Jack Cranston

1939

About this memory

Jack was 15 when the Second World war broke out so he joined the ARP as a Messenger; although in fact he did all the things that ARP Wardens would be asked to do. As soon as he was old enough he joined the Home Guard, and he remembers his old Sergeant Charlie Kay teaching him to fire STEN guns and throwing grenades. Grenades had a ten second fuse which was activated by pulling out the pin; ‘remember to count to five after you’ve pulled the pin out before throwing it, otherwise they can throw it back’.

Jack didn’t wait to be called up when he was 18, in 1942, he volunteered for the Royal Navy. He had no sea faring experience and there wasn’t a naval tradition in the family but he thought it would be better than waiting to be called up when he wouldn’t have a choice and might end up being posted to the army, or possibly as a Bevan Boy working in the pits. Jack had thought about joining the Merchant Navy until his mother pointed out at least one Merchant vessel was being lost each week. He did 10 weeks basic training as an Ordinary Seaman before going on for Officer training at Roedean in Sussex; Roedean was a girls public school so after the war he enjoyed answering ‘Roedean’, when asked where he had gone to school.

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