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A Smack at the Boche the war diaries of Leading Seaman Ronnie Turner contains:-
- Admiral Harwoods retelling of the Battle of the River Plate to the HMS Hawkins crew and a first hand account of being shot at by the Graf Spee from an HMS Ajax seaman.
- A survivor's story of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak - the first battleship to be sunk in ww2.
- Six scousers, a padre and two penguins against a German raider.
- HMS Hawkins involvement in the recapture of Somalia from Italy.
- Escorting the Churchill convoys from South Africa to the Gulf.
- Authentic descriptions of shore leave in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, The Falklands, Rio de Janeiro, South Africa and Mombasa in 1940.
- Never seen before photo of the 9 crew rescued from the torpedoed SS British Premier.
Royal Navy HistoryLike all wartime service personnel, Leading Seaman Ronnie Turner RNVR wasn't supposed to keep a diary in case it fell into enemy hands, but Ronnie never did like to take orders.
He also documented the first two years of his war with unique photos of ships, ports, people and prisoners, including the rescued crew of SS British Premier.
These lower deck war diaries give never published before eyewitness true stories of the Battle of the River Plate and the sinking of HMS Royal Oak.
Ronnies warship, the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins, arrived at Montevideo shortly after the demise of the Graf Spee and became the new flagship for Admiral Sir Henry Harwood.
True War StoriesAdmiral Harwood gave the crew his story of the historic battle of the River Plate, the first British victory of WW2 Fri Feb 1st 1940. The Admiral summoned us all on the quarter deck and spun us a yarn In his own words. Having been straddled twelve times and hit seven times we were in rather a bad way. So I gave the order to retire. We laid smoke screens and retired and to our relief, so did the Spee. - Admiral Sir Henry Harwood.
Hawkins also took on board some of the sailors who had seen action against the Graf Spee and a crewman of HMS Ajax gave Ronnie a full and bloody first hand true account After the battle a lot of chaps were even scared to put to sea. Their nerves were shot all to pieces. I've had my bellyful of fighting and I'm not a coward, but when 11 inch shells come screaming at you, well I know why the Navy supply two pairs of pants. - HMS Ajax seaman.
Ronnie also had an epic description of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak at Scapa Flo from a lucky but embittered survivor Sun 28th Jan 1940 Had a long talk with a survivor of Royal Oak, the first battleship to be sunk in the war. According to him the Royal Oak was never sunk by a torpedo. He says the explosion was internal and caused by explosives placed in stores. To clinch his argument he asks how a torpedo can get through a torpedo blister, 15 inches of armament and explode right in the centre of the ship. - HMS Royal Oak survivor.
Battle of the AtlanticFor the first year of the war HMS Hawkins patrolled the South American lanes looking for German merchant raiders. She then went to Africa to escort the Winston Convoys to the Gulf and played a major part in the battle against Italy in Somalia, capturing several Italian ships.
However, the war wasnt all action, most of the time was a tedium of endless watches punctuated with painting the ship grey and painting the ports red.
My uncles diary and photographs are another piece in the jigsaw of world war 2 history and a good insight into life in the Royal Navy at war.
This short biography isn't a hero's tale, it's a true war story of an ordinary bloke, plucked from an ordinary job to have a smack at the Boche'.