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Page updated - 24 August 2010


Len Fisher


Len Fisher was born in Ipswich ninety years ago, one of a family of six, four brothers and two sisters. He came to live in Great Cornard aged 15 years in 1936.


Len joined the Navy aged 17 in 1937 as a Sub-Mariner (definitely a special breed of men) in 4th Submarine Flotilla. After he finished his training he was sent to China in 1938, from there he was sent to the Mediterranean on board HMS Medway – a Command ship with 17 submarines aboard – based in Alexandria. Stationed in Malta till 1941 Len had, by this time, become a Leading Torpedo Man and he and his crew brought the submarine HMS Taku back to England as part of their duties.


Living aboard a submarine with fifty men in total is not very comfortable Len says, washing facilities in those days were very basic – a bucket shared between several men.  Peeling potatoes for fifty in a limited space is equally difficult. As a result of handling a lot of diesel fuel Len contracted industrial dermatitis and was transferred to destroyers.


In 1942 he was aboard HMS Grove during the invasion of North Africa, this boat was subsequently sunk, also in 1942 Len was aboard HMS Blean when it was sunk by two torpedoes. During 1942 HMS Medway, Len’s old ship, was torpedoed and sunk on the way to Beirut. For his war service Len received – Atlantic Star and Bar, North Africa Star and Bar, Italian Star, France and Germany Star and 1945 Campaign Medal – quite some record.  In 1945 when the war ended Len was sent to Malta to assist in the de-commissioning of between 50 & 60 U-boats, the one that had sunk HMS Medway amongst them.


Demobbed in 1946 Len having signed on for 12 years service was ‘on reserve’ in case of hostilities, luckily however, he was home to stay. Len and Iris married in 1949, they had a son and daughter who both live locally. Once married the new Mr & Mrs Fisher were allocated accommodation at Acton Camp, which had been an American Bomber base, this was because Len was an ex-serviceman. Eventually they were re-housed in Pot Kiln Road where they remain to this day.


By this time Len had followed his father onto the Railway, Mr Fisher Senior was an engine driver. Len went into the Locomotive Shed at Sudbury Station as an engineer but after a short time transferred to the Traffic Department, however, he did not stay there long as he did not enjoy the work. Having trained as an electrician in the Navy he went to Whitlocks Engineering Co. at Yeldham where they made Dinkum Diggers.


About this time he became a founder member of the Great Cornard Labour Party and they passed a resolution to be sent to Labour Conference requesting the Prime Minister Clement Atlee and Minister Aneurin Bevan go to China to try to improve relations with the West. This resolution was passed and the National Press came to Cornard to interview local members.


Len and his wife have always been Steam train enthusiasts, in fact Mrs Fisher is Secretary of the ‘Flying Scotsman Association’ in York. Len has helped Robert Baker with the steam-boat ‘Firebird’ that operates from The Granary in Sudbury during the summer months. He has also built one mile of track at Bakers Mill, plus turn-tables, three passenger cars and an engine shed. One model of the engine ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was at Bressingham for several years, this is the locomotive recently featured in the local news where the railway line was opened across the main road at Sheringham.


Len’s official working life concluded as a television engineer, however, he then turned his attention to help to rebuild and overhaul several locomotives from the Finnish Railway which operates between Helsinski and St. Petersburg. Len has a workshop in his garden where he has built three locomotives – in fact this man never knows when to stop as he is Welfare Officer to the Royal Naval Association in Sudbury and a member of the Sub-Mariners Association in Colchester as well.


Not only has Len Fisher served his country with honour he will leave a great heritage of wonderful engineering to pass on to future generations.


Doris Rowland – Cornard News (Cornard News) – 08 August 2010