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Mark E

... about my dad's World War Two service. Well, this shouldn't take too long.*

Charles Brian Elkins was born in SW London on 24 April 1926, and joined the Royal Navy in October 1943 at HMS Collingwood (if the image uploader was working already I could now add a photo of him and his crew mates at Collingwood but it isn't so I can't). He wanted to be a Royal Marine but was too short so it was into the navy, despite being unable to swim. He was helped across the pool with a boat-hook.

The first ship he served on was HMS Venus (Cmdr JSM Richardson). The Venus took part in convoy JW56B to Russia in (January?) 1944. It was on this convoy that HMS Hardy was fatally damaged by a U-boat. the Hardy was eventually finished off by the Venus a couple of days later.

Venus went on to take part in the Normandy landings as well as seeing action (against the Haguro) in the Far East. However, dad left long before this.

He joined Coastal Forces in 1944, taking part in some kind of 'special operations', landing and retrieving men on the beaches of occupied France in the lead up to D-Day. We think it was after D-day that the motor launch dad was on was destroyed, possibly near the Low Countries. We don't believe there were many survivors from such a small craft, indeed dad was severely injured. His family received 'the telegram' and had no word from him for a few months whilst he recovered in hospital.

By early 1946 he had spotted a notice for volunteers to serve in Germany and he was off, surfacing in Hamburg, at HMS Royal Albert, a shore-based station. We think his role here involved the assessment of the strength of the German navy, for which he travelled all over western Germany. For a time at least, he was billeted at barracks in Buxtehude, and for a short while studied at Göttingen University (July 1946). The Royal Navy finally caught up with him in 1947 when he received a medical discharge.

I have photographs from Collingwood, Buxtehude, Göttingen and Royal Albert.

* Disclaimer - Annoyingly, I have left my notebook at home so the information is mostly from memory.

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