Henry Wheeler (signalman)

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Henry Charles Edward Wheeler
Born (1925-07-29)29 July 1925
Bath, England
Died 22 November 2004(2004-11-22) (aged 79)
Sodbury, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Signalman
Conflict World War II
Other work Tailor

Henry Charles Edward Wheeler (29 July 1925 – 22 November 2004) was an English naval signalman during World War II.

Wheeler was born on 29 July 1925 in Bath, England, to Henry Arthur Wheeler and Rose (ne Snook), and was the eldest in a family of six. He was from Vernhan Grove in Bath, where his civilian role was as a tailor's assistant.[1][2]

He joined the Royal Navy in 1943, and undertook his naval training at HMS Impregnable, a shore establishment at Plymouth.[1] He went to France on 7 June 1944, the day after D-Day, and was later stationed in Rotterdam.[1][2] While there, he began a romantic relationship with a Dutch woman, named Dine.[1][2]

Shortly after the war's end, he appeared as a "castaway" on the BBC Radio programme Desert Island Discs, on 24 November 1945,[3][4] at the age of 20.[1][2] He was chosen to appear as he was serving, as part of Naval Party 1745, on an unspecified "small island off the European coast" – the nearest thing available to a real castaway.[1][2][5] One of the recordings he selected was "If You Were the Only Girl (In the World)" sung by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.[6] — "a song I find myself singing when I think about my girl [Dine]".[2]

He married a Miss Denboer before 1947, outside the UK. They had two sons, in 1947 and 1950.[citation needed]

It was later revealed that the island on which Wheeler was serving was Norderney — one of the East Frisian Islands off the north coast of Germany, where the British Forces Network provided the live outside broadcast,[7] via Hamburg.[1][2]

He died on 22 November 2004 in Sodbury, South Gloucestershire.[8] He was cremated at Westerleigh Crematorium.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Desert Island Discs programme transcript, in BBC written archives
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Magee, Sean (2012). Desert Island Discs: 70 Years of Castaways. Transworld Publishers Limited. pp. 41–43. ISBN 9780593070062. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Desert Island Discs – Castaway : Henry Wheeler". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Notes by the Way". Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald. 17 November 1945. p. 11. 
  5. ^ "24 November 1945: Light Programme". Radio Times. 89 (1155): 23. 16 November 1945. 
  6. ^ Jean Collen (2006), Sweethearts of Song, p. 23, ISBN 9781411699489 
  7. ^ Alan Grace (1996), This is the British Forces Network, p. 23, ISBN 9780750911054 
  8. ^ a b "Henry Charles Edward WHEELER". Bristol Evening Post. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 

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