My Grandad, George Sullivan served for many years in both the Royal Navy and Merchant Marine from some time during World War II into the Fifties before coming ashore to retrain as a plumber. He didn\'t talk much about his time on the high seas but he did leave my family a set of very faded photographs and mementoes which give a very brief glimpse into the life he led afloat. I\'ve been going through the photos trying to get an understanding of which ships he served on and where and need your help.
The pictures below show him in a variety of conditions, from baking heat to extreme cold and vessels including (possibly) destroyers, heavy cruisers and submarines but if you can shed any light on any of them I would be very grateful. They are in no particular order so here we go.
The first shows an ice-bound ship from the front, guns and anchor chains ice-laden. Is this a heavy cruiser? Is it HMS Suffolk?
The second is a blurry shell burst in the water, seen from onboard ship. On the back mis-spelt in pencil it says \'BETTER LUCK.”BISMARCH2 NEXT TIME. BAD SHOT.\' It is also stamped \'Suitable for transmission through the post (Not for publication\'. Does this mean he was standing around taking a photo whilst the Bismarck shot at his ship?
Third, warmer climes. What are the sticks for. I think it is some form of exercise - any clues?
The fourth is a picture of three very cold looking sailors (my Grandad is the one with the cigarette) probably at the training establishment HMS Pembroke.
I\'ve looked up the number on the fifth and it indicates it is HMS Relentless but beyond that I don\'t know anything more than it was a destroyer.
The sixth comes with a lot of pictures and a certificate for crossing the line in HMS Suffolk on 7th June 1943. They look like they are having a lot of fun!
At some point he transferred into submarines. The seventh appears to be a picture of life under the waves complete with tea and toast.
I\'d heard about the \'crossing the line\' celebrations but less well known to me was the ceremony that took place for crossing the Arctic Circle. This certificate was issued to Grandad for doing so in HMS Alcide, a submarine, on 3rd September 1952.
He didn\'t talk much about his wartime service. In fact he didn\'t talk much at all. These snapshots and a few others like them show a very different man to the one I knew as a child and are a wonderful glimpse into what looked like an exciting and dangerous life. If anyone can help me find out more I would be very grateful!