Man Finds Uncle's Lost WW2 Voice Diaries... On Ebay

The family of Robert Terence Grogan have heard his voice for the first time in decades after recordings emerged on eBay.

Robert Terence Grogan used to record his voice onto vinyl (Picture: SWNS).

A man whose uncle died in one of the greatest tragedies of the Second World War has found his voice diaries on eBay.

Robert Terence Grogan, aka Terry, died when HMS Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941.

Only three men out of 1,418 survived when the HMS Hood sank, and many of Mr Grogan's family - including his nephew Peter Jefferson - never met him.

But Mr Grogan used to record his voice onto vinyl using specialist equipment and mail them back to his family in the UK.

He used his own personal equipment that he transported with him wherever he went.

Thanks to his countless recordings, the Royal Navy sailor's voice would be regularly heard around the family home even after his death.

HMS Hood
A photo of HMS Hood taken in 1924 (Picture: Allan C. Green/Adam Cuerden).

His nephew, then just 10, would gather round with his family and listen to the records, but over time the cherished recordings became lost.

The now-73-year-old was amazed to be able to hear his uncle's messages again for the first time in decades after an historian noticed the rare pressings on sale for £20 on eBay.

Mr Jefferson, a former radio announcer for BBC Radio Four and the voice of the shipping forecast for many years, said:

"He was all over the place, India, the Middle East - wherever the ship was at the time. They were recorded over a number of years.

"Where we would send an email, people at that time would write letters but he didn't - he recorded his letters.

"He would record what he was doing, what he was seeing, and what he was missing back home."

Mr Grogan served on many ships during his naval career, including HMS Emerald between 1934 and 1936, where several of his recordings were made (Picture: SWNS).

Over the years, the records got lost or were thrown out. 

Mr Jefferson always wondered what happened to them, until an historian heard him mention his uncle Terry during an interview.

Dr Harry Bennett, 51, associate professor of History at Devon's Plymouth University, said: "If Peter hadn't been so interested in his uncle I wouldn't have found him.

"I bought them on eBay for £20. They were listed as some recordings on HMS Emerald and I thought I would take a punt.

"It could have been the ship's cat howling for all I knew but I thought, 'you never know' - you have to try your luck.

"I was surprised, I didn't know what I was expecting but it wasn't that.

"They don't really explain anything. He had a signature opening, it was three whistles and that's how he would open each recording.

"It was basically just a letter, with what he's done and what he's been up to.

"I was trying to research who Terry Grogan was and happened on an interview with Peter when he said Terry was his uncle, and that was that really.

"I was delighted to be able to say to Peter that I had those records - it was very good."

Mr Jefferson made an emotional visit to the National Museum of the Royal Navy where the vinyl is now being archived (Picture: SWNS).

Once Dr Bennett was certain he had found the sailor's descendant, he set about contacting Mr Jefferson and arranged to donate the records to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

He added: "These things are important and deserve to be preserved for the nation and the museum has the skills to preserve them.

"I want these to be available for the public to hear them, they're not just Peter's story but also the story of the Royal Navy.

"It was definitely worthwhile. Where they've been for the past 50 years no one knows."

Mr Jefferson found the vinyls around the house when he was a child (Picture: SWNS).

Before the records entered the museum's exhibit, Dr Bennett arranged for Peter to have a private viewing.

Mr Jefferson said: "I went down to Portsmouth and went to the attic of the museum and they paid them to me.

"It was a shock, I was amazed as you can imagine.

"Harry has kindly transferred them to a memory stick for me, I'm looking forward to listening to them, I haven't heard them for many decades."

"It's rather nostalgic really, for all I knew they were in a landfill somewhere."