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Messenger for Thames Naval Command

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Roland was no doubt a character, while young in the war he did his best to make the most out of life.

Place and date of birth


Lived in Southend

Connection to Southend 



Roland was born in Rochford hospital on 5th Feb 1929 and lived before the war with his family at 32 West Street, Prittlewell. His mother Gert was a fiery Irish lady with a sharp temper and his father Bert was a mild-mannered hard-working man who owned a newsagents and tobacconists as well as being a master barber. Roland has a younger sister Patsy who suffered from asthmas and was often hospitalised. Roland love to watch Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon at the cinema every Saturday for 2d and then go to Rossi’s for ice cream.

In 1939 Roland was sent to the headmaster of St Mary’s Prittlewell for being naughty in class and received 3 whacks of the cane on his hand – and then 3 the next day. Unfortunately the headmaster, Mr Richinson was a customer at his Dad’s saloon and when his mother found out he got another whacking from her.

Roland did his bit as a boy by helping to build Anderson air raid shelters in the neighbourhood. Roland also went out with his father Bert to look for incendiary bombs twice a month. Roland remembered a friend of his told him that his father had been rescued from Dunkirk and turned up one night wounded having been landed at Southend Pier.

Roland was evacuated to Luton but came back with his mother to visit his father and describes a 10 miles restricted zone around Southend and the town being full of service men. After about 9 months air raids on the factories in Luton that were only ½ mile away from their house mated the family return to Southend.

Roland joined the Sea Cadets and was trained by retired Navy reservists or retirees and used to parade twice a week for 2 hours and ‘woe betide anyone who stepped out of line’. Roland loved it. From the age of 12 Roland served as a messenger for Thames Naval Command in Royal Mews and attended Southend Boy’s High School in Prittlewell Chase.

At one point Roland ‘borrowed’ his father’s car and went for a joyride.

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