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  • Late one night without warning they were attacked by enemy aircraft. Bombs fell hitting their targets, a loud explosion, then another, the sky lit up. It happened so fast he was instantly in the sea. More explosions. Shocked and confused he heard shouting repeatedly to swim away from the ship, and he did, they did.

    Out of breath, he looked back to see roaring flames and the ship blown in to pieces. Fire surrounded the remains of the ship as men were still trying to escape. Some were on fire; others injured screaming for help, all jumping into the sea. No one escaped unharmed.

    They were in the water for many hours after the fires were engulfed, it was a moonless night and total darkness followed. He told of the injured and feeling cold, shivering, and how men were calling out to each other in the darkness. For hours voices close and distant he could hear their prayers, hear them crying for their mothers, calling out, men gasping for air, choking from the waves, some he thought taking their last breath. He held back his tears reliving the experience, recalling the awful anguish and suffering of those men in the sea that night. He only spoke about this one time.

    Four other ships were sunk that night, not many sailors survived. Those who did were picked up by allied patrol boats patrolling off the shores of Europe. This happened in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after he enlisted. Most sailors were young men 18 or 19 years old.

    Uncle Jack, like so many other young Englishmen left home and joined the Navy to defend their country from invasion and against hostile aggression during WWII. He was assigned to a ship that protected the seas near and around Europe.

    My Granddad told us this story when I was a teenager. I never forgot it. Granddad fought in both WWI and WWII and carried Jack’s photo with him until they both returned home.
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