Is it the fact that he was 20 and had been in the Navy seven years?
Not that uncommon for Royal Navy officers in those days. They typically joined as ‘Boy Midshipman’ at the age of 13.
I myself joined the Royal Australian Navy at fifteen under a similar scheme (the age had been raised somewhat by then).
You basically went to what was a combination boarding school/naval training facility but you were in the Navy.
Non-officers could also be taken in for training as junior recruits in their mid teens.
David Edward Balme was born in Kensington, west London, on October 1, 1920.
He joined Dartmouth Naval College in 1934 and served as a midshipman in the Mediterranean in the Spanish Civil War before being reassigned to the destroyer Ivanhoe in 1939.
Balme was appointed to the destroyer HMS Bulldog, which he described as a 'happy little ship', as her navigator in the early 1940s. It was while he was serving on this ship that he came across the German submarine.
Wow! 13 year old and 15 year old boys joining the Navy?
Compare that with the youth of today...they fare poorly, I’m afraid.
I really enjoy reading your posts, by the way, and enjoy the back-and-forth on guns in Oz and Prince Charles.