Hospital Ship Vita

August 12, 2010

Hi recently visited your site very interesting. 

At outbreak of war which was declared on a Sunday my father was on a train the following day to Portsmouth I did not see him again until the end of the Japanese war.

It seemed a year or two previously he had been on a visit to Pompey with the St Johns Ambulance service of which he was a member, and during said visit was asked to sign a form that in the possible event of hostilile news he would be willing to give his services. Hence his rapid enlistment.

He once told me let this be a lesson to you watch what you sign.

One further anecdote he served as a medical orderly and assisted in the theatre. One day he was observed by the chief surgeon to be limping when asked what the problem was he explained he had a ingrowing toe nail on his big toe. Righ to Banks we will soon sort that out and was booked in for surgery. On his return to the world from his operation he discovered big toes had been shortened by removing the to the first joint. It was pointed out to him by the surgeon when he looked at the nail it was twisted at the root and would only have grown back again so he had decided it would be better to remove it entirely. Imagine that nowadays?

Needless to say when stood in his stocking feet he could not rock or lean forward as he completly lost his balance. I, my son, and my grandson have all been blessed with the same problem. However I rely on visits to the chiropodist (now pedicurist) for more gentle treatment.

Dad  told me very little of the dangers they faced more like fascinating stories of India, South Africa etc. In Durban he was adopted by a family whenever he was ashore, and they even sent my mother and I food parcels etc.

Hope this was of interest. Are there any photos of the Vita that I can access ?

Thanks again for all your info at 80 I am finally discovering things I had been wishing I had asked when he was alive.

Regards Jim.


See this URL: http://merchantnavyofficers.com/woodland.html for some Vita photos.

Vita being towed by HMAS Waterhen out of Tobruk harbour after Vita was bombed.

Hospital Ship Vita.

Best regards,


back to letters index


This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness. All rights of publicity of the individuals named herein are expressly reserved, and, should be respected consistent with the reverence in which this memorial site was established.

Copyright© 1984/2014 Mackenzie J. Gregory All rights reserved