John Fearnley HMS Voltaire, POW

May 28, 2010

Have been trying for a couple of years to send to Mac in Australia and again to day, never been successful and then thought I might try to make contact with yourself, having seen your article and details of your father.

It has been very remiss of me not to have written before but my Wife died just two years ago and my only son emigrated to N.Z. where I visited him a few weeks ago and at 90 years I am not as motivated as I would have been a few years ago, anyway getting off the point again.

Your (Anthony Pickstosk ) father (Manny Pickstock) was in the same room (20 of us) when we were in Marlag and Milag Nord until I was shipped to Poland to work. When your father was repatriated I asked him to call on my mother to tell her that I was all right and in fact he went out with my sister Agnes a number of times. I  always remember that he had a Mrs Beeton's cookery book sent from home and would often hold it up to show us large coloured pictures of lovely food (we were starving) until we said we would confiscate the book if he didn't stop.

If you do receive this e-mail and want to get in touch I am on a Chester number 01244 374029 now live in a residential home in Upton'

John Fearnley.


I am afraid you have the wrong Mac, my Father was never a POW in Germany.

He served in the Second Dragoon Guards Queen's Bays in France and Belgium in WW1 and was an old Contemptible.

Then in 1919 he joined the Royal Australian Navy in London and took passage to Australia in the J class submarine J2, being towed all the way by HMAS Platypus. He served till 1945, and then joined the High Court of Australia to work for the Chief Justice Sir Owen Dixon.

Thus he achieved 50 years of continuous years service to the Crown and was awarded a BEM.

Your kind words about AHOY are appreciated, a joint effort with Terry Kearns of Atlanta Georgia, acting as my Web Master.

Best wishes,

May 30, 2010


My e-mail perhaps was confusing; I did not even think that you were a p.o.w.; I had tried, as I said, to contact you some time ago and thought that I might be successful if I made contact With Anthony Pickstosk whom you may recall sent you an article about his father Manny Pickstock. He was a p.o.w  and was in the same room as myself along with 18 other seaman from Voltaire.

Both of my E-mails to yourself and Anthony pickstock were held up the postmaster told me and, once again I thought I could not make comtact.

It would seem that the message to Pickstock, in which I  referred to his father, was not  referring to your father, anyway this is becoming confusing. I did say in my mesage that I was on Voltaire during the action with the Hilfkreuser Thor who blasted us out othe water without hitting her once and My action station was Bridge along with Ldg. Sig Bill Middleton and Chief Yeo. Worlock.

I have a copy of Roger Cowards Book and he mentions my name on page 23 third line from the bottom. To use naval
language I mucked in with Roger sharing our food for 18 months and stayed at his house after the war.

Albert Kearns was a regular naval signalman and i was with him also in Marlag and Milag Nord until we we separated in Poland;

As I said in my previous message I have clear recollections of the action and thought it may be of interest to any remaining crew of the Voltaire and as I am now past 90 years of age thought to pass the information on. I also wondered if your contact Kearns in Canada is related to Albert Kearns; I could send more information to him if you would rather; Incidentally I was visting my son In N.Z. South island less than a month ago.

Would appreciate a reply.

Kind regards
John Fearnley.


Glad you finally were able to make contact with me.

Sorry for my confusion, I do have a copy of Roger Cowards' book, and have looked you up on page 23.

My web master Terry Kearns lives in Atlanta Georgia USA, and not in Canada.

We will post your message on our Voltaire pages on AHOY so former members of the ship who were POW's who visit our site can read your message.

At 90, you are two years ahead of me.

With very best wishes and I trust you keep well.


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