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Wartime On The Ocean Waves: James Donnelly from Distington, Cumbria

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

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Archive List > D-Day+ 1944

Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
James Donnelly
Location of story: 
Distington / Whitehaven (Cumbria); Durban (South Africa).
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 August 2005

James Donnelly from Distington, Cumbria. During World War Two James served in both the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy. On 26 June 2005 James took part in the official county of Cumbria ‘Victory Parade’ commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two. [Photograph by Joseph Ritson]

The article has been written by Joseph Ritson, a volunteer for the BBC Radio Cumbria CSV Action Desk at the Maritime Festival held at Whitehaven on 25 — 26 June 2005. The Festival also incorporated the official county of Cumbria 60th Anniversary ‘Victory Parade’ commemorating the end of World War Two. It has been submitted with the permission of James Donnelly who kindly shared some of his wartime memories. The author understands the terms of the BBC “People’s War” website.

James Donnelly (Wartime Service Number CLX28195) is from Distington, Cumbria, a village between Workington and Whitehaven. James saw service right through World War Two, serving in both the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy.

In September 1939, James was already in the Merchant Navy. His ship was on the way back to the UK from the Far East at the time. The ship put into Durban, South Africa and they found out that war had been declared.

There were some Chinese stokers on board. Upon hearing about the war with Germany, they went on strike and refused to go any further. This meant James and his shipmates had to act as stokers to get the ship back to Britain.

Later on James served in the Royal Navy. He did a lot of his training at Chatham, near London.

Thank you very much, James!

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