View Full Version : The Teenage Years Of Gerald Broad

15-04-13, 12:59
Seventeen months after being dismissed from the Port Talbot Pilot Cutter Company Ltd in December 1939 aged 13 for persistent sea sickness, Boy Sailor Gerald Broad D/JX 163669 (my father) was a 15 year old gun layer in the starboard, forward, upper 5.5" turret (S2) of HMS Prince of Wales, seeing Bismarck through his gun sights in May 1941. After taking Churchill to meet Roosevelt in August 1941 to discuss terms for The Atlantic Charter in Newfoundland, two years exactly from the day his mother Mabel received a letter from the Port Talbot Pilot Cutter Company Ltd to say that her thirteen year old son was unsuitable to serve because of his seasickness, Boy Sailor Gerald Broad was photographed standing with his shipmates (with cordite flash hoods) outside 5.5" gun turret S2 on HMS Prince of Wales (barrels still pointing to the sky after firing at Japanese Betsy bombers).

A Red Cross letter to my grandmother confirmed the fact that her 15 year old son Gerald had survived the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales. He had been picked up by the destroyer HMS Express and taken to Singapore. He got out of Singapore on HMAAS Koala as the Japanese took over the docks and he was Mentioned in Despatches for his efforts in saving Dutch women and children on Pom Pom Island. He managed to get to Colombo and then on to Cape Town and home to Port Talbot by summer 1942. After a brief spell of duty as a gunner on a Motor Torpedo Boat in the English Channel he was assigned to HMS Lowestoft in May 1943 aged 17.

19th May 1943 HMS Lowestoft joined 42nd Escort Group at Londonderry for Freetown route convoy escort. Deployed with HM Aircraft Carrier UNICORN, HM Destroyers ACTIVE, CLEVELAND and Polish ORP SLAZAK, HM Sloops WELLINGTON and WESTON, HM Frigates EXE and NESS, HM Cutters GORLESTON and TOTLAND as Ocean Escort for the joint military convoy WS30 to Middle East and Convoy KMF15 to North Africa during passage from Clyde.
25th May HMS Lowestoft detached from joint convoy with Ocean Escort and resumed her Freetown route duties.
June 1943 HMS Lowestoft deployed on convoy defence on Freetown route. (Note: Award of Battle Honour ATLANTIC 1940-45 reflects contribution made in July actions against U-Boats and aircraft in defence of Atlantic convoys).
August 1943 HMS Lowestoft transferred to West African Command at Freetown for coastal convoy escort.
(Note: HEDGEHOG Anti-Submarine mortar was fitted during this period.)
September 1943 HMS Lowestoft deployed on escort of local convoys off West Africa.
October 1943 HMS Lowestoft detached to join ships of British 5th Escort Group and 8th Escort Group as escort for convoy taking personnel and stores to Azores for establishment of air bases (Operation ALACRITY).
November 1943 HMS Lowestoft returned to Freetown and resumed escort duties.
December 1943 HMS Lowestoft returned to local convoy escort duty in continuation at Freetown.

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January to May HMS Lowestoft deployed as escort for West African coastal convoys continued.
June 11th HMS Lowestoft returned to UK as part of escort for Convoy SL161.
June 20th HMS Lowestoft remained with escort for joint convoy MKS52 on merger with SL161.
July 2nd HMS Lowestoft detached from joint convoy SL161/MKS52 and took passage to refit at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, Argyll. Gerald Broad was re-assigned to military shore duty escorting personnel absent without leave back to their units until demobilisation 1945 (after being on stand by for the Pacific as a landing craft coxwain). His services were no longer required by the Royal Navy following the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in august 1945.

Vance Broad (named after HMS Vansittart)

15-04-13, 17:42
Welcome to the site Vance. Fascinating to read of your Fathers career in the Royal Navy. These wartime sailors really did live through some action did'nt they. Good job people like yourself put it down for others to read,thankyou.

15-04-13, 19:22
Welcome Vance,it was a privilege to read of your dad's naval career. I hope that the HMS Lowestoft of our years would have met with his approval and hope that we measure up in some ways to our WW2 counterparts. We have a few members in our RNA Branch who served in the 2nd World War and as Bonzo has already said they went through a lot of action,and certainly all us ex sailors hold the WW2 Veterans in great respect. What they did in the war upheld the traditions of the Royal Navy and I'm sure all our members will agree with me, tried to carry on in our time in the RN

Fat Mac
15-04-13, 20:10
Thank you for sharing that story Vance, & as with most posts in all the web sites I visit, I generally skim over them, but as I read it, I slowed down and started again from the beginning.......an honour, & glad I re-read it Shipmate.

Jock Dickson
16-04-13, 10:22
Hi Vance, great to have you on the Forum. I went to Birmingham a couple of years ago to interview an ex WWII Lowestoft sailor. His name was Jumper Collins (D/JX367723) and he was in his late 80's and not very good health. He made me most welcome and we had a great chat. I was going to go back and have another chat with him but he died about 6 months later. He was on the Lowestoft between 1942 and 1944 and was also a gunner so he probably knew your dad.

Sandy Sanders
17-04-13, 20:20
Such a welcome story, Vance you must be so proud of your dad,low-

28-08-17, 14:05
https://www.facebook.com/vance.broad/media_set?set=a.10155651983079116.1073741985.75661 4115&type=1 This is a link to my facebook page with photos of my dad, Gerald Broad.

28-08-17, 19:03
https://www.facebook.com/vance.broad/media_set?set=a.10155651983079116.1073741985.75661 4115&type=1 This is a link to my facebook page with photos of my dad, Gerald Broad.
What a great read Vance you will feel well proud.