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15 October 2014
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The Admiral's Safe: The Responsibility of Issuing D-Day Ordersicon for Recommended story

by emwallace

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Royal Navy
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15 November 2003

I joined the WRNS in the spring of 1942, and, after being a Wren rating, a leading Wren and a PO, eventually got my commission as a Third Officer, which is the lowest form of commissioned life.

At the time of the Normandy invasion I was drafted to the Chatham dockyard and worked in the Confidential Book Office. My job was to issue D-Day orders to the incoming ships in the dockyard.

One day I had to go to the Admiral's Secretary's office to collect documents for one of the destroyers. I unlocked the safe and obtained the necessary orders, locking, as I thought, the safe again.

That afternoon I got a message to the effect that the Admiral's Secretary wanted to see me. When I arrived at his office he barked at me, 'Third Officer, you collected some documents from the safe this morning and left it unlocked. What have you got to say for yourself?'
'But sir,' I said, 'I can remember locking it.'
'You may have thought you locked it, but it has a double lock and so you left it insecure.'

Was my face red? It was puce, but not as purple as the Admiral's Secretary, who then told me that we would have to spend all that afternoon mustering the contents of the safe and he was due to play in a tennis match.

It is surprising that with idiotic people like me, we managed to win the war, but thanks be, we did.

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