What has become clear in recent times is that I know very little about my Dad’s time during the war. It wasn’t that I didn’t ask questions - I just realise now that I got few answers. He told of a few amusing events, of the entertainments provided and of the dreadful experience of being on a troop ship for so long, but apart from that I know so little.
Ronald Hall was working for a grocery store named Albert Anderson’s in Ashington, Northumberland, when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force. He knew conscription was ahead, but thought he should enlist as soon as he could; he was always patriotic. He said he had hoped to be a pilot, but failed at the first hurdle as his eyesight wasn’t good enough.
What I do know is that Dad was keen on photography. He had one of those cameras where the lens and shutter folded down into the body, and he developed all his own photos. When asked how, he mentioned “chemicals” and a tin box and having to cover the entrance to Grandma’s scullery with an old blanket to keep the light and everyone else out. How he managed to develop films once he was abroad, I have no idea. I also have no idea what became of his camera, although I do remember using it myself.
Dad was sent to serve in Ceylon and India from 1945 until 1948. It’s hard to imagine what this must have been like for a lad from Ashington who had never travelled far from home. He took photographs of his time there, many of which appear on the following pages just to recall a moment in history. The captions on the photographs in the original albums are now faded, as are some of the photographs themselves, but I’ve reproduced what I can and, of course, the names of the people included mean little to me. I hope, in this tribute to my Dad, that someone will spot one of their relations and get in touch. I’d be more than happy to send you a copy of any relevant photograph.
The first place Dad was based was in Ceylon.
Naval Headquarters in Colombo.
The New Olympia Cinema
Fishermen of Ceylon.
Johnny, Dad and Joe (surnames not stated)
The caption reads “Hooray for E.N.S.A.!!”
Forsythe, Seaman and Farrell performed for the servicemen. An American trio, they were a musical comedy act.