Naval Airman Ken Beardall (04 Feb 1926 – 10 Oct 2005)

My Dad, was the inspiration for my 36 year career in the RN, like me ‘he was born in Walsall, but made in the Royal Navy’! He spent the majority of the war at school at the Queen Mary Grammar School in Walsall, one night of many, the Germans were attempting to drop firebombs on the factories of the West Midlands and several landed on the school. In the words of ‘the Beak’ (the Headmaster) the following morning, ‘several brave boys, including Ken, risked their lives as the fire watch party covered the incendiaries with sand and have saved the main school buildings’. The whole assembly booed instead of cheered at their selfless actions!

In 1944, he started work in a local iron foundry, a reserved occupation, but after several months he was called up into the Navy, apparently the secretary had missed him off the list – sorry.

After basic training and then technical training on early radar systems in Manchester he was assigned to RNAS Dale, HMS Goldcrest on the Pembrokeshire coast. On very windy days Daily Orders stated WRNS were not allowed to cross the runway for fear that they would be blown away into the sea! He learnt to drive a lorry here - the test consisted of reversing a 3 tonner across a wiggly bridge on the road up to the camp. Although now disused, the bridge is still there today. As VE Day arrived Dad’s unit was training hard to join the War in the Far East. Orders arrived in August to go, but the dropping of the Atom bombs and VJ Day cancelled that plan.

Spare a thought for my Mum (still with us), who as a schoolgirl had a lucky escape from a bomb that blew up in the fields opposite her house, and then miraculously survived appendicitis and peritonitis on VE Day. Judging by her scars the surgeon had, like everyone else, been celebrating hard!

Postscript: To my constant internal amusement, I had probably been in the RN about 10 years before I realized that my father’s wartime service had got him as close to the enemy as ‘War-torn Wales’!

Submitted by Commodore Mike Beardall RN

Photo: NA Ken Beardall

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