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HMS Highflyer

HMS Highflyer


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HMS Highflyer

HMS Highflyer was the nameship of the Highflyer class of second class cruisers. During the First World War she sank the German commerce raider Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse, and in 1917 escorted the first transatlantic convoy from Canada. In the year before the start of the war, she had been serving as the training ship for Special Entry Cadets, but in August 1914 she was allocated to the 9th Cruise Squadron, under Admiral de Robeck, on the Finisterre station. She left Plymouth on 4 August, in the company of the admiral on HMS Vindictive. They then captured the line Tubantia, which was carrying German reservists and gold. Highflyer escorted her to Britain, before returning to her station.

She was soon transferred south, to support Admiral Stoddart’s 5th Cruiser Squadron on the Cape Verde station in the hunt for the German commerce raider Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse. She had been sighted at Rio de Oro, a Spanish anchorage on the Saharan coast. The Highflyer was sent to find her, and on 26 August found the German ship taking on coal from three colliers. Captain Buller demanded her surrender. The captain of the Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse claimed the protection of neutral waters, but as he was blatantly breaking that neutrality himself by taking on coal and supplies for more than a week, his claim was denied. Fighting broke out at 3.10pm, and lasted until 4.45pm, when the crew of the Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse abandoned ship and escaped to the shore.

On 15 October the Highflyer briefly became the flagship of the Cape Verde station, when Admiral Stoddard was ordered to Pernambuco. Later in the same month she was ordered to accompany the transport ships carrying the Cape garrison back to Britain. Towards the end of the month she was ordered to search the Atlantic coast of North Africa for the cruiser Karlsruhe.

After the battle of Coronel the Highflyer came back under the control of Admiral de Robeck, as part of a squadron formed to guard West Africa against Admiral von Spee. This squadron, containing HMSs Warrior, Black Prince, Donegal and Highflyer was in place off Sierra Leone from 12 November, but was soon dispersed after the battle of the Falklands. The Highflyer then took part in the search for the commerce raider Kronprinz Wilhhelm, coming close to catching her in January 1915. She remained on the West Africa station until 1917, making up part of the Cape Verde division.

In 1917 she was transferred to the West Indies and North America Squadron. This was the period of unrestrained submarine warfare, and it was eventually decided to operate a convoy system in the North Atlantic. On 10 July 1917 HMS Highflyer provided the escort for convoy HS 1, the first convoy to sail from Canada to Britain.

On 6 December 1917 the Highflyer was at Halifax when the munitions ship Mont Blanc blew up, in what has been estimated to be the largest explosion before the nuclear age. Before the explosion the Highflyer had sent her whaler to help the stricken merchant ship, and all but one of her six crew were killed in the explosion. The Highflyer then helped in the relief operation.

At the end of the war the Highflyer served on the East Indies Station, with a short spell as flagship, before being paid off in 1921.

Displacement

5,650t

Top Speed

20kts

Armour – deck

1.5in – 3in

- conning tower

6in

- gunshields

3in

- engine hatches

5in

Length

372ft

Armaments

Eleven 6in quick firing guns
Nine 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3pdr quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

450

Launched

27 October 1898

Completed

7 December 1899

Captains

Captain Buller
Captain Garnett

Sold for break up

1921

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War


Tom Highflyer

There are many unanswered questions about how a young African boy rescued from a slave ship came to be buried in a graveyard in Brighton in 1870.

Tom Highflyer along with two other boys were rescued from a slave Dhow in 1866 by Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley of the Royal Navy’s East African Anti-Slave Trade Squadron. Tom was about 8 or 9 years old when rescued.

The London Standard – Tuesday 1 st September 1868 reported the news that,

“Captain TMS Pasley of the HMS Highflyer captured slave dhow for which prize money is about to be distributed and three African boys all were found on board the dhow have been brought to England and will, we hear, be well cared for by some of the officers. They had become great favourite on board and had been named respectively Tom Highflyer, Sam Oldfield, and Bob Dhow.”

This newspaper clipping helps to give a better understanding of the circumstances in which Tom was brought to England. It tells us that Tom was named after Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley (1829 to 1870).

The other boys that sailed to England with Tom were also given names connecting them to their rescuers. Sam Oldfield was possibly named after a naval officer aboard the HMS Highflyer, and Bob Dhow, receiving his name from the type of ship from which they were rescued from.

We do not yet know what became of Sam and Bob and very little is known about what happened to Tom after he arrived in England in 1868 after spending two years at sea.

But we do have some information about his short life because Tom was documented in the Brighton parish registry.

When he died aged about 12 or 13 he was given quite an expensive and elaborate gravestone that would have been more usual for a person of a higher status. That he was given such a dignified burial and to be remembered in such a way tells something about the esteem that Tom was obviously held in by those who were caring for him. Someone had clearly loved Tom Highflyer.

There are many parallels between Tom’s story and that of Sarah Forbes Bonetta who was rescued by a Naval Captain and given as a gift to Queen Victoria.

In memory of Tom M.S. Highflyer Rescued from a slave dhow August 24, 1866 Baptised by his own request at Brighton March 30 1870 Died at Brighton June 20, 1870 Supposed to be about 12 years old Jesus said Him that cometh unto me will be no wise cast out

Ebou Toray, Chair of the Brighton & Hove Black History Project with Alan Virgo Manager of the Woodvale Cemetery looking Thomas Highflyer’s grave.

19 Great College Street, Brighton where Thomas Highflyer died on June 20th 1870 aged 12 years old

Newspaper cutting from the London Standard on Tuesday 1st September 1868 in the Naval and Military Intelligence section reporting the rescue of Tom Highflyer and his two friends Bob Dhow and Sam Oldfield. The boys were named for the officers/crew on board the ship HMS Highflyer


Naval Air Stations

Many shore establishments were originally ships that were hulked to become training or stores ships. Shore establishments became known in the Service as 'Stone Frigates'. When further ships were added they took the parent ship name for example PEMBROKE I and PEMBROKE II. This suffix system later applied to satellite shore establishments.

Because the Naval Discipline Act used to apply to officers and men only when they were borne on the books of one of His/Her Majesty's Ships, all personnel were allocated to a nominal ship when not actually serving in a seagoing warship. Thus the situation gradually arose where shore establishments including Royal Naval Air Stations used two names. So, for example RNAS Culdrose and its parent ship HMS SEAHAWK are the same place. With Air Stations, the parent ship name is frequently a bird and a suffix is used to indicate a satellite establishment at another location, e.g. HMS HERON, RNAS Yeovilton and HMS HERON II, RNAS Charlton Horthorne.

When complete, the list below will include both the parent ship name in capitals, and the air station name with only an initial capital letter. For example HERON and Yeovilton.

For much of the information below, we would like to acknowledge Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy compiled by Lt Cdr Ben Warlow RN and The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm by Ray Sturtivant and Theo Ballance.

An excellent document on Air Stations is available through the Cloud Observers website scroll down the page to downloads for 100 Royal Naval Air Stations available as .pdf or powerpoint.

Abbotsinch

Used by FAA from 1939 and commissioned on a lodger basis 19 June 1940. Transferred from RAF No17 Group 9 August 1943 and commissioned as HMS SANDERLING 20 September 1943.

Its main functions were Reserve Aircraft Storage and an RN Aircraft Maintenance Yard.

Reconstructed between 1950 and November 1952. Paid off 31 October 1963 and transferred to Ministry of Civil Aviation. It is now known .

ACTAEON

ACTAEON was not really an air station, but when the first Naval Flying School was established at Eastchurch in December 1911, all officers and men were borne on the books of ACTAEON, the Torpedo School at Sheerness. Officers and men were transferred to the books of PEMBROKE II (RNAS Eastchurch) in June 1913. This remained the case after the official formation of the Royal Naval Air Service 1.7.14. .

AFRIKANDER

AFRIKANDER was an RN base in Simonstown, South Africa. In WW I, it was the base for Southern and Eastern Africa. In WW II, it included South African Air Stations at Wingfield and Wynberg.

AFRIKANDER III, was a base in Capetown. It provided lodger facilities for RNAS Wynberg which existed from sometime in 1940 until 2.6.41 when the personnel at RNAS Wynberg were transferred to a new parent .

ALBATROSS

HMAS ALBATROSS aka Naval Air Station (NAS) Nowra, in NSW, Australia, 1946-to present.

Before and during most of WWII it was known as Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Nowra. It was lent to the RN 2.1.45 housing a Mobile Operational Naval Air Base, MONAB I aka HMS NABBINGTON which was replaced 15.11.45 by MONAB V aka HMS NABSWICK until 18.3.46 when the air station became HMAS ALBATROSS home .

ARIEL

HMS ARIEL was commissioned 8.10.42. It was the home of the Air Radio & Air Mechanics training establishment at Risley (also called Culcheth) in Warrington, Lancs.

ARIEL moved to Worthy Down 1.7.52 becoming the parent ship for RNAS Worthy Down which had previously been HMS KESTREL.

HMS ARIEL moved to Lee-on-Solent, Hants on 31.10.59 becoming the parent ship for RNAS Lee-on-Solent previously .

ARROGANT

BAMBARA

BLACKCAP

RNAS Stretton, Cheshire, Warrington, Lancs. Commissioned as HMS BLACKCAP 1 June 1942. Paid off 4 November 1958 and Care & Maintenance 31 December 1958 under HMS SANDERLING.

One of the lesser known functions carried out by personnel at the Royal Naval Air Station Stretton, HMS BLACKCAP, was the manning of Northern Radar at Antrobus, Cheshire. The geographical location of RNAS Stretton, is .

Burscough

RNAS Burscough commissioned as HMS RINGTAIL 1 September 1943. It undertook radar training and also housed squadrons disembarked or working up. paid off 15 June 1946 and reduced to Care and Maintenance basis under the control of HMS BLACKCAP, RNAS Stretton. It was also on the books of HMS NIGHTJAR at one stage.

The heritage website on RNAS Burscough includes many maps, photographs, ground-plans .

Caldale

Campbeltown

Capel

RNAS Capel (Capel-le-Ferne/Folkestone) Class C Airship Station (with sub-stations at Godmersham Park, Wittersham and Boulogne) for non-rigid airships RNAS/RAF 5.1915 &ndash 8.1920. 1 shed 305&rsquo9&rdquox39&rsquo4&rdquox48&rsquo8&rdquo plus 1 shed 311&rsquo6&rdquox44&rsquo2&rdquox51&rsquo6&rdquo plus 1 shed 322&rsquox70&rsquox60&rsquo9&rdquo. 2 miles from Folkestone Junction railway .

Cardington

China Bay

Lodger facilities from 01.08.1940 on an RAF station in Ceylon with the Air Section borne on the books of HMS LANKA, the local naval base. The FAA base moved to Mombassa after the Japanese strike on Ceylon, Easter 1942 but FAA Squadrons continued to use the station and these came under HMS HIGHFLYER (Naval Base at Trincomalee) until 01.01.1944 when HMS BAMBARA commissioned to comprise the RN section .


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16th June 2021

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Contenido

Highflyer fue diseñado para desplazar 5.650 toneladas largas (5.740 t). El barco tenía una eslora total de 372 pies (113,4 m), una manga de 54 pies (16,5 m) y un calado de 29 pies y 6 pulgadas (9,0 m). Estaba propulsada por dos motores de vapor de triple expansión de 4 cilindros , cada uno accionando un eje, que producían un total de 10.000 caballos de fuerza indicados (7.500 kW) diseñados para dar una velocidad máxima de 20 nudos (37 km / h 23 mph). Highflyer alcanzó una velocidad de 20,1 nudos (37,2 km / h 23,1 mph) desde 10.344 caballos de fuerza (7.714 kW), durante sus pruebas en el mar . Los motores funcionaban con 18 calderas Belleville . Llevaba un máximo de 1.125 toneladas largas (1.143 t) de carbón y su complemento estaba formado por 470 oficiales y soldados.

Su armamento principal consistía en 11 cañones Mk I de disparo rápido (QF) de 6 pulgadas (152 mm) . Se montó un arma en el castillo de proa y otras dos se colocaron en el alcázar . Los ocho cañones restantes se colocaron a babor y estribor en medio del barco . Tenían un alcance máximo de aproximadamente 10,000 yardas (9,100 m) con sus proyectiles de 100 libras (45 kg). Se instalaron ocho cañones de disparo rápido (QF) de 12 libras y 12 cwt para la defensa contra los torpederos . Se podría desmontar un cañón adicional de 12 libras y 8 cwt para realizar el servicio en tierra. Highflyer también llevaba seis cañones Hotchkiss de 3 libras y dos tubos de torpedos sumergidos de 18 pulgadas .

El blindaje de la cubierta protectora del barco tenía un grosor de 1,5 a 3 pulgadas (38 a 76 mm). Las escotillas del motor estaban protegidas por un blindaje de 127 mm (5 pulgadas). Los cañones principales estaban equipados con escudos de armas de 3 pulgadas y la torre de mando tenía una armadura de 6 pulgadas de espesor.


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16th June 2021 - Please note we currently have a large backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 255865 your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

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Sommaire

Bataille avec le Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse Modifier

En août 1914 , il est transféré à la station du Cap-Vert afin de soutenir l'escadre de croiseurs de l'amiral Stoddart pour retrouver le Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse et le mettre hors d'état de nuire. Le 26 août 1914 , il repère le Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse au large de Río de Oro en train de se ravitailler en charbon. La bataille est rude, mais le paquebot allemand se retrouve finalement à court de munitions et est sévèrement touché. Finalement, le Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse est sabordé par son équipage. À bord de l'Highflyer, un homme est décédé et six autres sont blessés.

Le Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse au cours de la bataille qui l'opposa à l'Highflyer

Le Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse après la bataille

Fin Modifier

Le 10 juin 1921 , le navire est vendu à un chantier de démolition et détruit.


Who was Tom Malcolm Sabine Highflyer?

There are many unanswered questions about how a young African boy rescued from a slave ship came to be buried in a graveyard in Brighton in 1870.

Tom Highflyer along with two other boys were rescued from a slave Dhow in 1866 by Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley of the Royal Navy’s East African Anti-Slave Trade Squadron. Tom was about 8 or 9 years old when rescued.

The London Standard – Tuesday 1st September 1868 reported the news that,

“Captain TMS Pasley of the HMS Highflyer captured slave dhow for which prize money is about to be distributed and three African boys all were found on board the dhow have been brought to England and will, we hear, be well cared for by some of the officers. They had become great favourite on board and had been named respectively Tom Highflyer, Sam Oldfield, and Bob Dhow.”

This newspaper clipping helps to give a better understanding of the circumstances in which Tom was brought to England. It tells us that Tom was named after Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley (1829 to 1870).

The other boys that sailed to England with Tom were also given names connecting them to their rescuers. Sam Oldfield was possibly named after a naval officer aboard the HMS Highflyer, and Bob Dhow, receiving his name from the type of ship from which they were rescued from.

We do not yet know what became of Sam and Bob and very little is known about what happened to Tom after he arrived in England in 1868 after spending two years at sea. But we do have some information about his short life because Tom was documented in the Brighton parish registry.

When he died aged about 12 or 13 he was given quite an expensive and elaborate gravestone that would have been more usual for a person of a higher status. That he was given such a dignified burial and to be remembered in such a way tells something about the esteem that Tom was obviously held in by those who were caring for him. Someone had clearly loved Tom Highflyer.

There are many parallels between Tom’s story and that of Sarah Forbes Bonetta who was rescued by a Naval Captain and given as a gift to Queen Victoria.

FOR THE CLASSROOM

Our educational specialist has created free resources for teachers to use in the classroom to explore the story of Thomas’s life from a historical perspective. They are designed to inspire and educate young minds ages 10/11 (Key Stage 2) and age 14 (Key Stage 3).

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The project aims to honour the life of an African slave boy who lived and died in Brighton 148 years ago. Initiated by Brighton &amp Hove Black History in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council and Woodvale Cemetery and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.


A Posting to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) - Memories of a Wren

WREN Section, St Joseph's College Drafting Office, Far Eastern Fleet, Colombo, Ceylon - September 1944. Ldg Wren Litchfield, 2nd from right, back row.

This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Jane Pearson, a volunteer from Age Concern, Dorchester on behalf of Mrs Freda Kathleen Mary Wade (née Litchfield), and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Wade fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was born in Dorchester on 8 January 1925 and was living there when the war started. My father was a Leading Stoker in the Royal Navy from 1914 to 1918 I had two younger brothers. At 16 I volunteered to be an ARP Messenger and when I was 17½ in 1942 I passed a Selection Board at Portsmouth to join the Wrens (WRNS). I was billeted in Southsea and had to report to HMS Victory where, in the mornings, I learned to march on Southsea Parade — we had a RM Colour Sgt who used to shout like hell at us - and attended lectures on life in the Royal Navy in the afternoon. Then I was sent to Bournemouth where I was stationed at the Royal Marines Pay Office. I volunteered for overseas service one month after arriving in Bournemouth and left England on 23 September 1943. I had thought I was bound for South Africa but instead was destined to go to India and Ceylon.

Our party consisted of 120 Wrens, though altogether there were approximately 4,000 people on the troop ship — the Reina del Pacifico, formerly a liner — bound for Port Said. We sailed from Liverpool proceeding to the north coast of Scotland where we joined the convoy. We were told we couldn’t go up on deck because there was a VIP coming on board this turned out to be King Peter of Yugoslavia. He was going out to Port Said and he and his entourage occupied half the ship. Because of this we, being the only women on board, were given the Officers Quarters, the officers had the Sergeants Quarters and the sergeants were put in 4-tiered bunks in the alleyways. This created a lot of ill-feeling towards us amongst the Other Ranks and we were not at all popular. We were not allowed to stay in our cabins during the day and were allocated a small area of deck apart from the men. We were not allowed to talk to them and as a result they thought we were snobs. We had to take it in turns to get up at 6am to scrub the Mess decks. It was a terrible journey taking 8 days, the weather was rough and I was seasick a lot of the time. I lived on bread rolls and ginger ale.

The convoy travelled through the Mediterranean to Port Said where we got off our ship and were bundled into the Custom sheds with our luggage and then boarded a train to Ismailiya. This journey took us all day and we had no food or water. The train was slow, kept breaking down and was packed with people. When we got to Ismailiya we were piled into trucks and driven to the camp. Arriving there at 10pm, the meal awaiting us was cold meat, salad and sweet potatoes that had been ready since mid-afternoon. We lived there under canvas on HMS Phoenix for three weeks, waiting for a ship to take us to India. The ships were lined up in the Bitter Lakes and, as it was one-way traffic due to the narrowness of the Canal, they had to wait their turn to travel down it. Early one morning, we were picked up by trucks and travelled down to Port Taufiq at the far end of the Canal, where we boarded the HMS Mooltan (a liner ship before the war). This ship was very old, there were no stabilisers and it creaked and groaned the whole time.

I come from a Service family and had grown up with stories of in-fighting in places like Bombay, and so when we had disembarked and made our way to Bombay railway station and I saw walls stained red up to a height of about 18”, I thought it was blood and that there had been some trouble. But later I learned that the real reason was that the local people, after eating curry, chewed betel nuts and then spat them out causing this red stain on the walls.

We spent a day in Bombay. Discipline was strict and if we went anywhere we had to have a male escort. There was a steward who had to go and collect his false teeth in Bombay and he offered to take four of us with him, having obtained permission from the Wren Officer in Charge. We saw the Hanging Gardens where the pharsees put the bodies out on racks for the vultures to pick at. There was a terrible smell everywhere rotting fish, rotting vegetation, bodies and stagnant water and the old joss sticks that they burned in the bazaars. It was not a place for a woman to walk alone.

We joined the midnight train to Madras. The train had four couchettes per compartment (a couchette was a couch covered in rexine — a synthetic covering that was used on furniture before vinyl and plastic) so there were four of us in every compartment. There was no glass in the windows, just an iron grill to prevent anyone from getting in. If we wanted to eat, we had to wait until the train stopped at a railway station, get off and walk along the platform to the buffet car. We would have our meal as the train travelled on and when it stopped at the next convenient station, we would get off again and walk back to our compartment — there were no connecting doors between compartments. One thing I remember vividly about this journey was that when the train pulled in at railway stations the professional beggars would appear. In those days children were purposely mutilated to beg and there were some really terrible sights. There were children with their hands twisted or their legs twisted — I was quite horrified.

When we arrived in Madras, we were split into two groups of 60. The first group of 60 got on the morning train to Colombo, but there were still 60 of us left who would have to wait for the midnight train. There were some European ladies on the platform, who had formed themselves into an equivalent of the WRVS. When they had assured themselves that all 60 of us were there and no more were coming, they split us up and took us to their houses. I and one other Wren ended up at the house of the Danish Ambassador. “Could we please have a bath?” was the first thing we asked when we got there. We had been issued with navy blue dresses for the journey and by that time they were dirty and smelt revolting, but we had no option but to put them back on after bathing as our white uniforms were packed in our cases which were still at the station. The lady who had brought us to the house had her cook make up sandwiches for us and they were parcelled and tied up in banana leaves — a far better method than cling film! The next day we boarded the train again, transferred to the Talaimannar Ferry across to Ceylon and finally another train down the coast to Colombo. The journey from Bombay to Colombo took three days and three nights.

It was November by now and the time of the north easterly monsoon. There was a Force 9 gale blowing and torrential rain. We piled into trucks and were taken down along the Galle Road to St Peter’s College which was on the outskirts of Colombo. This was to be our home for the next six months. We were put into what were intended to be wards they were long cabins in the grounds of the College built to house the casualties from Burma. The floor was made of cement, the walls of bricks to waist height and then it was just wide open — no windows. The roof, which was made of plaited palm leaves, overhung by a few feet to stop the rain coming in. Later we were put into other quarters nearer to Colombo when they became available.

We were under a tremendously strict regime while living in quarters. We were under guard the whole time. We were not allowed to go “ashore” unless we had a male escort and if we did go out we had to sign a book giving details of where we were going and who we were going with — and we had to be in by 10pm! A lot of dances were held and trucks were sent to take us to them and bring us back. There was no bottled water and no antibiotics. If you had dengue fever — a mild form of malaria — you just had to get on with it. I had it twice. For breakfast you only had one egg and one rasher of bacon a week. We used to have “train smash” which was tinned tomatoes with fried bread, or “cowboy’s breakfast” — beans on toast. We were allowed one slice of bread, a teaspoon of marmalade and a teaspoon of butter. We were always hungry! As a consequence if we were asked out we always said we would like to go for a meal — we got quite a name for this. We were not allowed to sunbathe and if you got burnt you were not fit for duty which could result in loss of pay. Our uniform consisted of three dresses, for use off duty, and six shirts and six skirts for work. In the monsoon weather you could not dry clothes in the sun so they were dried in huts with woodsmoke. Our washing stank of woodsmoke and the dhobey used to starch our dresses, which were made of thick drill, with rice water so that they were like a board to open up before putting on! We wore white canvas shoes that had to be blancoed, and ankle socks.

The quarters we lived in did not have windows, just bars. You had to make sure you did not put any chairs near the window as in the night the natives would come with poles and help themselves to your clothes. We had mongoose running around in the rafters and grey baboons swinging from the trees outside. One day I was in the toilet in the Wrens quarters and saw a huge tarantula (its body was as big as my hand) on the curtain. A guard came in and shot it.

After two days settling in we were all given our situation work, split up because we were girls and then detailed to our respective work places. We were signallers, coders or writers — I was a writer. My work place was at St Joseph’s College in Darley Road, Colombo. I was attached to HMS Lanka (under the command of Captain Harris), in the Drafting Office of the CinC Far Eastern Fleet (Admiral Sir James Somerville) and I was paid 15/- a week. They were bringing people from East Africa to Ceylon which was the stepping off point into Burma. Before this the administrative side had been in Singapore, then they moved to Mombasa, and now they joined us and formed their HQ in Colombo. Lord Mountbatten set up his HQ in Kandy. The plans for the invasion of Burma were made in the Botanical Gardens at Kandy and Lord Mountbatten lived at the Swiss Hotel there. The Governor of Ceylon at that time was Sir Geoffrey Layton.

My job was to keep up to date the records of all the men on the ships. For instance, when a ship went down we would take a whole batch of cards (those of the ship’s crew) and put them in the “dead section”. Then as information came in we would retrieve the cards of the men who had survived and update them. We worked in three enormous classrooms whose walls were lined with tables holding boxes of cards. We worked from 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.30pm. I did this for a year.
Then I was promoted to Leading Wren and sent up to Trincomalee to HMS Highflier to work in the dockyard in the Captain Superintendent of the Dockyards Office - Captain Boyle.

There was an office in Colombo where you could apply to take leave (7 days) at one of the tea estates. The planters up country, most of whom were Scottish, opened up their houses under a hospitality scheme for members of the Armed Services. Transport was arranged with the Army, if a truck was going in that direction, or a railway warrant would be issued. You would then travel by truck at 5am to Colombo Fort railway station to board the day train to Diyatalawa or Nuwara Eliya. Transport, usually a vehicle driven by the planter’s wife, would be waiting to take you to their bungalow where you lived with the family.

I got married on 9 September 1944. My husband was a Major in the Ceylon Army Services Corps. We were married at Christchurch, Galle Face in Colombo by Gilbert Jessop, Chaplain RN, HMS Berunda. In civilian life he had been Vicar of Fordington, Dorchester - the church where I was christened! My husband was the CO of a company of Ceylonese who were responsible for feeding 13,000 souls every day. This was the build-up to the invasion of Burma, which never happened as the atomic bomb was dropped, though we didn’t know that then.

We lived in a bungalow out in the sticks on the edge of Trincomalee — our nearest neighbours were Italian POWs and East African troops. We did not have sanitation, just “thunderboxes” and a supply of wood shavings. Water was delivered in the morning by tanker a bath was filled, and we made this do twice. We had a lead-lined ice box which was delivered from the cold store near the dockyard. Ice was delivered in blocks wrapped in sacking.

I remained there until I came home to the UK, by now pregnant with my first child, in July 1945 for demob. I went immediately to Scotland to see my husband’s family. I was in Dundee when peace was declared and I remember all the ships berthed along the River Tay were sounding their hooters and making an enormous noise.

(To see a second picture of the Entire Drafting Office, Far Eastern Fleet, Colombo, Ceylon, go to story heading "Drafting Office, Far Eastern Fleet").

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Helping people find out more about their relatives wartime experiences since 1999 by recording and preserving recollections, documents, photographs and small items.

This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.

If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.


Watch the video: HMS Highflyer 1898 Top # 7 Facts (September 2022).


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