Veteran Stories:
Robert Edward Kennedy

Navy

  • The "Final Victory" pennant given to the crew of the Ship Gambia, the Ship Gambia's crest and the crest of the Royal Marine.

  • The crew of the HMNZS Gambia before they left the pacific for England at the end of the war. 1945.

  • Certificate marking the HMNZS Gambia's participation in the official Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.

  • The HMNZS Gambia in February 1945. This ship was part of the Navy of New Zealand.

  • Mr. Kennedy at the Pacific Fleet Reunion in Portsmouth, England in 1995.

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"The ship was damaged during that Battle of Crete, and after repairs we went on back to the Mediterranean fleet convoys to Malta."

Transcript

My name is Robert Kennedy. I joined the Royal Marines in September 1937, and my service career took me around the world. During my service during the war, part of it was with the home fleet in the North Atlantic. We ran from there to the Mediterranean, onboard HMS Naiad – a flagship from the 15 Cruiser Squadron, eastern Mediterranean. I took part in the evacuation of Greece and the Battle of Crete, May 1941. The ship was damaged during that Battle of Crete, and after repairs we went on back to the Mediterranean fleet convoys to Malta. During the very rough days, Malta suffered by aerial bombardment – Stukka dive-bombing – and the convoys from Alexandria to Malta, they were heavily bombed, and merchant ships carrying supplies to Malta… on a lot of occasions, quite a few of the merchant ships were sunk. The odd one would get through with vital supplies required. My ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat on the 11th of March, 1942. From there, we went to a naval camp just outside of Alexandria in the desert, and then we were shipped onboard a troop ship to Durban, South Africa. We were in camp there in Durban for two or three weeks, until such times as the Battleship Valiant came down from the Mediterranean, and into dry dock in Durban for engine repairs, and then from there, when she was ready to join the fleet, we sailed for Mombasa, East Africa. We joined the eastern Mediterranean fleet. We were there with the eastern Mediterranean fleet until such times as we were returning back to the UK. I left the Valiant there. I took a course – a sniper's course. After the course was completed, I got some foreign service leave and was shipped to Ceylon. Did some jungle training there, with the intentions of operating behind Japanese lines in Burma, but one of the British Cruisers was damaged off the coast of Burma, and a couple of marine gun-layers was killed, so they asked for gun-layers to volunteer to go aboard the New Zealand Cruiser, Gambia. Twelve thousand tons, triple six-inch guns… so that's where I finished up, with the Gambia.
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