John Swanson (my late father in law) was born in Liverpool,
Lancashire July 13th 1921 and passed away (Liverpool) March 18th
John was a stoker aboard Harrier, but at this moment in time I
cannot assist with a service number or dates of service aboard. I do
know that he joined the vessel in Russia having travelled out aboard
HMS Argus. Amongst others aboard 'Argus' travelling to join ships,
he spoke of a young man en route to join the ill fated Destroyer
'Matabele'. He explained that 'Matabele' was lost soon after and his
new found friend was amongst those who perished.
Sadly he did not speak in great detail of his exploits, save to
mention that they were based in Murmansk(?) during his time aboard
and shared many of the hardships of the local population, poor
rations, black bread etc.
He also spoke of the rescue of survivors from an American
('Liberty'??) ship, when a keen eyed lookout spotted their lifeboat
as dusk was falling and they were about to abandon the search.
After service in 'Harrier' John returned briefly to the UK (means of
transport unknown?) and then travelled to the US to 'standby' the
building of new LSI's under construction in Virginia(?) On
completion they sailed the vessels back to Europe where they
participated in the Sicilian landings.
Wounded (by 'friendly fire' the LSI silhouette was not unlike that
of a submarine to a nervous gunner!!) he was hospitalized in Malta,
following which he spent further time on a rocket armed landing
craft, bombarding the Italian mainland, before rejoining his
original LSI for 'D' Day. In the closing months of the War the
vessel was engaged ferrying personnel etc. from UK to Antwerp(?)
It had been our intention to mark his 80th birthday with a return to
Caen and the Normandy beaches, but sadly this was not to be.
John did apply for and receive his Russian Convoy medal which is
displayed along with his other medals in a small cabinet featuring a
photograph of 'Harrier'
Neil Marsden (Wirral)
2nd August 2006
NOTE: Neil would be very pleased to hear from any of John's old
shipmates. All messages sent to this site will be forwarded.