The door bell rings so The Strimmer shouts "door daddy" and runs off to the hallway. He opens the door to be greeted by the phrase: "Stand by yer beds".
Ahh, that'll be Uncle Eric then
The old boy looks a little bit frailer now with the walking stick adding to the effect; however, his mind is still very sharp and avid. He has not lost his memory.
His Action Station on the POW was gun crew on secondary armament position, S4 as the shell positioner. Gun turret, starboard side aft.
To an earlier post by TatooDog from Eric's previous abortive visit earlier this year. They actually were quite aware that they were being sent to prevent a landing at Kota Bharu but unfortunately were too late to prevent it happening. Being part of Force Z they felt rather safe. Even if the skys weren't overly friendly.
Eric mentioned that once the damage had been done, one RAF plane flew overhead. Looking at Wikipedia, it may well have been FL LT Vigors plane. However, Eric disagrees with Vigors observations. Yes, they were waving, but it was with their fists as they were a little bit miffed that the RAF in general had let them down.
He was picked up by HMS Express and they were taken to Singapore (oh how I wish I could say "Singers", but I never made it out there). And then spent a large part of the war out in the Far East.
Once the action had completed, the Express had to clear guns after the engagement. Rather than take things oout of the spout they did it the easy way: "Shoot". Now amongst the poor bastards who had just been for a dip, this caused much concern thinking that they were under attack again. Sphincter moment.
Afer a couple of weeks the crew were starting to get under the feet of the authorities. Eventually, he was put on an old Chinese steam packet called the Erinpura which took them to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
He then spent 18 months on HMS Hitan under a Cmdr Bristow doing stuff (hsh hsh apparently) in the Maldives. I would say he was a bit of a lucky git for this posting but I don't know. After all, it has to be put in the context of him witnessing the Hood going down, the POW going down and then later on in the war, his minesweeper in the English Channel being torpedoed under his feet and going down. So perhaps he is a lucky git as he survived ...
Eric didn't bat an eyelid at the name of Lt Brooks and his book. So I think it is safe to say that he hasn't heard of either.
Sorry chap, he didn't know of a Scouse Hewlett. He wanted to stress that at 18 years of age, he had only just been "promoted" to "OD" into the main messdeck so didn't know too many people who weren't in his peer group.
You won't believe this but yes he does! They had kept in touch all these years until Fred crossed the bar just 2 years ago. Apparently he was a very nice chap. Fred's wife is still with us and they remain in contact.
Just in case anyone may know, they recently lost another Boy Seaman, chap called William (Bill) Doydge.
Great Uncle in Law (Wife's grandmother's husband's brother) Eric would like to say thank you for your comments (I had printed out this thread and read it out to him) and wishes you all well.
When they left I felt as thought I was watching a little bot of history walk out of the door never to return. This left that "full" feeling you get in your stomach when things are going wrong...
So sad but at the same time cheering. What an inspiration to us all. I just hope I've got even a tiny bit of the steel backbone he obviously does.
Not surprised he didn't remember Lt Brooke, he was but one of many who managed to escape, but it's extraordinary that he kept in touch with some of his old shipmates, even after all these years. Mind is still as sharp as ever, I'm sure.
Thank you for taking the time to ask him questions and show him this thread Flymo, I'm pleased he enjoyed it. Wish him all the best!