Denis Logan

Photo:Denis Charles Logan

Denis Charles Logan

Liz Logan

Photo:Capt. Johnny Walker DSO by Tom Murphy sculptor

Capt. Johnny Walker DSO by Tom Murphy sculptor

Liz Logan

A Long 48 hours

By Liz Logan

Signalman Denis Logan remembers 48 long hours in June 1944:

'On a bright sunny morning in early June 1944, the Black Swan Class Sloop HMS Starling &Captain F.J.Walker (later C.B.  D.S.O) were heading the 2nd support group consisting of HMS Wild Goose, Magpie, Wren and Woodcock, up the River Mersey to their base in Gladstone Dock Liverpool. I was on watch on the bridge and as usual the pilot boat brought our mail out, and a letter from my sister Joan was passed to me up on the bridge. Joan was serving in the Wrens at Portsmouth. She had been home on a few days leave and found the family home at Bromley, Kent badly damaged by bombing and our parents missing. I was sure that with this letter I could get some leave and try and locate our parents. The hospitals were overflowing with lots of casualties from V1 and V2 flying bombs as I soon discovered.

So a signal was received at the Wireless Office and sent up to the Officer of the Watch who then passed it to me to take down to Captain Walker. As I made my way to the Captains' cabin I read the signal from Commander in Chief of Western Approaches to all ships "Local Leave only, nobody to leave the port".To this day I can't remember what I actually said to the Captain - but what a great man- always a man of few words "48 hours make sure you are back" was my instruction. When I reported this to the First Lieutenant he was not at all pleased, in fact I think he swore.

It turned out that 48 hours wasn't nearly enough - I had to go from hospital to hospital and finally I found them the other side of Maidstone, Kent some 20 miles from their home. Luckily they were not seriously hurt, just shock, cuts and bruises, although my Father was uncomfortable from the flying glass cuts on his back.

On day three  I started my journey back to Liverpool. I boarded a tramcar at the top of the hill, it was fairly full and I went on the upper deck. It began and as it got faster people on board were thrown about a bit, I grabbed hold of the rails overhead and hung on like a monkey. When it reached the bottom of the hill the tramlines turned to the right, and the tramcar left the rails and carried on until it crashed to its side.  Many passengers were injured, I can recall breaking some windows and helping people out. Later I can remember sitting on kerb opposite Woolworths  and having a cigarette, I was a non-smoker and have been all my life!  A policeman told me to get on an ambulance, I protested but he insisted and so I went with others to Lewisham hospital. They asked me where I was going "Liverpool" says I. "Out of the question" I was told, and that I wasn't fit to travel and would have to spend the night there; they would wire my ship!

Another problem the following day, besides losing my luggage, I had also lost my rail ticket, my leave pass and paybook. I had just a few bob to get me to Euston station. Having no ticket or cash left the ticket collector at Euston found a Naval Commander to come and see me. I suppose he doubted my story as I was rather scruffy, and had lost my sailor's cap, but this did get me a seat First Class on the train to Liverpool. How delighted I was!

Arriving at Liverpool I was handed over to the Navy Regulators who doubled me round the Docks like a deserter. We found HMS Starling with 3 other sloops in the lock - lots of cheering broke out as I came into view, and I actually caught the ship within 10 minutes of it leaving. Nothing was said regarding my absence and I was given a new paybook. At this time we had another Captain in charge, as Captain "Johnny" Walker had been taken ill and died the next night. Everyone on the ship and the Group were devastated, he had died from overwork aged 47 years, too many hours on the bridge when attacking and hunting U-boats, and at that time had sunk 21, a record.'

This page was added by Liz Logan on 23/03/2014.
Comments about this page

A wonderful transcript of a story from a wonderful man.

By Lisa Logan
On 11/05/2014