- Dowle, Ron
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2005 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
We arrived in port around 2230. My gangway duties kept me onboard, but the lads reported on some of the activities ashore. Sailors were performing on top of lamp posts; all servicemen linking arms with the locals. Our lads found drinks hard to come by. Locals and servicemen ashore had been celebrating all day. Those that did find something to drink were arriving back on board well after midnight and the Officer of the Watch and myself had to turn a blind eye to all the (celebratory) activities.
We were granted three weeks leave and I was able to get married. Ariadne remained in Plymouth but on 10 July I was drafted ashore to HMS Drake (barracks).
I received another draft chit a few days later, but had been now declared medically unfit for sea duties. My naval duties now were as coxswain of an old coal-fired 55 foot drifter, used to ferry libertymen from capital ships anchored in Plymouth Sound, to shore.
On 12 Mar 1946 I was drafted to HMS Imperieuse, an obsolete 1914 battleship, which was anchored off Devonport as a training ship for torpedo specialist ratings.
In January 1947 I was sent to Harley Street in London to see a specialist (and a brother of the surgeon who had attended us in hospital in Scotland (after the sinking of HMS Glorious). His opinion was that my feet might get worse, or they could improve if certain operations were carried out. On my return from London I was put into RN Hospital. Storehouse in Plymouth and was operated on by a very competent naval surgeon.
Afterwards, when I looked at my toes, all separately splinted and as flat as pancakes, I wondered if they would ever look like toes again. When the surgeon visited me I thought he was crazy when he asked me if I could ride a bike or play football. He said I would have to try and do both or I could end up in a wheelchair. Looking back, it was the best advice he could have given me. After my time in hospital, I was transferred to a convalescent home where I spent several weeks, after which I was invalided out of the Navy, declared as being “medically unfit for further naval service”. This ended my eleven years in the Royal Navy.
(Earlier this year Ron returned to UK for the 60th Memorial service for the loss of the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and her attendant destroyers, HM Ships Ardent and Acasta, which was a very moving experience, as he found himself there as the only survivor amongst still-grieving families and former shipmates – the only other one still alive was too infirm to attend – one of the greatest naval tragedies of WW2. Ed.)