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War Memories of Frederick Oliver of Hull

by BBC Open Centre, Hull

Contributed by 
BBC Open Centre, Hull
People in story: 
Frederick Oliver from Kingston upon Hull
Location of story: 
Hessle Road, Hull
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 June 2005

Certificate of Service for Frederick Oliver whose status changed back to Seaman 28th April 1944

War Memories of Frederick Oliver of Hull told by his daughter Karen.

My Father was a fisherman, sailing from St.Andrew’s Dock, before the war broke out. For the war effort he was in the Navy on Mine Sweeping duties. Twice he should either have died or been taken prisoner but his love for an alcoholic drink saved his life. As a fisherman he had got through the three weeks away in harsh conditions and for the week at home he spent it, as all the Hessle Road fishermen did, as kings and spent a lot of time drinking in the many public houses. It was routine to my father to drink once ashore. This is one of those times.

I remember he and one of his shipmates went ashore and enjoyed their shore leave to the fullest. In fact they got drunk!

Under the influence they found it difficult to find their way back to their ship. During the war all ships names had been painted over for security reasons. Being drunk made it even harder to locate your own ship. They decided to sleep a bit of it off and then look for the ship. They found a doorway and they settled down together with the intention of finding their ship when they woke.

They were shaken awake by the shore patrol who asked them which ship they were from. To which they replied with the name of the ship.
“I hope you both can swim!” one of the shore patrol replied.
“Why is that?” my Father asked.
“Your ship sailed an hour ago.”

The ship went on its journey only to be torpedoed by a German U-Boat.

Meanwhile my Mother was informed through normal channels that my Father was “Missing in Action” She went into a little bit of shock but within 24hrs a Special Constable informed her that he was safe and sound. She was told he had missed the ship after having shore leave.

My Mother knew what had happened before my Father came home on leave and told her.
My Father was demoted from a Leading Seaman to a Seaman rank because of him missing his ship. This was due to the fact that the Ministry of War — Admiralty had informed my Mother he was missing in action. Therefore the Admiralty rules made it clear he had to be demoted for missing his ship in times of war.

My Father told me many of his war memories some are for sharing others are for holding on to. This tale is one for sharing.

(Frederick Oliver from Kingston upon Hull 1st Jan 1911- 9th February 1988.)

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