John Logan

Born: Droylsden, Manchester, 1934
Age at signing up: 15
Division: Royal Navy
Rank: Signalman
Would the signalman mind coming to the bridge, please. I get out of my hammock. 4am, pitch black.

I stand on deck and wait. Across the water the lights of a ship start flashing.

Am I allowed to turn 45 degrees? they say.

A 4am wakeup just for that. I pass the message on

We’d been doing the landings in Korea – you know, all that James Bond stuff with people tilting guns over their shoulders and running up the beaches in the dead of night.

But now the troops are in trouble. The Yanks are retreating from a big attack but not our lot, the Glosters. They’ve been overwhelmed. Eventually we drag em out but there’s not many left.

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I got back to Manchester and in the meantime my family had moved. Two and a half years out there and they’d moved. They sent me a message saying our new address is The Brown Cow Hotel, Butler Street, Ancoats.

They’d moved into a pub.

So I go out looking for it, hammock on one arm and kitbag on the other, and I see this copper stopped at the traffic lights.

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We were more like policemen in the Mediterranean, policing the waters. There were pirates and that and we were stopping the gun runners.

If you were a signalman, or bunting tossers as we were known, you were sent to all sorts of places.

And they always sent you where there was trouble.


A LAST SHOW OF THE LIGHTS

We lost a couple of trawlers in the Cod War.
Two ships got caught up in the ice. They couldn’t move – got all iced up. It was weighing down the ships, sinking them. Big seas there, big seas.
I got this call sign and he says: Can you take a message for me. To me wife and daughter, tell them I love them. We’re going now.
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YOU TRY TO FILTER OUT MOST OF THE BAD STUFF IT’S THE GOOD TIMES THAT STICK IN YOUR HEAD MOSTLY.