David Islwyn Hale
My name is David Islwyn Hale, born on 30 June 1932.Sunday, 3 September 1939, when, after breakfast, my mother instructed me to dress in my school clothes as we were not going to go to chapel that morning. My father called on my mother to come and listen to the wireless. The voice said that as no reply had been received we were at war with Germany. I started to skip and shout, "We’re at war! We’re at war," until a firm grip on my shoulder made me stop. It was my father looking very stern whilst my mother was crying.My brother joined the Home Guard. Later that year we were told that the evacuees would be arriving. I begged my mother to select a boy; a playmate for me. The day arrived. On arriving home after Sunday School I was introduced to Hazel, a little girl from Gillingham in Kent.In February 1941 I accompanied my father and brother, who had been called up, to the railway station where he caught a train to Swansea. Like many houses who had members in the armed forces, we had a world map pinned on the kitchen wall so we could follow the movements of our loved ones. In case the enemy intercepted the mail, codes were used to tell the families where they were.It was Tuesday of Easter week 1942 when our next-door neighbour came rushing into our kitchen. Hardly able to get her words out asked my mother the name of my brother’s ship. “The Dorcestershire. Why?” Mr Prytherch, the ironmonger, had been listening to the BBC World News to hear that the Dorcestershire had been sunk in the Bay of Bengal. My mother collapsed into a chair crying uncontrollably. Our neighbour tried to console her with words of comfort but my mother was distraught. I was stunned, unable to take in the news. My world collapsed; life would never be the same again.The 9 o’clock news confirmed what we already knew. Then came the official letter from the Admiralty confirming what we already knew.With the death of my brother, my whole world was turned upside down. My father became an invalid in 1943. Consequently my mother had to go to work, and when it came my turn, I just could not go to university and see my mother, a cripple, who’d given her life for me. So with the death of my brother, my whole world went upside down and I would not be the same today if that hadn’t happened.