BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in February 2012We've left it here for reference.More information

20 September 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site Print this page 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


A Merchant Seaman from Whitehaven, Cumbria

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

You are browsing in:

Archive List > United Kingdom > Cumbria

Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
Alan Dougherty, George Acton, William Acton ‘Billy’, William Scott Truett (known as ‘Billy’ or ‘Biff’).
Location of story: 
Whitehaven (Cumbria)
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 November 2005

Sunday 13.11.2005: Former Merchant Seaman Alan Dougherty from Whitehaven. On this day Alan took part in the services for Remembrance Sunday at Whitehaven Cenotaph and Civic Hall. [Photograph by Joseph Ritson].


This article was submitted to the BBC “People’s War” website by Joseph Ritson, a volunteer story-gatherer for the BBC Radio Cumbria CSV Action Desk group of volunteers. The author has read and understood the terms of the BBC “People’s War” website.

It is submitted on behalf of Alan Dougherty from Whitehaven, Cumbria who served in the Merchant Navy, which included the war years of World War Two. Alan’s story was obtained on Remembrance Sunday, 13 November 2005.

Alan’s story

In World War Two, Alan was in The Merchant Navy. During the war years, Alan served in a number of different vessels and was on several different supply routes. In particular, Alan worked on the important Mediterranean supply route.

Alan had many good friends who were in the Merchant Navy. He especially remembers three good friends from Whitehaven who lost their lives when their ship was sunk in the North Atlantic: brothers George and Billy Acton and Billy Truett.

On Friday 11 November Alan marked the anniversary of Armistice Day by attending a Memorial Service at St Nicholas’s Church Gardens, Lowther Street, Whitehaven. Two days later, Alan took part in the Remembrance Sunday commemorations in his hometown, attending the wreath laying by the Mayor at the Cenotaph, an inter-denominational service at the Civic Hall, and another short service in the town later in the afternoon.


Alan told me his story following the Remembrance Sunday Service at the Civic Hall. The Civic Hall was kindly made available by Copeland Borough Council.

It was interesting to hear that Alan had known George and Billy Acton and Billy Truett, whose ship was torpedoed on 2 November 1942. Billy Truett’s full name was William Scott Truett and he was also known as ‘Biff’ by many of his friends. Billy Acton had only been married about a week before going to sea on what turned out to be his final journey. I have previously written about these three other Merchant Seamen for the BBC “People’s War” project.

Thank you very much for sharing some of your memories, Alan.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Cumbria Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy