John was born in 1924 and volunteered for the navy in March 1942 at the age of seventeen. He got in and trained as an anti-aircraft gunner.
John’s first active service came in November. He was sent to Scotland and served on RMS Queen Elizabethon Loch Ewe; he then set sail for New York. He spent Christmas 1942 in New York and the local families entertained them. In January 1943 his new ship, LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 322, was put in the water ready for sea trials before setting off with the Americans to North Africa, and landed in Algiers. John’s next assignment was to supply Malta with aviation fuel in jerrycans, moving into Sicily, Salerno, and the Anzio landings.
John was sent back to England to prepare for the D-Day landings. His ship went into Sword Beach at about 10.30 am. He helped off-loaded troops and heavy equipment, which included Sherman tanks.
By August 1944 John had been promoted and took his new position on the aircraft carrier HMS Patroller, again on the anti-aircraft guns. It was his job to protect the convoys on the Atlantic crossings.
1945 came around and he was called on to a minesweeper as they were short of a gunner. John was given the job of sweeping british mines in the English Channel and the Bristol Channel, and he finally came out of the Royal Navy in May 1946.
After the war he went back to his old job with his dad as a brickie in Bath, and married Joyce in 1947.
‘I cannot swim, even though I was a sailor – where would you swim to anyway?’