THIS LETTER WAS SENT IN BY SALLY SAUNDERS
ADMIRAL PLACE'S WREN DRIVER

Dear Alf,

Here are some brief details of my time with the Admiral during my draft in London.

March 1968 I was given a loan draft to London as Admiral Driver.

I was stationed at HMS President.

Admiral Place had just been drafted ACR Rear Admiral in charge of Recruitment and Reserves in London.

His base was in the Old Admiralty Building. He also had a flag ship on the Thames which was HMS Discovery the ship of Scott the explorer. He often entertained on board and Discovery was the name of my cap tally and I was the only wren to wear it.

Also the reserves ships in London were moored next to Discovery but I donít think any of them are there anymore.

When I met the Admiral the first thing that struck me was how short he was. He must have been about 5í 6"

Originally the Admiral wanted to get rid of the Wren Driver and have a marine driver but after driving him for couple of months he must have liked me because I was made permanent driver to him was with him for two years. I think the turning point was when two days after meeting him he was late to a meeting of the Master Mariners ( he was a Master Mariner) on one of the liners in Southampton and we ended up flying down this duel carriageway doing something like 80 miles an hour while he was in the back changing into his uniform.

His job entailed doing many inspections of Recruiting offices and the Reserve forces all over the country and it was my job to get him there in one piece and at the right time.

We really got on well and on long trips he would often share the driving. Also as a Rear Admiral he was entitled to fly a flag on the Humber Hawk and show his stars but he always asked me to cover them up much to the surprise of his staff. It was quite funny really they would be panicking for me to get the flag on and he would come behind and tell me to take it down. We were a team!!

Each year the Reserves would go abroad to have Exercise in their Minesweepers and in 1969 they went to Gibraltar and the Admiral arranged it for me to go as well as his Driver which was great as Wren Driver didnít get to go abroad.

I think the most memorable event that happened whilst I was driving the Admiral apart from seeing Royalty and well known persons was the time in 1968 there was a big re-union of the VCís and GCís and the Admiral gave me and his car to the then Chairman Sir John Smyth. We had lunch at the Chelsea barracks where I was sat at a table with men from the Ghurkha regiment and after this all the VCís and GCís and their familyís got into coaches and I led the procession through London for the reception at Buckingham Palace with the Queen.

Each year the Reserves would go abroad to have Exercise in their Minesweepers and in 1969 they went to Gibraltar and the Admiral arranged it for me to go as well as his Driver which was great as Wren Driver didnít get to go abroad.I think the most memorable event that happened whilst I was driving the Admiral apart from seeing Royalty and well known persons was the time in 1968 there was a big re-union of the VCís and GCís and the Admiral gave me and his car to the then Chairman Sir John Smyth. We had lunch at the Chelsea barracks where I was sat at a table with men from the Ghurkha regiment and after this all the VCís and GCís and their familyís got into coaches and I led the procession through London for the reception at Buckingham Palace with the Queen.

As you can imagine this was a very exciting day for me as I actually went into the palace for tea (downstairs with all the coach drivers I might add). Afterwards Sir John Smyth thanked me and presented me with a book "The story of the George Cross" which he had signed for me and I have still got.

The admiral always involved me with his family and I often stayed at his home in Corton Denham, Somerset when we had been doing inspection in the West Country. I did meet all of his children briefly but the youngest one, Melanie, was still at school in Somerset, so she was the one I saw the most. Andrea was the eldest and Iím not sure what she did, but I believe his son Charles went on to become a Social Worker. Mrs Place was a lovely lady, very tall, who always made me feel comfortable in her presence, and whenever it was my birthday she always went out of her way to make me some homemade sweets. The point, which was so pleasing was that, they bothered.

There home in London was at Bishops Park Road, Hamersmith.

I left his service in March 1970 and went onto HMS Brawdy and I believe he left the Navy in July 1970 and went on to work for Cunard the shipping line.

I think thatís about it really. I have got a photo of him which I will try to send to you.

Regards

Sally

      Admiral Basil Godfrey Place VC