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Able Sea. Thomas "Ron" Hall
Royal Navy HMS Janus
from:South Shields, Co. DurhamThomas Hall, always known as Ron, was my father, and he joined the RN in 1933, aged 16. He trained as a gunner at HMS Excellent Gunnery School, and served on HMS Revenge, HMS Boreas and HMS Wild Swan before the war. He became an Able Seaman in 1936, and in 1937 joined the cruiser HMS Glasgow.
In January 1941, he was drafted to HMS Barham, and was in the gun turret when a Stuka bomb exploded there in July. He was the only survivor of the gun crew. He was sent to HMS Sphinx Naval Camp, Alexandria, Egypt for rehabilitation, and at the end of July went to HMS Carlisle. There then followed a period of leave in Portsmouth before joining HMS Manchester in April 1942.
On 13th August, Manchester was hit amidships by two torpedoes fired by Italian torpedo boats, and was subsequently scuttled, being too damaged to save. 312 of the crew were rescued, but after being in the water for several hours, Dad and several others got ashore in Tunisia, where they were interned by the Vichy French in Laghouat, Algeria, where conditions were horrendous and without compassion. They were liberated by Allied forces on 19th October during Operation Torch.
After a period of shore time, Dad was sent to HMS Janus in July 1943. As part of Operation Shingle, Janus provided artillery support for the Allied landings at Anzio. On 23 June 1944, she was hit and sunk by a torpedo from a German He111 aircraft. Thomas again survived, but after spending time on shore at Portsmouth, and 3 months at HMS Merganser, Aberdeen, he was invalided out of the Navy on 9 November 1945.
His nerves were in a bad way, not surprisingly, but after a few other jobs, he joined the Merchant Navy in 1954, and served as a steward on the Cunard ships Queen Mary and Samaria. Stomach ulcers forced him to leave after a couple of years, and he became a painter, decorator and signwriter.
He died on 31st January 1973, aged 55, after suffering stomach operations, and the removal of one lung. His medals - the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Italy Star and War Medal - plus a short history, can be found at Eden Camp Modern History Museum, Malton in N. Yorkshire.
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