- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Alec Wingrave
- Location of story:
- North Sea
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 23 January 2004
Alec Wingrave was a chef in the RN Submarine Service during WW2. He remembers that, after five days, the bread would turn green and so he would have to cut off the edges, dip it in water and put it back in the oven. He never really felt nervous on the submarines, but if he heard the air raid sirens while he was on leave at home he would run to the nearest pub and seek comfort in a pint of beer. He felt safer in the pub than in a shelter! This is his story, as told to a group of volunteers at the Imperial War Museum and published here with his permission:
'I was in HMS Taku in the last month of the war we stored the ammunition to go to the Skaggarack. We intended to stop the Germans evacuating Norway to get back to Germany and Denmark. But the friendly Norwegians instructed Britain that the Germans were leaving all their equipment in Norway before the war ended. And so, after two days at sea, we returned to Blyth and de-stored and de-ammunitioned ship. It would have been murder if we'd gone in and sank all the small German and Norwegian ships, because all they wanted to do was get to the mainland - to go home without fighting.
We paid off Taku and joined Tactician to go to the Far East, but the atomic bombs were dropped and we took Tactician into Chatham for a refit before she was paid off.
I then joined HMS Token, a brand new submarine, and we had a glorious six months in Canada, then onto Bermuda for a month in the sun and home via the Azores. When we returned to Devonport, there was 20 feet of snow everywhere - Britain had come to a standstill. We were there until April 1, then paid off.
It’s Taku that I remember fondly, however. The Lincolnshire town of Spalding collected £3,560 during Warships Week in 1942 and bought HMS Taku for £2,056. This year the local council named a footbridge over the river Welland 'Taku', and only two of the original crew (out of 300 over four commissions) were able to turn up for celebrations with the local MP, the Mayor and his wife.'
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