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15 October 2014
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A sooty adventure

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Shirley Piper and brother Gerald.
Location of story: 
Hong Kong, Singapore to England
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4392984
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

My Brother and I on board ship 1940

This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Jas from Global Information Centre Eastbourne and has been added to the website on behalf of Miss Piper with her permission and she fully understand the site’s terms and conditions

On 2 September 1939 , with my parents and brother Gerald, I embarked on the liner Carthage for our return to England as Dad had completed a 3 year posting to Hong Kong dockyard.
We awoke the following morning to find the portholes being blacked out and were told war had been declared in England. Carthage was being being sent to India and the three dockyard families on board were to go to Singapore Naval Base to await the formation of a convoy for passage to England. The husbands were then posted to supply ships (RFAs) and the wives were enlisted into the Naval Coding Office, as there was a shortage of WRNS at the Base
Five months later the 3 wives and 3 children were found berths on a cargo boat ,SS Calchas which was taking coal to Gibraltar dockyard and then leading a convoy of smaller ships to England.
We stayed in Gibraltar 2 weeks and then set off with our convoy and a Naval Corvette as
Escort. As we neared Lands End the Corvette fired a depth charge under Calchas as they suspected an enemy submarine was in the area.
After that fright, we were all glad to arrive at Liverpool Docks on Good Friday 1940. The journey had taken 10 weeks and was a great adventure. I was 9 years old and my brother 8 years old.

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