A photograph of Bob, veteran participating in IWM's We Were There programme, in Royal Navy uniform

Since Bob responded to our request to create this profile he sadly passed away on the 13th of July 2020.

Bob believed his stories of the past, of all our past, would inspire the futures of those who listened and so create a better, fairer world for all. By sharing his stories with students and visitors to IWM, and now here on this profile page we can ensure that his memories are still accessible. – The Hayfield Family

9 Questions...

  • Where do you call home?

    Salford, Greater Manchester.

  • What conflict(s) do you discuss when volunteering for We Were There?

    Clearing magnetic mines around Britain.

  • How were you involved in that conflict?

    I was on board The Blackthorn. We were alongside The Pine when it was torpedoed, narrowly missing The Blackthorn (I was in the magazine), 28 men were lost. Sadly we weren’t allowed to stop to pick them up due to Navy rules.

  • How long have you been volunteering for WWT?

    Approximately 3 years.

  • What do you enjoy most about participating in WWT?

    Listening to the younger generation, answering their questions and seeing their real interest in hearing my experience of what life was really like during the war years.

  • Tell us your favourite moment so far during the sessions?

    Being surrounded by a group of visitors – young and old, from different cultures and nations all waiting to hear my story.

  • What’s your favourite object in IWM’s collections and why?

    The magnetic mine. It enables me to describe to people the role of the minesweepers in keeping the seas clear to allow supplies such as food, water, oil etc. and the safe transport of troops to and from mainland Europe, and ultimately in preparation for the D-Day Landings.

  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

    Listening to my CDs and records. Reading books on the war years, autobiographies and the newspaper. Attending the Salford Veterans Breakfast Club once a week. Catching up with my family by phone or visits. Watching the garden grow!

  • What is your favourite biscuit?

    McVities chocolate biscuits. When I was working overnight in the bakehouse (before I joined up to the Navy) I used to pinch one out of the boss’s biscuit tin!

Discover more

British troops and US sailors manning 20mm gun positions on board USS LST-25 watch LCI(L) landing craft head towards the beaches of Gold assault area, 6 June 1944.
© IWM (A 23894)

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several large explosions in the sea as a naval convoy is shelled, viewed from a quay side which can be seen stretching along the left edge of the painting. The coastline curves around in the background.
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The German battleship BISMARCK firing at HMS HOOD during the action in the Denmark Strait. This photograph was taken from the German heavy cruiser PRINZ EUGEN.
War at Sea

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The Battle of the Atlantic pitted Allied convoys protecting supply ships from North America and the Empire against German submarines (U-boats) and warships. At first, German attacks demolished Allied convoys, but in May 1941 when Germany's battleship Bismarck was lost, the Allies extended their convoy operations, routing them away from danger and lowering losses significantly.


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A Balloon Site, Coventry
© IWM (ART LD 2750)

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An interwar Earl Haig Fund 'Remembrance Day' poppy
© IWM (EPH 2313)

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