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

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.
D-Day
How D-Day Was Fought From The Sea
On 6 June 1944, two naval task forces landed over 132,000 ground troops on the beaches of Normandy as part of Operation 'Neptune', the seaborne invasion of northern France. The Western Task Force was responsible for the American beaches at Utah and Omaha, and the Eastern Task Force was assigned to the British at Gold, Juno and Sword. 
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.
War at sea
The Convoys That Helped Save Britain During The Second World War
During the Second World War, Britain depended on vital supplies of food, equipment and raw materials from overseas, notably from North America and the Empire. These goods were transported in thousands of merchant ships, which were vulnerable to attack by German submarines (U-boats). As there were not enough warships to protect thousands of individual merchant ships, they were grouped into convoys with naval escorts, making them hard to find and difficult to attack.
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
What You Need To Know About The Battle Of The Atlantic
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.

SUPPORT THIS PROGRAMME

As a charity, now more than ever IWM needs your support to ensure we can continue to tell personal stories and experiences of conflict for current and future generations to come.

A Balloon Site, Coventry
© IWM (ART LD 2750)
Donate Now
Make a donation to IWM and help us to tell the stories of those affected by conflict, launch our ground-breaking exhibitions and deliver our world-class learning programmes. 
IWM Membership
Become an IWM Member
Help tell stories that deserve to be heard by supporting us as a member and uncover a host of benefits including free standard admission to Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast and IWM Duxford.
An interwar Earl Haig Fund 'Remembrance Day' poppy
© IWM (EPH 2313)
Support us
Discover the many ways you can support our historically important sites and world-leading collection.