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Post Info TOPIC: George William Oliver born 1904 died 1997. Sole survivor of submarine H49


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RE: George William Oliver born 1904 died 1997. Sole survivor of submarine H49
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Shaun Herrett - if you are still active in this site please give me a `shout'.

HetCdrH49



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Lovely to see these new pictures Christine - thank you for sharing! So good to see the family album still growing ...

3new.jpg



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Thank you Christine for managing to post those photos before your holiday. They are all new to me.The ones with the concrete pannelled house in the background maybe at Auntie Evelyn's house at Hatterboard Drive, Scarborough.I was too young to remember what the hose looked like when I was there at about 6 yrs old.Leaning towards this conclusion is who I think are Evelyn herself,probably her brother Charles,and Evelyn's son George London. The photo of George and Mary in the same location looks to me like he is in a 'demob' suit, so probably is summer 1945.Yes I think the other photo is George and Mabel ,probably at Bower St. Hartlepool. So there cant have been an secret relationship if at least 1 brother and 1 sister knew about it. Did all the family know at the time  and just what happened later being not talked about. I will ask my eldest brother who is a similar age to George London.The only others alive who may know are Christines mum [Freddies widow] and young Evelyn Graham nee London.Surely George cannot have been disowned by any of his siblings considering what he had endured in H 49 and after..........Phil



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.388.jpg

 

Photo of George and Mary in happier times........

 

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George and Mabel I think................

 

382.jpg

 

George and Mary with who I do not know Phil might know...........................

 

 



-- Edited by Chris on Sunday 1st of May 2016 01:24:35 PM

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Today, Sunday 18th October 2015, is exactly 75 years since the sinking of HMS 49 in which 26 of 27 crews members lives were claimed and from which George Oliver was the sole survivor - their lives and their story is not forgotten.

H49Museum1.jpg

 



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Hi 

 

Thank you for the information my grandma and grandad was one of the family that went over in 1987 with the diver whem the layed the wreath think i will be a trip to get all the information this weekend. 

 

 

 

Thank you shaun herrett 



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h-49 submarine 1919-1940 - WreckSite.eu this website page has some more information on H49 and shows a map with the exact location of the sinking of Texel Island.

 

Christine.



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Hello Shaun and welcome to the website.  I am Christine the niece of George Oliver.  George was the eldest of the Oliver family in Hartlepool.  My father Frederick Oliver the youngest son of the family has his own piece on this family history website. 

 

I have scrolled down on this piece and see there is a picture of Donald Herrett your Great Grandfather he was a stoker on the submarine.  The Submarine story of how George survived has been long in my memory since a small child and with the onset on internet I found a I could research H49 and found lots of information not only from what George left behind but what other families connected to those who died have researched, recorded and put online.  You may have to look under the George Oliver and Frederick Oliver topics for some information about the submarine.  

The main source of information about where the H49 is resting is from a visit made by the members of the Beaumont House Old Boys' Association "Trip to Texel Island, Netherlands June 2011".  The reason for this visit to the wreck site was that one of the boys at the School was Lieutenant Richard Coltart the Commander of the H49.  In his recounting of the trip there is no recording of the site of the wreck, but he says "by various routes" they got to Texel Island on 24 June.  They stayed at the Loodsmans Welvaren Hotel in Den Hoorn and then on to the museum where items related to H49 have come ashore over the years.  They met a Jans Nieuwenhuis at the airfield.

To track down the relics of H49 which were believed to be at Schipbreuk en Jutters Museum, Flora, at De Koog.  This museum has a huge collection of objects found in the sea or washed up over time.  The information deksk at this museum said that there had been a re-organisation and the H49 relics had been sent to  Oudeschild  which is on the coast.  Dennis Feary (the son of one of those lost) found and recognised the relics of H49.  

Dennis Feary and has party travelled to the Miliatry Cemetery in Den Burg to lay a wreath to those lost in H49 and the bomber crews.  At the time the local newspaper the "Texel Courant" picked up the story and printed in article about H49.  Jan Nieuwenhuis has organised and exhibit relating to H49 at the Aviation en War Museum at the airfield.  

There is also a new Church memorial at Shotley Church near Harwich.  H49 was part of the Harwich Flotilla and Shotley in Essex was the Site of the Boys training unit HMS Ganges as some of the crew would have trained at Shotley.

The wreck of H49 was found by divers n the 1980's relics were brought up but the Dutch Government declared the site an official war grave.   Dennis Feary took a party of the relatives in 1987 to the wreck site which is 15 miles or so off the cost of Texel Island. The group had gone out in a small boat the a diver laid a wreath on the conning tower.  I have a picture of this event which I shall post on site.

On another occasion Dennis Feary met Baron Berndt von Walther und Croneck who had been an officer of the watch of the German Patrol Boat U-Jager 116 which was part of the flotilla which had been under the command of Kapitain Leutnant W E  A Kaden  Kaden persisted in the depth charging of H49  despite its obvious sinking but he did not give up and only George came up alive .  The German seaman saved him and rubbed him down with alcohol to revive him.  The rest of the was he spent in POW camps. Kapitain Kaden was awarded the Iron Cross for this sinking.  Kaden himself perished later during the war when his boat U-Jager was sunk by a Russian Patrol.  A point of reference in the documents is the Eirland Lighthouse. 

I hope some of the information is of help to you or if there is anything else you might think of please let me know.  The H49 is still remembered and those connected to her will never forget those resting with her. 

Kind regards,

 

Christine.

 



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Hi there. check to see if you have recieved a personal message age from me. I willcontact you again shortly.. Phil Hume nephew of George Oliver of H49.



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Donald herrett was my great grandad in our family we have lots of information which i am going to get hold of and post on here soon
My grandad michael herrett (son of donald herrett) passed away in 2009 and i have been thinking about visiting the war grave and taking some of his ashes any one with any information please get intouch


Thank you shaun herrett

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Hi Phil,

I agree that it clearly looks as if those areas of the stone were cleaned upon George's death in order to add his date of death and age.

I also concur that the most plausible explanation is that he had his name added at the time of his mothers death as a clear statement to everyone that that's where he wanted to go.

I gave the cemetery a quick call actually and explained the scenario and asked whether that was typical or something they had seen before, apparently its very unusual and they couldn't really think of any other examples from within the cemetery where this had happened.

So, a bit of a unique one it would seem.

Thanks
Shane



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Hello Everyone.Thanks very much again Shane for the lovely pictures. Especially the grave of uncle George and his parents.Ive looked at it quite a few times thinking there is something odd about it, and its just now that  I have noticed where  the date of his death and age are engraved the mason who engraved the details obviously cleaned  away about 70 years of age patination from the surface before engraving the details ,but his name was already on the gravestone  probably engraved at the time of his mothers burial 43 yrs previously.Does anyone know if this is or was a common procedure at the time.Ive not come across this before . Could it even be a north eastern custom.Maybe with no wife or children to mourn him he was just making sure of where he was to be laid to rest.God bless him and all those who not killed in acts of war, but came home with memories and mental scars that they would carry for the rest of their lives..........Phil



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Hi All,

It was nice to visit Stranton Cemetery and pay my respects at the gravestone of George William Oliver (H49) and his parents last week. The grave is close to a lovely big old apple tree and whilst pretty bare in early February, the scene will be transformed very soon with the arrival of this years blossom.

Thanks,
Shane

gwograve1.jpg

gwograve2.jpg



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Hello again Christine and Shane.  I wonder if either of you studied all the names on the Hartlepool Memorial the pictures of which you posted Shane.It seems that this is a new memorial built only in the last 20 yrs or so.Panel no10 commemorates 4 or 5 local Olivers all with, to me, mundane everyday first names.That is apart from one.....GEORGE WILLIAM OLIVER. As our branch of the Olivers loved to perpetuate names from generation to generation ,the same , I wonder if this person was a son of one of our granddad Olivers brothers....another alternative Christine is that with the navy thinking our Uncle George was dead for may years before he did actually die and the memorial being quite recent does it commemorate him in error. Or maybe its just an amazing coincidence and he is unrelated........kindest regards to all    Phil



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Hi Phil,

Your message reminded me that further up this thread Christine had posted that letter from Captain Richard E Coltharts parents to George - what a letter to have to write, what a letter to have received, but how very kind of them to express their congratulations to George in light of their own loss.

Colthartletter.jpg

Thanks,
Shane



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Sorry. I must amend the last entry. The letter i refer to was from the parents ob sub lt Dearden  not the captain of the H49 ,lt colthart.....phil.



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hello everyone.. I have just been reading  my copy of the letter sent by Lt Coltharts parents to uncle George when they learned about his survival and safe return home after the war .The letter shows a glimpse of true happiness at Georges homecoming, mentions the great coincidence that at the time of his sons loss he himself with the rank of Commander was serving in our anti submarine trawlers. How sadly ironic. I could post this letter in its entirety later along with along heartbreaking letter from the widow of one of Georges lost shipmates. what do members of this forum think.Is it still a bit inappropriate even after the passage of so many years.....Phil



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Not sure if Gosport did a piece on George, an enquiry may be required of them. The Gentleman enquiring at the time of the newspaper cutting was Mr Brittan at the Submarine Musuem HMS Dolphin Gosport Hampshire.  

 

Looks like another lead Shane.  

George is buried in Tanfield Road Cemetry Hartlepool, alongside his mother and father. Teesmouth is not the mostly industrial, but see the Durham countryside  it is lovely,but a sight to see is the Transporter Bridge at Haverton Hill.   There is facebook page for the this bridge, 

 

Best Wishes Christine. 



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That is sad to read that George became reclusive and upset in later life, those experiences that he carried with him throughout life are pretty unimaginable; the fear, tension, stress, grief that he must have been through and I guess with very little by way of professional support when he did come back and had to somehow integrate back into 'normal' life, so hard to comprehend.

I noticed that one of the newspaper articles above talked about 'a museum display about George' a Gosport, I was just wondering do we know if that display actually happened?

georgenewspaper.jpg

Thanks

Shane



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George's Poem at the back of his diary:-

 

In England now, the black cap sings and Martins dart on tireless wings about their nests in cottage eaves.

Behind the lattice work of leaves, across the meadows there hath rolled, a rippling tide of green and gold.

The flower is on the apple bough and lilac blossoms in England now.

The hawthorn whitens once again along the hedge in the lane and gay is every garden plot with tulip and forget me not.

The herds in quiet pastures stand and beauty is upon the land as if basked in Gods own smile, this dear, this sweet, this blessed Isle.



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TALKING TO MY BROTHER GEORGE OLIVER HUME YESTERDAY HE TOLD ME THAT UNCLE GEORGE  HAD AN EARLIER PIECE OF GOOD LUCK ,OR A GUARDIAN ANGEL WATCHING HIM  IN 1939 , A YEAR BEFORE SURVIVING THE LOSS OF H 49.  DESPITE HIS PERIOD OF SERVICE ABOUT TO RUN OUT HE WAS ROSTERED TO THE NEWLY BUILT THETIS AT BIRKENHEAD,BUT DELAYS IN FINISHING THE BOAT CAUSED HIM TO NOT RE -ENLIST FOR A FURTHER PERIOD OF SERVICE,SPARING HIM FROM BEING A STATISTIC IN BRITAINS MOST TRAGIC SUBMARINE LOSS OF LIFE. IM NOT SURE OF THE NUMBERS INVOLVED BUT THETIS HAD A GREAT MANY MORE MEN ON HER THAN AFULL CREW.SHE WAS SALVAGED AND RENAMED THUNDERBOLT[THEN AS NOW RENAMING A SHIP IS ALWAYS CONSIDERED BAD LUCK BY MARINERS]. SECOND TIME ROUND SHE WAS LOST WITH ALL HANDS AGAIN.NO WONDER THAT UNCLE GEORGE BECAME RECLUSIVE AND UPSET IN LATER LIFE REFLECTING ON LOST SHIPMATES......PHIL



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picture of H49



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Here is the picture, the stamp and information on the back tells it all.



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That's a very nice story about the photo Phil, and the photo itself like a little piece of family treasure.
Wonderful to read, thanks
Shane 



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A PHOTO WAS SENT CIRCA 1942 TO GEORGE IN THE MARLAG. THIS PHOTO WAS OF HIS SISTER MOLLIE AND HER TWO SONS GEORGE OLIVER AND CHRISTOPHER DAVID WITH THEIR BIKES OUTSIDE THEIR HOUSE IN DENTON NR ILKLEY YORKSHIRE. THIS PHOTO WAS PASSEDBY THE GERMANS AND DULY STAMPED AND GIVEN TO MY UNCLE GEORGE.. HE MUST HAVE KEPT THIS PHOTO TO THE END OF HIS CAPTIVITY AND AFTER RELEASERETURNED TO MOLLIE WHO KEPT IT FORTHE REST OF HER LIFE. I HAVE KEPT IT SINCE THEN AND HAVE NOW BEEN HAPPY TO PASS IT ON TO CHRISTINE , AS SHE GREW UP KNOWING UNCLE GEORGE MUCH BETTER THAN I DID. PERHAPS IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME SHE MAY POST IT ON THIS SITE.....  BEST WISHES TO ALL.... PHIL



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I've just located a register of British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, and found this entry:

Name: G W Oliver
Rank: Leading Stoker
Army Number: D/KX77876
Regiment: Naval Forces : Officers & Ratings
POW Number: 25728
Camp Type: Marlag Und Milag Nord
Camp Number: M & MN 
Camp Location: Westertimke (Tarnstedt)

Marlag und Milag Nord was a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp complex for men of the British Merchant Navy and Royal Navy and of more than 5,000 Allied merchant seamen captured by the Germans during the war, most were held here.

This video below is from the time of liberation in 1945 - the record above says this is the camp George was at, so therein the video gives 'us' a view on the environment that 'George' would have presumably seen and experienced whilst there.

Thanks,
Shane

The above is part 1 of 4 videos that are on youtube, just as a warning, some of the other 3 videos do contain quite graphic and potential distressing content.



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Another little find here - from what I seem to be able to gather, all boats that left the United Kingdom that were sunk in the waters off Harwich have had a memorial created to the boat, but not H49 - that is until very recently.

Here is St Mary's Church in Shotley, Suffolk, where inside there is now a Memorial Plaque to H449 - thanks to the Submariners Association of Colchester

H490.jpg

H491.jpg

H492.jpg

Photographs are again credited to user 'Old Sweats' on the 'Great War Forum'

Thanks
Shane



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Well here is something really quite special, certainly a new find to me, the Memorial to the H49 at the Aeronautical Museum on the Island of Texel, off which the wreck of H49 lays.

H49Museum2.jpg




H49Museum1.jpgH49Museum3.jpg


H49Museum4.jpg

Photographs are credited to user 'Old Sweats' on the 'Great War Forum'

The link to the Museum website is http://www.lomt.nl/.

Thanks
Shane



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Hi Christine and Phil,

I'm really pleased that you're both happy with the article, that's nice to read, its a privilege really to be able to tell the story.

Indeed, its seems that for all the details that are known, there is probably as much that is unknown, I can imagine that the missing diary content did indeed include some very very tough reading that was close to the bone for George, as for there being something important and secret, wow, that is seriously intriguing.

I'll take a look and see if I can spot any leads around the additional birth you mention Phil.

I'm off to review those additional documents, thanks for sending across the Texel document Christine.

Yes, I do have a more general interest in history Phil, quite varied, local history here in Oxfordshire, Henry VIII and that period, Cricket, those fabulous old Heritage Railways, the 'mixed list' goes on - I just wish I had more time to invest in them, retirement will come to me one day 

Thanks for now,
Shane 



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HELLO SHANE.    IT IS LOVELY TO SEE THE STORY THAT YOU HAVE PUT TOGETHER ABOUT UNCLE GEORGE.PLEASE DONT THINK IT IS NECESSARY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE ORIGIN OF ANY INFORMATION FROM ME.IT IS YOU WHO GOES TO THE EFFORT OF ASSEMBLING INFORMATION FROM ALL FOUR POINTS ON THE COMPASS AND PRESENTING IT IN SUCH A CARING WAY.ANYTHING I RECALL I WILL ALWAYS TRY TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN FACT AND OPINION.AM I RIGHT IN SUSPECTING THAT, OLIVER FAMILY ASIDE YOU HAVE AN AVID INTEREST IN HISTORY IN GENERAL. IF SO YOU RUN THE RISK OF BEING INUNDATED WITH FACTS AND OPINIONS ON MANY SUBJECTS FROM ME.SOME PHOTOS I SENT TO CHRIS WERE TAKEN FROM OLGAS LIFE STORY,AND SENT TO HER RATHER THAN COPIES.I HOPE SHE WILL POST SOME OF THESE ON THE SITE SOON.WHEN SHE RETURNS THEM I WILL PUT THEM BACK IN OLGAS LIFE  STORY AND SEND THEM ON TO YOU .{ADDRESS REQ}.THIS YOU MAY KEEP PERMANENTLY AS I THINK I KNOW IT BY HEART NOW .ONE OF MY BROTHERS HAS ASKED ME ABOUT A LOST AT BIRTH AUNTIE OR UNCLE,THAT HE HAD BEEN TOLD ABOUT MANY YRS AGA BY AUNTIE EVELYN{LONDON].CHRISTINE HAD NOT HEARD OF IT BUT ON THE FIRST PAGE OF OLGAS STORY SHE MENTIONS BEING THE SEVENTH OF EIGHT LIVE BIRTHS OF HER PARENTS.JUST ONE WORD CAN BE SO REVEALING.EVEN OLGAS LIFE STORY WHICH REVEALS HER SHY AND QUIET BUT DETERMINED NATURE HAS A LARGE GAP FROM SHORTLY AFTER MOLLIE AND HARRYS WEDDING TO ENLISTIND EARLY IN THE WAR.I WILL ABSORB WHAT CHRISTINE SAYS ABOUT H49 FOR A WHILE.IT SEEMS THAT EVERY STEP FORWARD ONE TAKES STUDYING ANYTHING IN WW 2 LEADS YOU TO ANOTHER CROSSROADS.TOTALLY UNRESERVED GRATITUDE TO YOU AGAIN.    BEST WISHES    PHIL



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 a few more documents which I have.



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Hello Shane,

Hope the New Year brings you much happiness to you and your family.  I have read the article you have created for George and it is absolutely wonderful you have done him proud, as we say in the north. 

The parts of the diary that are missing, there were two stories floating around, one Olga told me.  Olga believes that the submarine was on a secret mission, that there were more people on board than should have been hence the lack of life preservers, George never said what the mission was and wouldn't say.  Olga told me that after the Navy realised George was alive, ( as another George Oliver died in a bike crash after the war) his flat was broken into the his belongings rifled through and he was ruffed up, George says that two pages were torn out of the diary, Olga told me that there was a secret in that diary which was to be kept quiet, as nothing else was taken from the flat.  Olga really believed something was serious that in diary.

 

The other story that Phil tells me is that probably the two pages contained too much heart rending memories and we removed them. 

 

I know that the families of the lost submariners would write to George and that in 2011 family members went to the wreck site and laid a wreath, also visited the museum which houses wreck material.  They asked George if he wanted to go with them but he was too frail.  The Texel Island visit was made the Beaumont School, whose pupil Lt Coltart was in charge of H49, his story is just as interesting, wrote an article on the visit which I have.   I have emailed you separately with the pdf for this visit, Dennis Feary, went to visit George in this flat and had a long chat and he said that George was injured.  Commander Kaden the German trawler in charge of the depth charge, he and five other trawlers continued to depth charge H49 and even his own men told him to stop the submarine was sunk, so when George surfaced they saved him and rubbed him down with alcohol to revive him.  Kaden was awarded an Iron Cross for the sinking so.......... why five trawlers to sink one sub, why an Iron Cross for this particular sinking?

bye for now Christine.



-- Edited by Chris on Sunday 4th of January 2015 03:16:47 PM

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I've created a new little article for the website consolidating some of documents and pictures from Georges story, it can be accessed through the 'Facts and Happenings' option of the top menu, then select 'Sole Survivor of H49 in WWII' - hope you're OK Christine and Phil that I have used some of the documents you've shared here on the messageboard, I have noted in the article that they have been provided by you.

Thanks!
Shane



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George William Oliver (photo courtesy of Phil)



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George Oliver POW (with cross on his chest) photo courtesy of Phil.

 



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Fantastic to meet you and Karl yesterday Christine, so pleased you travelled up and enjoyed the day!

Fascinating reading George's diary, very sobering - do you think the missing pages exist somewhere, or are they completely lost? do you who/how/where it was all recorded?

Thanks!, Shane



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George's Diary I hope you can read it, with one letter from Lt. Coltart's parents.



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Navy List of the Men who died on the H49 which is now a war grave off Texel Island.  Letter to his mother about his status as POW.



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George William Oliver.



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img296.jpgGeorge was the eldest of George William Oliver and Mary Ann Oliver of Studley Road and Bower Street Hartlepool.  He never married.  He  joined the Navy as a stoker in 1927.  On being called up in 1939 he was drafted to the submarine H49.  On the 18th October 1940 the submarine was depth charged for over two hours off the Dutch coast west of Texel Island.  There was a shortage of breathing apparatus and he did without so that a younger crew member could have a vest.  In the mayhem that followed George found himself on the surface whilst the submarine sank with his crew mates lost.  He was rescued by the German Navy and spent the remaining years as POW.

 

img027.jpg



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