University of Oxford
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From Russia to Tokyo: A Marine Telegraphist's Service

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:32 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

John joined as a boy sailor aged sixteen in 1941, although he couldn't go to sea until he turned eighteen.

He was a telegraphist who was stationed on several ships, including the King George and St. George. The contributor's grandparents did not want him to join the navy.
His date of commencement for convoy escort duty was February 1943. He was supposed to join a different ship but his contraction of a stomach bug, prevented him from joining that particular ship; this happened to be fortunate for him, as that ship (and all hands involved) ended up being sunk. John joined the St. George V instead, with which he served from 1941-1943. He then served with the King George ship from 1943-1946. The Russian convoys were cold and in huge seas, and they were always hunted by U-boats . They used to send men on ropes with steam hoses and ice picks to chip away at the ice so they could keep moving in freezing seas. It was important for them to know where all the ships were. At one point, he had to go up a telegraph mast to rescue a fellow telegraphist. John was also in the Bay of Tokyo when Japan surrendered. John did not speak of his experiences a lot, but was quietly proud.

John's medals include the following:
-War Service Star
-Atlantic Star
-Arctic Star
-Africa Star
-Burma Star
-Italy Star
-War medal
-Oak leaf
-Maltese government


Item list and details

1. Medals and photo frame 2. Recognition of service 3. Certificate of service

Person the story/items relate to

John Brecon Cave

Person who shared the story/items

Paul Cave

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

The contributor's father

Type of submission

Shared at National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire on 17 February 2024.

Record ID

118325 | NMA040