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15 October 2014
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VJ Day with a Mine Sweeping Flotilla in Bremerhavenicon for Recommended story

by southtynesidewartime

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People in story: 
Basil Armes
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Background to story: 
Royal Navy
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Contributed on: 
22 July 2004

I would like to tell you about my memories of VJ Day.

After the collapse of Germany, our Mine Sweeping Flotilla 159 (BYMS) was sent to make sure that the sea lanes leading to the German ports of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven and up the River Elbe to Hamburg were free from mines to enable our supply ships to enter the ports with much needed stores for our troops ashore.

After a routine day's sweeping, we returned to Bremerhaven to moor for the night. Some of the men were writing home, others were playing cards, when we heard on the radio that the War was over - the Japanese had surrendered. We went to tell our Skipper who came into our mess with the other two Officers armed with bottles of their spirits. There was handshaking and drinking all round and within minutes the port was alive to the sound of ships' whistles. The good news had soon spread!

About half an hour later, the shore based search light troops were lighting the sky with huge beams and the anti-aircraft gunners were firing star shells into the air mixing with the lights and creating a noisy, but very impressive sight. The spectacle was made all the better when we knew they were not firing at German planes to prevent them firing on us.

When the Skipper's drink was finished, he told the coxswain to break open a gallon jar of rum and our celebrations continued. After three hours, the flotilla leader said we had to get some sleep because our war was far from over. There was still a lot of work to do. Sure enough, the next day we were out sweeping and we stayed there for another month before returning to Grimsby for a well-earned fourteen days leave.

After our leave, we went down to Lowestoft to start the task of sweeping our own minefields clear.

I hope you find this of interest.

BASIL ARMES, EX LEADING COOK, RNPS (currently involved with a Reminiscent project with South Tyneside Council, Adult Education Dept)

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Message 1 - Memories of V.J.Days

Posted on: 22 July 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Basil Armes,
Yes, I did find your story interesting. What a task you had sweeping for mines.
Your celebrations on VJ day got me thinking about my days in the WRNS after the war when the men came into the Store Department at Devonport for their ration of rum. Sometimes I had to ladle the neat rum out myself, bending deep into the barrel - can you imagine? I was often overcome by the fumes and nearly drunk myself.( What we do when we're young eh?)
Thank you for telling your story. Keep writing!
Audrey Lewis

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