Mr James William Luke
A MAN, who twice survived being torpedoed during the Second World War, has died at the age of 90.
James William Luke, who latterly lived at The Limes care home in Bembridge died earlier this month. Born in Battersea, south London, in 1922, Mr Luke left school at 14 to pursue a career in the printing industry in London but he was called up at the outbreak of the war and joined the Royal Navy.
He travelled extensively as a gunner on merchant ships, including Atlantic convoys, surviving unscathed from his first sinking by a German U-boat in the Atlantic Ocean, but he was badly injured following a second U-boat sinking in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Luke sustained a compressive skull fracture but was rescued from the sea by shipmates and spent four days in a lifeboat before being picked up and taken initially to South Africa.
On his return to England, an operation to his skull was performed by a Royal Navy surgeon in Dorset, involving reconstruction using rib bone and muscle tissue from his leg.
His son, also James, said his father’s survival to the age of 90 was testament to the skill of the Royal Navy surgeon, who carried out the pioneering operation.
Although the operation was successful, he was left with headaches, dizziness, partial blindness plus an epilepsy risk, which remained throughout his life.
Because of this he was unable to continue his career in the print industry and in 1948 was employed by the Royal British Legion (RBL) poppy factory in Richmond, where he was mainly involved in the production of royal and regimental badges, leading to him meeting most members of the royal family, including the Queen.
Throughout his married life with his wife, Doris, he enjoyed holidays in Bem-bridge, and he moved to the village in 2010, becoming a member of the local branch of the RBL.
Mrs Luke died in 1984 and Mr Luke is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Sheila.
His funeral will be held at the IW Crematorium on Thursday at 1.30pm.