- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Harold Collins
- Location of story:
- HMS Howe
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 July 2004
I joined HMS Howe in 1943 and we went all over the world during the war. We were sent from Devonport to Scapaflow Scotland, were were delayed at Edinburgh due to two Canadians fighting which resulted in one bieng killed. Then a young sailor's mother was dying in Liverpool, compassionate leave was asked for as high up as Churchill but it was refused beacuse we due to go to the East Indies fleet to rebuild the British Pacific Fleet. Then off to Algiers then Suez and we had to turn back as a German bomber was looking for us (HMS Howe). Then we went through the canal and as we went through the canal the ship scraped the bootom of the ship damaging the wated condensers turning brine into drinking water.
Next port of call was Aden on the way to Ceylon now known as Sri Lanka. Then to Sydney, we were one of the first ships in Australian waters. We were given parcels on board from the schools and unusually we were given 2 bottles of beer per person. From Sydney we went to Manas (Admiralty Islands). My role on the Howe was as a stoker which was an important but low down job in the ranks. It was an oil fired ship. While in Sydney I befriended a family called Rose and Len Gunter in Sydney who I happened to meet in a cafe . They took me for a couple of days and fed me, washed my clothes and made me one of the family.
We saw action at Oka Awaa whne we took the Japanese Island but I didin't see a lot as I was an the bottom of the ship! We did see some suicide japanese bombers.
When in New Zealand we were invited to a picnic by the NZ YWCA at the seaside in Auckland. Due to the bad weather we watched a film, had tea and beer and I went swimming in a blue lagoon. After, I walked a young lady home named Jeanette Withers and they lived in Deveport naval area on NZ. Her father had been Naval Attache to France before the war. She showed me family photos of her family, one uncle was an Admiral in the Royal Navy and the other was an Admiral in the New Zealand navy. We bet eachother a pound that we would write and keep in touch but I still owe her a pound to this day!
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