A Tale of Two John’s

lawson
John aged 18 in 1944

Last week my iPad pinged to notify me by email to say that a certain John Lawson had commented on an old blog post marking my dad’s second anniversary of passing away.

Rather confusingly my father was also called John so hopefully there will be no confusion in this post…

Now I have to admit I had no idea who this John was but he suggested getting in touch as apparently there are numerous connections between the Lawson and Shores families unbeknown to me!

Intrigued I emailed him straight back asking for some more background information and was stunned when I read his initial reply.  Not only had he known the Shores family very well, but when he married his wife Joan way back in 1951, my father was his best man!

We swapped numbers and agreed a time for me to call the following day and ended up reminiscing  for about an hour on the phone.   John put me on speakerphone his end as he is now 91 years old and sadly deaf in one ear but otherwise in relatively good health.

His childhood home was in the Paddock, Anlaby Park Hull, close to 48 Anlaby Park Road North, where my father was brought up before the Shores family moved to 48 the Link.  This is where I used to visit Grandma Shores and Auntie Daisy & Uncle Alf Hopper who cared for her when I was a young boy.

John remembers many happy Christmas parties at the Link ,with pantomimes laid on by siblings Daisy, Beryl, John (my father) and Dorothy, the large house was ideal for playing “Murder”!   At Christmas he also sang in his then treble voice “See, Amid The Winter Snow” and “Where ‘Er You Walk“.

My paternal grandma Hilda had a sister, also called Daisy, who took on the role of housekeeper when John’s mother sadly passed away in 1934 when he was only eight years old.  John’s father was called Sir Philip Lawson and was Officer Commanding 152 Squadron Air Training Corps Hull where he apparently practiced drill loudly on the Corporation fields!

My dad was four years older and they went to different schools at 16, but John followed his example and joined the Royal Navy in 1944 aged 17 & a half.  He volunteered as he didn’t fancy being compulsorily called up into the army and so enlisted in Jamieson Street where Radio Humberside used to be located & broadcast from!  He also trained as a coder, rather than a writer (naval clerk) as he’d originally intended, at the same HMS Cabbala as my father too.

Eventually he was posted to HMS Slinger an escort carrier in the Pacific “forgotten fleet“. Like my father (& me) he made friends for life from his service and organised reunions of his old shipmates in the Chester area.  He even published his memoirs of his wartime experiences on the internet which can be found here.

John’s sister Margaret joined the WAAF during the Second World War and was best friend to my Auntie Beryl, my father’s older sister.  Beryl later married John’s cousin Douglas Pook who was in the RAF!

After the war he sometimes went with my father to watch Hull City at Boothferry Park with Roy Binnington at the stand on Bunker’s Hill Terrace.  Roy was my father’s best friend and attended his funeral so I was honoured to attend his funeral in May 2015 in Yorkshire with Debbie.

I will definitely write a blog post about my memories of Roy in future, as he was so funny and a very talented comic strip style artist, as well as an accomplished architect & best friend to my father.  So much so that I mentioned him during my father’s eulogy with him and his wife Kathleen being very appreciative.

There is one last connection between the two John’s as Roy’s family were originally owners of East Yorkshire Motors and John’s future wife Joan worked there as a wages clerk, while he was cashier for the bus conductors between Hornsea and Bridlington before joining British Gas!

When my father got married in 1956 sadly John couldn’t make the Saturday ceremony as he was supervisor for the loading of coke to Poland whist working overtime for British Gas, however Joan attended in his place.  Sadly they lost touch over the years as so easily happens which made reconnecting with me via the internet and phone so many years later even more special.

He did keep in touch by phone with Auntie Dorothy who lives in nearby Hessle after he had to give up his car and knew of my father’s passing from her but found my blog via judicious use of Google!

John told me he early retired in 1986 at 60 and became a golf enthusiast as well as a grade 140 chess player.  In getting involved in club and reunion activities he started publishing his wartime memories on the internet.

Eventually our call came to the end as the visiting hairdresser downstairs attending to his wife Joan had John as their next client.  So we said our goodbyes for now and exchanged addresses my email later.  I’m sure we’ll keeping touch and if I ever visit Hull I’ll try and pop in and see them.

Although social media can be quite disruptive to people’s lives there is a positive aspect to it as well in terms of reconnecting people and making sure memories are not forgotten.

I suppose it’s all about finding the right balance as with most things in this life!

A Tale of Two John’s

John Evelyn Shores R.N. JX356772

Just before Christmas I received a copy of my father’s World War 2 Royal Navy service record which covers the period between 13th October 1942 when he enlisted to 17th June 1946 when he was discharged, both at HMS Drake shore establishment in Plymouth.

dad-service-record

I knew of course about his service on the Combined Operations Headquarters ship HMS Largs, about which he told me a lot of stories, as well as on the frigate HMS Nith, although I didn’t realise that was after the Largs.  So after a little bit of further delving in Wikipedia here’s some more information about the rest of his time in the Royal Navy that I wasn’t aware of!

HMS Cabbala (4 months) shore establishment at Lowton, Warrington, a Royal Navy signal school.  I remember seeing a photograph of my dad with his best friend in the Navy “Bogey” Knight out on the town with two Wrens.  Nothing remarkable you may say except that the two men were dressed in the Wrens’ uniform and vice versa!

HMS Keren (2 months) a Landing Ship Infantry.  I remember that dad around this time was offered a commission but like his future son (me) he turned it down.  On my part it was just after graduating in Physics with Astrophysics and going to the Army Careers office who suggested a 3 year short service commission in bomb disposal…  On my father’s part he would have been in charge of a landing craft and I remember he told me the casualty rate was appalling, thank goodness he refused or I might not have been born!

HMS Saunders (1 week) was the shore naval base of the Combined Training Centre (CTC) Middle East at Kabret, on the Egypt’s Little (Small) Bitter Lake.  It was the first Combined Operations Training Establishment located outside the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to train RN personnel in the operation of landing craft and together with the troops of many Allied nations, to practice amphibious landings prior to operations against the enemy in the Mediterranean.  I remember dad talking about the “Bitter Lakes” but it’s only through researching this blog I’ve found out where it is!

Force “S” (6 weeks) H.M.S. Largs was the Flagship of Force “S” controlling the landings on Sword beach the most Easterly of the five beach-heads on D-Day.  Dad told me the stories of Largs nearly being hit by torpedoes launched from German E-boats as well as the arrival of the X23 might submarine alongside that had been reconnoitring the beach earlier that day prior to the landings.

HMS Mayina a Royal Navy transit camp five miles from Colombo in Ceylon.  I’ve seen photos of my father in shorts and nothing else looking very tanned and slim lounging around the beach there…  I remember one story he told me was about a litter of puppies that was born in his hammock that they tried & failed to smuggle on board ship.

Their mother was a black coloured stray adopted at the camp who he called N*****, the same as Guy Gibson‘s dog of dam buster fame.  I don’t think my father was overtly racist but it was terminology commonly used at the time that is not acceptable today.

Rather naughtily Alex, James & Emma knew about this story and so whenever Grandpa came to visit they’d ask him in company “what was the name of your dog grandpa, during the war”?  Debbie & I would try and shush his reply up as best we could while the children smiled “innocently”…

Very proud & “very interesting but also stupid” as they used to say on “Laugh In“!

🙂

 

 

John Evelyn Shores R.N. JX356772

Owen Money (& HMS Monmouth!)

Last night Debbie and I saw Owen Money‘s “60’s Juke Box Show” at the Brecon Theatre.  His show started at 7.30pm with tribute acts of Dusty Springfield, Matt Monro, Mama Cass and a rather energetic youthful Tom Jones!  We really enjoyed ourselves and I ended up buying more CD’s this morning while reading in bed relaxing.

Then Debbie surprised me by suggesting we go to Monmouth again – not just to go back to M&S Food – but to see the sailors of HMS Monmouth exercising their “Freedom of Monmouth”right to march in the streets as the ship was berthed for a few days in Cardiff.

This was something I really was excited to do and I have to admit seeing them march this afternoon just after 2.30pm brought more than just a tear to our eyes as we remembered my father, as we’d put a picture of him in navy uniform on the order of service at his funeral.

The band played “Men of Harlech” and “A Life on an Ocean Wave” which sounded great as they marched towards us then we followed them to the town square where the dignitaries were waiting for the salute!

Once finished we headed back to the car albeit with a brief visit to M&S on the way.

🙂

 

Owen Money (& HMS Monmouth!)