Voltaire - father, Robert Lawson, served in her

(more on Voltaire)

Thanks for being the only decent website to be easily navigated! Must come natural for naval people. I have been looking for ages for one that would give me information on my father's ship the Voltaire.  He was a POW for the remainder of the war. Sadly he passed away in 1995. I would have loved him to be able to see this. The stories of the sinking were horrific and he only survived a shrapnel wound as he was short! His captors told the prisoners of how they hated the Gestapo adding that as sailors, they had only one enemy - the sea! My father married after the war and moved to Rhodesia and was even a reservist there in the troubles in the 1960s and 1970s and I was also serving then. Shame we humans don't act more humane?

Do you know of a website similar to Friends Reunited whereby I may be able to contact any survivors of the above conflict? Perhaps you can incorporate the idea into your website.

Thanks for your time in reading this.

Yours faithfully,
George Nigel Tidbury, son  of George Tidbury.


Thank you for your very kind words about my Ahoy site, all the credit for design, ease of getting round that site goes to my good friend Terry in Atlanta, Georgia who runs it all on my behalf.

I supply all the content, and he puts it up. The kudos for that hard bit all goes to Terry.

We are delighted when some one out there takes the trouble to tell us they like what we conjointly do. I have enclosed a page you may not be aware of about Voltaire, and the shipping compnay to whom she belonged.

No I am not aware of any association about your Dad's ship, and of course time slips by, and no doubt many of his shipmates would have died by now.

I went to sea and to war in 1939 when I was but 17, and now I am lucky at 81 to still be around to write about our Naval History, and some of my own experiences.

The trilogy about the German Armed Merchant Raiders of WW1 and WW2, and those of the American Civil War have always fascinated me, hence my desire to try and write about them and bring it all to hopefully a wider audience via the internet.

Feedback such as yours gives one heart to go on, and plough new fields, so thank you very much for your comments.

If I find any more details about the crew from HMS Voltaire I will get back to you.

Kind regards,
Mackenzie Gregory.


I read your e-mail from George Nigel Tidbury, dated 28 April 2003.

I believe Mr Tidbury is looking for information on HMS Voltaire and the men who served on her.

My father, James Reilly, served on HMS Voltaire from 1939 until it was destroyed in 1941.  He joined the RNVR in early 1939 and was among the first to be called up for active service when war broke out. He was badly wounded by shrapnel when Voltaire went down, but was lucky enough to survive the experience.

He spent the years between 1941 and 1945 in various German POW camps - Lambsdorf is one camp that comes to mind. I am happy to say that my father is still very much with us.  He is 83 years old now and living in Dundee, Scotland.

I am sure he would be happy to correspond with Mr Tidbury if you could arrange an exchange of addresses.Congratulations on your superb web site - I found it very interesting.

Best Regards,
Roderick Reilly

Dear Roderick,

Thank you for your E-Mail and your kind comments about AHOY. It is a combined effort, in Atlanta Georgia, my friend Terry Kearns turns all my writing into the site that shows itself to the world.

We both appreciate the trouble you have taken to provide details about Voltaire, I have not kept Nigel's address unfortunately, I am sure he would have been delighted to contact your Dad, it is wonderful that he is still able to recall his service in HMS Voltaire, plus his time as a POW. If he wished to share his story of the action which resulted in his ship sinking, and his subsequent experience as a prisoner in Germany, he could give it to you, and you could pass it on to us, we would add it all to my piece about this action. It would be wonderful to record your Dad's story, and share it with the world on AHOY. So we look forward to being able to hear all about your father's no doubt harrowing experiences.

Again our thanks for your message, it is mail such as your one Roderick, that makes the internet so exciting and such a great forum.

With kindest regards and best wishes from both America and Australia.

Terry and Mac.


Hello Mac,

I had previously written to you to tell you of my Father James Reilly who served on Voltaire.  I was interested to see that there are now a number of e-mails asking about Voltaire and her crew.

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that my Father died recently on April 16th 2004 (aged 83).  I did find a book he had begun to write about his experiences starting from when he was called-up in 1939.  Perhaps I can share this with you at a later date?

In the meantime, anyone seeking information on Voltaire would benefit from reading a book written by one of the crew of Voltaire.

The book is called "Sailors in Cages" and was written by Roger Coward. I believe it is out of publication now but there may be some second-hand copies to be found on the web.

Bye for now,
Roderick Reilly


I am sorry to learn that your Father died recently.

Just whenever you are ready to share his experiences with me I would be pleased to hear them.

Meantime, I will chase up some seconhand book sales area and see if I can track down a copy of

Roger Coward's Sailors in Cages.

Thank you for that.

Best regards,



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