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Memories Vol 2

by Newcastlelibrary

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Pat Howey and family
Location of story: 
North East England
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 December 2005

In the first weeks of the war my experience ofloss of life was the son of our friends who was one of the first casualties of the war. He was an officer in the Royal Navy and served on one of our battleships "Royal Oak" which was at anchor at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys when a German U Boat torpedoed it in October 1939. Mot of the crew were killed.It was a disaster for us so early in the war but a terribleloss for our friends.
Close to myself was a childhood friend who eventually became my husband. Two of his brothers were serving in the forces. Tom in the Navy and Ken in the army. Tom's ship was torpedoed in home waters and all hands were lost, he was 19. Ken was captured by the Japanese when singapore fell and was one of the men who was forced to work on the notorious Burma railway. He was in changi jail for 5 years and came home a shadow of his old self only weighing 9 stones and at 6'6" that is emaciated.Despite the australians fattening them up somewhat before sending them back home.
My own cousin Harry was in the RAF and was captured bythe germans and ended up in a prison camp for RAF personnel "Stalag Luft"
He was a brilliant scholar and spoke severallanguages fluently which helped him when he escaped and travelled through Europe to Greece where he joined theGreek freedom fighters in the mountains. Eventually he wasre-captured and returned to Germany and condemned to death. However his languages saved his life as the germans used him as an interpreter and eventually he returned home but whilst assisting a motorist who had broken down he washit by another car and died in hospital, a sad end to an adventurous man.
Many friends lost sons and daughters but we were very lucky as my sister survived the London Blitz, the Doodlebugs and V2 rockets.My brother joined the Royal Navy when he was only 17 under a special scheme but eventually served on a destroyer and then a battleship, both returned to the family home safe and sound.

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