I grew up being fascinated by old photos and this album was my favourite for two reasons: it was purely my dad’s and it showed me a whole world that I had no experience of – serving in the Royal Navy in the Far East during World War II. It was one of the things that inspired me to take up photography.
Dad was an aircraft electrician in the Fleet Air Arm. He signed up when he was just 18 in 1943, even though he was in a reserved occupation building planes in Coventry. He spent most of his naval career on HMS Emperor, a US built aircraft carrier loaned to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease agreement.
It’s an album full of images of messing around on board ship, sailing through the Suez Canal and visiting far flung places, which must have been amazing to someone who’d grown up in a small Warwickshire village.
There’s more serious stuff too, like this Hellcat that crashed on deck during the invasion of Rangoon.
Seventy years ago today on VJ Day 1945, HMS Emperor was in harbour at Trincomalee in what’s now Sri Lanka, so Dad’s VJ photos show his view of the fireworks from on board ship. (I think they improvised with distress flares.)
But his war wasn’t over quite yet. And it’s these last few photos that are the most interesting. I didn’t understand their significance when I was a child. They were taken at the surrender of Singapore on 12 September 1945. Dad was in the crowds watching Admiral Louis Mountbatten walk into the Municipal Buildings with Japanese General Seishiro Itagaki. Apparently, all the servicemen who took their own photos were ordered to destroy them so only the official photos remained. Clearly Dad, quite rightly, was having none of that so must’ve hidden these ones! I’m glad he did.
And I’m glad too that he took the time and trouble to put his photos in an album, properly labelled so now, all these years later, I still know what they are. A lesson to us all. (I have boxes of photos that I need to do that with!)
Dad survived the war but his war service did take its toll as he passed away in 2000 from mesothelioma, most probably caused by the asbestos he’d been exposed to on board ship. Miss you Dad xx
Thanks for sharing. My father was there also. I will show him the photos.
Julie thank you for posting these my dad served on the Emperor as did yours a radio and radar engineer chief petty officer Ernest Jones I would love to fill in some blank spaces I have only one diary from 1944 and pictures like yours and some I’ve researched on the internet .
I.was there too. In the Army Liaison Section, 4 of us – Next to main Ope Room, Starboard Side Aft.. Square number it was! In Trinco a bit after War – happy days. Camp 39: Good. Ship – good Camp – – good Days! Bill Sutton. 93yrs +. old now!
Hi Linda, with VE Day approaching I dug out a dairy belonging to my late Father Robert Samuel McAtamney (Bobby) and in it are two photos of HMS Implacable and HMS Nelson at Trincomalee Ceylon on VJ Day August 1945. Under one of the images it reads HMS Nelson making good use of her searchlights and fireworks. My Father was Royal Navy during the war and was involved at the Battle of Narvik on HMS Hardy at the age of 20 and must have been in Ceylon on VJ Day.
I, too, was there, as a Wren. To see all the fleet lit up and dressed overall was wonderfully impressive. We were invited on to many of the ships for a tot of rum. What a night!!!
I was a Wren Coder, and left Trinco in 1946 travelling home on HMS Lothian.
Hi Patricia – I’ve only just seen your comment. It must have been a great experience.
My father was also there with the Fleet Air Arm
Hello, My late father, William Charles Llewellyn, (Bill) was in Ceylon during the latter part of the war. He was a signaller on HMS Saumerez based on the island for some time as I understand. I have tried in vain to obtain more information about his service there so if anyone had a relative who served at this time and could give me some more information I would be so grateful. Sadly, he died when I was only 13 so I never had the opportunity to ask all the questions I should love to have done later in my life. Sandra Willcox
Hi Sandra, Hope someone finds your comment who can give you more information. Linda x