- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Frederick Martindale
- Location of story:
- North Atlantic,The Med & English Channel
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 10 May 2005
Frederick MARTINDALE born 25/11/1922
Able seaman C/JX354639
Volunteered for the Royal Navy 1941. Called up 18th May 1942. Sent to HMS Ganges for 3 months training. When qualified was sent to Naval Barracks Chatham. Given rank of Ordinary seaman to Able seaman C/JX354639.
Awaiting being sent for ships crew. Passed all the gunnery courses etc. A story came up that they were looking for volunteers for landing craft and would be posted in Scotland … all the Scots fell for it. We finally landed at Dundonald in Ayrshire , did a cooks course en route to Dunoon Castle Howard for training with the Yanks on landing craft.
I was introduced to the film star Douglas Fairbanks Junior, who was an officer in the CBs. Suddenly we were posted to an assault ship (I can’t remember the date) but it was all hush hush stuff. This was a ship taken over for Naval purposes HMS “GLENGYLE”. We knew nothing of the plans but found out we were to take commandos on lightning raids to Norway to upset the Germans and keep them guessing.
The plan was to take them ashore and hassle them. The job was to land, blow up installations and get out again. It was a piece of cake. (Lofoten Islands and Vadso). The craft we used were assault craft. Very fast but no protection just plywood boats. The only protection we had was a strip Lewis anti-aircraft gun. My next assignment I was drafted in to a Canadian 5th LC flotilla. What a bunch, these guys were French Canadians, the officer was a great guy … one of the boys. Then it was off to North Africa where we were taking the yanks. That was something else. These guys were bumming about what they were going to do until we came into some heavy gun fire … they were screaming like pigs to get off the ship. Eventually we got ashore at Oran Harbour. The Canadians ran amok with the barrels of wine floating in the harbour and they managed to get one on board the landing craft and got it open. They ran amok shooting anything that moved. You see we al had .45 revolvers … it was madness. Anyway we got out of there somehow.
I can’t remember the episode but we were sent back to the UK survivors. Taken on board an old freighter “Clan McTaggart” the slowest ship in the convoy, of course we copped it 2 days out from N Africa. We were prepared for the usual boat drill but the Lascars crew had already taken over and got into the boats first with all their cases etc. but we managed out of it and were picked up by one of the escort vessels. We got back to Liverpool and sent on leave. All this time my Mum didn’t know where I was. The mail was kept for us for weeks.
The next episode was the big one. We were sent to Southampton to a pool for crews. That was when Gerry was plastering the area with buzz bombs. We were involved with the 1st Canadian Armour division, they were spread all along the country roads for miles, wait a minute I forgot the Sicilian show. I was posted to a British unit , I believe it was 235 landing craft flotilla, we were sent to Port Tewfik on the Suez Canal at that time we were getting leave in Alexandria Egypt. Our flotilla had a school teacher RNVR as our captain, our engineer officer was Lt Dodds the bus company’s son from Troon. We were posted on board a ship called “Sobiesky”, a Polish cruise liner, it was beautiful, we got quite a reception though as the Germans had the air power but the RAF were supporting us from Malta with limits to their capability.
I was a bit lucky as a bomb dropped just off our side and I was winding up the door after unloading a truck when the craft tossed and I got hit with the winch handle. That’s the last I remember but my mate managed to get me on board the ship, Leading Stoker Nagel. I came to having lost a couple of teeth and stitches to my nose. I owe him for that one. I was back in no time to continue. That night we were lying off the beach during darkness and Gerry arrived with flares. He managed to sink a couple of craft. We had a few casualties, my other mate was killed with a back and stomach injury.
When we got control of Sicily we moved through the Straits of Messina, this is the Reggio de Callabria area. Our next mission was to land the Argyle and Sutherlands, a section of the 8th Army on the mainland of Italy. We were pleasantly surprised as there was no resistance, the Italians had chucked it.
I had a real surprise, one of the soldiers was Alex McKenzie, from next close to us at Morley Street, he was a pal of mine, small world. There was more landing further up the Italian coast but we were directed back to the UK. The problem was we had to sail these LCs back. It was a nightmare and took us about a week. Everything was available cooking wise on these boats but nothing could be used as it had to be battened down, so it was iron rations all the way home eventually arriving at Falmouth, all the navigation equipment was lost, how we made it I don’t know anyway it was home again for 7 days leave.
The next job was when we were sent to Southampton again to the pool for the big one, we didn’t know it at that time of course. I was sent to operate on a LCT that’s the tank landing craft. These vessels carried 6 large tanks. Our object was to ferry these across to France when we had a bridgehead on the other side. It was a few days before we got the go ahead I can’t remember which beach we went to but it was hectic.
I think my first trip was my last because as we were coming back into Southampton a buzz bomb landed and that was all I remember. I finished up in hospital and was sent to a naval hospital, Barrow Gurney in Bristol got all kinds of tests etc. I never heard what the story was but after a few weeks, we were given the Royal treatment WD&HO Wills laid on all kinds of entertainment, theatre, visits to the dog track etc. it was brilliant. Eventually I sat in front of a group of surgeons, who said I was to be discharged medically unfit for further sea service. I think it was more or less termed “bomb happy” at the time. I was put on “Luminol” tablets for 2 years. I was taken to the station escorted by an SBA, that’s sick bay attendant, put on a carriage private to ourselves and he handed me over to my Mum at Central Station Glasgow.
I did not receive a pension from the Navy. The discharge paper said “your disease wounds or injuries were not caused or aggravated by war service”.
Fred fathered a son and daughter and 4 grand children and 4 great grandchildren (to date). He is alive and well (82) and living near us in Glasgow … about 10 years ago he was granted a war pension.
8th May 2005
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