|Joeseph Hardiker||gunner||1939 to 1945|
|Stanley Thomas ...||seaman||1943 to 1945||seaman/gun number|
|Bryan Whittle||deck apprentice||1951|
|Allan Wareing||2nd mate||1952|
|Roger Poulton||deck apprentice||1956 to 1957|
|Harold Aspinall||5th engineer||1956|
|Ian Bridges||deck apprentice||1957 to 1958|
|Martin J Eele||deck apprentice||1957|
|Richard Howatson 2||deck apprentice||1958|
|Jaap J. De Jonge||2nd engineer||1959 to 1960|
|Jan Van Hoepen||5th engineer||1959 to 1960|
|Bert Landman||extra 4th engineer||1960|
|Herman Rijntjes||4th engineer||1960|
|Koos De Groot||2nd engineer||1974 to 1975|
|07/17/2009 - 17:52||Stanley Thomas ...||
I have read that in the 1950's the ship was reputed to be haunted. God knows, there was reason. My father told me how he and others stood to their gun for more than a day because the Kamikaze kept coming. Their drinking water was brought in a bucket, their toilet was a bucket. Towards the end, H**** B***** cracked and ran. After it was over, they searched and they found him crouched in the foetal position right up in the point of the bow, the top part of the stem. The Americans took him away and they never saw him again. He had a wife and child in London.
Lord, forgive us our trespasses.
My father told me other stories, slightly less black.
There was the afternoon when the ship developed a small engine problem, nothing serious, but she had to stand aside and fall back. The ship which took her place (no 3 in the column) was torpedoed during the night.
There was the memorable day when the ship shot down a Kamikaze aircraft which was attacking it. They had anchored off an island recently captured by the Americans and, because Diloma was a tanker, she anchored some distance from the rest of the convoy. The local US authority sent a message that a wounded American aircraft was trying to make the island. It would appear overhead shortly, and on no account should anyone fire on it.
An aircraft duly appeared but, once within visual range, immediately altered course to head straight for Diloma. The Old Man decided to shoot first and ask questions afterwards. The aircraft was mortally hit and fell into the sea so close that some fragments rebounded from the plating before falling into the water, and one wingtip scraped paint from the ship's side. The captain (very wisely) ordered a floating wheel to be salvaged. The Americans were furious because they thought the goddam Limeys had shot down one of theirs but, on being presented with a wheel bearing Japanese characters, they decided to award medals instead. Apparently this fell through when they discovered the Diloma was RFA and not RN.
During the night, my father crept into the space where the wheel was stored and with a screwdriver removed a rim piece which he subsequently used as a picture frame. I still have that piece, and the picture.
Subsequently the aircraft wheel, the ensign the ship wore during the engagement, and a silver commemorative cup were gifted to the girls' school in Bristol which had sponsored the ship's crew under the 'comforts from home' scheme. If anyone knows the current whereabouts of these artefacts, I would be grateful to hear from them.
What else? Once when they were in harbour, I don't know where, they were standing to the gun during an air raid when a bomb fell into the water about fifteen feet away. They all watched it fall, dumbstruck, and when it evidently wasn't exploding, looked at each other like idiots, and burst out laughing! Navy divers subsequently defused it.
These anecdotes pp Stanley Thomas Masterman, 11.11.1923-30.03.2008
|07/17/2009 - 16:47||Stanley Thomas ...|