The Survivor from H.M.S Hermes
A first hand account of the sinking

Carol Marshall

Note from the editor :

On the 2nd of June 1998 Carl Marshall, the daughter of late Ronald T Smith, wrote to us with photos and an account of her late fathers experience of survival during and after the attack on H.M.S Hermes by Japanese on the 9th of April 1942. This is the story of how Ronald T Smith survived an experience which Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the "most dangerous moment" in the World War II.

H.M.S Hermes during its final moment

Ronald T Smith, the survivor.

My Father joined the Royal Navy in the early days of WW2 he served on several ships and travelled far from home HMS Hermes took him to Ceylon while he was ashore here he brought some gem stones, mainly Opals that he kept in his locker on a lower deck.

On the 9th April 1942 when Hermes came under attack from Japanese dive bombers and when all hope was lost the call came to abandon ship.
At this point in time my Father decided he would try and get to his locker and get his Opals. This he tried and he did go down into the ship but the sounds of the men who were beyond help made him realise he needed to get out this very dangerous detour which could very easily have cost him his life. But, later, he always maintained that it actually saved his life for if he had jumped into the water from where he first stood he would have been taken under along with many others.

For eight hours he was in the water then picked up by (Hospital Ship) HMS VITA. Lucky to only have a leg wound he was then taken to a tea plantation to recover. Back home news came through to my grandparents that he was missing and presumed lost at sea, but to their delight a few weeks later he managed to get a letter through saying "Alive and Well".

Home safe and the war over, my parents married in 1946. They had two sons and then a few years later me! Throughout his life my Father loved the sea and would be out there at any chance he had. It was while fishing in local waters an accident took place. How we do not know but it is thought that my father may have fallen into the water and my brother had tried to get to him. However the next morning my brothers body was washed ashore but my Fathers was never recovered so he will always be at sea.

To be able to look at the wonderful photographs taken of H.M.S Hermes on the sea bed for me brings my Fathers story to life and makes me very proud of him.

Carol Marshall
Daughter of Ronald T Smith (born 1921 died 1986), a H.M.S Hermes survivor.