Geoff Stott

Born: BOLTON,LANCASHIRE,1924
Age at signing up: 15
Division: ROYAL NAVY
Rank: ABLE SEAMAN STORE PETTY OFFICER

The pointer moves to FULL CHARGE. We load two sleeves and, up top, the gun fires.

The ship is getting knocked about a lot with explosions. It’s hard to keep your footing but you can’t go dropping shells. We don’t know how many are on us but by the sound of it we’re outnumbered.

The ship is turning, or tipping, I’m not sure – then there’s another explosion and the main electricity is off. Just the emergency lights now. The pointer tells us to keep loading the gun so we keep loading it.

A louder explosion makes the walls and floor rattle.

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The guards have all left. Of course we go straight for their office – break the door and rush in. Up on a wall is a group photo of us. We take it down and tear off a slice for ourselves.

And then on the floor, on the way out, I spot this pink hanky. Looks like it’s for a Japanese lady. I find a pen in the desk and I hand it out to the lads to sign it – anybody who wants to.

By the time it comes back I’ve got names from Holland, Australia, America, all over the place.

Us lot, the survivors.

IT WAS OUR SPIRIT THAT KEPT US ALIVE, I THINK.