War Diary of Captain Alan W. Willis (Lieut.Cmdr. R.D. R.N.R. Ret’d )

This is the story of one man’s war, recorded because it was unique, worth the telling, and covered a critical time in our history. Alan will never admit to being a hero, though he must have rubbed shoulders with some and his war service was truly remarkable in that it involved him in so many theatres of war. Fortunately he was to come through it unscathed - so here are some of his memories. For Alan, war came at the wrong time, not that there is ever a right time of course , but had it not broken out when it did he would have come home to the U.K. to sit for his Masters certificate in 1939 - instead of remaining in India serving with the British India Steam Navigation Co. By this time in his career he had been promoted to third and subsequently second officer but was destined to stay in the Far East until 1942 - five years after his last home leave because of the outbreak of hostilities - a situation which he appears to have accepted without the resentment that you or I might harbour. But then of course had war not intervened he might well not have met Sheila whom he first came across in Cardiff whilst taking his Masters exams after the war was over, but more of that later. Alan was the youngest of the family born to Harry B. Willis and Gertrude Annie (nee Pilley) who were married in 1898,living together very happily until her untimely death (cancer) in 1921. Harry was a gifted musician, playing cello violin and piccolo in local ensembles ,a church choirmaster and dedicated Local Preacher of the Methodist Church in the Ross District. There were six children of the marriage -Winifred (b. 1900) and Reginald (b.1901) both of whom died as teenagers. (Alan, who was not born until 1911 has only the haziest recollection of them) Irene (1903) was a spirited girl, full of fun and laughter who played the piano and occasionally the church organ, and who later married Norman Wilks and produced 2 children, Joan and Michael (about whom I would not dare to comment!). Then came Muriel (1907) who was to marry Norman after the death of her sister, ‘ Mu’ the quiet but adventurous and much loved lady, mother of David and Peter. Stan (1910) born only 18 months earlier than Alan was a lifelong friend as well as brother. Always interested in wireless telegraphy Stan worked for the Marconi Co. both at sea as Radio Officer and with the Kings Flight in the early days of International aviation. Another quiet one was he with a lovely sense of humour - formal mind you -you would never catch him without collar and tie! He later married Amy - a very happy union despite her psychological problems in later life. Page 2
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