This is a remarkable story about a remarkable man. Gerald Quastel aged 92 ran away to sign up with the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He enlisted to do his bit at the start of WW2 and went through the whole shooting match and beyond.
You meet the most interesting people in our local Waitrose Cafe where we gather for a free coffee and read the papers!
As if by divine intervention I sat down and started talking to him. Within minutes he was telling me all about his war service.
His story was incredibly interesting so much so that I started to take notes down on a napkin.
He was assigned to a number of famous ships the Light Cruiser HMS Orion, the Escort Carrier HMS Ameer, and finally the minesweeper HMS Antares (J282).
He then told me of a hair raising voyage to return the minesweeper HMS Antares back to the American Navy in Norfolk, Virginia after the end of the war.
HMS Mutine, Algerine Class Minesweeper same as HMS Antares.
He was on duty in the wheelhouse during a violent storm force 11 and really thought it would go down. He survived but never forgot the experience. He also then made friends with an American serviceman that came from Brooklyn, NY. They corresponded for many years after well into old age.
My subconscious started to fit the pieces together. The USS Monitor had gone down in a similar position close to theirs on dark stormy night on New Year's Eve 1862. It had fought off Hampton Roads near Norfolk, Virginia and it was constructed at Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York.
I then looked up HMS Ameer as being a large flat top carrier it was a lot like the floating "Cheesebox on a Shingle" Monitor. The worlds first ironclad with a rotating turret.
I then took another look at the crew lists and photos of the USS Monitor crew.
Especially those that drown. I figured that he had relived the experience and this time survived.
I soon got a match!
Could this young man with the ships cat be Gerald in a previous existence?
I showed him the evidence and his first comment was, "I do like cats!"
He puzzled over the picture but had no memory of the event. He was however very interested in the Quantum Physics explanation for how this might work.
On seeing the above picture of the recovery of the turret of the USS Monitor he related the story of how he was firing a Bofors Gun and shot down a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft that was heading straight for the carrier Ameer.
A twin 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun; such weapons were mounted on HMS Tracker.
The mount does look a lot like the USS Monitor turret without the armour!
The jury is out until more evidence is found but it is a very interesting set of coincidences none the less!