University of Oxford
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Escape from a Torpedoed Ship

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:51 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Ronald Jacobs was born in Northampton in 1924 and at the age of 12 he got the urge to join the Navy. He eventually served on HMS Primula, a Corvette.

He was in Egypt around 1943, and later was on a ship that was torpedoed off the African coast. An Australian ship turned around and picked up 7 of the crew, including Ronald. He was injured and was taken to a hospital in South Africa, where initially they put the wrong arm in plaster! While he was in hospital the Germans blockaded the port so that he was unable to leave, so he stayed in South Africa living with a diamond miner's family for two years. He was upset by the ways that he saw black South Africans being treated.

He returned to the UK just after the end of the war, and married in 1947 after giving his fiancé a very nice engagement ring.

In 1960, he had some dental treatment that involved him being put to sleep with gas. When he came around, the dental surgery was wrecked and the dentist and nurse were on the floor: Ronald had re-lived the experience of escaping when his ship sank, and lashed out.

He later suffered from breathing problems and at the age of 70 he collapsed suddenly. An x-ray showed that he had been suffering from fibrosing alveoli as a result of the gases when his ship was blown up. He died at the age of 71.


Item list and details

1. Ronald Jacobs in naval uniform. 2. Ronald with his family and a colleague. 3. HMS Primula. 4. Ronald with colleagues in Egypt. 5. Ronald in South Africa. 6. Ronald with a group of colleagues on Robben Island, South Africa. 7. Flower Class Corvette Association badge.

Person the story/items relate to

Ronald Jacobs

Person who shared the story/items

Susan Warren

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Ahmadiyyah Mosque Hall, Warwickshire on 7 October 2023. The event was organised by Leamington History Group.

Record ID

94460 | LEA062