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Second World War veteran takes trip down memory lane

14 September 2017
Phase 2 sailors at HMS Collingwood had the honour of meeting of a Second World War veteran, when a special visitor came to the Fareham site.

Jimmy Baynes, 94, joined the Royal Navy in 1942 during the hostilities only period, and was sent to HMS Collingwood to undergo his training. It was a long term wish for him to return to the site, and he was delighted when this was all made possible.

Following his training at HMS Collingwood, Jimmy, who lives in Tolworth, near Kingston-upon-Thames, served on HMS Erica, a Flower-class corvette, in the Second Escort Group, escorting convoys to North Africa.

Erica was sunk in February 1943 in the Mediterranean, but fortunately Jimmy and most of the crew survived.  He later joined HMS Anguilla, a Colony-class frigate and took part in the Arctic convoys to Russia.  On one mission he witnessed the sinking of HMS Goodall, but Anguilla went on to sink the U-boat that had fired the torpedo.

On leaving the Royal Navy Jimmy became a typesetter for a Fleet Street newspaper and more recently, Jimmy wrote a book all about his time in the service called ‘The Finishing School’, which helps him to give informative talks to a wide variety of groups including school children.

He was delighted that in addition to having the opportunity to tour HMS Collingwood, he was able to give his talk to over 350 young sailors, sharing many of his stories from his varied and fascinating Naval career.

To face a gathering of young naval personnel who are undergoing something similar to myself with a gap of 75 years gave me a personal relationship with them and enabled me to relax and let it flow.

RN veteran Jimmy Baynes

Chief Petty Officer Norman Brindley who attended the talk with the Phase 2 trainees said: “The trainees found the whole experience very humbling and informative. Many of them felt compelled to shake Jimmy’s hand and were in awe of his life story.

"To see someone who went through so much during the war will hopefully inspire the next generation of sailors to great things.”

To mark the special occasion the First Lieutenant of HMS Collingwood, Lieutenant Commander Mark Wilson, presented Jimmy with a framed photograph of the Fareham site from the 1940s.

Jimmy said of his day “It is difficult to accurately express my feelings.  To face a gathering of young naval personnel who are undergoing something similar to myself with a gap of 75 years gave me a personal relationship with them and enabled me to relax and let it flow.

"I’m so pleased to learn that I had entertained them and their appreciation is something I will treasure."

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