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Naval postings

by BBC Scotland

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
John Rae
Location of story: 
Gillingham, North Atlantic
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A5533436
Contributed on: 
05 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Holly Booth of BBC Scotland on behalf of John Rae and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I volunteered for the Navy in 1940 when I was 18 and ended up working in a maternity hospital before I was posted. I was doing my naval training when I was sent to work as a firewatcher at the Royal Navy Maternity Hospital in Gillingham. We were sent there after it had been bombed in 1940. At the time I was doing a gunnery course at nearby Chatham College. Our duties were to go around the hospital checking the blackouts were in place, the stirrup pumps were supplied with water and the sand and water buckets were filled and in the right position in case there was a fire. I was only there for three weeks but I remember wheeling ladies into the labour ward — not exactly the type of duties I expected when I joined the Navy! It was a cushy number and they fed and looked after us well. The position didn’t last long before I was posted to the North Atlantic Convoys. I served on HMS Pelican which sank three U-Boats. We took the crew of U448 aboard when we sank her and the crew were stationed with their counterparts — the officers with our officers and the seamen with us. I was in charge of guarding the seamen and making sure they had no contact with their officers in case they tried to take over the ship but they behaved very well.

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