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15 October 2014
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A Boy Seaman on HMS Ramillies

by nottinghamcsv

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Alfred T. W. Booker and Captain Middleton
Location of story: 
Normandy and the Mediterranean
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of ALfred Booker with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

At the start of the war HMS Ramillies was in New Zealand. The crew were friendly with some Maoris. Before the ship left the Captain was presented with a Maoris Pui- Pui skirt. They said that it would protect the the ship and the wearer when in danger.
Our captain, Captain Middleton, wore the skirt during times of danger. He wore it over his uniform, together with his tin hat and his walking stick! The ship went through the whole war without losing a single man. the Pui-pui is now in the Royal Marine Museum in Southsea.
At one time a Japanese torpedo went through the side of the ship and lodged in the gun magazine. Neither the torpedo nor the shells in the magazine exploded. The ship was protected by its Pui-Pui skirt!
I joined the ship in 1943. I found out later that the father of my wife-to-be had also served on the Ramillies when he was younger. This helped me to gain his approval!
In 1944 the ship was involved in the Normandy campaign. We destroyed German gun encampments, so assisting the troops ashore. The troops could ring us with instructions of where we should fire so that they could advance.
HMS Ramillies then went back to Portsmouth to have new guns fitted as the old guns were worn out.
After this we sailed to the Mediterranean to join the US Task Force. They were invading the South of France. We gave the same kind of off shore support to the troops as we did in Normandy.
We captured a small ship carrying Germans who were escaping from an island, which the allies had captured, off the coast of France. Someone shouted to them to ask how many were in the ship.
They replied, 'Thirteen.' So we shouted back that they should chuck one into the water, because thirteen was an unlucky number! When we got all thirteen aboard, and took them as prisoners of war, we handed them over to an American ship for interrogation. Interestingly, these were the first Germans that I saw during the war. I met many more later in Malta.
When HMS Ramillies returned home she was 'payed off', so I had to join another ship.

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