I always knew my grandfather, Royal Navy Commander Michael “Skip” Wallrock was a war hero.
In 1941, he took part in the perilous Tiger Convoy and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for his role in the D Day landings in June 1944. We were very proud of him, but knew little else of his life at sea. Like many of his generation, Skip didn’t talk about the war. So, when he passed away in 2011 and I discovered his old war diary among his belongings, it was a revelation. He wrote about air raids and torpedoes; of being sunk three times and never getting his feet wet; his homesick men and playing ‘ruggers’ on deck; the time the King and Queen inspected the docks; the first time he took my grandmother to a dance…
And he wrote about gin…
At that time, I had spent 16 years in the liquor industry, selling vodka to bars and retailers around the world. Not once did my grandfather ever think to tell me that booze might have been in my blood! Skip distilled the gin himself – collecting botanicals from the far reaches of the world in which he laid anchor. He combined them with 100% English wheat in a copper pot still to distil his legendary gin. And then he smuggled the gin on board, sharing it with his ‘ratings’ to boost the morale of his war-ravaged crew. Recreating his recipe seemed like the perfect tribute to my grandfather. I think he’d be very proud of his legacy.
Will Turnage, CEO