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Myself and John on Gorleston Parade

I was born in Gorleston-on-Sea in May 1934 and baptised Ken Applegate. My Earliest memories are from the time I was living in the High Street North, just opposite the entrance at the East end of Trafalgar Road. During my early days my father played the cornet in the Salvation Army whilst I and my younger brother John were little Sunbeams, singing in the choir, we used to attend the Sally Army Church every Sunday without fail.

Other early memories takes me back to the second world war and standing at my bedroom window watching German aircraft strafing the south denes. I felt no fear about it, just excitement. They used to fly over at about a hundred feet, over all the fishing net drying frames. Did they want to stop the supply of herring or did they think these nets were hiding something ? I donīt know, but god only knows what they expected to hit.

The nets represented the main winter seasonal activity of Gt. Yarmouth and Gorleston in those days, It was like an annual invasion of a different race of people moving into town. All the Scotch families included mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who used to gut, clean and barrel up the herrings and their husbands and sons who used to sail drifters which went in search of the silver harvest. It was awe-inspiring to see the masses of drifters, which used to fill the harbour in those days.

My mother used to recount to me the tales of when as a little girl, she and her friends used to be able to walk across the river from one side to the other, going from boat to boat.

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Drifters filling Great Yarmouth Harbour

Because Scotch boats always spent Sundays in port, they used to leave the harbour early on Monday mornings and it was breath taking to see them two, three and four abreast crossing the bar and riding the swell of the unyielding North Sea! When they returned days sometimes weeks later, they were often so laden down with herring their decks were awash. I remember I often used to go scrounging round the gutting wharves for free herring to use for bait, which I used to cut up and fish with my old rod and lines either on the river bend or in the cosies!

Because of the escalation of the war, we were evacuated to a little village called Warnford, near East Meon, Hampshire. It was strange really, we had not been there long before we realised we were getting more bombs there, than we had been getting in Gorleston. The reasons for this soon became apparent, not only did we find there was a searchlight battery only two fields away from our cottage, but also that we were on the direct flight path to Southampton docks. The latter meant that apart from often dropping bombs too early, Jerry used to off load surplus on the way home!

When my father returned from serving with the RASC in Africa, and seeing we were not too happy, he managed to get a posting to Norwich, and we all moved back again. After attending an intermediate school for a while,

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John and Myself in school uniform

I managed to get a place at the CNS where I finally got down to some serious studying. I did have one memorable experience whilst there. To celebrate VJ night, the surrender of Japan and the end to all further hostilities in the war, we stayed out all night with a sort of street party, around the bonfire with fireworks and food. It was great fun and we all enjoyed ourselves. The next night however, I was rushed off to the Jenny Lind Hospital with a brain hemorrhage This was said to have been caused by an accident I had at the Norwich lads club a couple of days previously, when I fell going round the swimming pool and cracked my forehead on the raised side of the pool. I didn't think too much of it at the time, when I regained consciousness, feeling a bit whoosey I just went home. Although it was touch and go for quite a time I did pull through OK. Just after this incident, we moved back to Gorleston.

My father had by this time completed his time in the army, he started up a driving school and taxi business. I transferred to the Gt.Yarmouth Grammar School and my brother ended up at the Technical College, after he finished his education he joined my father in his business. By the time I was 16 I still felt unsettled and unfulfilled, I realised that I would have to make some positive decisions about my future – if I were to have one!

I had been serving in the Royal Norfolk Army Cadets at the Gt. Yarmouth Grammar School (boots and putties), I then joined No 4 Company at Garnham Rd, Gorleston.

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Cadets

Grammer School

No 4 Company

Iīm far right at back

Marching in Gorleston High Street

I had always had a hankering to make a career in the service, with a specific desire to join the best and hardest.

I picked The Royal Marines.

After considerable thought and 'heated' discussion with my parents, who disapproved violently. They thought I was too young (sweet 17 years ) and I was wasting all they had kept me at the Grammar School for, my father finally agreed saying as he signed the consent form, "All you will learn is how to come up the beach with a dagger in your mouth, but if that is what you want, I am afraid if you make your bed you will have to lay in it!"

The latter a statement I was to remember many times in the years ahead.

I joined at the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Recruiting Office in Norwich, took and passed my medical in London in June 1951 then fulfilled my Attestation and swore my allegiance at 0900hrs 14th August 1951, then continued on to Deal in Kent to start my Induction and joining routine.


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