- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ivor Amos Hall. Grace, Roy, Jack, Eric, Ralph, Dianne, Brian and Janet (brothers and sisters)
- Location of story:
- Scapa Flow
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 September 2005
I (Ivor) was born 24 June 1929, making me just 10 years 3 months old when war broke out. My memory follows, just a small part.
I was no 5 of a family consisting of six boys and three girls, and times were really hard.
Two of my brothers decided to join the Royal Navy in 1938. The eldest, Roy, joined as a boy in February, Jack the next one in April. They both met at HMS Ganges for a short while. Roy finished his nine-month training and went to Portsmouth to join HMS Hawkins, this however was having a refit, and he was then redrafted to join HMS Royal Oak. Fleet manoeuvres took place and eventually reached Scapa Flow. On the way they received some storm damage and when the fleet left Scapa Flow, Royal Oak and HMS Pegasus stayed to repair the damage. This is when a German submarine U47 on the night of October 14 1939 fired several torpedoes, which sank the Royal Oak; we received a telegram, delivered by the local policeman. Our family were deeply distressed and did not give up hope that he was safe. But this was not to be. He would have been 18 years old in a few weeks time.
No 2 brother, Jack, was only 15 years 9 months old when this happened, still at Ganges. He eventually completed his training and joined his first ship HMS Glasgow and sailed for arctic patrols.
Jack served in all the theatre of war and had many scrapes and on into the peacetime Navy, serving 24 years.
I joined the Royal Navy in January 1947 and served 12 years, some happy — some sad. This was when we had a large navy travelling worldwide- (another story).
At the moment eight of us are still alive. Three of us served in the Royal Navy, Ralph and Eric served in the Army, Brian, the youngest served in the RAF, my sisters all married serviceman, two in the army and one in the RAF.
A Very Proud achievement indeed for one family.
William Roy Hall — my brother
William Roy Hall was born on 18 December 1921 at Markfield, Leicestershire. He moved in 1928 to New Kingston when my father took up employment at Kingston Plaster Pit as a steam crane driver and relief engine driver.
Roy, as we called him, attended Markfield School and Lady Belper School in Kingston. He regularly attended Kingston church where he was in the choir and was one of the bell ringers. In those days most families attended church services regularly — sometimes three times on a Sunday.
He left school at 14 and worked in a butchers shop in Sutton Bonington. Being a little unsettled he moved to Kegworth Station for a short while and then to Slack and Parr in Kegworth. At this time he applied to join the Royal Navy as a boy entrant. After all the tests he was accepted but because he was still a young boy he needed his parents consent, which they refused. He kept on about joining and eventually they relented.
In February 1938 he left home for HMS Ganges at Shotley Gate, near Ipswich, to start his nine-month training course where boys turned into men. Whilst at HMS Ganges his main interest was on the shooting range. He was good enough to win a medal and also qualified for the marksman’s badge which could be worn on the sleeve of this uniform. Needless to say, he was very proud of this.
When he was into his last month of training our younger brother Jack, who was 16 years old, joined the Royal Navy and was at HMS Ganges with him for a few weeks. They met again once more at home on Easter leave in 1939. Jack went on to serve 24 years in the Royal Navy.
When Roy was drafted from HMS Ganges he was sent to Portsmouth in November 1938 to join HMS Hawkins. This ship was then due for a major refit and after 1939 Easter leave he returned to Portsmouth and joined HMS Royal Oak. The last time his family saw him was in August 1939 when he was on leave. When he returned to his ship, the Royal Oak joined the home fleet for exercises in the Atlantic during which his ship and another, HMS Pegasus received severe storm damage and returned to Scapa Flow with the fleet.
War was declared at the beginning of September and the home fleet left Scapa Flow, but the two damaged ships were left behind for repairs and restock. Scapa Flow was regarded as a safe harbour.
Whilst at anchor on Saturday October 14 1939 a U47 German submarine steered silently through the ‘impregnable’ British defences and fired torpedoes at the Royal Oak, one of which hit the bows. While this was being checked the submarine had time to reposition itself and fired more torpedoes which hit the ship again and the vessel exploded. The cordite charges ignited and travelled through the ship killing most of the crew in seconds. Because this happened during the night most of the crew were asleep. The ship turned turtle and sank within a few minutes.
We first heard of this tragic event on the wireless and when PC Huffer arrived at our house with the telegram we were devastated because we were hoping against hope that Roy would be amongst the survivors, but no. He would have been 18 years old in December.
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