Man hears voice of uncle killed in Second World War after lost recordings found on eBay

'It was a shock – I was amazed, as you can imagine,' says nephew of war hero

Adam Forrest
Monday 17 September 2018 17:37 BST
Man hears voice of uncle killed in military disaster after lost recordings found on eBay

The nephew of a naval officer who died during one of the great battles of the Second World War has been able to hear his uncle’s voice again after recordings made on British ships turned up on eBay.

Robert Terence Grogan - better known as Terry Grogan – died alongside 1,415 other men when their ship was sunk by the Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941.

But in the years before the war, the Royal Navy man recorded his voice onto vinyl using specialist equipment and posted the messages home.

His nephew Peter Jefferson, 73, was amazed to discover the existence of the unique recordings after a historian found the rare pressings on sale for £20 on the online auction site.

Dr Harry Bennett, associate professor of history at Plymouth University, said: “I bought them on eBay for £20. They were listed as some recordings on HMS Emerald and I thought I would take a punt.”

Mr Jefferson – a former BBC radio announcer and the voice of Radio 4’s shipping forecast for many years – said his uncle’s recordings had been lost by the family over the decades.

Most of them were thrown out by his mother – the naval man’s half-sister.

But the former BBC presenter was able to listen to them again during an emotional visit to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, where the vinyl is now being archived.

Peter Jefferson was able to hear the voice of his uncle Terry Grogan
Peter Jefferson was able to hear the voice of his uncle Terry Grogan (Tony Kershaw/SWNS)

“It was a shock – I was amazed, as you can imagine,” said Mr Jefferson.

“Where we would send an email, people at that time would write letters but he didn’t – he recorded his letters. He would record what he was doing, what he was seeing, and what he was missing back home.

“It was all before the war, he couldn't have made it through the war because he would have been thrown in the irons I should have thought, for treason,” Mr Jefferson added.

“It was his diary really.”

Terry Grogan recorded the messages using personal equipment he transported with him wherever he went. Some were made while he was in India and the Middle East in the 1930s.

In one recording he can be heard talking about the “abominable” heat and playing tennis.

The historian Dr Bennett donated Mr Grogan’s vinyl collection to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, but arranged for a private listening session for the sailor’s nephew.

Dr Bennett has also digitally transferred the precious messages onto a memory stick for Mr Jefferson.


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