- Buckley, Lieutenant N.W. AM RNVR
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2002 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
My second journey to Murmansk (JW51A) started from Loch Ewe on December 15, 1942. This was mid-winter, which gave us the benefit of very long hours of darkness each day. Despite the risk of ice floes being further south than in summer, we reached 74 degrees north again, but were lucky not to be attacked by the enemy. We were fortunate in being treated to several nights of the glorious aurora borealis on the way and arrived at Murmansk after 11 days.
The return trip was less fortunate but the convoy had a powerful escort and our only loss was of one cargo ship, which was torpedoed, but with no loss of life.
In April 1943, I was posted to another trawler named HMS Haarlem based at Gibraltar, and subsequently to another one named Lady Hogarth. These ships were employed in A/S patrolling in the Strait of Gibraltar, in escorting single or multiple merchant ships along the North African coast or down to Casablanca, and in escorting cable-repair ships doing work on defective ocean cables between Lisbon and Madeira or the Azores.
When off escort duties, I was able to climb and explore the Rock of Gibraltar itself, which is about 1400 feet high and one mile across at its base. It has numerous fascinating caves and tunnels in it, some of them made for military purposes and some made by men for living purposes in earlier centuries.
The Rock also has had built onto one side of it a huge sloping catchment cover to collect water for drinking and other purposes for Gibraltar’s inhabitants and visitors.
A further interesting experience I had was as a passenger on a British submarine undertaking exercises off Gibraltar in attacking ships and evading depth-charge attacks. I can’t say that I really enjoyed it.
My service in the Royal Navy totalled six years.