From my daily newspaper, The Daily Telegraph of the 20th October 2016, comes this unprecedented story of a naval obituary for a rating namely Chief Yeoman Jim BARRETT

Jim died on the 20th October 2016 aged 95, and his qualification for receiving an obituary from a UK broadsheet [an almost unique occurrence for a naval rating except for several commemorating the deaths of ratings in the submarine service] was that he had broken the basic security no-no of keeping a log of all he was involved in and experienced at sea in WW2. This perverse action, contrary to written instruction set in stone in the security manual, brought him fame [even infamy] and he was acclaimed to be a rouge raconteur!  It is perhaps even more startling when the following person didn't get a mention in any obituary!  John Michael JESSOP [below]  joined as a boy second class in 1942 training at HMS St George on the Isle of Man in the town of Douglas, qualifying as a boy signalman. He became an upperyardman, trained in HMS Hawke, was commissioned in 1947, joined submarines in 1948, became the XO of the Artemis, didn't qualify for a place on the 1951 COQC = Perisher, so left submarines in 1952 and qualified on the Long 'C' Course of 1952/3 in HMS Mercury as a Signals Officer. He had a long career  [30 years] seeing service at sea in WW2 as a rating, had one command HMS Alert, one appointment as the 1st lieutenant of HMS Duncan employed of fishery protection duties, and was the XO of the carrier Eagle in 1977/78. He retired in 1971 as a captain RN and took up farming in Wales. Boy to Captain is meritorious by any measure or standard, and the very stuff of many a Service obituary! He ALSO died in October 2016

Jim Barrett, who has died aged 95, was a Chief Yeoman of Signals and a veteran of the war at sea who became landlord of the Three Horseshoes at Towersey, near Thame.

Despite a ban on private journals, Barrett kept a detailed and vivid diary of the many naval actions in which he took part during the Second World War, mostly in the destroyer Faulknor.

On February 25 1943, while escorting the Russia-bound convoy JW53 in rough weather, he wrote: “Today we have been closed up at action stations for nearly nine hours. At lunchtime 14 Ju88s [bombers] attacked us, splattering bombs all round but none hit; the barrage [of anti-aircraft guns] made them keep up too high, then again 28 Ju88s escorted by 40 Me109s [Messerschmitt fighters] dropped everything they could but they seemed scared, just jettisoned their bombs anywhere, although some of the fighters jumped on us out of the clouds and machine-gunned us.” 

There was only one casualty, a man who had received a shrapnel splinter in his leg, and he was transferred with some difficulty to [the cruiser] Scylla. Then, as dusk was falling, another 10 of the Ju88s came over, but scored no hits, although several near misses were registered. 

No opposition, not much, all night long we have been blazing away at German aircraft and as daylight comes we are going to pick up the survivors

“And so the night goes on,” Barrett recorded, “snowing like the devil and we can hear the U-boats making their sighting reports and homing other U-boats. 

“Signal comes through that all the escorts are to drop two depth charges. This done, nothing more was heard of the U-boats and we have obviously made them keep well below the surface; whether any hits were registered we can’t say, it is too dark.” 

Later in 1943, at the time of the Allied landings at Salerno and the surrender of the Italian fleet in September, Barrett wrote: “We are hoping that the Italian fleet will come out… News came that the Italians had accepted the terms of unconditional surrender but we are still carrying on with the landing … it doesn’t look as if we shall have any opposition now.” 

Later the same day he added: “No opposition, not much, all night long we have been blazing away at German aircraft and as daylight comes we are going to pick up the survivors of the sea that were shot down, and they state that they did not know Italy had chucked in, neither did they believe that we would be attacked during the daylight hours, so we may be able to sleep now … one man on [the destroyer] Offa was killed by shrapnel from our own guns, and 3 wounded on [the destroyer] Raider who has been detached to Palermo to land casualties. 

“We have just learned that Warspite, Valiant, Faulknor, Raider, Queen Olga, Fury, Intrepid, Echo are being detached this afternoon to accept the surrender of three Italian battleships, six cruisers and six destroyers… This will be a great occasion for us, never thought we should meet the Italian fleet this way, however it is much better, this way.”

When the Germans turned on their former ally, Barrett commented: “Oh dear, German aircraft are attacking the Italians and one battleship, Roma, is burning but is still going strong [she was sunk by German flying bombs]. We expect to meet them about 0800 tomorrow Friday.”

The next day, he wrote: “0600 We have arrived at the R/V but can’t see a thing in the dark, it is also raining. 0800 We sight the Italians and steam towards them at 20 knots, all turrets are to remain fore and aft. They automatically formed astern of the Warspite and Valiant and we advance at 15 kts toward Malta where we expect to arrive at 0900 tomorrow morning … The news bulletin says fighter cover has been given to the ships but we can’t see anything of them, as usual.”

Jack Barrett (always known as Jim) was born on November 15 1920 at Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, where he went to school until sent to complete his education at the boys’ training ship HMS Arethusa, at Upnor on the Medway. He joined the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class and specialised as a signalman. He was 17 and at sea when war was declared, and one of the early entries in his dairy was for September 3 1939. It reads: “1115 Britain declared war on Germany.”

He served at sea throughout the war, seeing action from the Atlantic to the Far East, in the Arctic, the Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean. At war’s end he was a Chief Yeoman of Signals and still only 24.

He earned the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Africa Star, the Burma Star, the Italy Star, the France and Germany Clasp, the War Medal, and a medal given to him by the Russians for his service on the Arctic Convoys.

After 25 years’ service he took over the Three Horseshoes at Towersey, where he took the lead in setting up an annual festival of folk, world music and traditional dance, which has taken place every August bank holiday weekend since 1965.

A countryman as well as a man of the sea, Barrett knew the ways of the land about his village – where the best blackberries grew and how to pluck and gut game birds – and for 17 years he grew the best vegetables from the patch behind his pub.

He was also, for the past 20 years, a trustee and treasurer of the Thame and District Day Centre, which provided a day out, hot meal and entertainment for the elderly, the frail and those who might be otherwise be isolated.

Jim Barrett’s wife Clare died in 2000 and he is survived by their two daughters and one son. A granddaughter is a assistant [known as a commis] chef at the Three Horseshoes.

Jim Barrett, born November 15 1920.