Stories from an Able Seaman

Served in the Royal Navy in WWII, signing up on my 18th birthday on 20th April 1943 & served for three years until 1946. My rank was an Able Seaman on board HMS Adventure and HMS Hartland Point, under Captain Bowes Lyons.

I was aboard my Royal Navy ship the HMS Adventure, that was a mine layer cruiser and was involved in the second day run of Normandy D-Day landings. My duties involved oxygen pump operator for sea divers that went down & marked tanks & other vehicles lost during landings. Served in ammunition stores whilst dog fights went on in the sky between allied fighter aircraft & Nazi Luftwaffe.

We picked up Canadian POWs that had been captured at Dieppe in France & took them back to Canada. On arriving in Canada, we took the West to East railway train, stopping off at every city & major town: Sachkaskawan, Halifax, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver and saw the Rocky Mountains. After spending some time in Vancouver, my crew picked up the HMS Hartland Point and set sail into the North Pacific.

The Japanese had surrendered as a result of the two atom bomb droppings on Nakasaki & Hiroshima, but there was the possibility of Japanese naval vessels & submarines still at sea, as they may not have got the news of surrender. We were challenged by Morse code to identify ourselves and called its bluff and replied, “Royal Navy destroyer.” We told them to tell us who they were, they replied “U.S navy battlecruiser” and everything was fine. Had we said anything else we may not have seen the following day and may not be here.

We were only a repair and maintenance ship and never even had a doctor on board at the time. We were very lucky that day. We sailed up the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Indian Ocean, Ceylon and Tkemali. I had my 21st birthday in Singapore.

Photo: Peter Kent, age 95. Able Seaman RN. Served aboard HMS Adventure & HMS Hartland Point, Legion d’Honneur and Pacific medal

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