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The Churchill Society
London.

Be of good cheer.

The hour of your deliverance will come.

The soul of freedom is deathless.

It cannot and will not perish.

Broadcast to the Czech People,

London,

11th September 1940

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Mrs Pamela Timms

29 Kings Avenue Ipswich Suffolk

IP4.1NT

(0044) 01473.425 721


Dedicated to my daughter, Linda,

my grandchildren, Heather, Ashley and Reb

and my great grandsons Darren, Stuart, Toby and Adam.

in loving memory of my husband

Ernest Henry Timms

(Timmo)

15th May 1915 - 23rd December 1993.

 

 

Timmo (on the right) showing HRH Prince Edward in Ipswich the model ships he made.

Model

Timmo's model of 19th century Tea Clipper.

 

Tim served in The Battle of the Atlantic (Awarded the Atlantic Star), he was then drafted to the Norwegian Campaign where his ship was sunk by bombing in Narvik Fjord and he was on a raft for about five hours in the freezing conditions with a dead shipmate. He then went to Dunkirk, then on to Bordeaux, then he served in the corvette HMS Kittiwake (displacement 580 tons ) in E-boat Alley.

HMS Kittiwake

 

 

Dropping depth charges

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In the summer of 1939 I was living in France with a Parisian family, at their villa in Trouville.

As the summer went on the international situation became more and more serious, culminating in the signing of the pact between Germany and Russia. German troops were massing on the Polish border and as I went among the French people I was asked again and again "Que dit Monsieur Churchill?".

At 17 my political awareness was not very well developed, but the seriousness of the situation was clear for all to see. I have never forgotten the respect for Churchill's opinion exhibited by the French people.

My father commanded my immediate return to England. Arrangements to return were rendered extremely difficult as seven classes of men had been called up and the banks were closed. Happily, although I could draw no money I had my ticket and my passport.

I packed my cases to the accompaniment of Monsieur Simonnot (my host) quoting passages from the prophecies of Nostradamos (very much in vogue at that time) - hardly encouraging! The radio stations were only broadcasting news bulletins, which interspersed the non-stop playing of Ravel's "Bolero". I have only to hear that piece of music to be back there again, recalling only too well the apprehension we all felt!

My journey back to England was tedious and I was sad to leave my French friends - they had a complete faith in the Maginot Line and were convinced that they were adequately defended.

As the ferry left Trouville to cross the mouth of the Seine to Le Havre I looked back for a last sight of my friends - but my last glimpse of Trouville was completely obscured by thick black cloud - it seemed symbolic, for life, for most of us, was never to be the same again.

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One of my most vivid memories is hearing of the loss of HMS Hood, on 24th May 1941.

By that time I was serving in the WRNS at Harwich (HMS Badger) and on the evening of 24th May I was at a dance with two friends (also Wrens). In the interval we were having drinks in the bar with a group of Wrens and sailors when the door burst open and a sailor came in - his face was the colour of paper and he seemed unable to speak.

"What's the matter mate?" someone said - the reply came . . . . "The Hood's gone".

There was complete silence in the crowded bar - a silence you could feel. There were few men there who did not know someone in the Hood. The Navy was (and I have no doubt still is) very much like a family - men served three-year commissions in ships and so got to know very many people.

We learned later that the Hood was sunk in the early hours of 24th May 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck, in the Denmark Strait. Of her complement of nearly 1400 men there were 3 survivors.

The subsequent chase and final sinking of the Bismarck in response to Churchill's signal "Sink the Bismarck" has been well documented. She was sunk in the North Atlantic on the morning of 27th May 1941 by gunfire from HM Battleships Rodney and King George V and torpedoes from HMS Dorsetshire (cruiser).

On that day I was invited to lunch aboard HMS Pintail . My host was the midshipman who was about the same age as myself (19).

 

Leading Wren Pamela Timms (Wren no 17449) aged 22 years.

A signal was brought to the Captain who told us that the Bismarck had been sunk. The cheering echoed along the whole length of the quay and from ships anchored mid-stream - we all felt that the Hood had been avenged.

Of Bismarck's complement of some 1900, 110 were saved by Royal Navy ships. Just 14 days later, on 10th June, the Pintail was lost - she was mined off the Humber. The Midshipman was the only officer to be saved.

Petty Officer E.H.Timms

(No LDX/3338) aged 28 years.

When he was serving in HMS Calcutta (4200 tons displacement),
they went to relieve their sister ship HMS Curlew in Lavang Fjord in the Narvik

only to find her with her mast sticking out of the water, having been sunk by German Air attack.

 

Timmo (front right) and fellow gunners

The Atlantic Star

The Pacific Star

1939/45 War Medal

The 1939/45 Star

February 1942 holds another very vivid memory. I was by then engaged to a sailor serving in HMS Kittiwake, a corvette based at Harwich.

On the 11th February 1942 the German the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen, broke out from Brest, making for their home port of Bremerhaven.

On the 12th February I had arranged to meet my fiance at a dance in Dovercourt and went there with another Wren friend. It seemed odd that there were so few men there, the only ones present being shore-based staff and no sign of my fiance.

After a while a young lieutenant who had had rather more to drink than was compatible with maintaining strict secrecy said to me. "There's not a ship in harbour - the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen are out and in the North Sea". My friends and I spent an anxious night - we knew that the German ships had enormous fire-power and all we could send to intercept were and corvettes. One of our destroyers, HMS Worcester, was badly damaged and managed to limp back to Harwich. It was a sad sight to see her, minus most of her upper-structure and to see the wounded (many of them our friends) being brought ashore.

The German ships arrived in Bremerhaven on 13th February, not entirely undamaged, both the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau having hit mines.

German submarine surrendering to the Royal Navy

TYPHOON

She was small and black, with four legs, a tail, green eyes and a great personality. Her name was Typhoon.

I met her aboard my husband's ship HMS Kittiwake. she was the ship's cat.

Kittiwake had put into Yarmouth. There had been an air-raid and some of the crew went ashore to see if they could help. In a bombed-out house they found only one survivor - a little black cat. So they picked her up, took her back to the ship and named her "Typhoon". She quickly settled down as a member of the crew,. She had her own small hammock on the mess deck and learned very quickly where food came from.

When the ship was in harbour she went ashore in the Liberty boat - and whatever time leave was piped she would be back on the dockside to get back to the ship.

She did not waste her time ashore - there was an almost non stop stream of kittens - one litter rumoured to be the result of a goodwill visit to a Russian ship. Her kittens were always born on the Chief Engineer's bunk - he turned out quite happily for the "Typh".

It was a charming sight on the mess deck to see Typhoon looking out of her hammock with two small black kitten faces beside her.

She only missed the ship once- and that was a bad trip - a very severe storm and a man lost overboard.

Eventually she retired from the Navy and went to live ashore with one of the crew and his family.

Dear Typhoon - she went through all the vicissitudes of life in a corvette in "E boat Alley" and I know she made a great contribution to the morale of her shipmates.


Extract from the signal log - "Lord Plender laid alongside Lady Philomena all night"

Lord Plender and Lady Philomena were minesweeping trawlers.


 

 

...................Ladybird.

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