Another of my father’s wartime tales is a little uncertain as to details. He didn’t tell this story for many decades and by the time he did feel able to tell it, he’d forgotten some of the details.
In 1946 (probably) Dad, was in Portsmouth. He was still in the Royal Navy even though the war in Europe was over. He was aboard an aircraft-carrier but couldn’t remember the name. He served on quite a few ships during his service days and by the time he related this incident, he’d forgotten most of their names.
One day the aircraft-carrier was ordered to sail to Gibralter, although the destination was kept secret from the crew until they actually arrived. The ship sailed without any escort ships, which was unusual according to Dad, even though hostilities had ceased.
Shortly after arrival at Gibralter, a group of men appeared on the quay, surrounding another man in the centre of the group. Dad classed them as ‘secret service types’, although how he knew that I’m not sure. The man in the centre of the group wore a long coat and was obviously being escorted to the ship.
Once the party had boarded the ship, it sailed straight back to Portsmouth where the mysterious group disembarked in the direction of waiting cars on the quay. The rumour going round the ship was that the man being escorted was Martin Bormann, but obviously this was never confirmed. Whoever he was, he was high-ranking enough to be ferried by aircraft-carrier from Gibralter. Another detail Dad added was that neither the sailing nor the return of the aircraft-carrier was reported in the local Portsmouth papers. That was unusual too.