Veteran Stories:
John Grant

Navy

  • HMS Forfar in 1940.

    John Grant
  • Photo of the crew aboard HMS Forfar. Mr. Grant is pictured on the far right.

    John Grant
  • John Grant in 1939 when he joined the Royal Navy.

    John Grant
  • Liberation of Europe - Account of Wages, 1945.

    John Grant
  • Portrait of John Grant during his Merchant Navy Service, 1943.

    John Grant
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"I got on the trim and jumped into the water. Down about 40 feet, I guess. And then we spent 14 hours there."

Transcript

And I was commander’s messenger on her [HMS Forfar]; and everywhere the commander [Captain Norman Hardy] went, I chased him. Right up to the time we were lost, it was the same thing. Day after day, wherever the commander went, I went. The night we were lost [December 2, 1940], he was always five spaces ahead of us when they were walking around the decks, but he walked ahead of us; and when he walked onto the ship, it cracked in half; and he went down between the decks. He shouted to us, go back. So we turned and went back. But he got out, he went down, he landed down below, he went back aft and got back out on deck. And I went forward and I went over the side. I got on the trim and jumped into the water. Down about 40 feet, I guess. And then we spent 14 hours there. No lifeboats got off, or one or two got off. There was some [life]boats, but they couldn’t get them off because they were electric winches. And electric winches don’t work without electricity. So we had about 28 lifeboats and no way to get them off the ship. There’s bodies going everywhere. Well, we left Italy. We went down to Casablanca, to take on cargo. We loaded with peanuts, believe it or not. They use that for making ammunition. And coming out, we got rammed by a convoy coming in, inbound convoy. We were outbound in the foggy weather. We had the starboard side torn out of the ship and two lifeboats, the rafts. All the starboard side was cleaned…. and we come back into Casablanca; and we patched her up a bit and we took away, and brought her back to England, like she was never fixed, nothing, really. We made her airtight. We got her up. We used the same ship for the invasion of Europe and took her across, and sank her at Mulberry "B" [artificial] harbour at Arromanches [Normandy, France]. She was there 10 years after the war, she was still there, just same as the day we left her there. Her and the [HMNS] Queen Wilhelmina [escort vessel], the old Dutch battlewagon. I was in Holland when the war ended, up in Venhuizen. It was 8:00 at night and they told us the war was over. We were on our way up to Ghent in Belgium. And we stopped there.
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