Charles Parker

Red Duster to White Ensign

This is the story of an ordinary man who had a true love of the sea, but as a consequence of the war had to deal, as did many others, with extraordinary experiences.
Leaving his Cornish village of Landewednack in 1921 Charles, then aged fifteen, began his career in the Merchant Navy as a 2nd Class Saloon Boy with the Union Castle Line travelling to South Africa.  He moved on to work on the Great Western Railways Channel Island Ferry, working his way up to 2nd then 1st Class Assistant Steward.  Before long he was in the Mediterranean working on a cable ship, and for the next ten years on a cargo freighter travelling to Australia and New Zealand.
At the outbreak of World War II Charles signed T124X Articles and joined the Royal Navy as 2nd Steward, subsequently rated at Chief Petty Officer and eventually Chief Steward 1st Class.  He saw service in several ‘theatres of war’ including two Russian Convoys and in the Mediterranean (North Africa and Salerno) before being released from Naval Service in 1946. Following this, Charles, like a lot of people who had served in the war, suffered from ill-health and consequently never went to sea again: starting ‘another life ashore’ with his family.
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