Lest we forget!
My father was in the Royal Navy during The Second World War. He was on the minesweepers. His ship wasn't a big British built ship with the proud name of, HMS Harrier, or Hazard, and a crew of a hundred sailors. It was a small wooden craft, not much bigger than a boat really. Some had come from America. They didn't have names, only numbers, and some weren't even seaworthy when they arrived on our shores.
Dad's job was to guide the anchor when the ship entered or left port. He was locked in an airtight compartment. If a mine had touched the anchor, or its chain - the only part of the minesweeper that was metal - it would have exploded. The small compartment would have flooded, dad would have drowned, but the ship would have been saved. Whether it was luck, or that dad was good at his job - I'd like to think the latter, though I expect luck played a big part in it - the ship survived the war and, thank God, so did my Dad.
My handsome father, Jack Smith, is standing top left as you look at the photograph. As an amateur boxer for the Royal Navy he was exceptionally fit, in every sense of the word.
Dad's ship was the first up the Seine, France, and the lead ship into Copenhagen harbour, Denmark, after sweeping the North Sea. He told me once that an officer on his ship fell overboard into the North Sea and he jumped in and saved him. The officer got a medal. Dad? He got a double ration of rum. Which he told me was his reward for doing the dangerous job he did.
Many brave men and women have lost their lives in conflicts before and since WWII.
We remember them all .
I wear my poppy for the men and women who did come home,
and the men and women who did not
More photographs from WWII
Dad, back row second from right,
taking a break on a beach somewhere
Dad, back row far left, and the football team
WWII (Left to right) Uncle Tom (Army), uncle Arthur (Navy), Aunty Dorothy (WAAF)
First World War, grandfather Tom Ward (Royal Engineers on horseback)