Yesterday Thursday November 17, my wife Rosemary 72 received a phone call from our 84 year old friend and my former instructor as a young seaman in the British Royal Navy. He was unable to attend a reunion party at my residence on the New South Wales, Australian Central coast, with several of the remaining 21 ex British; now Australian and New Zealand former crew members of the British Battleship H M S King George V, who served their final wartime experiences during the last year of the WW2 in the Pacific
Our friends message was that, a former shipmate of ours ARTHER ROTHWELL Aged 87, had passed away at his home in Queensland Australia.
Arthur Rothwell was a former Ordnance Artificer in the British Royal Navy, and we are reminded of the time when Arthur was called upon to perform a task probably never undertaken by anyone before.
During the last days in the Pacific war zone WW2. The larger ships of the U S and British navies were shelling the Japanese mainland at night when the impossible happened. On our ship a 14 inch diameter 17cwt shell on its way to the breech of our 'B'turret left gun decided to return in the hoist to the shell-room magazine, however, the massive Cordite charge was loaded into the breech automatically and then the ten Large 14 inch guns fired in broadside.
At that particular moment in time, I was at my action station in the wide open area of the 'Air Defence Position', The left gun of 'B' Turret distributed about a thousand pieces of burning Cordite all over the ship and crew members. Several pieces of cordite became attached to my face clothing and anti flash gear causing several burns.
The following day it was discovered that the offending gun had a defect within the left barrel.
The solution to the problem was to strip Arthur(The smallest artificer) down to his essentials; grease him all over and shove him with several tools and a light up the breech end of the barrel to clear the defect. On his recovery , the plug bore gauge was passed successfully.
This all happened in July 1945, I was 19 years old. On my birthday, the first Atom bomb test took place, and I had been in the Brit Navy for three and a half years, Having joined 31 days after America was Forced into the war Sunday DEC 7 1941.