Memoirs of Gerry Daniels
Born: 27th September 1922
Date of Interview: 22nd June 2014
Length of Interview: 55 Minutes
Interviewer: Sadaf Rasheed
CLICK HERE to listen on a mobile device.
Gerry Daniels’ easy going approach to life has ensured he has enjoyed himself no matter what life has thrown at him. Listen to his authentic experiences as a medalled World War II Naval Signalman. A word of warning – it might make you cringe!
Detailed summary (with time stamping for ease of access)
Where I was born and
0:00:31.4: It was lovely growing up in Ceylon.
0:00:51.8: My house in Anuradhapura and Kandy.
0:01:25.3: I moved to Colombo.
0:02:09.6: Memories as a childhood and my siblings and cousins.
0:02:33.0: We lived in a mixed community where everyone got on.
0:02:48.8: St Peters College.
0:03:30.2: Funny story about a priest.
0:04:25.8: I was baptised an Anglican but followed Catholic religion.
0:05:05.6: Religion was very important in my life from the age of 14.
0:05:48.5: I had a bicycle when I was a 12.
0:06:14.4: For Christmas we always had new suits.
0:06:43.1: The church services were all conducted in Latin.
0:07:09.7: Most exciting memories in the Navy.
0:08:31.8: My first day’s training in the Navy and the Japanese bombing.
0:09:51.8: The atmosphere of the bombing in 1942. Everyone wanted to leave Colombo.
0:10:22.3: The reasons I left Ceylon in 1964 and why I chose UK.
0:11:12.9: I came to London by aeroplane and my family came by ship.
0:11:49.5: First impressions of London.
0:12:10.5: I stayed in Maida Vale when I first arrived in London.
0:13:41.9: I got a job in British Rail after two days of being here.
0:14:04.8: My friend found my family and I a place to stay.
0:14:18.6: There was a big Burgher community in London.
0:15:07.0: My wife was a teacher in Ceylon and applied for a teacher job in London.
0:15:32.0: I left my brothers and parents behind.
0:15:55.9: The adjustments I had to make in London.
0:17:09.5: I bought a shotgun when I came here and go clay pigeon shooting.
0:17:15.5: What I missed most about Ceylon, my house in Mount Lavinia and things we grew.
0:17:59.6: Education was good in London for my children.
0:19:08.4: My job in the Railway.
0:19:19.7: Cultural differences and food.
0:19:47.0: Burghers had an open door policy to everyone.
0:19:52.4: Children don’t enjoy their childhood now as much as we did then in Ceylon.
0:20:21.2: I met other Burghers in London at parties.
0:21:12.9: 4 year ago I got invited back to Sri Lanka by St Peter’s college. There were only three of us alive who played rugby for the college. A limousine came to pick me up. They flew me business class to Colombo.
0:21:04.1: St Peters College Old Boys Association where I used to arrange reunion parties.
0:21:55.5: How I felt when I went back to Ceylon.
0:22:38.6: Baila music reminds me of Ceylon.
0:23:35.9: When I came to London I faced no discrimination which I think was to do with my attitude.
0:24:07.5: I know some people who faced discrimination.
0:24:23.5: I cut off my ties to Ceylon when I came to London.
0:25:03.6: I go back every year in the winter and where I stay in Ceylon.
0:27:36.0: I have my genealogy charted. My ancestors are from Holland.
0:28:57.5: I couldn’t retire in Ceylon. But I like to holiday there.
0:29:13.7: I love London. I entertain with friends and cook curry for them.
0:30:00.7: London has changed a lot since the 60s there are more people and life is more hectic.
0:30:26.2: I go fishing once a month in the summer but now my back hurts so can’t do it anymore.
World War II Stories
The Japanese bombing
in Ceylon and my involvement.
0:35:43.5: My experience in the Maldives and rescuing survivors of ships that had been torpedoed.
0:37:25.1: I was on the ship for 3 years and it was an exciting time.
0:38:28.0: My time in Trincomalee. Bringing a torpedoed ship back to harbour. Rescuing a corpse in the water.
0:40:15.7: I was awarded the Burma Star and Defence Medals.
0:41:14.1: What I did to be awarded the Burma Star.
0:41:43.6: I volunteered to join the Navy.
0:43:14.9: My girlfriend who then became my wife.
0:44:42.0: How Ceylon was affected by the war.
0:45:52.6: My experiences on a minesweeper.
0:47:29.7: Some of the duties in the Navy and the collapsing ship HMS Oxa.
0:50:30.6: Jellyfish clogging our ship motor and the volunteer sailor who was scarred from the jellyfish.
0:51:39.3: My wife and our travelling and cruises.
0:53:03.7: My favourite hobby fishing and gun club.
0:53:55.2: Excursions out organised by my British Rail employers.