John Distin – Well known Dartmothian who talks about his life as a man & boy

John Distin – Well known Dartmothian who talks about his life as a man & boy
Social History       Audio Memories       John Distin        20thC
Category Descriptions
Social History:Audio memories, historic events and important people, and family and everyday life in Dartmouth over the centuries.
Audio Memories:Oral History collection: recordings of interviews with local residents (audio files (.mp3)) covering their memories of life and work, also major events particularly the Second World War.
John Distin:Well known Dartmothian who talks about his life and work on the river and in the harbour.
DHRG No:102654
Format:Audio File (.mp3)
Family came to Dartmouth in 1924 from Salcombe, father was working in the wreck of the Broadmayne as part of a syndicate which included a builder named Partridge. Later he worked as a fisherman & river pilot, taught himself to dive for salvage, found a cargo of marble & salvaged a yacht belonging to actor Seymour Hicks. Became diver engineer for Harbour Authority.
Went to school in Dartmouth, left at the age of 14. Started crab fishing with a man named Cramp during the early years of WWII. Joined Sea Cadets, volunteered for duty on a ship at 2s 6d a day. Joined water boat on the river supplying navy ships, river water desalinated.
Boat sent to Antwerp, caught in bad weather in Portland Race, became Skipper when Bosun jumped ship. Alan Percy from Dartmouth became Mate. Stayed with boat until end of war.
Returned to Dartmouth & fishing until called up for Army Service with Royal Engineers. Took part in the evacuation of Palestine. On de-mob returned to crab fishing with Jack Bell, hit by a plague of Octopus.
Started contracting work on the river – checking moorings, passenger trips, 1st Tall Ships race, ferry to Noss ship yard. Port always busy with lots to do. Bought redundant navy craft and burnt them to salvage copper rivets & fittings etc.
Became deputy pilot to Dave Griffiths and later qualified as a pilot for naval boats. Oil Tankers for Naval College, Timber Ships to Totnes Russian Fish Transfer boats.
Served as Skipper on a dredger called Penurgic for Philip & Son for 5 Years dredging area for yacht marina.