Lt Cde Michael Loy de Villiers Hart, RN

On Remembrance Sunday I remembered by my uncle, Lieutenant Commander Michael Loy de Villiers Hart, who served in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War.

It is easy to forget that between June 1940 (the capitulation of France) and June 1941 (when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union) Britain and its Empire stood alone against the German, Italian and Japanese. Their only allies were small numbers of Belgian and French colonial troops, and the Ethiopian fighters who refused to accept Italian occupation.

The Soviet Union and the fascists were allies and these were long, lonely months.

The United States only entered the war after it was attacked at Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941.

My uncle was by no means exceptional. My mother was also served in the Royal Navy and plotted D Day from tunnels in Dover.

They – like millions of others – did their duty.

My uncle was ridiculously brave. He lost three destroyers, blown up or torpedoed under him, as well as having his big toe amputated after a landing craft crushed it during D Day. He was and awarded a string of medals: the Atlantic, Africa, Burma and Italy Stars; War Medal (all privately engraved M.L. de V. Hart), Naval General Service Medal, 2 clasps, Cyprus, Near East.