Richard Goodwin was born in Persia in 1913 where his father was British Vice-Consul. He was educated in the UK public school system, Haileybury College. His naval training was on the well-known training ship, HMS Conway, of the Royal Naval Reserve.

Entering the Second World War as a navigator, Goodwin eventually served on top-secret, highly classified mine sweeping operations during the war, on HMS Borde and HMS Whitehaven. He married Joan Gamon, during the war, whom he met in Chile while with the merchant marine, as a cadet, sailing between Liverpool, UK, and Valparaiso, Chile. Goodwin participated in the invasion of Normandy in charge of landing crafts and was wounded on the beaches there. In December 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for valor, among other medals. He was selected by the British Admiralty to travel to Central and South America as the British government’s envoy to speak about the efforts of the Royal Navy in World War II. He later took on a post for marine operations in northern Peru with Lobitos Oilfields and later became the South America representative for W.R. Grace’s shipping division, Grace Line, New York, and Lykes Lines, New Orleans. He was transferred to Panama. He retired in Naples, FL, where he became the Court Interpreter for the City of Naples until the age of 80. Commander Richard J. G. Goodwin died in Peru at the age of 99.

Dedicated in part to:

• Hamish and Ella McMurray—“a true guardian,” helped on schooling. Launching naval career and counsel on many aspects of young adult life.

• Captain of the HMS Borde, Roland Keith Hudson, under whom Goodwin served, a proponent of everything good. A great naval officer, self-effacing and shy. If he did not have these traits, he would never have been chosen to command an experimental vessel such as the Borde.

 

Commander Richard J. G. Goodwin

A VIEW FROM THE M INESWEEPER ’ S BRIDGE

A ROYAL NAVAL OFFICER ’ S WORLD WAR II MEMOIR

Copyright © Commander Richard J. G. Goodwin (2021) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. All of the events in this memoir are true to the best of the author’s memory. The views expressed in this memoir are solely those of the author. Ordering Information Quantity sales: Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the publisher at the address below. Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data Goodwin, Commander Richard J. G. A View from the Minesweeper’s Bridge ISBN 9781647500443 (Paperback) ISBN 9781647509033 (Hardback) ISBN 9781647509040 (ePub e-book) Library of Congress Control Number: 2020925232 www.austinmacauley.com/us First Published (2021) Austin Macauley Publishers LLC 40 Wall Street, 33rd Floor, Suite 3302 New York, NY 10005 USA [email protected] +1 (646) 5125767

Many thanks to Lisa Akoury-Ross, my literary agent and publishing consultant, for her guidance and feedback, as well as editor, Kathleen A. Tracy for her ability to reshape our father’s personal story without losing his voice as he recounted the inspiring and riveting story of his life. We also wish to thank the Imperial War Museum of the UK for their permission to publish photos of the two British Navy ships, HMS Borde, and the HMS Whitehaven and John Shepherd of liverpoolships.org for his permission to publish the photo of MV Reina del Pacifico.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword 11
  • Preface 15
  • Chapter One: My Parents 17
  • Chapter Two: Memories of Persia 20
  • Chapter Three: Crabtree Furlong 24
  • Chapter Four: Preparatory School 28
  • Chapter Five: Higher Education 31
  • Chapter Six: MV Laguna 36
  • Chapter Seven: RMMV Reina Del Pacifico 44
  • Chapter Eight: Prelude to War 52
  • Chapter Nine: World War II 56
  • Chapter Ten: Magnetic Mines 63
  • Chapter Eleven: HMS Borde 70
  • Chapter Twelve: The Blitzkrieg 89 Chapter Thirteen: Foreign Service, 1942–1943 98
  • Chapter Fourteen: D-Day 122
  • Chapter Fifteen: On Tour 134
  • Chapter Sixteen: Lobitos, Peru 149
  • Chapter Seventeen: Salaverry Days 159
  • Chapter Eighteen: Talara 177
  • Chapter Nineteen: Lima 192
  • Chapter Twenty: Panama 200
  • Chapter Twenty-One: Carmen 207
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Retirement 210
  • Epilogue 214

 

Foreword

In the latter years of our father’s life, around the age of 90, he was living for some time in Naples, Florida. Our mother had passed away seven years earlier in 1996. After her death, one of the ways he chose to pass the time was to spend hours pecking with one finger on a computer. He also often phoned my sister, Sylvia, for tips on how to trace his parents’ genealogy. We were just glad he was finding something to occupy his time especially since distance separated us. Little did we know what subsequently would result. Five years later in Ottawa, Canada, with the family reunited there for his ninetieth birthday, we were quite surprised when he presented each of us a bound copy of a manuscript titled My Memoirs. We three siblings—Sylvia, Clive, and I—each perused the 160 single-spaced pages interspersed with pictures, letters, and maps. At the time, with our own hectic lives, raising families, focusing on careers, and much more, we didn’t pay much attention to it, and we each more or less relegated it to a shelf in our respective homes. On July 28, 2012, at the age of 99, our father passed away in Lima, Peru. Some five years later, I was prompted to pick the memoir off the shelf and began reading it in earnest. I became absorbed by every page that transported me into an absolutely fascinating life and world of this man I called my father. Perhaps in his absence and at my stage in life, I saw it all with a totally new perspective. While I had been aware of his childhood in Persia, his naval escapades in World War II, and then his life in Peru, I was amazed and intrigued at the extraordinary details our father had cataloged in his memoir. The history, thoughtfulness, passion, humor, compassion, heroism, gallantry, discipline, duty, and love of our mother and family all came pouring off the pages. I realized that the memoir was poorly compiled and full of typos—understandable considering his single-finger pecking on the computer. My wife, Lynda, urged me to retype the manuscript, and before I found the time, she began the process herself, exclaiming what an amazing record it was and that I should pay more attention to it. Soon we began jointly, and enthusiastically, retyping. I shared my profound awakening to this treasure with my sister and brother and that led to this story. I gained an insight into and understanding of our father on a level I had not previously experienced. Yes, I knew he was a dashing, tall, good-looking man. He was a loving father and had a great sense of humor. He was interested in everything and could speak of many places around the world. He was fluent in French and Spanish. Growing up, we sensed he cared deeply about us all—first in Peru, then England, and later in the United States. But it’s fair to say I never really knew who he was deep down inside. Our father spoke very little about the past and shared only snippets about the war. He was never one to boast and kept a lot of personal feelings to himself. He rarely showed deep emotions outwardly. Some of that was due to his austere upbringing in a post-Victorian England. He was somewhat abandoned by his own parents and sent off to a grueling naval training. And of course, the proverbial British stiff upper lip and experience of World War II as a Royal Naval officer completed this picture. I came away from his memoir with a new level of knowledge and understanding of why our father lived and behaved the way he did. I saw more vividly the deep and abiding love between my father and mother, which of course included their moments of turmoil and challenges. I was touched by the intense love they shared during the height of the war. I felt the full spectrum of the drama, sacrifice, risk-taking, inevitable fears of losing each other, and incredible glimpses into the gallantry of our father’s role as a naval officer on the cutting edge of top-secret missions aboard minesweepers. Suddenly the war medals our father had given to me in a tarnished and tattered box at the end of his life took on a profound meaning. I now more fully comprehend what the Distinguished Service Cross among others represented and why they were bestowed on him by King George VI, his country, and the Royal Navy. He concludes his memoir in a section called the Epilogue: “Yes, I think I have come pretty close to the end of my act on this stage, and I dedicate these few lines, not to an audience but to my fellow actors who have accompanied me so lovingly to this point—my family. Only they will find anything of interest in what I have written. “The person who started the life is a game theory went on to say that it does not really matter who wins or who loses because the most important thing is how the game is played. I leave with you here some unsolicited testimonials as to how I have been judged by others who have accompanied me in the less pleasant stages of the game of life. I wonder if there is any life lived without some regrets. I hope I may be forgiven for presenting these testimonials with a little pride to compensate for those regrets.” Somehow, we three believe that more than just the family will find this story of interest, encouragement, and inspiration. 

— Rodney, on behalf of my sister Sylvia and my brother Clive

Preface

The advent of computers and my retirement from regular employment arrived on the world scene almost in a dead heat. Perhaps it’s the frightening capabilities of computers that was responsible for members of my family becoming interested in their ancestry and asking me about my past life. I tried to assure them—without any success—that they are descendants of a perfectly respectable British family. But a lack of family archives to back up that claim—photos, letters, scrapbooks—prompted my dear, suspicious relatives spending hours on the computer looking for any information to the contrary. I do not know why my paternal grandfather, Benjamin Goodwin, and his wife, my granny, left no records as they passed through this world. Even more curious is why the only thing I know about my maternal grandparents is their last name: Grove. And even that may have been lost to time had I not been christened with that family name. In recent years, I’ve often wished I had the time to discover more about them than just a name. That desire is what prompted me to embark on this memoir, to make certain that the same mystery will not surround me for the generations to come on my family tree. 

I hope my efforts will spur all future Goodwins to also leave their descendants a written record of their life. And that they make it all about themselves, their story. That is what the people who follow will be most interested in reading. — Richard John Grove Goodwin

Chapter One My Parents

Gertrude Grove and Emery Goodwin, my parents, met in Worcestershire, England, sometime in 1906, around the time he went to work at the Imperial Bank of Persia’s London head office. Founded in 1889 to establish a modern banking system in Persia, the British-owned Imperial Bank served as Persia’s state bank, meaning it issued currency in the form of toman banknotes. The United States has dollars, Britain has pounds, and Persia had tomans. If I may digress: It’s been said by numismatists that the banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia are some of the most beautiful and largest ever issued for any nation. Unfortunately, very few specimens remain, nor did my father put any away for posterity. The legal center for the bank was in London, but its activities were based in Tehran, with additional operations in other Middle Eastern countries. In 1907, my father was transferred to Persia, and the following year he and my mother were married at the British Consulate in Tehran. Photos from their wedding are formal—the ladies in their finest hats, everyone serious and unsmiling—giving them a rather impersonal air. My mother, holding a bouquet, looks almost somber while my father looks more relaxed. Several of the wedding party seem distracted by something off to their right. The two children in the photo—as well as a couple of adults—look like they’d really rather be anywhere but in front of the camera. My father was later named the manager of the bank branch in Qazvin, located about two hours northwest of Tehran. He was also the British Consul there. Qazvin is a cultural center best known for its baklava, carpets, poets, and calligraphy museum. It is also where I was born my mother had returned to England for my sister

Kathleen’s birth two years earlier then brought her back to Qazvin when she was just a few months old. Back then, travel between England and Persia was an excursion, a combination of train and ship that took considerable time and expense. That could be why I was born in Persia. Growing up abroad meant I had little contact with my grandparents or other relatives. I know very little about my mother’s family. I do know she was one of six children and that she and her siblings—Alice, Nelly, Kitty, Percy, and Harry—grew up on a farm near the border of Worcestershire and Shropshire, two counties in western England, an area known as the Midlands. My father and his brother Harry were the only children of Benjamin Goodwin, a building contractor who lived all his life in Worcester at 100 Ombersley Road. He also had properties in Ladywood, which is a neighborhood in Birmingham, and in the Malvern Hills at British Camp, which is an Iron Age fort located at the top of Herefordshire Beacon. The fort, now a designated ancient monument, dates back to the second century BC and was once the site of a Norman castle. Going there is a step back in time. My paternal grandparents were already in their eighties when I first visited the house in Worcester with my parents. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of school holidays spent variously at those three places. On one occasion when I was about ten years old, my sister and I visited without our parents and were met at the railway station by my grandparents’ chauffeur. He led us outside the depot to Granny’s car, a luxury French model called a Delage. It was a large sedan—then called a saloon car— decorated with figures of cherubim and seraphim. I was impressed that Grandpa also had a Sunbeam touring car, green with white tires. I can still see him dressed in a long, white coat wearing a cap and goggles during the only occasion I rode in it. My uncle Harry, a postal worker, lived only about three blocks from his parents. He and his wife Edith were parents to just one son, also named Harry, who as an adult would be a life insurance broker in London.