-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Autobiography of Frank Pavey
By Frank Pavey
Updated 06-May-2014

This article was written by former Hood crewman and H.M.S. Hood Association member, Frank Pavey. Frank served aboard Hood as a Boy Seaman 1st Class (Service Number PJX 152389) from April 1938 until May 1940. Later, he was a long time H.M.S. Hood Association member. Frank was known for his great sense of humour and his superb piping...he was always on hand at Association events to pipe members to order. Sadly, he passed away on 28 January 2007. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. The article covers his naval career.

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Hood veteran Frank PaveyI joined the Royal Navy on 9th March 1937 and started off at St. Vincent – the Boys' training establishment in Gosport. The pay then was 5/3 a week (about26p today). Then after 6 weeks initial training it went up to 8/9 a week (about 44p) on promotion from Boy Seaman 2nd Class to Boy Seaman 1st Class.

After St. Vincent I went to the Iron Duke for my sea training. The was the 'old' Iron Duke – the Battleship from World War 1, Admiral Jellicoe's flagship at the Battle of Jutland.

Following that it was a draft to the Hood and I joined her at Malta in April 1938. That was funny! We joined on a Sunday morning just before Sunday Divisions and were dumped at the starboard after gangway – that was the officers' gangway! We had to heave all our gear – kit bags, hammocks, cases etc. etc. onto the quarterdeck. The biggest crime was all us boys were wearing boots! Screams of horror from the Officer of the Watch and the gangway staff because on the Hood nobody below the rank of Petty Officer was allowed to wear shoes on the quarterdeck – it was bare feet at all times!

We had to get all our gear off the deck and down to the Boys' Messdeck in “No minutes flat!” with everyone bawling at us to speed up. Anyway, the panic died down and all was well.

We did a couple of spells on 'Spanish Patrol' – the Spanish Civil War was in progress then – and a spell at Gib and fleet regattas in the Greek Islands. We generally enjoyed ourselves for about 18 months. We came home in January 1939 and did a refit at Pompey. That's when we had the broadcast system put in. Up until then all orders were passed by 'pipe.' That was one of the jobs for the Boys. We were part of the 'gangway' staff – four 'Call Boys' two portside and two starboard. We had to gallop all over the ship piping orders. Very good exercise it was! However, once we had the broadcast system fitted that was the end of what was a 'good little number.' For us call boys it was back to working 'part of the ship' again – scrubbing decks and washing paintwork etc.

We finished the refit and sailed up to Scapa Flow. The fleet was gathering up there at the time. I guess the war drums had started to sound by then. We were at sea when the skipper announced on the loudspeakers that we were now at war. I had spent the middle watch of the previous night in the 5.5 inch magazine fuzing shells so I reckon we knew it was coming!

Hood veteran Frank PaveyI think it was a couple of weeks later, 26th September I think, that we were part of a force sent to escort a submarine which had been damaged and couldn't dive and was returning to base on the surface. Anyway, I was off watch when 'Repel Aircraft' was sounded. It was very early days in the war and I had no action station regarding anti-aircraft and thought “OK, another blooming exercise – don't touch me!” So I thought I should take the chance of ripping down to the bathroom and grab a opportunity for a bath and to dhoby some gear. We had some shallow galvanised baths about 3 feet in diameter in the Boys' bathroom and I was sat in one getting soaped when there was a terrific thump and bang. The lights went out, tiles flew up from the bathroom deck and there was me starkers in the dark thinking the end of the world had come! The emergency lights then came on – very dim – and I baled out mighty quickish! It appeared that a Ju88 had popped out of a cloud and missed us by about 30 feet on the port side. It gouged some chunks out of the armoured belt just below the waterline – very scare making!

Well, that was that! We returned to Scapa and then did a few more 'Northern Patrols' but nothing very exciting happened, except it was ruddy cold! Not quite 'Russian Convoy' weather, but mighty near it.

We went down to Devonport around November time and each watch had seven days' leave and then back up to Loch Ewe. After the Royal Oak had been sunk in Scapa Flow all the ships moved to Loch Ewe. It was a giggle at Loch Ewe! There was only one little pub there and just imagine the ships' companies of all of the fleet trying to get in the pub bar which was about the size of my sitting room! It was drunk dry in about ten minutes!

Well, nothing very interesting after that – just more northern patrols and so on until we went down to Devonport again in March 1940. I was drafted to Pompey barracks on 20th May 1940. That was the end of my time in Hood. I was in the Royal Naval Barracks Pompey for about three weeks or so and then got a draft to the Foylebank. She was a 'Bank' Line merchant ship which had been commandeered and converted to and Anti-Aircraft ship. We had heard that she was intended to be an Ack-Ack defence ship for Russian Convoys but we were in the process of 'working up' at Portland when one nice Thursday morning a load of Stukas joined us – and they weren't 'just working up!' The official report said that a force of 'about 20 Stukas' attacked the ship, but from the accounts of people who watched it from ashore in Portland there were 26. When the divers went down afterwards there were 26 bomb holes in the ship! It was like a nightmare and seemed to go on for ever though in fact the whole attack was over in about 10 minutes.

I was working the ammo hoist on the starboard pom-pom. At least I would have been if the first bombs hadn't put all the electrics out. The well deck and pom-pom 'band stand' looked like a butcher's shop – bits and pieces of body everywhere. I don't know how I got away with it. All I had was a nick across my shin.

The captain of the gun, Leading Seaman Jack Mantle, got a posthumous Victoria Cross. That was July 4th – Yankee Independence Day. We didn't feel very independent!

Old Jack deserved his gong. The two left ammo trays were blown off but he switched to hand firing and kept going. His leg was badly mangled then he got hit again in the chest. It makes me shiver to think of it. I heard afterwards that there were only four of us left alive on the gun. Ah well. I had nightmares for ages after that. Note from website editors- Click here to read another account of the attack on the Foylebank.

Well, after that I went on survivor's leave. Then to Whale Island for a gunnery course. Then I joined the 'Lance' an L class destroyer – on Malta Convoys etc. Then I went through to Malta with a convoy and stayed there as part of 'Force K' and did a lot of damage to Rommel's supply ships, which made old Adolf cross I guess because he sent the Luftwaffe back to Sicily and that started it!

We went out after another convoy but our luck ran out – we ran into a minefield. 'Neptune,' and 'Kandahar' were sunk and 'Penelope' and 'Aurora' damaged. We had loads of rivets sprung and crawled back to Malta and into No. 2 dock and that was our lot! Old Jerry just pounded the dockyard and airfields. We got hit about 3 times, then they blew us off the centreline chocks then hit the lock gates so the water came up and we stayed down!

I got stuck in Malta for the siege and came home in March 1944. I had some leave and then shot out to the Pacific in a little frigate – the 'Odanzi.' And there ended my war! They forgot about us – we were the 'Forgotten Fleet.' I got home in November 1946 – more than a year after the war had ended in the Pacific and more than 18 months after it had ended in Europe!

 

The following biography of Frank was written by his granddaughter as part of a school project

Frank Pavey ~ My Grandfather

When the war started my Granddad, who was 18, was serving in the Royal Navy on the Battleship H.M.S. Hood.

The Hood was bombed on 26th September 1939. He remembers it well as he was in the bathroom at the time and the floor tiles flew up and the lights went out. But he was not hurt.

He stayed on the Hood until March 1940 when he was transferred to HMS Foylebank.

Six weeks later the ship was attacked in Portland Harbour by 26 German Stuka dive-bombers.

The attack lasted 8 to 10 minutes and 26 bombs fell on the ship.

Frank Pavey in August 1985The ship sank and of the 380 crew 72 were killed and many wounded. Of the men in charge of the guns only four survived, my granddad being one of them (he only got a scratch on his ankle!). The Captain of his gun was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery.

My Granddad was sent on survivor's leave for two weeks, but after a week he got appendicitis and had three more weeks sick leave.

He was sent on a gunnery course and became a Leading Seaman. He then joined the Destroyer HMS Lance. They escorted convoys across the Atlantic and later convoys to Gibraltar. From there they escorted convoys to Malta.

In October 1941 the ship stayed in Malta to act as a striking force, attacking Italian supply ships going to Africa.They destroyed over 75% of the ships and were nicknamed the 'Saturday Night Sailors' as their successes were often on Saturday nights. On 9th November they sank a complete Italian convoy. On 19th December they were escorting a British convoy but ran into a minefield and two ships were sunk. My Granddad said it was very frightening as it was pitch black and they were expecting to be blown up by a mine at any moment.

The siege of Malta began with very heavy bombing by German and Italian aircraft. The Lance was sunk a few days later when a bomb hit the gate of the dry-dock it was in and the water came flooding in.

The crew stayed in Malta for three years and helped the army with anti-aircraft defence and did lots of other jobs (building trenches, etc.) Because of the siege there was very little to eat. He usually had a lump of bread and a sardine each day and on his 21st birthday he had two sardines. The birthday cake that his mum sent him arrived a year and a week later!

In 1944 he returned to England and was given 6 weeks leave.

He then travelled on a troop ship to Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka where he joined the Frigate HMS Odzani and escorted the 'fleet train' which was convoying supplies to the Far East fleet. While escorting the 'fleet train' to Australia in 1945, the First Lieutenant told them that the war was over and treated them to a glass of sherry. However they continued travelling from place to place for over a year and became known as 'the forgotten fleet'. He came back to England in November 1946.