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15 October 2014
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The Day War Broke Out

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Maurice Sherborne
Location of story: 
The North Sea
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site M. Absell from Littlehampton Learning Shop and has been added to the website on behalf of Maurice Sherborne with his/her permission and they fully understand the site’s terms and conditions.


I joined the navy as a boy in April 1937, and I left as a Petty Officer in June 1961. Rob Wilton is well remembered for his skit on that phrase!
I was on duty in the wheelhouse on H.M.S.Hood, still only a boy. I had the lowly job of manning the telegraph for the revoltions. The Helmsman sent me down to get his Tot of rum!
I rushed down from the Wheelhouse and Conning Tower, through what we call Queen Anne’s Mansions to the seamen’s mess deck. I came back and told the Helmsman that the war had started. The reply was “about time we taught those …..’s a lesson!” We did not know it would take so long, and that we would learn a few lessons of our own before it ended!”
For instance, on one occasion, we were off the Scagerrak when a German light plane dropped a bomb. One of our pompom crews was drenched in dirty seawater, not the normal colour, but black. Fortunately, no casualties.
We finished up at Scapa Flow for the duration of the Phoney War. We did plenty of sea-time! All the gleaming paintwork of the gun turrets had been painted over. Also some of the decks, that shone in the sun.
After the sinking of the H.M.S.Royal Oak all the Capital ships left Scapa Flow and went to Loch Erible which we call
Loch ‘Orrible’. As far as I know there is still a Memorial Mound on one of the hills near the village- In memory of the “Hood.”

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