Fred Honisett


Fred HonisettIt was a very naive and unworldly boy that entered Ingham Hall (PWSTH) as it was then. That was on August 31st 1943. My mother brought me, much to my embarrassment, though I could not blame her, there was a war on, and she had lost her husband (my father of course) only a few months earlier. I was 15 years old and her only son. It was the Ladies Guild of Henley-on-Thames that paid for my training. Then the widows pension was ten shillings a week, and the prospect of eventually getting 10 a month was exiting when I got to sea. We got off the bus at  'The Swan' as directed about 5.00 p.m. The officers present gave my mother tea in the wardroom and very soon parted. The first night I cried myself to sleep in my bunk. The next morning we were called at 05.30 and discovered my cleaning station was outside doing the bins with a crewmate called McClean, I'm sorry I forget his first name. When we went in for breakfast I felt I had done a days work, only to find the day had not even started then. During the 7 months training, things worked out very good for me.

Of course I remember all the officers especially Mr. Painter, who I don't think thought much of me. We had excellent training there. A few names I remember were Ron Breslin from Glasgow who beat the champion of Watts Naval School, in Norwich at boxing. Bill Bond from Wallsall was Ron's sparring partner at the time, beating Watts School really did please `Freddie Painter. Other names come to memory such as Myoscough and Maitland Andrews known as `Andy` from Newton Stewart, who after I left became a C.P.O and also won best boy of the year award. I did a trip with Andy on the `Port Caroline in later years. Two other names I remember were Harrison and Vaughn who played the piano well, especially the tune `Nora`. He came from Leicester. During our boat training on the Broads one day an American bomber crew bailed out of their plane on a bombing raid to Germany, and we picked them up. The pilot visited the `Prince of Wales` to thank us with chewing gum etc. He said he just set the plane on course for Germany and left it.

March 1944 came and we had our first leave. The best compliment I had from my former school friends back home was "I went away a boy, and came back a man". After a week we went to Liverpool and stayed at the Seaman's Mission in Garston to be allotted a ship on the 'pool'.

My first ship was the `Port Caroline` where we went by convoy to West Africa, Freetown to be exact. Then across to Buenos Aires. Where we were on `D`Day` June 1944 (a neutral country). I stayed with Port Line until 1947. When I changed to `The New Zealand Shipping Company` on the fated liberty ship 'Samkey' which after being on it for twelve months and due to go back, it sailed out of London and two weeks later disappeared off the Azores with the entire crew forty-three of them all lost. No trace was ever found.

Still with the N.Z.S.CO. I joined the 'Leicester' sister ship to the 'Samkey' did a six month voyage on my leave I caught chicken pox the 'Leicester' sailed without me and turned over, four of the crew were lost.

My wife to be, Joan decided for me to leave the sea.

My next 30 years I was manager of a retail chain stores another name that disappeared 'Timothy Whites & Taylors', later to become 'Boots the Chemists'.

I take this opportunity to thank the 'Prince of Wales Training Ship' and all its officers and lads for putting me on my feet. P.W.S.T.S. 1943-1944.