My life on the Internet

(Work in progress)

Introduction.
Terry Kearns, my partner in Ahoy. Mac's Web Log has brought into focus the subject of people from across the world one becomes involved with in putting together a web site such as ours. It was all catalized by my having a visit yesterday from two people with whom I had corresponded via the net over several years but never met, Peter Flahavin from Melbourne, a Guadalcanal buff, and Bruce Petty, an American author of an oral history on Saipan, who wanted my Battle of Savo Island story for a forthcoming book Voices of the Pacific War.

But, what does one need for a Web Site?
I guess a basic requirement is the need for it to be born. Mine had a long gestation period, and firstly you must have a computer.I did not have the slightest idea about a computer or what it might achieve, until in 1999, my wife Denise suggested it might be a good idea for me to invest in one and get involved. Perhaps unknowingly, I was too much under her feet!!

But we took the plunge, and opened up a Pandora'a Box, the lid of which will never be able to be closed again.

At the time, we were living in the pleasant, dreamy seaside village of Mount Eliza, about 50 kilometers from Melbourne, situated on Port Phillip Bay. I installed a basic PC, and joined up with Big Pond so I could surf on the Internet, literally, a new world suddenly unfolded for me.

My core interest.
My core interest was Naval History, emanating from my own involvement as a 17 year old youth who went to war in August of 1939 as aCadet Midshipman. One traveled the world, met many new people in varying countries, got involved in Britain's fight to survive, was bombed, shot at, returned that gun fire etc.

Over the next 6 years I grew up, was engaged at 19, was sunk but survived, come the Kamikaze menace, stared death in the face a number of times, but managed to outstare that fate. The dropping of two Atomic bombs on Japan quickly ended WW2, I was then present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese Surrender, and to suddenly realise it was at last all over, and HEY! I HAD SURVIVED.

Building up to my own web site.
As a Naval Officer post war, I had undertaken the first combined course in Royal Navy Schools to qualify as a Torpedo Anti - Submarine Specialist. With 9 RN, 2 Canadian, 2 Indian Officers, I made up the 14 in this group, we traveled England, Scotland and Northern Ireland over 14 months in 1947/47. We spent time learning the tricks of our enemy, submerged in a submarine, back on the surface in an Escort ship, we learned how to hunt and kill them. It went on by day and on by night, we became very clever at finding contact with the supposed enemy Sub, maintaining that contact as she tried to slip away, then to move in and sink the quarry with our ahead throwing weapons.

We tried out tactics for convoy protection with a game on the tactical floor that went on over a week. You had to take all positions on, one day commanding an Escort, the next as the Convoy Commodore etc. The devasting arrival of a smiling WREN, with the news you are sunk Sir! You will take no further part in this exercise, to be studiously avoided.

It was the German U-Boat menace in two world wars that almost brought Britain to her knees, it took the Royal Navy from September 1939 to May of 1943 to get on top of the U-Boats, and we were learning this lesson on our course.

My knowledge gained here and my time in WW2 in the North Atlantic gave me the incentive to both resaerch and write my Under Water Warfare. The Struggle Against The Submarine Menace.1939 - 1945.

I had used the internet to gain information, and my computer to write letters to UK, Japan, and Italy for statistics. It took over a year, and I studied and consulted well over a 100 references, I then submitted my work to the Naval Historical Society of Australia Inc. to be considered for publication. The work was fortunately accepted and duly published, and has since had a second printing. I followed this up with my story about being sunk in HMAS Canberra, and it was published as a Monograph.

I was away, and my computer and the internet had played a major role.

I now turned to researching the subject of German Armed Merchant Raiders of WW2. I was seeking information about these ships from a site on Vancouver Island Canada, which took me its web master John Sauvagenau, he asked for the URL of my site. My response was I do not have a web site, I am not that clever, and would have no idea how to produce one. John kindly offered to build and host a site for me out of Canada, I had to produce the content.

Voila! in but a few days his promise became fact, and AHOY. AS I SAW IT. NAVAL REMINISCENCES became a reality in 1999. The site slowly prospered and I added bits and pieces and John whipped it all into shape.

We went off to Canada  in 2000 to do the Rockies etc, and I went over to Vancouver Island to meet John and stay overnight with him, he had just left me at the ferry to return to Vancouver, when he became desperately ill. John was advised medically to totally give up all his computer activities, this meant death to my site he hosted. I was in limbo, I did not have the password to gain access to Ahoy, and I could not contact John by E-Mail.

I kept goading the provider where my site was located, pleading for the password, at last I at least had that, about this time Terry in Atlanta came up offering to be of help. Terry then took over my old site, and since March of 2000 he has reconstructed it, moved to a new provider, and when we ran out of free space there, he has hosted it from his own domain, reborn as AHOY. Mac's WEB LOG, to attract many visitors from around the world.

But, along the internet road one comes across a host of people and sites who become a part of the patchwork that developed into our web site, and here are some who played a part in that outcome. Some of the people who became a thread in our cloth, weaved into AHOY.

Terry Kearns, Atlanta, Georgia. USA.
Terry would have to sit at the very pinnacle of my Totem Pole. Without his rescue operation, I would, and could not exist. I was, and am, totally dependent upon his dedication and expertise to put AHOY on the internet, and to keep it ticking on a daily basis. We have developed a quite unique and remarkable friendship, it reaches out to cross the vast Pacific Ocean, then it traverses from the US West Coast across his country, down to the south at Atlanta.

There is a 14 hour time difference, which in Australian Eastern Summer time, adds yet another hour, we work in different days, as I need to be, to keep up with my Web Master, I am always working a day ahead of Terry.

On our Home Page is a site where one may bring up two clocks, one giving the current time  here in Melbourne, the second giving the time then applicable in Atlanta. Terry and I have had two telephone conversations and it was wonderful to hear his voice, we talk by E-Mail almost on a daily basis, even though we are actually thousands of miles apart, that does not seem to be the case. We are indeed very close, wrought through a friendship united to bring Ahoy and its content to a wider audience, I say THANK YOU to both, but Terry, I SALUTE YOU TOO!

People in the United Kingdom.

Michael Phillips, and his wife Jane from Plymouth. England.
Michael runs a Naval History site and his wife is an expert on Lord Nelson and his history. Mike was the first site to link to my old AHOY site. He often set me on the right path to unearth some material that I needed to track down.

Leigh Bishop. England. www.deepimage.co.uk
Leigh is a British Diver and Underwater Photographer of renown. He has dived on the Titanic, the Wilhelm Gustloff, and in 2002 was part of a team that found U-767 sunk in the English Channel in 1944, to have but one survivor. I requested permission to reproduce some of his photos of this U-Boat wreck which he graciously gave me. He noted the one survivor was unnamed, and I was able to supply that name. Recently, I was told by Walter's son - in -law from Vancouver that Walter was still alive and well in that city.

We have the basic story how he escaped from 230 feet below the ocean surface, and hope through some posed questions to fill out that story and bring it to the world via AHOY. Only made possible through the wonder of the internet, and the friendship developed via E-Mail. Thank you Leigh.

Steve Harris, Maritime Site England.   http://www.geocities.com/uksteve.geo/marine.html 
Steve operates a Maritime Site in England with a wealth of information, he also awards either a Gold or a Silver Award for non commercial Maritime Web Sites he deems worthy of an award. AHOY was awarded a Gold Award which we proudly display on our HomePage. Steve is a Marine Insurance Broker, and has been a Lloyd's Underwriter for 20 years. If I have a tricky Merchant Marine question, Steve is one of two, to whom I turn for the answer. This site has its place in our fabric.

Billy McGee's Britrish Merchant Navy at War 1939 - 1945. www.british.merchant.navy.co.uk
Billy runs this site, go here for details of the British Merchant Ship in WW2. It also carries a wealth of links to other useful sites. Billy has assisted me to track down Australian Merchant Sailors who became German POW'S after their vessel was sunk by a German Armed Raider. I was trying to help with these names for a War Memorial being build at Ballarat, Victoria, to be opened in February of 2004, which will carry the name of every Australian Prisoner of War, from every conflict in which Australia has taken part.

Billy is my second source for unusual questions about the Merchant Navy as a whole. I thank him for helping build up AHOY with the information he has given so freely.

Nicholas Bracegirdle. Bristol England. E-Mail: ASMACS3@dpa.mod.uk
Second son of the late Commander Warwick DSC** RAN R'td. who was our legendary Gunnery Officer in HMAS Shropshire in WW2. Nicholas has given me approval to reproduce on AHOY,  his Father's stories, and those of Chief Petty Officer Arthur Cooper. We are richer from knowing Braces, and for bringing his exploits to the public who may come across them on our site. Thanks to Nicolas for being a part of our growth as we widen our appeal and record History that should not be lost.

Mike Kemble. Sutton Coldfield, England. http://www.mikekemble.com
Mike has a great WW2 site, and is a fan, as am I, of the late Captain Johnny Walker RN. the finest U-Boat Killer of WW2. Mike came to me to ask if he might reproduce a Photo on my piece about Captain Walker on AHOY. I was delighted to agree, it is the norm for me to be asking people if I may use some item on their specific site. Nice to have it happen in reverse. We appear to have many common interests with our two web sites, and I am sure this association will but grow in the future.

Andy Gale. E-Mail: jeandy@bigdude.freeserve.co.uk and Sandy Christie. E-Mail: SCChristie@aol.com both live in UK.
Our talking to each other came about because Andy posed a question for me about Commodore Dowding  of the infamous Convoy PQ 17, about which I had written in my Under Water Warfare book. Sandy was able to chip in with info on the Commodore, so it had led to a series of messages back and forth, which appear in our letters pages on AHOY, all helping to widen our net.

It is quite amazing the questions that come to us from around the world, I should add, both Terry and myself are delighted to have all this contact.  I can feel Terry wriggling with absolute pleasure over there in Atlanta, whenever we get a particularly unusual question put to us. I need then to get off my behind, and go to work to find the answer, if it is not within my experience.

Ross McNeill. UK.
I had written a piece, Australia to the Rescue, for the Australian War Memorial Journal Wartime. It was about rescuing 9 airmen in a raging North Atlantic gale from their downed Sunderland aircraft in 1940. I was asked if I could add their names plus those who died as an appendix to this piece. Well, that started a hunt that took some weeks to come to fruition, but gave me the most satisfaction of any thing I had done for AHOY.

The story is on the site under Tracking Sunderland Crew Members for a Journal Article. I will not repeat it here, suffice to say that Ross McNeill in UK had authored books on losses of Bomber and Fighter Aircraft in Britain in WW2, his one on Coastal Command was with the printers. From his E-Mail address I was able to contact him and gain the name of the Sunderland's Captain and those of the four who had died as we were unable to reach them to pluck them from the cold Atlantic Ocean. I was able to find the remaining 8 names from HMAS Australia's log filed in the National Archives in Sydney.

I could then pass on these names to Ross and also to the RAF Museum in England. But, none of this would have come to pass without the wonder of the INTERNET, I said then, "Even when you find the Spider, you do not know where the web will lead you!"

Gayne Nee asked if I could find a crew list for Athenia, the first ship sunk by a U-Boat in WW2, and on the first day of this war , the 3rd. of September 1939. Her great grand mother Agnes MacFarlane, served in her as a Stewardess in the late 1920's.

From a contact in Western Australia, George Duncan, I found out that a Canadian Stewardess, Miss Hannah Bird Baird was their first Service cxasualty in WW2, but no crew list available for Gayle. Gayle said thank you to me, and here is my reply to her.

One just does not know where a simple request for some information may lead.

The internet has continual suprises, and one opens up the E-Mails each morning with a certain air of expectation, where am I going today? What new path may I find myself treading? It is a wonderful way to start each new day. But, I must acknowledge, none of this would be happening if my friend Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia, had not appeared out of the blue, and offered to help me in my time of need. His hosting of Ahoy. Mac's Web Log, has given me endless pleasure, as new doors are opened across the globe, via the wonders of the Internet.

One new area that has opened up for me is a contact in Germany. Ward Carr a free lance journalist there wrote to me about interviews he was doing with ex POW's from WW2. It transpired that he had, in the Spring of 2002, interviewed Willy, he had served in a German Merchant ship the Ramses, who in 1942 was trying to run the blockade between Japan and Germany. At that time, I was serving in the old RAN light cruiser HMAS Adelaide.

We came across Ramses, was able to correctly identify her, then assisted by her internal scuttling charges, and our accurate gunfire, she was sunk. Her formidible 6 inch stern gun, that had remained unfired during this action, proved to be a wooden dummy one, and floated clear as the ship went down.

We collected all the abandoning crew, of course amongst them was Willy, here we are 60 years ago, both of us in the same ship, unknown to each other. Now, through Ward, and his interview with Willy, who unfortunately died in January of 2003, and through the kindness of Willy's widow Betty, I have an English transcript of this interview, plus Willy's photograph, and, am able to publish it on my web site, through my fabulous Web Master Terry Kearns.

Here by the medium of the Internet, a reunion has taken place, Willy, the ex German Prisoner of War from the Blockade Runner Ramses, and myself, who in 1942 was amongst the crew who sank his ship, and picked him  up to become a POW, to spend some years at Murchison prison camp at Tatura in Victoria, ( my home State in Australia ) before he was repatriated to Germany post war.

Coincidence can provide some very strange scenarios, all because of the invention of a computer, the advent of the internet and E-Mails. Who could have dreamed of such happenings back in 1942, when our masthead lookout reported the masts of Ramses, just appearing over the horizon? Truly amazing!!

Travel around the World.
One travels the world via your computer without the necessity of leaving one's chair, but then physical travel across this globe of ours can bring its own rewards. As a Naval Officer for almost 20 years, I travelled a great deal in WW2, and even post war, as ADC to the Governor General of Australia I saw a lot of my country.

In civilian life I made four world trips for my company, in 1963, 1968, 1976 and in 1980. After my wife Gladys died in 1992, I went overseas in 1993 and again in 1994, at that time I was visiting Zimbabwe, and on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River I met Denise Richards, who was with a girlfriend having been on safari in Kenya previously. In due course we were seeing each other back in Australia, I lived in Melbourne, and Denise 500 miles away in Sydney.

In 1995 we went off on a 33 day saga from Hong Kong to St Petersburg by rail and rickety bus all through China and Central Asia, having survived that it appeared we were compatible enough for Denise to join me at Mount Eliza. We were married on the 14th. of August 1999 at Mornington, and moved up to an apartment on Melbourne's premier Boulevard, St Kilda Road.

We have travelled extensively throughout Australia, visiting all states and territories in the Commonwealth, and usually go overseas once a year, including three cruises, one of them to Alaska last year. Thus a segment on AHOY is My Travel Diary.

One of the highlights of our travel was our visit to Washington in 2001, for the Presentation of the USS Canberra bell, to the Australian Prime Minister by the US President, and then for both of us to meet George Walker Bush. The very next day was the infamous 9/11.

Much of our travel arrangements is concluded via the net, and thus it plays a vital role in our life, as we move around the world from time to time.

Whilst at Mt Eliza I changed my ISP from Big Pond to the Melbourne PC Club, one of the best things I could have done, I get great service, and at least three hours on the net a day, and very often many more hours if I wish, all for $140 a year, to be recommended as an ISP.

People and Sources in the United States.

A Voice from the Past. Dave Medley. davidmed@yahoo.com
Another amazing internet connection. Dave Medley, who as a RANVR Sub Lieutenant installed, and ran the first Radar Equipment in the Royal Australian Navy in HMAS Canberra, and served with me in her to also be sunk at Savo on the 9th. of August in 1942 came out of the blue after an incredible period of 62 years on.

 

He had migrated to the United States, naturalised there, and raised his family, now lives in Arizona, and at age 85 is still hale and hearty. On my story of the sinking of our ship on AHOY are two photographs in which both Dave and I appear, they were taken with Dave's camera on that fateful occasion.

 

After all these years he has found me again, because he was surfing the net, and came across our Web Site: Mac's Web Log. Once more the wonders of the internet and its linking of friends across the world bring me great satisfaction and pleasure.

 

My sincere thanks to my former shipmate and friend, Dave Medley!!

Sandy Shanks. Lives on the West Coast. E-Mail: fs.shanks@verizon.net
Sandy is a proud ex Marine and had authored two books, and writes a regular newspaper column, he has quite a way with words. One of his books, The Bode Testament, is an historical fiction work based on the Battle of Savo Island but in particular on Captain Bode, the commanding officer of USS Chicago.

After being severely taken to task for his handling of his ship at Savo, Captain Bode took his own life. Sandy comes to the rescue of his reputation in his book, and also has an imagined courtmartial of him. I had a small input into this book, and in sending me a copy, Sandy has generously inscribed it thus: " To Mac, Thank you for helping me with my dream. Sandy, 6-15-01. In this case we both agree to disagree, with Sandy saying Bode got a raw deal after Savo, and me taking the negative view, which will never change.

In the case of Vice Admiral Fletcher, in command of the Carriers and the invasion sea force at the Guadalcanal landings, he withdrew carrier support of these landings leaving us all bereft of air cover much earlier than he had promised to stay prior to Operation WatchTower being mounted. Sandy defends his withdrawal, I found his action indefensible at the time in August 1942, and still do at this distance in 2003.

Thus, two friends united by mutual interest bonds by the net and its E-Mail facility, can desperately disagree on more than one count, but never the less maintain a friendship.

Jack. Coombe. Chicago. E-Mail: jcoombe578@aol.com
In WW2, Jack was a sailor in USS Patterson, but had moved on prior to Savo where this ship was probably the only one truly awake as Mikawa and his force of seven cruisers and one destroyer swept in around Savo Island for the kill.

Post war, Jack has become a very successful author of four books, with I believe another in the pipeline, their titles: Derailing the Tokyo Express, The Naval Battles for the Solomon Islands that sealed Japan's Fate, then came his trilogy about Naval Battles in the American Civil War. Thunder Along the Mississippi The River Battles that split the Confederacy. Gunfire Around the Gulf, The Last Major Naval Campaigns of the Civil War and Gunsmoke Over The Atlantic. First Naval Actions of the Civil War. Jack has kindly sent me an author's copy of all of these books.

In 2000, Denise and I had the pleasure of meeting Jack when we briefly called into Chicago for that very purpose. How nice it always is to actually meet up with one's internet friends in person.

When I was researching my Confederate Armed Raiders of The American Civil War, I had occasion to refer to Jack for verification of some detail, and once more the Internet had a part to play in the stitching together of a segment of AHOY.

Carol Derosia lives in the US. E-Mail: Derosia9@aol.com
Carol arrived out of the blue seeking help to locate a WW1 hospital in Wales where a relative, a US sailor had gone to recuperate. Well, we chased high and low without finally resolving the puzzle, but a good deal of detective work at both ends probably located his site, at least the grounds of a stately Welsh home where we are fairly sure it all took place so long ago.

But, over a very long hunt we turned over a lot of mossy covered rocks, and enjoyed ourselves, so thank you Carol for an interesting journey. We still belt off an occasional  message of: How Goes it all at your end?

Some useful US sites to do with topics Navy.

Guadalcanal Photo Gallery- The Leaders.
URL: http://www.daveswarbirds.com/guadalcanal/photos-leaders.htm

A useful site if you wish to put faces to the names of those who led in the Guadalcanal battles.

US Merchant Ships sunk or Damaged in WW2. URL:
http://www.usmm.org/shipssunkdamaged.html

Helpful when you are trying to track down details of US merchant ships involved in WW2.

Lists 1,768 Ships, sunk,damaged,captured or detained.
US Naval Historical Center. URL: http://www.history.navy.mil/

The start place for anything on US Navy History. Includes a host of photographs of USN ships, all in the public domain.

The Mother of All Maritime Links.
URL: http://www.boatlinks.co./boatlink.html

Useful site for Maritime information , look at John's Nautical Page.

The Lone Sailor. The United States Navy Memorial. Washington D.C. ???????
URL: http://www.lonesailor.org/

The wonderful USN Navy Memorial at Washington D.C. which includes the statue of the Lone Sailor keeping watch over the Granite Sea, make sure you go down below to visit the Center, see the Memorial Log, the President's Room, and visit the shop. This URL actually takes you to my Article about this Memorial on AHOY.

Battleship History-Leyte Gulf. Introduction.
URL: http://www.battleship.org/html/Articles/History/LeyteO.htm

Great site for US Battleship detail, and the last great sea battle including battleships in Maritime History. "The Battle of Leyte Gulf."

Sinking Warships World War 2. URL:
http://jove.prohosting.com/~sinking/wwiishtml

Good source of photographs covering the sinking of warships in WW2. When you view some of these horrendous sights of ships being literally blasted to pieces and pause to think of the awful deaths of so many sailors, it gives one a very empty feeling in the pit of the stomach.

This I know, is one aspect of AHOY that Terry is not happy about, when he needs to view a
photo I have asked him to place in a certain place, he does not like to look at such illustrations. WAR IS HELL! but if any such shot on AHOY can act as a deterrent to the
horrors of war, it will have served our web site.

The World Wide Web Virtual Library. Naval and Maritime Ships.
URL: http://vlnavmar.usnaweb.org/ships.html

Great source of information about US ships.

WW1. The War At Sea.
URL: http://www.gwpda.org/naval/n0000000.html

Incredible site for all about WW1 at Sea.

US Submarine Force History Links.
URL: http://www.sid-ss.net/history/histsub2.htm

Useful links to Submarine sites. Also look at Page One.

HazeGray and Underway Web Links.
URL: http://www.hazegray.org/links.htm

A host of links to useful sites about Naval and Maritime subjects.

ThePacific War 1942.
 http://www.ww2pacific.com/savoupdt.html

The Battle of Savo Island. August 9, 1942. Off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.


   

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