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Bill Tolley and shipmates

three sailors on board ship with big guns behind them

From left: Arthur Curtis, Bill Tolley, John Elwood; all from London.

(This official photograph was taken immediately before D-Day for benefit of the families.
What cannot be seen is the huge armada of capital and other ships as well as mulberry harbour sections, waiting to cross the channel.)

Bill Tolley volunteered for the Navy as he didn't fancy conscription as a Bevin Boy. In the event, he wasn't too pleased to find himself working deep in the bowels of a ship on D-Day instead.

Towards the end of the war he was surprised to receive a letter "By Command of Their Lordships":

"In order to deliver the maximum impact on the enemy with a view to defeating Germany in the shortest possible time, the Government have decided that it is essential to increase the strength of the Army both by intake of recruits and by transfers from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force of fully and partially trained men.

The Admiralty regret the necessity for your transfer to the Army, appreciating as they do that nearly all the personnel of the Royal navy have expressed a definite preference for naval service.

The Board of Admiralty are confident that men of the Royal Navy selected for the Army, knowing that their transfer is in the best interests of the nation, will accept their new duties in the good spirit which they have shown in their naval service; that they will become efficient soldiers at the earliest possible moment, and by so doing, hasten the victory which the while country so urgently desires. Signed H V Markham"

Photo: Bill Tolley