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William Shand was present at the surrender of the German navy in 1945.
The ship I was on was independent command; we were very much on our own, which isn't very nice at times, and we were off the coast of Germany: Heligoland by, not far from Germany. And we picked up a radio message the war had ended. So we immediately at top speed went right back to a place called Terneuzen in Holland. I think that was possibly the most startling and happy memory and that was followed too. Then very shortly after that we'd to - within hours - we'd to leave Terneuzen and go into the harbour in Germany. I forget, is it Cuxhaven or Bremerhaven? I think it was Cuxhaven. And we went in in utter darkness and then the next morning, when we out and looked around, we were in the middle of this dockyard and every ship there, every German ship there, was about ten times our size, so we thought, 'What are we doing here?' But obviously the war was ended.
About two or maybe three days after the war ended, there was the official surrender of the German navy. Not the German nation, but this was the German navy, because it was a naval base. And the ship that I was on was quite a small one and we were there. By this time there were sweepers with us, mine-sweepers and they were also very small ships. But they were both types of ships where you didn't have marching up and down. There was very little discipline, from that point of view. And yet the crews from HMS Franklin, which I was on, and the mine-sweepers actually represented the Royal Navy. So you can imagine the situation of this great big square in Cuxhaven and here was the 51st Highland Division with tanks there, sitting there tanks, with machine guns trained on the poor prisoners-of-war, Germans, and they were, I was sorry for them really. And they were lined, called to attention while the representatives of the Royal Navy marched in. And you could tell that the only ones who could march were boys that had been in the Boys' Brigade because there had been no time during the training to get ready these personnel for the landings. There was no time to do the marching. You could tell the boys who had been in the Boys' Brigade; it's the only ones that kept in step.
This interview was recorded as part of a War Detectives project in 2005 at Rosebank Primary School, Nairn.
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