National Museum of the Royal Navy launches appeal for lost stories from Royal Navy colonial forces

Royal Indian Navy © Imperial War Museum (A 3309)

 

An appeal for untold stories of the Royal Navy’s colonial forces has been launched by the National Museum of the Royal Navy for a new major exhibition, HMS – Hear My Story which is due to open in Spring 2014 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

One of the rare stories that has already been discovered is that of Leading Seaman Mohammed Rahim who was awarded the Distinguished Services Medal (DSM) for Bravery during WW2 for risking his life to save a wounded seaman in a night time secret operations raid.

Leading Seaman Mohammed Rahim received his DSM ‘for gallantry going to the rescue of a wounded seaman, regardless of heavy fire’. He received serious wounds on February 10th 1944, when at night, he was steering a small motor launch from Chittagong (in modern day Bangladesh) down the coast of Burma to pick up a Secret Operations Executive agent. In a close quarters encounter with Japanese forces he was wounded and strongly recommended for an award. Three other Indian crew men were also injured and one died, but received no official recognition.

Matthew Sheldon, HMS Project Director at the National Museum of the Royal Navy said, “The Royal Indian Navy existed from 1934 – 1950. At its height 28,000 men served, usually in unglamorous small ships. They suffered over 1000 casualties with many others wounded. However, very little has been recorded about the lives and contributions of these and other colonial forces of the Royal Navy.”

Mohammed Rahim was the recipient of one of the only 23 DSMs awarded to Royal Indian Navy personnel during World War Two, all for operations off Burma 1942-45.

“Our new exhibition HMS will tell the undiscovered stories from the ordinary men, women and ships which have made the Navy‘s amazing history over the last 100 years. This story will not be complete without knowing more about the naval volunteer forces from the Caribbean to the Straits of Singapore. “

The medal will be going on temporary display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from Sunday 10th February (to mark the anniversary date) to Sunday 24th February, incorporating February half-term.

The National Museum of the Royal would also like to hear from anyone who can help with the missing stories of the Royal Navy’s colonial forces. For more information on HMS, contact the Museum on 02392 727595 or email community@nmrn.org.uk.

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands