Ian Milner writes about his early life in the war time Merchant Service and salvage operations after the hostilities had ended.
Descended from a Charge of the Light Brigade survivor and a family of Yorkshire wagon builders, Ian Milner left his Warwickshire grammar school at seventeen to respond to the call of the sea. He signed on as a cadet in the Merchant Service and relished every opportunity for furthering his marine career. But his aspirations for life on the bridge of a Troop Ship were rudely interrupted within some three months of setting off on his first trip, when the ship was sunk by an enemy mine.
Hardly had he had time to re-adjust to the peacetime cargo trade when he was offered the chance to join a salvage vessel as third mate to help to ‘clear up the mess after the war’.
Within two years however the salvage organisation within the East Indies Fleet had been wound up and the ship de-commissioned. This meant a return to normal peace time passenger ship routine at a time when release from wartime austerity was still being vigorously celebrated. Enjoyable though this was, Ian missed the challenge of the early years and decided finally to ‘swallow the anchor’ (leave the sea) and train for a new, entirely land-based occupation in the City of London.