A Navy veteran has shared his memories of surviving kamikaze attacks and sniper fire to make it through to the end of the Second World War and celebrate the first Victory in Japan (VJ) Day.

Alfie “Fred” Lee, 95, now living in Odiham, signed up as a 17-year-old, ending up on the HMS Nith, a river class frigate.

He witnessed the action at D-Day in 1944, as his ship ferried troops and served as a base for senior officers.

Having only ever caught the ferry to the Isle of Wight before, he learned to combat sea sickness in the Irish Sea and cope with life working as a “stoker” in the ship’s boiler room.

The Nith travelled to India, helping to move troops, where Mr Lee bumped into his brother.

The pair had not realised they were both at D-Day, having last been together a year before when Mr Lee was best man at his brother’s wedding.

On the day the Japanese surrendered, the Nith was heading to Rangoon where it still encountered resistance in the form of sniper fire.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Mr Lee told PA: “I didn’t realise what it was, all I could hear on the side of the ship was ‘ping, ping, ping’ and I said to somebody ‘what’s that?’ and they said ‘get your head down the Japs are up there firing at us’. They were up in the cranes.”

Nevertheless the crew were able to celebrate the end of the war at sea over “two bottles of beer a piece”.

“That’s more than we did VE Day, we never celebrated anything VE Day,” Mr Lee said, “We were still too busy.”

After spending 13 months at sea, he returned to a cold and foggy England in March 1946.

“There was nobody there to say hello or anything, you just parked the ship up and that was it,” Mr Lee said.

Thankfully his two brothers in the Navy and one in the paratroopers all returned from the war.

At the time of the interview, Mr Lee was uncertain if he would be marking VJ Day on Saturday locally due to the restrictions placed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Lee said: “I can never really forget those that died aboard us.”