Nostalgia: Tragic Stan's spare jacket becomes a poignant museum piece

When Stan Potter departed for his final, fatal voyage during the Second World War, he left behind his spare uniform jacket with his family to be cleaned.

Stan Potter died when his small vessel foundered in the North Atlantic
Stan Potter died when his small vessel foundered in the North Atlantic

He died at the age of 29 on January 14, 1944, when the small rescue vessel he was commanding on the North Atlantic convoys foundered in bad weather.

And now, more than 75 years later, his nephew Allan Potter of Telford has donated his uncle's jacket, and other poignant mementoes, to the Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool where they will go on display.

Allan, from Muxton, says he had been looking into the wartime naval career of Stan, his father's younger brother.

"My research led me to contact the Western Approaches Museum – which is basically what was the original 'command and control centre' for the wartime Atlantic convoy fleets," he said.

Atlantic convoys were lucky if they enjoyed tranquil weather like this

"I mentioned to them that I had my uncle's spare uniform jacket which he had left with us for cleaning before he returned on his final fatal voyage.

"I, as an infant at the time, can just remember him saying goodbye for the last time, standing by our front door in his uniform.

"He was unmarried and his registered address was our family home in Grimsby.

"The museum staff asked if I would be willing to donate the jacket on long-term loan for display, which I was pleased to do together with his medals, photo and various documents, rather than just leave them hidden in a cupboard where they had been for the past 75 years or so."

Allan and some family members were invited to take the items to the museum, and the staff gave them a personally conducted tour.

Stanley Wilfred Potter, who was born in Plymouth, was a Merchant Marine Master Mariner and Royal Navy reservist who was given a temporary commission in the Royal Navy.

'he died from effects of exposure'

He originally commanded the rescue vessel Attentif, and was then transferred to the rescue tug Adherent, based at HMS Avalon in Halifax, Newfoundland.

Allan says according to rumour the rivets holding the plates at the stern of Adherent failed.

"My uncle's body was eventually rescued but he died from the effects of exposure," he added.

While Allan was at the museum another local link became apparent.

"During our tour, staff member Olivia showed us the work station during the war of the author Edith Pargeter and asked if we had ever heard of her.

"You can imagine her surprise when my wife Maureen said not only had she read all of her books but we also knew her as she lived locally, and in my case she had been a friend of my mother."

Ms Pargeter, probably now best remembered for writing the Brother Cadfael books under the name Ellis Peters, hailed originally from Horsehay and ultimately lived in Madeley.

During the war she had served in the Wrens.

Edith Pargeter served in the wartime Wrens

"It was quite a surprise for us to hear about Edith Pargeter's wartime work in Liverpool," Allan added.

"I believe she was quite friendly with my parents, Eddy and Lilian Potter.

"I have just been told by my sister Margaret Constantin Edith used to visit our home in Portley Road, Dawley, in the 1950s and read poetry to her while she was confined to bed for several months with a severe childhood illness.

"I wonder if my parents ever mentioned to Edith about my uncle's involvement with the Atlantic convoys.

"I feel sure she must have worked there at the time of his final voyage, but I think people who served during the war often kept quiet about it, having of course signed the Official Secrets Act.

"The museum have said they will arrange a display of his uniform together with information they are able to research, with his Master's Certificate, and his medals, which does also include both an Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem for service on the Russian Arctic convoys.

"Over the coming months they will invite us all again – that includes my daughter Alex, my grandson Sam and my eight-year-old great granddaughter Poppy – to see the final display."

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