University of Oxford
66 files

What my father did in the Second World War

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:13 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My father, Ronald Rowland, was in the navy. The first ship he served on was HMS Manchester, which was involved in Operation Pedestal, to liberate Malta and relieve the siege. The ship was hit by an Italian U-boat, and they had to abandon ship before the ship was scuttled. My dad spent 8 hours in the water. During that time, he kept his best friend afloat as his friend couldn't swim. They were picked up and taken to Tunisia and from there they went to a Prisoner of War camp at Laghouat. This was in August 1942.

In November 1942 the allies landed in North Africa and the camp was liberated. My dad picked up some sand in the Sahara on November 8th, in the broken neck of a bottle and it was later transferred into the file. It was originally a lot redder than it is now.

People wrote to my dad when he was in the Prisoner of War camp.
When my dad came home he was wearing an Army Uniform, and was upset that he couldn't return home in his Naval Uniform.

From there he went on to HMS Grenville, which was part of the British Pacific Fleet. They were involved in the war with the Japanese, the ship was based in Palau. When they got up one morning the ship was covered in what they thought was sand, so they cleaned the ship. The next day the same thing had happened again, so they cleaned it again. They later found out it was when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My grandmother wrote to my father on 9 June 1944 just after D-Day. She mentions D-Day and asks if he'll be home soon.

My father brought a model of a plane home from Australia made by Allied Forces.


Item list and details

1. Photographs of HMS Manchester 2. File of sand from the Sahara in Sucrets tin 3. Seven letters 4. Pennant flag from HMS Grenville 5. HMS Grenville in Sydney Harbour 6. HMS Grenville 7. Two photographs of Ronald Rowland in Sydney 8. Telegrams 9. Letter 10. Navy record 11. Model of plane made by Allied Forces in Australia

Person the story/items relate to

Ronald Rowland

Person who shared the story/items

Donna Rowland

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Ronald Rowland is the contributor's father

Type of submission

Shared at Medway Archives Centre, Kent on 8 November 2023.

Record ID

97370 | MED002