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0111 Kenneth Cradock-Hartopp Side A

39min4sec 6.19.18
August 18, 2018







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reservist, had not been traceable because the volunteer reserve in this country did not have to leave a contact
address whereas regular officers do, of course, so that was the lot.

We weren’t assigned to move any where. When we came here, we found our own accommodation and the
three of us shared a large room in the Blue Lantern Inn just opposite the Academy, which all our funds
would go to because, never forget, England was broke and there were no allowances. In fact, Dick Miller,
who was a young lieutenant JG, earned four times more than I did as a lieutenant, Royal Navy, which gives
you roughly the idea. They did [inaudible 0:03:35], but it was a bit of a dormitory. The enlisted men were,
in fact, only two torpedo ratings. Both ex-operational flotillas in the UK. They knew their stuff and they
knew what it was about, but in our stage of building, they had not a great deal to do. When we came to sea
trials in New London, Connecticut and places like that, they had to work. They had, of course, prior training
on Vospers at sea, on the job, in the war. They were taught about torpedoes, of course, at the Navy’s torpedo
school, [inaudible 0:04:30], which in fact doesn’t exist anymore.

There were no motor mechanics while I was at Annapolis, but all the ones we got were pretty highly trained
people and they’ve got to be to drive Packard Merlins and so on and we were very well-served. I don’t
know where our two enlisted men lived and the one that I knew in my time there, they might rather have
lived with their families, which gets to the next question. How were we received by the people of Eastport?
They were very friendly, put up with us. It was six months after Pearl, so they knew [inaudible 0:05:36]
and it rather put us on what you might describe as an equal basis, except that we had had the form
[inaudible 0:05:49] with their force and so on. My American Navy counterparts were super people. While
we’re at it, I’ll tell you about the Admiral President of Annapolis was John R.Burdle, who had been a Naval
attaché in London and knew about Limeys to put it mildly. Super chap. Commmandant of Midshipmen was
Captain [inaudible 0:06:19] and I didn’t know about him. The Flag Lieutenant was Martadow, who was an
Oxford graduate and the Secretary of the Academic Board was Felix Johnson, who was a commander and
promoted to captain while we were there and also went on to be Chief of Naval Intelligence as an Admiral.
A chap who once said, “You know, I can get fined $5,000 tomorrow by Congress” which frightened me, but
anyway they were super. They looked out for us, they couldn’t have done better. Sadly, our friendships did
not develop after Annapolis. We were there for six months and being the [inaudible 0:07:21] was spread
worldwide, it was very difficult to maintain and I’m ashamed that we didn’t.

The places that interested me about Annapolis was the grandeur of the Naval Academy itself, Bancroft Hall
and [inaudible 0:07:45] and the Church and the way things were done. I didn’t do much touring because we
didn’t have any money and, of course, we didn’t have any cars either. We also didn’t go to any restaurants
and so on because of the cash crisis and the Blue Lantern did us very well anyway. I don’t know what the
men did to entertain themselves. I really [inaudible 0:08:16]. But you said, “Next, did you know any of the
following people?” Admiral Cochrane I did not know. He was above my level. Chris Nelson I knew quite
well and his family. We got on very well together as I did with Eddie Goldman, who was very helpful,
indeed, and a charming chap. Both no longer with, very sadly. Peter Buchannan I knew for lots of years and

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so on. I also knew Lyle, the foreman of the yard, but the chap who really looked after us was Captain
Cooley and his family. In fact, his daughter, Jenny, has sponsored my boat and I’ve gotten her address from
Dick Miller after [inaudible 0:09:10]. The other one I knew was Captain Cooley’s staff, Chuck Whiteman,
and I don’t know what happened to him, but that was another one.

The living conditions aboard the boats when we used them were fine. They were a bit hot in India. A lot of
the things we did was really…whether it was legal or not, we got in a little fridge in each of the boats, which
others didn’t have and it was quite helpful in the tropics, I must say. We weren’t in a combat situation, and
I’ll tell you why later, eventually. Well, I’d better tell you now, so the reason was that the boats that were
built that I commanded were for the Indian Government as were some of Higgins’ boats. We were stationed
eventually at Vizagapatnam, which was 500 miles southwest of Calcutta in the Bay of Bengal. The general
idea and a right one, too, was that if the Japanese had broken through into India, north of Calcutta, the Bay
of Bengal would have been red hot and where we were, whoever else eventually happened, 11 boats traded
up two torpedoes [inaudible 0:10:56] ready to go. [Inaudible 0:10:59] because we all knew that the 14th
Army held army held firm, bless them but that was why we didn’t have any combat situations where we

There were a series of other things and I will tell you that the MTBs in my flotilla, the 275. 277 which is in
mine, 278, 279, 280 and 282. Those were all that went to India and were part of my flotilla, the 16th MTB
Flotilla and also from Higgins, we had 291, 292, 293, 299 and 300, which of course are no longer
[inaudible 0:12:03] in Annapolis, but that was it. We had eventually eleven boats in the flotilla. The
twelfth was sunk on a Liberty Ship in convoy and that was it. As I said before, 22 torpedoes and 40 officers
in the [inaudible 0:12:22] and there we were. Well, that answers the question how did the Admiralty
determine the vessels were to be assigned to duty and what was their mission? I’m afraid I don’t have any
photographs at all because my photo album – I had a super photo album of World War II – has been stolen
and there we are. I think most of the boats survived the war, but our lot was paired off in South India in a
place called Mandapam and not recovered by the United States, who perhaps probably didn’t want them and
that was it. That’s about the lot for that. Before we get further, I’ll tell you about some of the people who
commanded the boats.

We still have a reunion once a year. We’re all old now and our wives are very much a part of the flotilla. It’s
a pretty great, little party done over a weekend. Quite a lot of these are still with us, starting with, as I told
you, the MTB. 275 was commanded by a chap called Chris Johnson, who is no longer with us, but his first
lieutenant was Andy McQueen, a Scotsman, who left us last autumn, but I’m now also reunited with his
telegraphist, George Gale, who is coming. That was one. 277 was me and my first lieutenant was Donald
Milner, who became the BBC’s Chief Radio European Correspondent. He was brilliant and, unfortunately,
died of leukemia two years ago, but his widow still comes to the reunion, which is rather nice. Also, my
torpedoman, Ritten, who’s still with us and my sparker, a fellow called Goom. Not Goon, Goom,with Mike
on the end, so that’s right.

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278 was commanded by a Canadian, who eventually took over the flotilla, Liston Byrnes, Mackle Hagger,
who at the end of the war went back to Canada, dropped his last name, joined the CBC and became a very
well-known radio correspondent by the name of Liston Byrnes. He lives in Toronto now, has spinal arthritis
and can’t travel, but we’re in touch. That’s that one. 279 was commanded by a chap called Tony Hallstead,
who was extremely good, who now lives inside Africa and has no connection to this country anymore. Did
quite well and went back after the Indian period and drove a boat out of [inaudible 0:16:02], I think, on the
east coast for somebody else. His First Lieutenant, who we used to call “Fearless George,” George Arnold,
went into the church and is now a retired parson and great fun. His motor mechanic was a chap called Fred
Bell, whose gunner was a fellow called Hog and the sparker was a fellow called Dobbs. They are all with
us, which is rather fun. That’s the best represented boat of the lot,279.

280 was a chap called Don Bailey, who was a terrific chap, but has now been dead for about 12 years. He
went on into industry into a company called The Metal Box Company and became one of their senior
managers. His first lieutenant was a chap called Phil Power from Australia and we can’t trace him. You
can’t just send a letter to Phil Power, ROMVR, Australia. We’ve done our best, but we do have his third
chap, Roth T Herbert, who was about 6’6”, who comes. He and his wife are absolutely super. They come to
the thing. What was the next one? 282 was a fellow called Hastings, another good one. Can’t trace him. His
sparker’s name was [inaudible 0:17:41], his first lieutenant’s name was John Millis and his second sparker
was called Ron [inaudible 0:17:48] and they’re with us. John Millis, incidentally, was the general manager
of South Hampton General Hospital, which is an enormous place. When he retired, they had to employ three
people to do his job. That’s the sort of chap we had.

291 was David Newman. Now David Newman speaks six languages. He was sunk [inaudible 0:18:17] in a
cruiser called Bonaventure and survived that. Came to us after some more time experienced in the channel
and actually brought five boats, one from Bombay where they were offloaded around India to join us. He
was the principal interpreter when, to put it rather coarsely, we were busy selling the Poles to the Russians
because that was one of his things. And I heard tell, but he won’t admit it, that he was offered the
ambassadorship to Poland, but his charming, French wife didn’t want to go Warsaw. And I don’t blame her.
But he’s very much with us. Good fun. His first lieutenant was called Bob Sprole, who left him to become a
submariner and he’s with us. His chief motor mechanic was called Humphreys, he’s with us and so is the
gunner called Moss, so they’re pretty well-represented.

292, Jeff Atkins. Jeff Atkins was a conjurer, believe it or not, became president of the Magic Circle of this
country and is now the Secretary of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and he will do a card trick
for you when you’re not looking. He’s one of those. His First Lieutenant was David Blamey, who started
this reunion off by ringing me up in 1990 saying, “David Blamey here,” and I said, “Where have you been
for 44 years?” He does most of the arrangements and I write the letters. It’s very good. He also became a
submariner for the last half of the war and then the motor mechanic, who was a tremendous support, called

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Ted Diamond and he’s with us. 293 we know nothing about, but that’s not one of yours, is it? 282 down to
292, yes. Some of these are not yours.

299, Chris Ribbons. Diety is First Lieutenant, who’s still with us. 300, Coleman, the motor mechanic is still
with us. 275 I’ve told you about and we also have three from the boat’s staff – two torpedomen and a
gunner. That’s really the sort of biological bit, the best I can do for you, but I think you really ought to be
told about a fellow called Hudson. Now Jeffrey Hudson is the honorary historian for all British coastal
forces and, by golly, he’s really well informed. You might like to talk with him. Mention me, by all means,
and his address is 25 Avenue Hipper Holme, Halifax, West Yorkshire and his phone number you might like.
In this country, it’s 01422-201-234. I think you will get a lot of information out of him that I’m, sadly,
unable to give you, but that’s the lot of that one.

You asked earlier about similarities or differences between the Annapolis boat, Vospers, the Higgins PTs
and the ELCO PTs. I just don’t know. All the boats that we had were virtually the same. The installations
were extremely good and they had to be.with 1500 horses of Packard-Bell on each shaft. And the spares, we
had a very good outfit of spares, including three spare engines when they arrived. They were supplied in
America before we left, and we didn’t run out. That’s not bad. I think you might like to know, although you
haven’t asked about it, that MTBs were deck cargo on liberty ships and the only place you could unload
them in India was Bombay and Calcutta, which were the only two places with a 50-ton crane. They’re quite
tricky things to work, 50-ton cranes.

However, about five days before my team arrived, I and Gordon Wood, the engineer, were the only two
around. I went to see the naval officer in charge in Calcutta. I’ll never forget, the Indian Navy were mostly
surveyors and damn good ones at that, but they weren’t really up to date with what was then high-tech and
that was us. I asked where my outfit was going to be billeted and the chap said, “Around the town
somewhere where we can fit them in.” Well, for an operational unit, that was quite the thing, and a red rag
for a bull. I being the bull. So I took a chance because in those days where the raj was still in India, one had
to realize that the army ran India and they did and very well, too. I went up to Bhatpara 18 miles north of
Calcutta to the headquarters of the 14th Army to talk General Slim’s predecessor, General Irwin, and I was
accompanied or driven in a little, tin pot loan by one of my officers who was a European [inaudible
0:25:13], businessman in Calcutta and we presented ourselves in front of them in khaki uniform. Me with
flat stripes RN, he with stripes RINVR. He spoke Hindu like a native, I spoke three words.

Anyway, I’d done my homework and I found that General Irwin had been in the West Yorkshire Regiment
and I took a chance and said, “Now may I ask you, sir, before we start a rather personal and possibly
impertinent question. Were you, by any chance, one of my father’s Subaltern,” and he said, “Are you
Bundle Hartopp’s boy?” I said, “Yes, sir,” and he said, “Now what can we do for you?” The results a
barracks for 150 men just like that and quite a wack of transport, which we needed because I said, “We’ve
got three million quid,” which is not [inaudible 0:26:14], three million quid worth of high-tech stores
[inaudible 0:26:20] and we’ve got to move them. “Have you got any drivers,” he said. “Well, I reckon
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some of my stakers are drivers,” and I had to take a chance. We did, we got them and we got the transport.
That was fun and to get petrol, we went into Fort Cumberland in the middle of the Midan in Calcutta.

One day, I observed the sea porter who was putting petrol in my station wagon was standing at the salute
and I eventually asked in my broken Urdu why and he said, “Divisional commander, Sahib” which means
that the HQ1 on the door and the crossed Indian subs in red on the front meant that I was supposed to be the
divisional commander of the 4th Indian Division, which in fact had gone off to Africa to join out there and
we’d got their transport. Need I say I didn’t paint the ‘HQ1’ out? But that’s the way it was. In the event,
though sad to say, the nearest we got to [inaudible 0:27:40] coast war was [inaudible 0:27:42] at the top
end where we embarked some 40 casualties from the Army because the [inaudible 0:27:54] was a plowed
field and in the wet season they couldn’t fly. We took them right across the Bay of Bengal right up to
Calcutta to #47 British General Hospital at an average speed of 36 knots. What it did to the banks of the
River Hooghly on the way up and it’s about 100 miles up is nobody’s business, but we got 40 casualties a
damn sight quicker than anybody else and we didn’t have any complaints, but that’s the only bit of good we
really did.

Having decided that there was no prospect for real war at the top of end of the Bay of Bengal, I managed to
liaise with a little Depot Ship we had called Barracuda and I got my flotilla down to Trincomalee and
became part of the Eastern Fleet, the British eastern fleet, which had all sorts of cruisers and battleships and
things in it and also the USS Saratoga, which was fun. And for five months I was a unit as part of the
eastern fleet. We didn’t do anything really startling. We used to take submarines out and dive them for their
patrol and rescue ones back, but once we did immerse [inaudible 0:29:29]. I had 11 boats out on a very
rough night and we attacked the fleet. We did a perfect star attack from all circles and we got the fleet just
coming out of a tropical rainstorm. We were bouncing out a bit and we all [inaudible 0:29:48] lights,
signifying, torpedo fire within a minute of each other, but that’s going some and it really happens only about
once over your lifetime and they were duly impressed. The gunnery people in the fleet were a little
concerned we had seen people moving about. We got ourselves through the destroyer screen. It was quite
lumpy and radar wasn’t what it now is in those days, so that was quite good. At least we gave them a
practice, which they certainly needed later on when they moved further east to join the waiting American
forces, but that was it.

After that, my time was up and I was transferred to the Eastern Fleet and I did four months in a Destroyer
Leader [inaudible 0:30:55] to relearn how to be a destroyer Exec and then I went home, got 14 days leave
and they sent me to north Russia, which is no place to go after two years in the tropics. As I said, I had half
the central store wrapped around me and I was still cold, but it was a Russian convoy, the ship was
[inaudible 0:31:20]. It was the previous Captain [inaudible 0:31:23]. That’s when they were much braver
than I could put up with and that was it. There are other stories I can tell you about in due course, but not on
this one. That’s enough on that.

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Going back to your questions, how were you involved in the construction phase of the Vosper PTs in
Annapolis, the answer is as an exec, not really much, but the engineers were more heavily involved and, of
course, knew their stuff. One could put in a good word once in a while on something that they knew, but the
technicalities of the actual building were left to our engineers who were very good at it.

As far as I know, there weren’t any modifications, but I do recall the installation engineer in the yacht yard’s
name was Roy Foyer. We got along quite well with him and also the chap that drove the boats, Captain
Cole, I taught him to drive a boat. When we got into some rough sea, he didn’t know how to accelerate to
get out of the splashes and waves over the bows, so I taught him eventually. After all, I’d been doing it for a
bit with no great achievement involved. It was just that and I know things. When we first [inaudible
0:33:15] about our tender in Eastport, I don’t know. It was a very happy time. I was in the process of
recovering from 18 months in Dover, England, which is only 21 miles from Calais where we were
operational nonstop, really.

That was the scene, but what was my most memorable experience in Annapolis was literally on channel
operations to 3,000 cadet midshipmen in Bancroft Hall. Thereby hangs a tale. We had to get the Indians on
our side and lieutenant commander, who I forget his name, took me to supper and when he came on the
stage, he pinned a thing on my neck, which was, in fact, a chest microphone. I didn’t know what it was and I
said, “How does this damn thing work,” and 25 watts at the backend of the thing said, “How does this damn
thing work,” and everybody roared with laughter. From then one, I had the audience on my side, which was
quite good. The person that influenced me most while we were there was undoubtedly Captain Cooley, who
was absolutely splendid and I have to say Erik Almen. I saw a fair lot of Chris Nelson, but in the midst of
our day, Erik Almen was the chap.

Now, look, this can go on forever, but I think that you’ve probably had enough of this. I can only say, again,
that I’m very sorry being so late in replying to this and also to be replying in such a sort of – I was going to
say – scatterbrained form. One does one’s best and it’s and the farer into it you go and, as I tell everybody,
I’ve only got two brain cells left – where they are in series, by golly they’re good, but most of their life
they’ll spend in parallel, which is not so hot, so please forgive me. What I do have to say, to you, is this.
This is the first installment and I think it’s probably enough. I have already apologized to Dick for my voice,
which I can’t stand either. If you can put up with that, you deserve a medal. If you’d like some more Mike,
tell me, but let us keep in touch anyway. For now, that’s the lot, really. I’m really sorry, I haven’t got
photographs to send you, which I would willingly do, but the whole lot were pinched. That’s one of the
things that happens to one, I think, but never mind. That’s the way the cookie crumbles and so on.

It was a very happy time in my life. The things that I missed most, which I’ve mentioned were, firstly, my
wife because I’d only been married a fortnight when I set sail from England and, of course, the thing that I
missed most since you asked me was, firstly, my wife and, secondly, the blitz because I was in similar
worlds and it wasn’t very much fun and that’s about it. Anyway, that’s a good deal of waffle, which I
apologize. Make what you like of it and if you listened so far, Mike, I think you deserve a medal of some
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sort, but wherever you are, all the best to you again with apologies and great respect for what you are doing.
I am now not as you would address because Jimmy gave me the wrong thing. If you really want it and this is
no lying to you, I’m Lieutenant Commander Sir Kenneth Cradock-Hartopp, MBEDSC Royal Navy and my
address is Keepers Yeovilton, Somerset BA822ADX and my telephone number in this country 01935-840-
240. God bless you, Michael. Thank you so much for your nice letters and a very, very interesting document
you sent with them. That’s the lot for now. Goodbye for now and let me know if this is any good and if
you’d like some more and I’ll do be best, so bye for now and thanks a lot.

[End of Audio]

2017.01.0111 Kenneth Cradock-Hartopp
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Transcript By: