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TITLE
Interview with Angus MacDonald about his experience in the Royal Navy
EXTERNAL ID
WD_BF01_TRACK04_MACDONALD_GAELIC
DATE OF RECORDING
2005
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Angus MacDonald
SOURCE
Am Baile and War Detectives
ASSET ID
3136
KEYWORDS
World War 2
World War II
Second World War
2nd World War
Armed Forces
navy
ships
audio

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Angus MacDonald from Lewis tells his grandson about his experiences in the Royal Navy. The interview was conducted in Gaelic and translated into English.

They told us - There was a rumour circulating that those who were raised for the Forces at that time would be put in the Army, those called up. And I had no desire at all to go into the Army; I'd had enough of it in the Home Guard. Eh, I went into the Navy. I was seventeen and a half and it was to Campbeltown. We were there, I think, ten days, ten days we were in Campbeltown, when we were sent over to New York. And, well, you know what it was like for a young lad leaving the islands looking at New York then - another world! And we were there for, I think, three weeks or a month when we were sent up to Camden, Maine to pick up a boat. The Americans had built this boat and we went in it to Boston from Camden, and then we sailed to Newfoundland and we came over to Britain with the Atlantic convoys.

When we reached Britain, I think it was then that I was given 'harvest leave', a thing I'd say, the Government was terribly generous in giving you harvest leave. And when I went back again, I went on another ship and we started to tow a dry-dock, a floating dry-dock, from Milford Haven in Wales over to Australia.

And did you see any submarines?

We didn't see any submarines, but we were aware of them. We watched boats that they had fired on, sinking, very close to us. We could have lifted survivors, but we weren't allowed to stop much, for fear that we'd catch the next torpedo ourselves. If they could be towed, we were allowed to tow them, but we couldn't stop at all. Our ship went on fire when we reached the Australian coast, but when we got the repairs, there was something electrical wrong - I don't remember what - some motor or other in the engine which went on fire.

And where did you go after Australia?

We came back to India and we were in a place called Kochin in the south of India, and we managed to go from there over to Ceylon.

And which places did you like?

I don't think there were many places over there we enjoyed at all. They were wretched - the people were very poor. They were poor cities indeed. Then we had to start preparing for the invasion of Malaya. They were painting the ships; a red cross would be painted on the decks of the ships that could be seen from the air, but fortunately the Japanese surrendered before that came. And then we were sent into Singapore - we were there the day after the surrender. Singapore was a great place.

What made it a good place?

Well, Singapore is a beautiful city, and we were allowed to dock alongside when no other ship was there which could do the job we were doing. And, my goodness, we had some great times! The Japanese had left everything at the time of the surrender. They left cars and everything else and we had the chance to drive those vehicles until they ran out of petrol. We left them then. Somebody else came and collected them. In that way we were bad boys!

This interview was recorded as part of a War Detectives project in 2005 at Portree Primary School.

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Interview with Angus MacDonald about his experience in the Royal Navy

2000s

World War 2; World War II; Second World War; 2nd World War; Armed Forces; navy; ships; audio

Am Baile and War Detectives

War Detectives (interviews)

Angus MacDonald from Lewis tells his grandson about his experiences in the Royal Navy. The interview was conducted in Gaelic and translated into English.<br /> <br /> They told us - There was a rumour circulating that those who were raised for the Forces at that time would be put in the Army, those called up. And I had no desire at all to go into the Army; I'd had enough of it in the Home Guard. Eh, I went into the Navy. I was seventeen and a half and it was to Campbeltown. We were there, I think, ten days, ten days we were in Campbeltown, when we were sent over to New York. And, well, you know what it was like for a young lad leaving the islands looking at New York then - another world! And we were there for, I think, three weeks or a month when we were sent up to Camden, Maine to pick up a boat. The Americans had built this boat and we went in it to Boston from Camden, and then we sailed to Newfoundland and we came over to Britain with the Atlantic convoys. <br /> <br /> When we reached Britain, I think it was then that I was given 'harvest leave', a thing I'd say, the Government was terribly generous in giving you harvest leave. And when I went back again, I went on another ship and we started to tow a dry-dock, a floating dry-dock, from Milford Haven in Wales over to Australia. <br /> <br /> And did you see any submarines?<br /> <br /> We didn't see any submarines, but we were aware of them. We watched boats that they had fired on, sinking, very close to us. We could have lifted survivors, but we weren't allowed to stop much, for fear that we'd catch the next torpedo ourselves. If they could be towed, we were allowed to tow them, but we couldn't stop at all. Our ship went on fire when we reached the Australian coast, but when we got the repairs, there was something electrical wrong - I don't remember what - some motor or other in the engine which went on fire.<br /> <br /> And where did you go after Australia?<br /> <br /> We came back to India and we were in a place called Kochin in the south of India, and we managed to go from there over to Ceylon.<br /> <br /> And which places did you like?<br /> <br /> I don't think there were many places over there we enjoyed at all. They were wretched - the people were very poor. They were poor cities indeed. Then we had to start preparing for the invasion of Malaya. They were painting the ships; a red cross would be painted on the decks of the ships that could be seen from the air, but fortunately the Japanese surrendered before that came. And then we were sent into Singapore - we were there the day after the surrender. Singapore was a great place.<br /> <br /> What made it a good place?<br /> <br /> Well, Singapore is a beautiful city, and we were allowed to dock alongside when no other ship was there which could do the job we were doing. And, my goodness, we had some great times! The Japanese had left everything at the time of the surrender. They left cars and everything else and we had the chance to drive those vehicles until they ran out of petrol. We left them then. Somebody else came and collected them. In that way we were bad boys!<br /> <br /> This interview was recorded as part of a War Detectives project in 2005 at Portree Primary School.