We are seeing some good human interest stories in our newspapers concerning the 1940 Dunkirk Evacuation, Operation Dynamo. Sad, happy, unbelievable! I wonder if there are any old salts off HMS Grenade still around?
This story is about my wifes Uncle, Les Hudson from Chesterfield in Derbyshire. Sadly no longer with us. He was a young seaman serving in HMS Grenade in Chatham Dockyard and after a short spell of home leave he’d arrived back onboard Grenade with chicken pox of all things! Mass panic in the sick-bay and he was rushed back over the gangway and into the sick quarters in HMS Pembroke, the barracks next to the Royal Dockyard.
Meanwhile Operation Dynamo got into full swing and Grenade went to the French beaches to help out. Unfortunately Grenade took a stick of bombs and was sunk. Les Hudson, safe in the barracks sick-bay was recovering, past the contagious stage and was allowed to walk the sick-bay grounds. Leaning over a parapet and watching a rag-tag army trudging through the dockyard someone from below shouted “Hey, Les.” A bunch of his shipmates from Grenade, “Come on down, Jerry sunk us.” He ran down and asked where they were going now. They were off to stores to get new kit and then two weeks survivors leave! “Come with us.”
And that is how Able Seaman Leslie Hudson got a full brand new kit a fortnight’s pay and a rail warrant home to Chesterfield on two weeks leave! From Chicken Pox!
Afterwards he was drafted to Simonstown in South Africa. Got sunk, (again!), and survived with almost a year in the USA recuperating. Demobbed in 1945 he bacame a coal-miner for the rest of his working life. He told me this story about 1970, I was a Chief in the RN home on leave. He said that for years after his demob he expected a knock on the door from a couple of ‘Crushers’ to lift him! I was one of the few people he ever told.
Holmfield Road, Blackpool, FY2