British torpedoman served aboard HMS Belfast, 1942-1944. Present during Battle of North Cape, 25/12/1943-26/12/1943. Served with MTBs based at HMS Beehive Shore Station, Felixstowe 1945; served aboard HMS Mystic, 1945-1946
REEL 1 Recollections of background in Forest Gate, London, 1923-1942: family background and social circumstances; education; work for family fishmongers, 1937; work as apprentice printer at Waterlow & Sons, Finsbury Square, 1937-1941; recreations; question of approach of war; outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; question of evacuation, 9/1939; Anderson shelter and personal morale; blackout; food and clothes rationing; role as ARP bicycle messenger and assisting after bomb damage in Odessa Street; story of being bombed out of home in Odessa Street, 1941. REEL 2 Continues: aftermath of being bombed out, 1941; moving in with brother and consequent separation from father, 1941; destruction of printing works, 1941; compulsory direction as trainee lathe operator in munitions factory, Ilford, 1941; ruse to secure release from reserved service, 1941; work as printer, 1941-1942; incendiary bombs; brother's war service and background to taking medical and volunteering to join Royal Navy, 9/1941; mother's reaction. Recollections of conditions of service, lifestyle and daily routine during basic training at HMS Collingwood Shore Station, Fareham, 1942-1943: kitting out; hut accommodation; morning routine; food rations; drill and story of gas mask training; PT; paravane training on ropes; seamanship training including rowing whalers, knots and splices and anchor and cable work; question of signalling; background; background to volunteering as torpedoman; story of air raid and 10A punishment for oversleeping. REEL 3 Continues: dental treatment; relationship with recruits and instructors; preparing for kit inspections; recreational visits to Fareham including pubs and cinemas; background to volunteering as torpedoman. Recollections of period with Torpedo Division, HMS Vernon Shore Station, Gosport, 10/1942-11/1942: continuation training; theoretical and practical electrical training; depth charges and adjustment of hydrostatic valve; 212 torpedo training including firing recoverable torpedoes, method of aiming, stripping down and maintenance; theoretical training in minelaying and minesweeping; demolition training using explosives; opinion of instructors; assessment. REEL 4 Recollections of period as torpedoman aboard HMS Belfast, 11/1942-8/1944: first impressions on joining ship at Devonport, 9/11/1942; over-crowded nature of No. 42 messdeck and hammock; role with electrical party including high power and gun circuits; watch system and cruising stations; move to join 6th Cruiser Sqdn at Scapa Flow; working up exercises; relationship with crew; opinion of Chief Petty Officer Potter; opinion of various officers including Torpedo Officer Lieutenant Andy Palmer, Captain Parham and Commander Welby-Everard; morning routine; general messing including cook of mess and food; divisional parade; routine electrical duties; torpedo workshop. REEL 5 Continues: duties in torpedo shop including method of overhauling torpedo, gas propulsion system, skin complaint, checking equipment, relining torpedo tubes with grease, torpedo history sheet, firing torpedo with 'blowing head' for recovery and equipment; washing clothes; letter contact with home and censorship; reading and studying seamanship manual; recreations; nature of captain's rounds; nature of Arctic convoy including meeting convoy at Ireland, effects of cold weather conditions, extra uniform worn, question of seasickness and headaches, rough seas, action station at torpedo tubes, U-Boat threat, use of depth charges from quarterdeck and setting depth charge for depth of detonation. REEL 6 Continues: nature of Arctic convoy including German air attacks and reconnaissance aircraft, distant escort role, role of close escort destroyers, anchorage off Murmansk, German air attacks and anti-aircraft fire, impressions of visit ashore, return convoy, kye cocoa and rum ration and return to Scapa Flow; acting as duty crane operator lifting boats and aircraft; duties in electrical control room controlling power usage, damage control exercises; visits ashore to Flotta canteen and ENSA concerts; painting ship. REEL 7 Continues: regular Arctic convoys; personal morale and reactions to storm; promotion system and becoming able seaman, 3/1943; changes between electrical and torpedo party duty; electrical party duties including testing electrical breaker switches; period of Arctic convoys; story of escorting Churchill aboard Queen Mary across Atlantic; visits to Rosyth; leave; make and mend; walking on deck; account of sinking of Scharnhorst at Battle of North Cape, 25/12/1943-26/12/1943, including action stations on starboard torpedo team, role as trainer on torpedo following instructions from bridge on 'repeater', 3 torpedoes, food, invisibility of Scharnhorst, coming under 11" shell fire, personal morale on being straddled by shells, presence of British cruisers, presence of British cruisers, arrival of battleships of Home Fleet, effects of battleship fire and situation. REEL 8 Continues: account of sinking of Scharnhorst at Battle of North Cape, 25/12/1943-26/12/1943, including visibility, role of torpedo officer Lieutenant Andrew Palmer during torpedo run, moving tubes abeam using training handles, following 'repeater' to aim torpedoes, firing torpedoes, personal morale, turning tubes inboard, question of using port torpedo tubes, view of Scharnhorst on fire and sinking, rescue of survivors, question of use of searchlight and U-Boat risk, accommodation of prisoners, question of responsibility for sinking Scharnhorst, role on port searchlight and return to Scapa Flow; delayed Christmas party, 1/1944; studying in preparation for exams and story of navigation exam from Lieutenant Roland Howard; role on promotion to leading seaman; story of rare complaint over food; electrical party duties and emergency lighting; visit from George VI; move to Greenock; practicing indirect land bombardment techniques firing over mountains. REEL 9 Continues: bombardment role during D Day landings, Normandy, France, 6 1944, including view of invasion fleet, indirect fire at German reserve troops using spotter aircraft, 6/6/1944, German minelaying aircraft and sinking of HMS Swift,24/6/1944, story of use of 216 explosive charges to counter possible German frogmen and reaction of stokers, visit ashore on beaches, German shell fire, role on crane lifting casualties aboard for treatment in sickbay, reaction to wounds and burials at sea; move for refit at South Shields, 6/1944; background to marriage, 8/1944; reactions to leaving ship, 8/1944. Period at Portsmouth Barracks, 8/1944-11/1944: role as sailing instructor; barrack lifestyle. Attending leading torpedoman course at HMS Vernon Shore Station, Roedean School, Brighton, 11/1944-3/1945: breaking out of camp to see wife; advanced nature of course. Period on Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) based at HMS Beehive Shore Station, Boomer Hall, Felixstowe 3/1945-8/1945: nature of MTB armed with 18" torpedo; crew roles; MTB patrol and E-Boat threat; electrical problems on MTBs; problems with doctor. REEL 10 Periods at Portsmouth, 8/1945-11/1945. Recollections of period aboard HMS Mystic, 12/1945-6/1946: nature as minesweeper; canteen messing system and food; role as electrical rating; checking paravane minesweepers; installing telephone system; minesweeping in North Sae including setting up RAL plot to chart swept channels, method of paravane sweeping, de-gauging gear to counter magnetic mines and rough weather conditions; role setting gyroscopic compass; story of predicted storm; story of taking captain ashore in foggy conditions in Firth of Forth; visits ashore. Demobilisation, 8/1946. Post-war career: resumption of printing apprenticeship; acclimatisation to civilian lifestyle; career as printer; membership of HMS Belfast Assoc and reactions to visits to ship.