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by CSV Media NI

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CSV Media NI
People in story: 
Robert Blair
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Background to story: 
Royal Navy
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Contributed on: 
10 June 2005

This story is taken from an interview with Robert Blair at the Ballymena Servicemen's Association, and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions. The interviewer was Matt Morrow, and the transcription was by Bruce Logan.


I came back to England again, and they gave us a week's leave. I went over to NI again. I went back again in March, and I got aboard a Lease-Lend American destroyer, with 4 funnels. We were escorting Atlantic convoys. And then they stripped us of the torpedoes and all. And they were torn a curt, were torn a target. The RAF knows, dive-bomb this, and they were putting the army ashore, getting ready for D-Day. I felt sorry for the army. They were always getting back, one thing and another, you know?

When you're escorting … the ship I was on was HMS Worthing. It was in the First World War. It had 4 funnels, and we always said it was rocking about in the water, it was top-heavy. On a rough day you got corned-beef sandwiches, that was all.
I would just say it was a good life.

But on Atlantic Convoys you're maybe escorting, maybe about 40 merchant ships, and at night … the end of the day you're maybe escorting about 30 merchant ships, in the next morning you're lucky if you see about 20 ships. During the night, you know?

I would just say, it's a nice clean life, but kind of a rough life too. You were just here. When we went ashore you had a few drinks. You always said, it's their turn today but your turn tomorrow. But I really enjoyed it, you know?

[I was a] stoker, [down in the] engine compartment. So you're down in the hold when they're dropping depth charges. The whole ship shook. A rough life and a clean life. If it was rough, you'd get cornflake sandwiches. Well, the ship was rocking so much. And then the merchant ships. You'd maybe get one doing about 5-10 mins in the swell. And then you were just like a greyhound going round the merchant ships. Submarines, you see?

It was scary, but … It's their turn today but your turn tomorrow. That's the way they put it.

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