Sea Pie by Horace Willie - Royal Navy WWII History and Service life

2 SEA PIE –HORACES WARTIME HISTORY Horace WILLIE Born 7 th March 1914 Died 15 th February 1995 Second son of William Alfred WILLIE and Catherine DOUGHTY. I have been invited to add a contribution to the family album and to record something of my service life during the days of the Second World War. That was a longtime ago nearly fifty years in fact. How do I begin? The great tragedy of the First World War was so deeply impressed upon the people of those days that they were determined as they thought that it should never happen again. There was a wave of pacifism throughout the land. Peace at any price. That can never bethe right answer to aggression. Eventually the day will come when a nation will have to fight for its way of life. That day came in September 1939. I mention this because it does explain why the country was almost without arms when war was declared. I chose to join the Royal Navy in 1940 and was accepted to be trained as a telegraphist. I was not called up until February 1941. Men were available but the ships were not. Why did I choose the Navy? Well I cant run and I would have no buttons to clean. I forgot of course that other things would want cleaning. Harwich was covered with snow when I arrived there and I joined other young men awaiting the picket boat to take us across the river to Shotley Barracks HMS Ganges. I recall shuffling along with others to the barrack gates and a Chief Gunners Mate bawling his head off on the parade ground. Then onto the cookhouse where we were served with cold stew on tin plates at about 3 pm. I suppose we all had much the same thoughts and were quietly stocktaking of everything and of each other but the ice was soon broken therefor is always a humorist in a crowd. We were split up into groups and allotted a dormitory etc. and put under the general control of a Chief Petty Officer. Mine was the Chief Gunners Mate whom I saw on the parade ground. Like so many others that I came into contact with later he was a good chap at heart bawling his head was his chance to showoff. He was helpful and I am indebted to him for three pieces of advice given of course with many expletives. One when standing for a couple of hours on parade take the weight off your heels now and again. Dont do it when the Captain or Admiral is looking at you but just raise your heels slightly. No one can see it. Two you always wear your lifebelt. Thats orders, but the most important thing is to have a torch. How right he was. Three how to answer the question “do you draw?”. My course was for six months along one in those days. In that time we had to learn to receive and transmit Morse at 22 words a minute quite fast and a great deal about radio procedure and coding and a little on technical matters. In addition of course we had minimum instruction on nautical matters PT rifle drill marching etc. The last meal was at 6 pm I think after which we were free more lessor to attend to personal matters and to local leave. Shotley was no place to visit however and we had the benefit of the free film show the canteen gymnasium and the swimming bath in barracks. Films were in their heyday then and were usually good entertainment. The canteen was always popular as was the games room next to it. The swimming bath was of good size and kept spotlessly clean. Hanging from pegs on the wall was a selection of the toughest canvas swimming slips imaginable. No one I think ever used them. We swam naked in those days. At that time we were troubled at night by enemy aircraft en route to carryout bombing raids on London and Midland cities. The authorities had to sound the warning and we had to leave a warm bed for the wet,
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