A great sense of pride in Bristol's adopted ship
Iam delighted to hear that the Arctic Star is to be awarded to all those who served on the ships which kept Russia supplied during the Second World war. I was able to complete my teacher-training before being called up into the Royal Navy and being sent to train as a coder.
When I was ready to be assigned a ship it was to HMS Jamaica, a Colonies class cruiser and Bristol's adopted ship, in fact a ship on which my brother already served.
Eighteen months younger than me, he had lied about his age, saying that he was 18 when he was actually only 16.
If anyone noted the fact that he was six months older than I, nothing was ever said. Sadly my brother is long since dead.
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When I joined the ship he was a seaman on the guns and had already been on Arctic convoy duty for more than 18 months.
I had served for about six months when, along with the battleship, Duke of York, the cruiser, Belfast and other units of the Home Fleet, HMS Jamaica played her part in the battle of the North Cape when the German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk on Boxing Day 1943.
Early in 1944 I was one of the lucky members of HMS Jamaica's crew who visited Bristol when the battle ensign worn in the engagement was formally presented to the city at the Colston Hall.
When the ship was to be refitted for service in the Far East, my brother and I opted to move on, although we both paid a visit some years later when she visited Avonmouth.
My further naval service was at a naval air base in the Pacific on the Admiralty Islands.
Having developed ear trouble, I was sent home to undergo an operation at the naval section of Barrow Gurney Hospital. After being deemed medically unfit, I was soon de-mobbed.
With so much connection with Bristol, it was perhaps not surprising that I began work as a teacher at South Street Junior School, Bedminster, in December 1945 and was there for about ten years.
I moved on to work as deputy headteacher and acting headteacher at Newfoundland Road Primary School, as headteacher at St Barnabas Primary School and then at Sea Mills Junior School.
Twenty years of service in various schools ended when I was appointed as an inspector of schools for the county of Flint, North Wales.
The last ten years of service was back home with my native county, Mid Glamorgan, where I was county adviser for spoken English.
During my years in Bristol I was a committee member of the Bristol Schools Football Association, acting a fixture secretary for some years.
Upon leaving, I was honoured to be made a life-member of the BSFA.
I retain much pride in my association with Bristol and with its adopted ship, HMS Jamaica.
J R Edwards