- Contributed by
- People in story:
- John Woolley
- Location of story:
- The Mediterranean
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 August 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from CSV / BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of John Woolley and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I was on HMS Penn, a destroyer, in the Mediterranean in 1942. We were part of Operation Pedestal, escorting ships taking supplies to Malta. eg petrol, aviation spirit, food etc.
The escort consisted of 2 battleships, 4 cruisers and around 34 destroyers. The operation was classed as a success but only 5 out of 14 supply ships got through to Malta.
We were under attack by German planes. HMS Eagle, an air craft carrier got sunk and a cruiser HMS Manchester got hit and sunk. My job was at action stations starboard forward lookout trying to spot Germans using bioculars.
HMS Ohio was a USA tanker which was crewed by the British. Ohio was hit and on fire. We helped to put out the fire using hoses. The crew abandoned ship and moved onto HMS Penn and HMS Branham, but were later able to go back on board the Ohio. HMS Penn and HMS Branham then towed the Ohio all the way into Malta.
Once we got to Malta one of the tugs pulling Ohio accidentally hit the stern of HMS Penn. We had to wait in Malta whilst this was repaired, so we came back later than the rest of the convoy. The maltese people were starving, so we gave them our own food supplies. We then had to live on tins of swedes and hard biscuits on the return journey. We came home with an empty ship but made 30 knots which was very fast.
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