Aireborough Historical Society

1939 to 1945 Home Guard and Royal Navy memories. Part 2


Sam KilburnH.M.S. GangesJapanese Surrender
Title Home Guard and Royal Navy
Name
Sam Kilburn
Gender Male
Date of Birth  February 1926
Currently Residing Rawdon
Subject
"Our next port of call was Ramsgate where I almost got myself shot for dereliction of duty.
I had been given the midnight to 4am watch on deck and was to keep the ropes slackened off as the tide fell 30ft in Ramsgate harbour.
For the first hour I did my duty and then I decided to have a rest so I lay down on my bunk and placed a bayonet under my chin to keep me from falling asleep, unfortunately it didn't work and the next thing I knew the Coxswain was shaking me violently and was red in the face and asking me what I thought I was doing as I had slept through my own watch and the next chaps watch it was 6a.m. and the boat was hanging perilously from the jetty and it took two crews to slacken off the ropes with the help of the now rising tide to float the boat again, needless to say I was put on Skippers report and was given 14 days "Jankers" which meant work or drill as required and also two weeks loss of pay.

We carried on doing patrols etc until a week before the second front when some electricians came aboard and started fitting lights to the masthead and wiring them back to a key in my cabin.
We were sent over to the French coast on the night of June the fifth to act as a last signal station for the saturation bombing of the beaches before the D-Day landings.
When I used the Key the sky filled with bombers then knew just exactly how far to go before dropping their bombs.
Returning to Dartmouth on the morning of June the 6th I was called up onto the bridge by the Skipper and couldn't believe my eyes as the whole horizon was full of ships of every description on their way to the French Coast.
We returned to Dartmouth picked up a number of black American soldiers and took them back to Omaha beach with the second wave."
"After D-Day we patrolled the Channel chasing E-Boats as far away as the Hook of ...Holland.
We did stop one boat and took the crew prisoner, I was given a pistol and five rounds of ammunition and told to go aboard and get the confidential books etc, and if their operator gave me any trouble to get rid of him, fortunately for me he didn't give me any trouble and I was able to get the books without any problems.

Soon after this we decommissioned M.T.677 and returned to H.M.S. Mercury at Portsmouth from whence I was drafted to the Far East.
I boarded SS Stratheden in Liverpool docks for my passage to Australia and spent three weeks at sea during which time we crossed the equator south of the straights of Bab el Mendeb and had the usual crossing the line ceremony, before reaching Freemantle where we had a couple of days shore leave before sailing to Melbourne and Sydney, where we disembarked and went to join H.M.S. Golden Hind a shore establishment.

As I entered the camp carrying my kit bag, a steaming bag and hammock and sweating in the 90 deg heat I was confronted by a big sign which stated 'Extra blankets may be drawn at the Quartermasters store' I was so hot I completely ignored it to my peril for by seven pm I was wearing my seamans sweater and oilskin coat to try to keep warm.

We were there almost a month during which time I was taken to stay with some ex-patriots called Eckford who had emigrated from Yeadon after the First World War and with whom I had a really great time visiting various beaches and playing golf with Jim at Pennant Hills golf course where he was the professional.
When I wasn't with him I used to go to the British Centre in Sydney where you could play snooker and darts etc. and you could have a meal all for free, or to the Anzac buffet which was if anything better as you could also go to dances with the local women and even have a shower and bed for the night again all for free".


"After about a month I joined H.M.S. Tyne a maintenance cruiser and destroyer depot ship which was manned by artisans... who were able to refit and repair ships which had been damaged, during the next few months we sailed up through the South Sea Islands, via Port Morseby, the Solomon Islands, the fleet anchorage at Manus in the Admiralty Islands, Carolines, the Marianas and the Philippines to Hong Kong.

During our voyage up through the islands the Americans dropped their atom bombs and the war was brought to an end.

We were ecstatic at first as we realized that we had survived and that we would soon be on our way home, but then we thought of the lives lost and ruined by mans inhumanity to man over the past six years, we were just grateful to have come through safely and looked forward to celebrating when we could get ashore in Hong Kong, but this was to be delayed as inflation was so bad that we had to wait until the allies printed new money before we were allowed ashore.
When we entered Hong Kong harbour we were surprised to see how the Chinese were living on Sampans whole families with no toilet facilities and very little room to move about and the water around them was filthy and full of sewage and litter and riddled with Typhoid.
When we did manage to get ashore we had some quite good times but we were warned that some of the areas like Wanchai on the waterfront were unsafe and we had to go through them on trams and not to go on our own as we may find ourselves robbed or worse.

At the end of the war General McArthur accepted unconditional surrender of the Japanese on board the battleship U.S.S. Missouri.


Written 1990

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