In March 1943 uncle Reg embarked to join the Allied Forces in North Africa to prepare for the invasion of Italy. He probably had not been told that (especially as the Allies were trying to deceive the Germans into believing the attack would be through Greece). Reg was a driver. He had driven a fire engine at an airfield, but drove other vehicles such as ambulances, for the RAF. He was aboard a troop carrier that had been the cruise ship RMS Windsor Castle, converted to His Majesty’s Troopship P41.
On the night 23 March, at 2:30 a.m. the ship was hit by aerial torpedo from a German aircraft, a Heinkel He 111, some 110 miles WNW of Algiers. Miraculously, although the ship went down at 5:25 p.m., only one man died. Reg was one of 2,699 troops, along with 289 crew, who were rescued by HMS Whaddon, HMS Eggesford and HMS Douglas.
Many of the men had kicked off their boots to swim better and had to march across the desert in their socks, but Reg hung on to his boots and was spared such torture. Just like the rest he lost much of his kit.
Later, he would support the invasion of Sicily and Italy, before spending some time in Germany and then back home to Brownhills.
See also: WW2 People’s War.