- Contributed by
- People in story:
- David and Lucy Mayne, Prince Dimitri of Russia
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 July 2005
This story was submitted to the Peoples War Site by Rod Sutton on behalf of Graham Gane who collected it from Mrs. Lucy Gape, nee. Mayne (the author) for his Pubs, People and Places. It has been added with his permission. He fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
On a hot summer's afternoon in 1940 two enemy planes came over Falmouth Docks Yard and bombed the ships. There was no warning. I was in the W.R.N.S., and had to complete forms, being in the writers branch. The ships captains would tell me how much fuel, provisions etc. was required for the Russian convoys. That was the first air raid on Falmouth.
I remember seeing a Hospital Ship painted white all over with a large Red Cross each side. It was clearly marked, but yet it had been torpedoed, - such a large hole.
The W.R.N.S. were stationed on the seafront, now an hotel. It was not unusual on the way to work in the morning to find craters in the road along the seafront with a large notice, DANGER-UNEXPLODED BOMB. This was when they did not have time to deal with them during the night.
During the war my husband David, served on Mine-sweepers, under the TREE CLASS SHIP. His ship was H.M.S. ROWAN. They used to sweep for mines, from Falmouth to the Lizard in one direction, and from Falmouth to Fowey in the other direction. Other ships in this class were H.M.S. FIR, and H.M.S. MANGROVE. In 1940 or 1941, about 5 p.m. on a hot summers afternoon, everything being quite and peaceful, a German plane had a direct hit on H.M.S. MANGROVE, which I saw with much loss of life, the other mine-sweepers picking up survivors.
In June 1940, every kind of craft, in the water on the sea front of Falmouth, an unbelievable sight, to see all these craft, of all sizes, that had just returned from France. There were so many craft in the water, that one could not see the sea. If Germans had come over them, there would have been hundreds of casualties.
THE STATION, FALMOUTH.
The Wrens at Falmouth served food and drinks to the weary soldiers on the trains before their departure from Falmouth station on what was known as survivors leave. I can remember one instance in particular, of one young soldier, who shared his food with a very small puppy hidden in his pocket. He said that they were never going to be parted. The soldiers were very grateful for the food and drink, which we served in large jugs. I remember that these jugs, when full, were very heavy.
PRINCE DIMITRI at FALMOUTH.
In the Naval Control Office at Falmouth, we had to do the merchant navy codes and decodes to keep the merchant navy up to date with the latest cyphers and codes. These were large books with large lead covers, so that if the convoy was hit the books would sink.
In the office at Falmouth, worked a naval officer by the name of PRINCE DIMITRI, of RUSSIA. My commanding officer told me, that he was the same PRINCE DIMITRI, who was prior to this, a member of a group of students who had invited Rasputin to dinner in Russia and had poisoned his food, which had failed to kill him, finally they took him outside, and shot him many times.
PRINCE DIMITRI was a very quiet man and spoke English.
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