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From Farmer to Submariner

by kirriemuir_library

Contributed by 
People in story: 
James H. (Jim) Lindsay (Age 80)
Location of story: 
Malacca, Colombo, Malta
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 July 2004

Date 24 June 2004

Wartime memories as told to David G. Orr.

Jim left school at age 13. His father was a grain merchant in Alyth.
He was working on the farm of Formal, Kilry (farmer - Graham Gladstone, who dealt in tractors) when war was declared. He recalls leaving under the standstill order to join the navy. He simply left the tractor in the middle of the field.
He went to HMS Raleigh in Devon for training then 7 days home leave to Alyth then posted to Chatham and then on to a hunt class patrolling the North Sea, then on to Russian convoys based in Scapa Flow. He recalls on one trip men being washed overboard.
He ended up with double pneumonia and although he cannot recall it he was transferred to Kingseat Hospital near Aberdeen for 6 weeks, where he was unconscious for two weeks.
He then took a torpedo man course at Chatham and as he passed with over 68% he went on to become a leading torpedo man course.
Jim then volunteered for submarines and transferred to Plymouth to join HMS Shalamar (S class). This sub was then painted green and they took the sub through the Suez Canal to go to the Far East to Ceylon. They were on a tour of duty of 18 months but the relief submarine was sunk on its way out to Ceylon. They then torpedoed a Japanese destroyer, but the sub was damaged by depth charges.
When they were stationed in Malta harbour they had to submerge the subs during daylight to avoid attack by the ‘eyeties’ [The Italian air force]
Jim was then drafted onto the HMS Subtle commanded by Lt Commander Andrews. This was the first all welded submarine and was mostly crewed by Scots (47 crew). The then patrolled the Straits of Malacca and at one time torpedoed a Japanese cruiser but could only dive to 60 feet they had to endure 12 hours of depth charging until darkness allowed them to escape.
They then sunk ship in the harbour at Singapore.
He was then in a camp at Columbo and then moved to an aircraft carrier to collect Prisoners of War at Penang (skeletons) the crew were forbidden to feed them or even give them a glass of milk.
The POW’s were kept in camp for 6 months to be fed to regain their strength for the journey home.
Jim sailed home on the aircraft carrier with a load of damaged airplanes and sailed up the Clyde on 12 December 1945.
Jim and a friend befriended 2 girls on the train to Dundee and he swapped the girl he had on his knee for the girl sitting with his friend when he found out that she was engaged to a 6’-4” boyfriend who was meeting them at Dundee.
This turned out to be his future wife Kathy whom he married on 20 June 1946 and they have just celebrated their 58th anniversary.

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Mediterranean and European waters Category
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