Montague Frederick Chappell

'Dad's War'

A film by Phil Chappell about the wartime experiences of his father, Montague Frederick Chappell.

Photo:On leave in Connecticut

On leave in Connecticut

Phil Chappell

Photo:On leave in Jerusalem

On leave in Jerusalem

Phil Chappell

Recollections of wartime service on a minesweeper

Joining the Navy

Montague Frederick Chappell volunteered to join the Royal Navy in April 1941 and undertook sixteen weeks of training at HMS Collingwood to become a signalman, which ‘involved learning eighty-six different flags of international and naval codes’. After completing the training Montague was sent to Chatham, and later to HMS Wildfire, a shore establishment, where he served on a number of minesweepers travelling from Sheerness along the east coast sweeping the water ahead of convoys.

Montague recalls one particular aspect of life onboard a minesweeper: ‘If any mines went off fishermen onboard had made nets and would pick them all up that was because the fishermen thought, gosh, lots of fish is being blown up by mines. So they used to trawl them in and then when we finished they would take them to Southend and women would come and buy them’.  

New York

After two years based at HMS Wildfire, Montague travelled to America to help supervise the construction of minesweepers in New York. Whilst in New York, Montague recalls how he and other servicemen received tickets for Broadway shows and were sometimes invited for dinner to rich Americans.  

The Mediterranean

Towards the latter part of the war, Montague served on minesweepers around the Mediterranean and was to travel to Australia but the journey was cancelled with the end of war in the Far East in August 1945. He eventually returned to England and was discharged.  

In February 2013, Phil Chappell interviewed and filmed his father about his wartime experiences. The film can be seen above.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 12/05/2013.