945: first demonstration of effects of water pressure; character of diving suit; air supply; underwater communications; tools used; clothing worn under diving suit; training in dock. Aspects of period as diver in Malta, 1945: work on US grain ship; welding underwater. REEL 8 Continues: method of patching ships; fate of ships raised; diving pay; effects of accident; contracting tuberculosis and hospitalisation in GB. Attitude to having served with Royal Navy.

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