Father also in Bombay Harbour for explosion

Duncan – I read, with great interest, your article on the bomb explosions in Bombay Harbour, because my father was injured in that explosion.

He was chief engineer on board a Royal Navy ship (I’m afraid I don’t know the name) that was at anchor in the harbour. His ship was very badly damaged and subsequently sank. Many were killed. As survivors were scrambling to leave, a friend and colleague asked, “Where is the chief?” and someone replied, “He’s lying in the gangway with his head blown off.”

Luckily for my dad his friend went back and found him. He had severe injuries but fortunately not as bad as had been described. He spent a long time in hospital before being repatriated back to Britain, and eventually joining another ship.

However, he always maintained that the accident saved his life, because all his shipmates from the damaged ship were transported to the U.S.A. to join a newly refitted aircraft carrier. While waiting for it to be made ready, they had a wonderful vacation and were treated like heroes. My dad, hearing about it, was extremely envious. Sadly it was sunk with all hands on its first voyage out, making my dad the only member of his original ship’s crew to survive the war.

He went on to serve to the end of war, and was on three ships that were sunk and lost. He lived to age 90 – a very lucky survivor indeed.

Rosemary Kennedy