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15 October 2014
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The Battle of Oran

by bainesch

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Charles Herbert Baines
Location of story: 
North Africa
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 February 2004

My father served in the Royal Navy for the duration of the war in destroyers. He very rarely spoke of the war and as a small child I used to bombard him with questions with very little understanding of what war was and meant to the people involved.

He told me that the biggest battle he ever saw was when the British navy destroyed the French fleet anchored in Oran in North Africa. As a small boy I had never heard of this battle but have since researched the battle, only to find that this wasn't a battle, it was a slaughter, but wholly neccessary for the war effort.

He never spoke of hatred of the Germans or Italians and always spoke of them as "brave and honest men, just like us".

My father died over twenty years ago and as an adult I never got to ask him of his experiences. I feel that WW2 has touched my life through my dad. Thousands of men just like him served throughout the war to give us the comfortable life we now lead today. They did it with honour and dignity, many didn't return. We owe them so much.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Battle at Oran

Posted on: 21 June 2004 by daveyb007

I was interested to read your articale about the naval battle at Oran. My grandfather was invovled as a stoker on, I believe, HMS Walney or HMS Hartland. I remember him talking about crashing the boom into the harbour and then the tremendous destruction inflictd by the shore batteries. When the order was given, eventually, to abandon ship my grandfather went over the side and swam to the harbourside. He was captured and became a POW. He told of being marched through the streets of Oran to the internment camp wearing just his skivvies. At the camp - when the (Italian?) guards left just ahead of the liberating Allied forces, the Tars donned the deserted Italian unifroms only to be almost shot when the Americans liberated the camp.

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