Extracts from letters sent by Lt Jack Neal to Capt
Joe Youngs, HMS Speedwell. Originals in Imperial War Museum (92/50/1)
…I do find it hard to remember lots of things about
the war I thought I’d never forget. We ought to write up an account of
our war experiences for our descendants. They would find it very
interesting in the years ahead...
10th November 1974
… Alan Jay was down here recently and I promised
I’d write to you about a project we discussed… We had a lively talk
about the old days of the 1st and 6th Flotillas.
He is in touch with several chaps in his area and has decided that a
Flotilla history would be well worth while since the 6th
especially had a pretty good and varied war record. His idea is that
among us all we could cover most of the Flotilla history if we all
wrote our personal experiences…
I can write up two years in Speedwell as a mere
watchkeeper and of course I have a good lot of photographs to
help…Alan Jay is in touch with Fred Bradley (Leda and Harrier), Max
Wright (Gossamer), John Benson (Bramble) and Christopher McLean
1st December 1974
…No I don’t think our offspring will be very
interested in what we heroes did in the war, at least not until we are
dead, but I expect our grandchildren and Naval Historians certainly
will and anyway I think it is worth doing.
… Jay thought it was Niger you first took over and
had all that crew trouble with but you have confirmed it was Hussar.
… I joined Speedwell in May 1940 and we did
Zeebrugge and Ostend blocking and then three Dunkirk trips. I was with
you until the end of the first Russian trip. I have a copy of your
report re Harmatris in North Russia. I must have filched it. But not
the Atheltemplar one which you remember we cooked up so as to get big
prize money. Have you still got it? And I’d forgotten the U boat we
helped sink was U651...
20th Jan 1975
…My recollection of the watchkeepers in Speedwell
is that the RN two stripes were jolly good chaps with whom it was a
pleasure to serve, especially Stoner and (Darby) Allen, though Willie
Moorman was also a thoroughly reliable and likeable man...
16th November 1975
…The thing I remember vividly is the sight of the
Marne appearing out of the fog just about to nearly ram us – I had got
to the bridge by then. …a few days later when we were short of fuel
Nash accused Chiefie of incompetence in the Engine Room and our good
tempered Chief Officer just about jumped down his throat saying he
wouldn’t have been short if Nash hadn’t done such a bloody stupid
thing as dropping a depth charge at slow speed...