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THE UNTOLD: Ex-broadcaster Joe Lartey reveals his chilling WWII survival story

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Tue, 26 Nov 2019 Source:

In the final stages of the second world war, a young 16-year-old boy, who was a student of Accra Academy, run away from home to Takoradi to join the British Navy.

Before then, Joachim Awuley Lartey had been following events at home by listening to the war speeches of the then British Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, on radio and read about the war from some magazines.

Joe Lartey who was recruited into the supplies division of the Navy, says together with other young people who joined, he was sent to the King Tom barracks at Freetown, Sierra Leone for training.

“We trained for six months in the ways of the navy – how to swim, what to do when there’s trouble on ship.”

Supply Rating Officer Joe Lartey's Military number was TN549.

After the training, the young men were sent to a bigger barracks, Royal Naval Base Kisi, where they waited to be drafted to serve on a ship.

“…Sometimes you’ll be attending a cinema show then they will give out an announcement and when the announcement comes, you’ll hear your name immediately you’ll fall out. You go and get your kit bag then you report to the regulating office, then they’ll process all your things, you’ll go for medical check-up and then you’ll go to sea,” he stated.

The duty of the warships was to escort merchant ships to their destination to ensure enemy ships do not torpedo them.

Joe Lartey tells the story of how one of the ships he served on in 1945 was sunk by enemies while he was in the bathroom. He noticed the bathroom had tilted and things started dropping from their storage shelves.

Amidst the confusion to get to safety, many lifeboats were overloaded and ran the risk of sinking.

The 93-year-old recounts witnessing the true meaning of the phrase ‘the survival of the fittest’.

“Somebody was trying to get into our boat, we were loaded, and this guy was holding the side of the boat and was trying to get on board. There was a South African white man on board… this guy took an axe and hacked the hands of the man who was trying to get in and you could see the blood in the night… just to save those of us who were in the board,” he narrated.

Joe Lartey tells the full story on the November edition of ‘The Untold’ on GhanaWeb TV.