The Centre’s naval collection holds a rich and varied cross-section of maritime experience. Memories, photographs and other documents of individual seafarers are featured on these pages, illustrating the various aspects of life at sea during the Second World War, including the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Fleet Air Arm and navies of the different countries involved. We also focus on the substantial commitment made by women’s services.

Please also take time to visit the Key Aspects section to read more on the different naval campaigns, including the ill-fated convoy PQ17 and personal experiences relating to the harsh conditions of the Russian convoys.

Remember we are adding new material all the time so please call back.


Christopher Tulitt - Merchant Seaman

Chris Tulitt R261624

Chris Tulitt was born in January 1925 and he was attending Bournemouth School at the outbreak of war. He wanted to go to sea and chose the Merchant Navy as he was able to join earlier, at the age of 16.

Colin Craston - RN Telegraphist (R)

00-0595 Colin Craston

Born in Preston in December 1922 Colin volunteered for service in October 1941. As a Wireless Telegraphist he served aboard HMS Eclipse on convoys to Murmansk, Russia, from June 1942 until March 1943. Colin's diary of early 1943 is a revealing testament to the extreme conditions faced by those serving in the convoys. After Craston's departure from the Eclipse the destroyer headed to the Mediterran

David Wilson - Merchant Seaman

At the outbreak of war, David Wilson was at boarding school in Dorset where he joined the Officers' Training Corps. .......on 7 July 1942 the ship he was held on arrived in Yokohama Harbour......

Derek Foster - Telegraphist/Air Gunner FAA

From the age of sixteen in 1940, Derek Foster took the first step towards playing his part in the war by joining the Air Training Corps....

Donald Birks RN ERA

D Birks 1943 Portrait

Engine Room Artificer Donald Birks RN was drafted on board HMS Dulverton, a Type II Hunt class destroyer, in late October 1943. A mere two weeks later, on 13 November 1943, his ship was attacked and hit by a glide bomb from a German aircraft five miles off the Greek island of Kos in the Aegean Sea.

Edward Lacy King Jr - US Navy

Edward Lacy King - USN

In December 1916 Edward Lacy King Jr was born ,son of Edward Lacy and Edith (Follett) King - in New Orleans, Louisiana,USA. Seeing Service in the Phillipines

Eric Such - Fleet Air Arm

Picture of Eric Such

Eric Such was born in 1924 in Smethwick, Staffordshire and was educated at two schools, at the second of which, Crocketts Lane school, he was appointed School Captain, on leaving school at 14, Eric started at an engineering company, training as a pattern maker, but wanted to join up as soon as war was declared, although he was under-age.

Frank Arkle RNVR

First Lieutenant of ML 177, Frank Arkle RNVR

"We were then to report to Falmouth. We found that a fleet was assembling there, and this comprised of a destroyer, HMS Campbeltown, an ex US ship that had been converted to look very much like a certain type of German destroyer. "

Fred Seiker

Fred Seiker was born in Holland in 1915. He served in the Dutch Merchant Navy after attending the Rotterdam College of Marine Engineering and during the war he served on the North Atlantic routes and between the Far East and the UK. In 1942 he became a prisoner of the Japanese after the invasion of Java and was transferred to Changi jail in Singapore. He was sent to work on the Thai-Burma railroad

George Davidson DSM

I joined 20th ML Flotilla but I wasn’t enjoying it very much so I volunteered for parachute training. One day the skipper of the boat announced my request for draft to parachute training had been granted. He then said they had an interesting party coming up and if I chose, I could be included so I said, “Right, I’ll stay.” This developed into the raid on St Nazaire.

George Goodyear - RN Coder

Mr George Goodyear of Ilkley, West Yorkshire was recorded for the Centre in December 2014 speaking of his wartime experiences as an RN Coder, serving on board HMS Obdurate on Atlantic and Russian convoy duties from 1942-1944, and later on HMS Waveney and HMS Loch Craggie. In recognition of his service on Arctic convoys, George was awarded the Arctic Convoy Star in 2012, and the Ushakov Medal.

George Smith - RN Telegraphist (S)

George Smith

George in the Home Guard aged 17 George was born in March 1925, the only son in a poverty-stricken family from London's East End and he left school at 14 to work in an office. In mid 1940, as George was returning home with his sister and friends, the sirens started and he watched the ensuing raid from his friend's house. Guns were firing from the parks at the aircraft: The bravest sight I reme

Hamor Gardner Sr R/O - Merchant Seaman

The war could not have been fought without the steady flow of supplies transported to every theatre of war on merchant ships. Ask yourself: how did all the military personnel get to those war zones? How did they get their food, smokes, boots and clothing? How did all the military equipment get there? Everything from a carton of cigarettes to one thousand pound bombs was carried on merchant ships.

Lieutenant John Roderick MC

Lieutenant John Roderick M.C. Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur

I was 23 years of age at the time of the raid. I took over 3 Troop from Godfrey Franks in late 1941. I had Bung Denison and John Stutchbury as my Section Commanders. Bung, for the Raid, went with one of the other parties while John remained in mine. Speaking for myself, I thought we were a very happily constituted troop with a great deal of enthusiasm and sparkle. TSM Smith, with his Guards traini

Lt Derric Breen RNVR

Ordinary Telegraphist Derric A Breen, Skegness June 1940

Derric was born in December 1919 and grew up in Chopwell in the Derwent Valley with two brothers and a sister. His father had died a month before Derric was born and his mother worked hard to provide for the family. Derric was at the City of Leeds Training College when he heard war had been declared, but was initially undecided as to what course of action to take, as his political convictions led

Mary Hall - WRNS (née Carlisle)

Mary volunteered for the WRNS in 1939 but was told she should first complete her education at Oxford University, as there were no vacancies except for cooks and stewards, neither of which she would be good at!:

Patricia Potton WRNS (née Gervaise)

Patricia was born in 1923 in Barry, South Glamorgan to Patrick and Lily Gervaise, and was the sixth of nine children. Only 16 when war broke out, Patricia had to wait until she was 18 before she could volunteer for the WRNS.

Patrick Dalzel-Job - RN

Patrick Dalzel-Job

Patrick Dalzel-Job was born near London in 1913. He suffered ill health as a child.Patrick was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 8 December 1939, and requested a posting as far north as possible....

Penny Martin - WRNS (née Burra)

Norrie and Penny Martin in 1987, Virginia, USA.

Norrie and Penny Martin in 1987, Virginia, USA. Penny was born in October 1921 in West Sussex. Her father, Septimus Burra, had served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the First World War before becoming a farmer and also teaching classes in agriculture. In 1925 he returned to the law as his teaching job had come to an end, and the family, which included Penny's sister Anne, moved to

William Smith DSM - Able Seaman

AB William Smith

At the outbreak of war, Bill Smith was 19 years old and he volunteered for the Royal Navy - In a 10-day battle in March 1943, the Group he was in sank 6 U boats;