Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

WW2 veteran Jack celebrates centenary with Plymouth sailors

24 October 2023
Topic:
Sailors from Devonport joined Plymouth WW2 veteran Jack Glover as he celebrated his 100th birthday.

With a card from their majesties the King and Queen, Jack was surrounded by friends, family and Commander Martin Malone, Executive Officer of Devonport Naval Base, and Base Warrant Officer Warrant Officer 1 Steve Harvey for an unforgettable centennial bash in one of Plymouth’s premier hotels.

The man all were gathered to honour served in every theatre of war – Atlantic, Arctic, Mediterranean and, finally, the Far East – during the Navy’s and nation’s sternest test.

Originally from Leeds, Jack served aboard Dido-class cruiser HMS Royalist, seeing action in the Atlantic theatre and the Arctic Convoys as well as escorting aircraft carriers launching strikes against the German battleship Tirpitz hiding in Norwegian waters.

The ship also saw action in the Mediterranean, taking part in the landings in southern France and the Aegean before deploying to the Far East, taking part in the liberation of Rangoon, Burma, and once again supporting carrier groups of the Pacific Fleet in the final battles with the Empire of Japan.

Aboard HMS Royalist Jack’s job was a message decoder, responsible for communicating with Naval HQs and other warships, as well as intercepting signals from the German Navy.

Weather conditions and sea states on the Arctic Convoys were severe for both the ships and the men onboard who were also at action stations, contending with attacks from the Luftwaffe and U-boats as well as the elements.

Eight decades later, he believes as a decoder he had an easier – though still demanding – job than his comrades

"I was operating inside the ship, so I wasn't exposed to the Arctic weather, so I had a fairly easy time really," Jack said.

“I just remember the bunks being so close together. You could literally wake and put your feet into someone else’s breakfast.”

He is wished all the very best from the Naval Base Commander Devonport, and the wider naval family.

Commander Martin Malone

He described serving in the convoys as "a dangerous job and we were all under threat.

"But we were young and more interested in getting to the nearest port and having a beer. Some things don't change in the Royal Navy."

Jack’s close friend on board Royalist was Alistair MacLean, who went on to write best-selling novels and screenplays including HMS Ulysses and The Guns of Navarone (both of which drew on experiences in Royalist) and the ultimate WW2 spy/adventure movie Where Eagles Dare.

"I identified myself in them and in a lot of what was going on there, as I was with him at the time. I was interested, I was part of that story,” continued Jack.

At the end of the war, Jack returned to his life as an accountant and with his wife moved to Brazil where he worked for a paper production company for four decades before returning to the UK.

Among present-day sailors joining Jack for his milestone birthday party was Commander Martin Malone, HMNB Devonport’s Executive Officer.

“It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be part of Jack’s 100th birthday celebration. Sharp and witty with a fascinating wartime career!” he said.

“He is wished all the very best from the Naval Base Commander Devonport, and the wider naval family.”

 

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.