World War II – A Dad’s Life

[singlepic id=393 w=320 h=240 float=right]Ken Smith, my father was 20 when he joined the Royal Navy in 1940 to fight Nazis and Fascists and to see the world. He was straight-up, straight-down, football and cricket playing chap from Surrey.

He was either 5′-3″ or 5′-2″ depending on whether you believe his notes or the Navy’s. He was eight stone at top weight.

He served on ships of the line including HMSs Ark Royal, Renown, Illustrious, Rodney and the Hood. He was a signal man, never an officer.

When he demobbed on HMS Victory in 1945 he went back to playing cricket and soccer and completing his exams to become a surveyor.

Dad died in 1976. One of the things that killed him was a stroke. The stroke took him back to the deck of one of those ships, under attack, with a friend cut down next to him. He spoke about that.

He was a lovely man who left a battered suitcase behind packed with love letters between himself and my mother but also with newspaper clippings, naval documents, photos that had been cleared for transmission and also censored and never seen since they were developed onboard ship.

HIs sparse diaries are also there and it appears that my simple, usually quiet and cheerful father had exactly the life that you would expect from a 20 year old sailor in close proximity to death… and on shore leave.

Please enjoy my father’s life. I will adding more as I go through the suitcase.

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