The ‘Instrument of Surrender’ that concluded the end of hostilities of World War 2 was signed at Reims at 02:41 Central European Time (CET) on 7 May 1945. The signing took place in a red brick schoolhouse, the Collège Moderne et Technique de Reims which served as the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. It was to take effect at 23:01 (one minute after midnight BST) on 8 May, giving the Axis powers a 48 hour grace period to communicate the armistice to various outlying military units.
Amongst these units were the U-Boats still operational in Norwegian, North Atlantic and Arctic waters. Over a period of twelve days, thirty-three U-Boats made their way to the designated surrender point, the isolated Loch Eriboll in Sutherland.
Once explosives and other armaments were discarded, the U-Boats were re-routed to secure locations where the crews could be repatriated. By late 1945 Operation Deadlight saw 116 of the 154 U-boats scuttled in deep water off Lisahally, Northern Ireland and Loch Ryan, in the west of Scotland.
The Service Record which, along with the Payment Record (see below), has glued this research together contains a final stamp, ‘Released in Class A’ from HMS Victory on 14th April 1946 at the end of hostilities. HMS Victory referred to the barracks in Queen Street, Portsmouth which acted as accommodation ashore for ratings awaiting assignment to another ship. ‘Class A’ meant released to Shore or from the Forces under the Plan for Re-allocation of Manpower (ADM 1/16608 ), a 1944 directive covering the period after VE Day but before the defeat of Japan. Individuals released under this order were still subject to recall to Naval Service in an emergency until VJ Day on 15th August 1945.
HMT Celia was sold back into merchant service and resumed her trawling duties in 1946. After 4 years and eleven months, my father returned to civilian life in Preston. A 1946 British military report on war casualties indicated 50,758 Royal Navy deaths as well as 30,248 Merchant Navy deaths. Of these 2,385 were Hostilities Only ratings who have no known grave other than the sea. They are commemorated on the seventeen panels of the RNPS Memorial in Lowestoft. It is they, to whom Hostilities Only is dedicated.