My contributions to the Website have been written to honour the memory of my family and the part they played during WW2. The first Section records my personal experiences during those difficult five years. The family left Singapore in January 1940 to return to England by boat. My mother, sister and I were taken off the boat at Port Said in mid month because of the danger of sailing through the Mediterranean. I still marvel at how, on her own, my mother brought two young children from Port Said by rail and then small plane to Marseilles, across France by train and over the channel by ferry to England. Never to be forgotten was how she managed to care for and nurture us after our father, Surgeon-Commander E.R.Sorley, RN was lost on HMS Barham early in the war.
The main Section is based on the censored letters written to my mother by my father from the ship. These spanned the period from June 1940 when the Barham left Liverpool after a refit, until the last one written two days before the ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. In the introduction to each article, I have attempted to give a commentary from the perspective of history as it affected the Barham.
The other Section describes the experiences of my stepfather Commander J.S.Dove, OBE, RN, who worked for the Miscellaneous Weapons and Development Department at the Admiralty during the war. These included kite flying and helping evacuation from the beaches at Dunkirk and landing on D-Day to check the grapnel rockets used by the US Rangers in scaling the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc.
Acknowledgement must go to my niece Sara Wrigley for having established the HMS Barham Association Website, and nephew James Pritchard-Barrett who organised the Commemoration Sail in 2003. Five of us, James, his brother, my two sons and I, sailed “Papageno” from Paleochora, Crete, to the spot where the Barham was sunk on November 25th, 1941. After a short dedication we threw two wreaths; one to the memory of my father and the other to honour those of his shipmates who lost their lives.