Packham, Dennis Alfred Frank (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 25699
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 150, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British boy seaman trained as HMS St George, Isle of Man, GB, 1939-1940; boy seaman and seaman served aboard HMS Suffolk in Atlantic, Arctic and Far East, 1941-1945. Various postings with Royal Navy, 1945-1953

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Wrottersley Green, GB, 1923-1937: family; early education. Aspects of period as schoolboy at Mercury Naval School at Hamble, GB, 1937-1939: character of educational; daily routine; discipline; accommodation; opinion of education; visits to home; signing on with Royal Navy, 8/1939; attitude towards prospect of war; reaction to declaration of Second World War, 9/1939. Aspects of training as boy seaman with HMS St George, Isle of Man, GB, 1939-1940: accommodation and daily routine; membership of advanced class; issue of uniform; recreational activities; letters home; pay. Recollections of operations as boy seaman and seaman aboard HMS Suffolk in Atlantic and Arctic, 1941-1942: drafting to ship, 2/1941; role as captain's messenger and watch system worked; character of patrolling in Denmark Strait; action station in A Turret shell room. REEL 2 Continues: communication between shell room and turret; promotion to seaman; chain of command; character of mess and sleeping arrangements; use of leisure time; religious service; importance of mail; discipline on board; hostilities only nature of crew; reasons for not becoming officer candidate; use of canteen in Hvalfjord, Iceland; use of 'make and mend' time; language and ditties used; start of pursuit of Bismarck, 5/1941; sighting of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, 5/1941; actions on bridge on sighting of Bismarck; taking up action station in shell room during shadowing of Bismarck; reaction to sinking of HMS Hood; atmosphere in shell room; continuing shadowing of Bismarck. REEL 3 Continues: length of time spent at action stations; incident of being in heads during salvo of shells from Bismarck; losing radar contact with Bismarck; refuelling in Newfoundland; escorting convoy in North Atlantic; ship's participation in early Arctic convoys; escorting HMS Furious on raid to Petsamo; capture of Finnish blockade runner Pluto, c6/1941; weather conditions on Arctic convoys and clothing worn; near accidental shelling of merchant vessel mistaken for Admiral Hipper; shooting down Junkers Ju 88 on Bear Island; number of Arctic convoys participated in; attitude to serving in Arctic; refit of ship. Recollections of operations as seaman aboard HMS Suffolk in Far East, 1943-1945: voyage to Far East, 4/1943; Crossing the Line ceremony; joining Far East Fleet in Mombasa; action station; duties as torpedoman. REEL 4 Continues: ship's duties; leave in South Africa; shore leave in Ceylon and Maldives; advice against VD; meeting with relatives in Western Australia; attitude to length of overseas service; return to GB, 7/1945; reaction to VE Day celebrations; adjusting to return to GB. Various postings with Royal Navy, 1945-1953: drafting to HMS Zephyr; attitude to serving in navy after marriage and birth of children; drafting to HMS Jutland, 1949-1950; drafting to minesweeping squadron in Singapore, Malaya; service aboard minesweepers; searching Chinese junks; playing cricket in Far East. REEL 5 Continues: leaving Royal Navy, 1953.

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