THE first British serviceman to fire on the Japanese during the Second World War has died aged 90.

Jim Mariner was just 21 and part of a skeleton crew planning to scuttle the gunboat HMS Peterel when he opened fire on the enemy in Shanghai harbour.

The Japanese shelled the vessel at close range on December 7, 1941 just hours after their forces attacked Pearl ­Harbor. Able Seaman Mariner was first to return fire with a Lewis gun, killing several of the enemy.

Later he recalled: “We were determined to fight to the finish. We stacked the boat explosives, which we planned to set off if we were boarded, and armed ourselves with pistols and cutlasses.” Jim and 11 other survivors from the 21-strong crew spent the rest of the war as Japanese prisoners.

Not one of them was decorated. They believed it was because an American ship in a similar position had surrendered. Every day during four years as a PoW Jim defiantly sang There’ll Always Be An ­England.

After the war, he was a police motorcycle officer for 28 years.

Jim was married for 63 years to Muriel and was a great grandfather. He was cremated yesterday in his home town of Bournemouth.
RIP shippers
Amusement though at a mariner called Mariner

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