First Hand Account

  • Author: admin
  • Date: Wednesday 6th October 2010
First Hand Account First Hand Account First Hand Account

The history of Britannia Royal College and the training of Officers in the Royal Navy is well recorded including the evacuation of Cadets to Eton Hall in Cheshire following the Luftwaffe bombing raid of September 1942. There are however, some gaps in the knowledge particularly for the period when BRNC served as the United States Navy Headquarters from December 1943 in the run up to the D-Day landings.

In early September Dr Jane Harrold, College Archivist, had the opportunity to spend and afternoon in the company of former Third Bosun’s Mate Joseph Letizia who is originally from the Bronx, New York but now living in Connecticut. Joseph had joined BRNC a few weeks short of his 18th birthday in January 1944 and was part of the third wave onto Utah beach that June in charge of a 50-foot LCM.

“Joseph is an amazing gentleman whose vivid recollections of his time spent in the College have certainly helped in painting the picture of life here during that time. As we recorded our conversations during his time here we have something to actively archive.”

His visit to the College had been arranged by Mrs Roberta McCarthy, the VT Flagship College Tours administrator. “Joseph’s first observation when he arrived was actually how many more trees there were in the grounds,” she said. “There were obvious moments of very personal reflection but it was fun to hear him speak of the wonderful jelly tarts and apple turnovers from a local bakery he used to enjoy, particularly if he missed breakfast. He certainly had a soft spot for the WRNS personnel billeted in Dartmouth too.”

Joseph met the Commander of BRNC, Commander Andy Hancock during his visit. He said “Everyone has made me so welcome and that is how I remember Dartmouth in 1944 and it was such a privilege to be here both then and now. The College doesn’t appear to have physically changed that much but the town seems so much bigger now

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