It’s absolutely incredible and marvellous what they’ve done here; I can’t believe it’s the same place I helped fit out HMS Indefatigable back in 1944.

RN Veteran Les Wills (90)

For many this was their first engagement and there was a lot of anticipation of what to expect from the enemy. “The initial raid into Palembang took the Japanese by surprise, but not so the second raid a week later when we lost many aircraft and their crews.”

Months later when the Fleet moved north, they started raids and attacks on the Japanese mainland and the war took a nasty turn for Les and his crewmembers on Indefatigable.

“By simple logic, the closer you got to the enemy, the closer they were to us! The Kamikaze attacks started and we were shocked that they believed that if they died in action they would be serving their Emperor.

"With a pilot in a guided bomb, the chances of hitting our Ships were that much greater, it was frightening.”

Les survived the war and stayed in the Royal Navy, for much of the 1950’s, where he served in Portsmouth as a Boat’s Coxswain in the Dockyard. “It’s unbelievable to be back, I didn’t know what to expect, it’s definitely changed with all the new buildings and Jetty improvements.”

Looking over the New ‘Princess Royal Jetty’ undergoing a multi-million pound upgrade and will be ready to receive The Royal Navy’s newest Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth later this year, Les was certainly impressed by what he saw.

“It’s absolutely incredible and marvellous what they’ve done here; I can’t believe it’s the same place I helped fit out HMS Indefatigable back in 1944.”

HMNB Portsmouth

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