The Naval Career of Signalman
William Alfred 'Wat' Tyler.

Signalman - JX225358 - Chatham Port Division - Royal Navy 1940 to 1945

  Early in 2019 ex-Wren Radio Operator Ruth Hutchings posted on Facebook that she had a friend whose father was a signalman on Russian convoys and wanted to know if there was a suitable museum in Norfolk that might be interested in his papers, documents and mementoes. Ex WO(CY) Dave Morris (Marshland Maritime Museum), contacted Ruth and invited her and her friend to visit the Marshland Maritime Museum. Ruth and her friend Bob visited the museum and Bob brought with him a suitcase that belonged to his father Signalman 'Wat' Tyler. The suitcase was an Aladdin's cave of mementoes, documents, giz-its as well as parts of 'Wat's' uniform. There were a number of duplicate items and although 'Wat' had never served in Mercury, Bob agreed that these could be donated to the Communications Branch Museum/Library. The full contents of the suitcase are on display in the Marshlands Maritime Museum and this webpage contains photos of all the contents of the suitcase and where indicated those items which are now in the Communications Branch Museum/Library.

1939-45 Star

Atlantic Star

Defence Medal

1939-1945 War Medal

Arctic Star

Russian Convoy 50th Anniversary

  The medals - 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Defence Medal, 1939-1945 War Medal, Arctic Star and the Russian Convoy 50th Anniversary medal. The first four medals and their ribbons were part of the contents of the suitcase but were unmounted and are not engraved. Dave Morris has mounted the medals for display. Bob applied on behalf of his father for the Arctic Star but for whatever reason it did not arrive and therefore Dave has added it for completion. The last medal (Russian Convoy Anniversary medal) was issued to 'Wat' in 1995. All medals are on display in the Marshland Maritime Museum.

Wat's tunic with silk and displaying branch badge and 1st GCB

One of two Blue Jean Collars found in Wat's suitcase. (on display in the Communications Museum


Spare branch badge and GCB
(on display in the Communications Branch Museum)

Wat's Naval Service

Various Service Documents

A poem co written by Wat.

Northern Light magazine

(on display in the Communications Branch Museum)

A photo from the
Marshland Maritime Museum of the table displaying the plethora of documents contained in Wat Tyler's suitcase.

Authentic war Union Flag (Jack). However, there is no indication as to where or when it was flown/displayed.

Red Navy Man - Literary and Artistic Journal of the main principal of the RKVMF (The Workers and Farmers Military Fleet).
(on display in the Communications Museum).

Dated 1st November, Wednesday, Region 260. Newspaper Title - Daily Red Fleet - Northern Fleet. Heading - Red Navy men and Officers of the Navy! Stronger blows to the enemy's sea communications! Sink the ship and the transports of the oppressor! Clear the seas of Nazi open space from the unseemly! Take care of Hitler's invaders on lad! Yes Soviet military marinrs! .....
(on display in the Communications Museum).

Soviet World War II 100 ruble military war loan/war bond (with profits/interest certificate. Push for Victory - valid 1943 to 1963

Pass for Taffy and Wat to visit Pearty (adjoining Mishukov)

Various Russian stamps collected by Wat

3 Ruble note - first issued 1938
(on display Communications Museum)

A souvenir from Russia
(on display Communications Museum)

The Northern Fleet (Северный флот) cap tally. The Northern Fleet is the fleet of the Russian Navy in the Arctic Ocean. By June 1941, the fleet included 8 destroyers, 15 submarines, 2 torpedo boats, 7 patrol boats, 2 minesweepers, and 116 airplanes. During the German-Soviet War of 1941 to 1945, the Northern Fleet defended the coastlines of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas, secured internal and external transportation routes, and provided support to the maritime flank of the 14th Army. Naval Infantry and up to 10,000 Northern Fleet personnel participated in land warfare causing tens of thousands of Nazi casualties fighting during the Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad and North Caucasus campaigns.

HMS Wildfire (shore establishment 1889) was a shore establishment established at Sheerness in 1889. It closed in 1933 but re-opened in 1937. It was paid off in 1950. A number of ships were renaed HMS Wildfire whilst serving as base and depot ships for the establishment HMS Cornwallis was HMS Wildfire between 1916 and 1957.

HMS Impregnable (1935 training establishment) was a training establishment for 'hostilities only' communications ratings at Plyouth between 1935 and 1947. After decommissioning HMS Impregnable was reopened soon after, remaining in commission until 1948.

RN Signal Office with British Destroyers
berthed in Polyarnoe Naval Base
(Courtesy of IWM)

Ice in Kola Inlet
(Courtesy of IWM)

The last four photos were in Wat's suitcase. Sadly it is not known who these groups or individuals were.
Wat's son Bob, couldn't identify Wat in any of them.

Wat, Kirkwall 1942

Wat's wedding photo

Newspaper cuttings of Wat's wedding

On Sunday 14th July 2019 Marshland Maritime Museum held a public unveiling ceremony of the contents of Wat Tylers suitcase. The unveiling was performed by Bob Tyler (son of Wat), Ruth Hutchings (ex WRNS) and Mike and Jo Smith (owners of Marshland Maritime Museum). Bob Tyler brought along a hand made box, probably Wat's 'tickler' box, with a simply scratched soviet design on the lid. It contained a tube that Wat used to roll his cigarettes. Below are a selection of photos taken at the event.