HMS Galatea Home Page | Your Total Event Home Page
William "Billy" Reynolds
This is a story received from a friend of Billy's, Gordon Johnson, in April 2008:
I was a telegraphist on HMAS Hobart when Hobart was a unit of the Mediterranean Fleet's 7th Cruiser Squadron and my interest in HMS Galatea was as a result of a short but enjoyable friendship with Signalman William Reynolds of Galatea. (Known to me as Billy Reynolds.)
Hobart arrived in Alexandria, Egypt from Australia on 17 July 1941 to join the 7th CS. HMS Ajax was the squadron flagship with HMS Neptune and HMAS Hobart plus destroyer escorts and Galatea joined the 7th CS when she came to the Med during August of that year.
I first met and went ashore in Alexandria, Egypt on Saturday 4 October 1941 with Billy Reynolds and another telegraphist friend on Hobart, named Henry Hanson. We three had a meal together at a café run by a former Yugoslav national and then went to the Royal theatre to seethe movie 'Waterloo Bridge'. Shore leave expired at 10 PM when we had to be back at number 18 gate to catch our respective liberty boats to return to our ships.
During that first run ashore with Billy Reynolds we discovered that his 18th birthday was going to be towards the end of November. I was then 18 years old and Henry and I decided we would celebrate Billy's 18th by trying to arrange a surprise outing for him.
Our plan was to hire a car, and, as I was the only one who could drive, I located a small garage in Alexandria and arranged to hire their Pontiac coupe. It was left hand drive with a 'dicky' seat at the back. We fixed the day to be Saturday 29 November but we didn't tell Billy Reynolds what we were going to do. Fortunately both of our ships were in Alex harbour that particular week end.
The 29th came around and when we three arrived to collect the car the proprietor's two nieces were present and persuaded us, with their uncle's permission, to take them with us for the outing. They were excellent guides and as a result we did see the sights of Alex including the King's palace. The licence I was supplied with was 'fiddled' with my photograph and a ten piastre note placed inside which I was told would be taken if stopped by the police who would then wave us on! This didn't happen.
One of the car proprietor's nieces was Lucy, about 18 and quite attractive. She exchanged addresses with Henry Hanson and they had maintained a correspondence with each other from 1941 until a couple of years ago.
Henry and I then took Billy to the Yugoslav's café where we had been before, and then to the Rialto cinema to see the film 'Underground'. It was a great outing and as things turned out for Galatea we were pleased we gave our Galatea friend his birthday outing as he was lost just fifteen days later on 14 December.
I spent 1948 in England as a PO Tel Wireless Instructor re-training ex Royal Navy telegraphists to become commissioning crew for our then new carrier 'Sydney' fitting out in Devonport. I have regretted ever since that at that time I didn't make an effort to locate Billy Reynold's family. His parents were probably then still alive.
I am also including a photograph (below) of Galatea taken in the Med when she was wearing the same camouflage paint and pattern as the other cruisers in the squadron.
I also have among my collection a photo of Hobart and Ajax and a night shot of Neptune taken from HMAS Hobart when the 7th Cruiser Squadron, including Galatea, bombarded enemy positions at Tobruk, Bardia, Sollum and Halfaya Pass during our several sorties in November 1941.
A comment I would like to offer regarding the main web site records; I note it refers to Galatea being a member of the 15th Cruiser Squadron. I have no record of a 15th CS during Hobart's time in the Med and I am quite certain we operated as the 7th CS.
I would be pleased to correspond with any relative of Billy Reynolds if an address can be found and in particular, I would be very pleased to have a photograph of him to include with my fairly extensive photographic collection of my time in the RAN. Although now 85 I still have a great interest in naval matters and among my memorabilia have a good many diary notes of dates and events in which my ship's were involved.
Your listing of Galatea's record is