HMS Collingwood
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Welcome to Hostilities Only

Hostilities Only is the story of my father Robert Brooks’ time as a Hostilities Only rating in the Royal Navy during World War 2. Over one million people (923,000 men and 86,000 women) served in the Royal Navy during that War. Thousands of men and women enlisted after a recruitment campaign to help meet the…

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Until End of Present Emergency

Over one million people (923,000 men and 86,000 women) served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Many volunteered after an urgent recruitment campaign to fill the demand in manpower required to meet the maritime threat of Nazi Germany. As in the 1914-18 war, the British Admiralty’s first challenge was to rebuild Britain’s naval…

Winston Churchill
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Winston is Back

Dawn, September 1939. German forces invaded Poland and hostilities began. ‘The Prime Minister asked me to visit him at Downing Street.’ Winston Churchill wrote in his memoirs.  ‘I was invited to become a member of the War Cabinet.’ Two days later, 24 years after resigning as First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill returned to the Admiralty….

HMS Collingwood Intake
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HMS Collingwood

According to the landowner, it was ‘the finest bit of corn land in the south of England‘. Locals would call it the best snipe marsh in the country. It was certainly boggy and sea boots were compulsory wear for trainees who strayed from the paths. HMS Collingwood opened in January 1940. Built on 190 acres of marshy Hampshire land, it…

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Communications Branch

Neat handwriting, accurate spelling, good mnemonics and integrity. All were key attributes when it came to selection for The Communications Branch. Good handwriting meant messages were relaid accurately. Spelling went hand in hand with this. The ability to memorise lots of information was crucial and integrity was key due to the sensitive nature of the…

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HMT Southcoates

13 October 1941 – 20 January 1942 Hostilities Only Ordinary Signalman Brooks’ first draft after training was His Majesty’s Trawler (HMT) Southcoates. Built in 1918, she was christened Samuel Drake and launched from yard no.363 into the River Clyde by builders Bow McLachlan & Company of Paisley.  Bow, McLachlan & Co. had entered the specialist shipbuilding market…

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HMS Europa

I often wondered why we went on holiday to Lowestoft. It was such a long way from Cumbria by car. Now it all made sense. Dad’s service number was JX272920 LT. J 272920 meant Communications Branch. The X, he was employed on a pay scale introduced in the 1930s. The LT was for Lowestoft. The…