From Fabian Hiscock
I’m on the trail of ERA1 Alf Woodhead, 1918-1998. He served in (and survived the loss of) HMS PRINCE OF WALES, and a friend is preparing a package (which includes his No 1 uniform) for the upcoming commissioning of the ship.
He joined submarines in (I guess) 1942, and we believe he served in L23, which was I guess in a training role at the time, and then in AMPHION. He was in Hong Kong in 1946, but I don’t know in which boat or depot ship, although it seems AMPHION was in the Med in late 1945 or 46 (see below), so she may have been on her way there.
And this is where the expertise of the Friends might be helpful! We’d love to know whatever we can about him while this package is being put together.
I attach a scanned sheet of photos – NB the Senior Rates’ Mess Dinner (very smart) in HK in 1946, which looks to me like a depot ship do. The ones of him on the casing and on the afterplanes of a boat in 1946 are interesting – are they an A-boat? I just don’t know (I can probably get better copies if they would help).
A tale (true dit) is included in the fid that we have, written we believe by his son. I wonder if there’s any other record of it? It reads:
‘Not sure where this happened, but I guess it would be in the Mediterranean and Dad was on Amphion.
Apparently the skipper allowed the guys to take a swim in the sea (saves on showering). Lookouts were posted in case any enemy ships/planes came into view. [note by FH: AMPHION was actually commissioned too late to see any hostilities). After a while a lookout shouted a warning, not enemy but a large turtle, so the guys quickly swam to the boat and climbed aboard. The turtle was chasing one of the swimmers and as he grabbed a line (rope) and was pulled to safety the turtle rammed into the boat.
It had rammed one of the torpedo tubes and was stuck! The guys tried to release it but failed, so the Gunnery Officer said try to blast it out by firing the tube (compressed air ejects a torpedo); they tried this method and it worked – the turtle shot out, but sadly was killed in the attempt.
The ship’s cook was on deck watching and cried out, ‘get the turtle’. Two sailors dived in and they eventually hauled the turtle onto the deck. The meal that night was Fresh Turtle Soup.’
Anyway – I’d be glad of any help that might be available!