He was then posted to New York, travelling on the Queen Mary packed like sardines with thousands of other troops. His orders were to command a small flotilla of Landing Craft back to the war-torn Mediterranean. He brought his men safely home to the Allied advance on Sicily and the dangerous operations which took many brave lives. His words were, “we hung by our eyelids” as they waited, little corks of crafts, bouncing on choppy seas, the men inside these metal boxes prepared to give their lives for King and country.
In COCKNEY ORPHAN, my book reflecting Dad’s journey, the 1940’s hero is Vic Champion waiting for his call-up papers. Vic’s naval service mirrors Dad’s, and his sweetheart Connie, discovers a baby boy in some ruins during the Blitz. This little fellow, called Lucky, orphaned and yet still alive, becomes a son to Vic and Connie. It was a beautiful story to write.
And so I shall pause this Remembrance Day to think of - amongst all those other brave men - a truly special father who stands with me as I set these stories on paper. I think of him as that brave young naval rating, who loved the island about which I write; the East End docks where he first worked and his life in the navy that was so very dear to his heart.
Love Carol x