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Freddy Harding's Navy Reminiscences

by Thanet_Libraries

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Freddy Harding
Location of story: 
London, Australia
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 November 2004

Freddy Harding was a resident at Fairfield Manor, Broadstairs, Kent. Sadly Freddy died a few days after talking to Helen about his memories. His family asked that this obituary goes on the BBC website in \Freddy's memory.

Freddy volunteered for the Navy and began
his service on 13th July 1942, serving until his Class A release on 28th Feburary 1946. He thought volunteering wa the thing to do as that way you could apply for the navy or the air force, but if you waited to be called up you were probably sent in the army. This was probably why freddy's brother was called up before him and went into the navy on minesweepers. Freddy felt at the time that this was "monstrously unfair" as hid brother was three years younger.
Freddy recalled a story regarding the family's Anderson shelter. They lived in a victorian terraced house with a front room kept for "best" and a back room with his father's workshop on the side. Beyond the workshop was the yard. Erecting the shelter would have cost them the yard and so, in what must a have been atremendous effort, they dug upo part of the yard, and buried the shelter, leaving a trapdoor and a flight of steps from then surface to the shelter's entrance. One night when the sirens sounded his father was delayed getting to the shelter and had to run towards the yard, responding to his mother's frantic shouting. As the bombs began to explode, his father jumped through the trapdoor, caught his chin on the edge if the frame, rotated forwards, landed on his back on the steps and slid into the entrance of the shelter.
Freddy served most of his time on shore bases as an aircraft engine fitter, rising from Air Mechanic 2nd Class to LAF (E). He repaired Spitfires and also maintained at least two types of American aircraft, the Grumman Wildcat(known as the Martlet in British service) and the Avenger. Freddy didn't like either of them.
Freddy sailed to Australia in the troopship "New Amsterdam" via Bombay. He recalled how the men were allowed ashore and some of them bought parrots from the market only to be refused permission to take them on board when they returned to the ship. The birds had to be released and flew straight back to the market! Freddy reckoned those parrots had been sold hundreds of times over.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
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