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Interview with Harry Crawley about his service in the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy during the Second World War

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Date(s): 2006

Creator(s): Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, Age Exchange, Liverpool Culture Company & Age Concern Liverpool

Scope & Content: Harry Crawley talks to Rebecca Jane Ross-Williams mainly about his service in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War. He talks about how he was born at Ballamaddrell, Arbory, Isle of Man; his schooling until the age of 16 when he joined the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company as an apprentice engineer; work undertaken during his five year apprenticeship; how in 1936, 37 he bought a KTS 750cc motorbike; funeral of J.R. Kelly; his wages.

He talks about his Second World War service as 3rd engineer on the 'Rushen Castle' with Mr Cain, chief engineer and Charlie Kelly, 2nd engineer; his service on the 'Tynwald' which was used as a troop carrying vessel; being sent to Southampton, Le Harve and Cherbourg during 1940; other Isle of Man Steam Packet boats used as troop carriers including the 'Fenella', 'Ben-my-Chree' and 'Mona’s Queen' and their service at Dunkirk; how Lacey Knowles on the 'Mona’s Queen' was the only engineer to survive an attack off the Belgium coast; description of the journeys in and out of Dunkirk including when the 'Fenella' was hit and the conditions; Arthur Cowley, greaser; Dunkirk memories and Thomas Cain DSO; transporting prisoners of war from Liverpool to the Clyde for transhipment to Canada.

Harry talks about how he joined the Royal Navy as an officer in 1942; his Portsmouth digs and wages; Colin Brown; Mr Adams; how he met his wife, a Wren, in Portsmouth; Bob Smith, his best man; the refit of the 'Tynwald'; how on the first trip from Portsmouth to Plymouth, around Land’s End, attacked by German planes; escorting convoys of merchant ships from Belfast Lough to Milford Haven and the Bristol Channel; tanker with a catapult aircraft on board which was a rocket assisted plane; Captain Peters DSO; how after 'Tynwald' sunk Harry was sent to America where he met a senior engineer who knew Tom Kermeen, shore engineer of the Cunard in New York, a relative by marriage; HMS 'Stalker'; suffering from headaches and being hospitalised.

Administration / Biographical History: The Cruel Sea Project undertook research with Merchant Navy veterans, their families and women whose men were at sea or experienced Liverpool during the Second World War. This included veterans either from the Isle of Man or who worked in the Irish Sea. The Cruel Sea Project was done in partnership with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Age Exchange, Liverpool Culture Company & Age Concern Liverpool. Cruel Sea was a UK national reminiscence project focussing on Second World Merchant Navy veterans.

Language: English

Extent: 1 hr. 19 min. 57 sec.

Collection: Sound Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: SA 2019-0054/8

Access conditions: All reasonable attempt has been made by Manx National Heritage to trace and request permission (where needed) from the copyright holder(s) in this sound recording. If however you think you are a rights holder then please contact Manx National Heritage.

Subject tags : #UOSH


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