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15 October 2014
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by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
John J. Hole
Location of story: 
England, South Africa, India
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 September 2005

My father served his apprenticeship as a boilermaker at Ashford Railway Works during WWI before joining the South Indian Railway in 1929. My mother, a schoolteacher, went out to join him in 1932 and they were married in Ceylon. This meant I was born in India in 1936, and that we were home on leave at the outbreak of WWII.

Father soon returned to India but it was not until the end of 1940 that Mother was able to secure a passage, on the turbo- electric steam ship ‘Strathallan’. We joined the ship in Southampton, where there were trials to test the equipment fitted to safeguard against magnetic mines. On sailing, we were one of the last ships to leave that was not part of a convoy, and went well out into the Atlantic before heading south. In Cape Town there was time for a quick trip to the top of Table Mountain, and in Mombassa there were lots of other ships carrying troops, perhaps taking Indians, Australians and New Zealanders to the UK. In India, I remember the growing concern as the Japanese forces advanced across Burma, watching troops transfer their equipment across the platforms at Trichinopoly and seeing the concentration camp atrocities on the news in the cinema. Later, I served my apprenticeship as a marine engineer sailing on tankers, and I have always been most thankful that I did not have to do so in the time of war.

This story was entered on the People’s War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of John J.Hole. John fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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