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"I would like to tell you about how I managed to survive, I was two decks down in the quarterdeck messdeck when the torpedoes struck, standing by the ladder drinking a mug of tea talking to one of my mates.
The engine room air vents came through that part of the messdeck and when the torpedoes exploded a cloud of smoke and dust came out of the duct, we looked at one another and said "that's it" and immediately made our way to the upper deck. By the time we had reached the upper deck the ship was listing at about 30 degrees.
We made our way to the guard rail and waited for the order to "abandon ship", no order was given but we did see Vice Admiral Pridham-Wippell and other officers come down from the bridge and proceeded to get over the side. We then got over the guard rail and slid down the side onto the torpedo bulge, I took my shoes off and dived off the ship which was a mistake, as I dived so the ship gave one final roll onto it's side.
My head hit some obstruction (may have been the keel), knocking me unconscious. I regained consciousness some seconds later under water being drawn down by the ship, I was just trying to push myself away when I felt this pressure forcing me away. I went bowling over and over. I had no control of my movements. I did not know where I was or how far down I was and I thought this is the end. Just then I shot to the surface, the smoke had almost cleared by then, I said to the chap swimming near me "where's the ship?" he said "she's gone".
I swam around (I had no life belt on) for about half an hour before being picked up H.M.S.Nizam. It wasn't until I was onboard the Nizam and a P.O. said to me "strip your oily clothes off and what's wrong with your head?", did I realise I had quite a big gash on my head. He immediately called the sick bay tiffy to have a look at me who then wrapped a bandage around my head and told me to proceed to the P.O. 's mess.
On the way some one gave me a blanket because I was in the "nods" and somebody else gave me a glass of rum. I was told to get my "head down" under the table, 1 woke up once when they had a air raid warning, other than that I didn't know a thing until we reached Alexandria the following day. On arriving in Alex. the ship tied up against a jetty where an ambulance was waiting to take us wounded to the 64th general hospital. Our president of the Leicester R.N.A. doctor Ward, was a doctor at that hospital at the time and remembers that incident quite well."
| last updated:
13 July 2013