Tag: Royal Navy

S.A.S. Somerset

This post has been written many years after the fact and to be honest prior to today I have never really had much to add to a SAS Somerset post. However, I have recently found the handout I received when I visited the ship in 1993.

SAS Somerset

The one thing I do remember is how clean and well maintained she looked when I was on board, and the men in charge were rightly proud of her. Sadly as at 2019 her future is bleak and it is likely that she will end up being broken up. 

From the original handout that I received on the ship

Potted history of the SAS Somerset.

The ship was built by Blyth Shipbuilding Company and is listed as yard number 280, her machinery was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richards Ltd, Tyneside. Her keel was laid on 15 April 1941 and she entered service with the Royal Navy on 08 April 1942 as HMS Barcross.

HMS Barcross (1943) South African Military Museum. This photo was published in 1944 – 66 years ago – In South Africa, copyright prescribes after 50 years! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Somerset

HMS Barcross and her sister ship HMS Barbrake arrived at Simonstown, in 1942 and was transferred to Saldanha Bay for boom defence operations directly thereafter. In 1943 she was re-designated as HMSAS Barcross and transferred to the South African Naval Forces for the remainder of the war. In 1946 she was was purchased by the South African Government and was used for the dumping of ammunition off Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. On completion of these services, she was transferred to Salisbury Island in Durban and was subsequently laid up at Salisbury Island. In 1951 her name was changed to SAS Somerset.

During 1955 Somerset was brought back into service and during this period she was tasked in salvaging the remains of two Harvard training aircraft following a mid air collision over Table Bay. Six weeks later she recovered a third Harvard which had crashed into the sea off Bok Point. In 1959 during a refit, Somerset had her coal fired boilers converted to oil. 

In 1961 Somerset salvaged the South African Railways tug F. Schermbrucker which had sunk in East London harbour. In 1967 she was fitted out with new boilers and a reconditioned main engine. In 1968 her services were called on again to assist the cable ship John W. Mackay to raise and repair the newly inaugurated overseas telephone cable in the shallow waters off Melkbosstrand. During 1969 Somerset raised the old whale catcher Wagter 11 in Saldanha Bay and subsequently towed her back to Simonstown. During the same year, she salvaged a floating crane which had capsized and sunk at Port Elizabeth. In the early hours of 24 July 1974 Somerset was dispatched to Cape Agulhas to assist with the salvage of the Oriental Pioneer, poor weather conditions and bad luck rendered this effort unsuccessful.

In 1981 the fishing trawler Aldebaran was successfully raised in Port Elizabeth having laid on the bottom for over two and a half years. Somerset also acted as a standby vessel during submarine shallow water diving operations. In 1983 she assisted in the salvaging of a barge and two whale catchers at Saldanha Bay. In March 1986, Somerset was finally paid off. In 1988 she was donated as a museum ship, moored at the waterfront at Cape Town.  She is the only boom defence vessel remaining in the world.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Somerset)

SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988

SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988

The following images were taken by Dylan Knott on 17 February and April 2019. Sadly it appears as if the Somerset is to be broken up. Images are used with permission and are copyright to the photographer.

DRW © 2019. Created 01/03/2019. Images of Somerset on the synchro courtesy of Brian Potgieter, images of Somerset in 2019 courtesy of Dylan Knott © 2019

Updated: 16/04/2019 — 18:17

Royal Naval Division Memorial in London

The Royal Naval Division Memorial is located on Horse Guards Parade in London, but unfortunately is almost lost in the space as it is such a modest structure. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and was unveiled on 25 April 1925.

The Royal Naval Division (RND) was created by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, and it was manned by sailors, Royal Marines, and naval and marine reservists who were not required at sea.  Although it was a land based division it  was known for its strong maritime traditions, including the use of naval ranks and terminology. After serving in the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign it was deployed to the Western Front in late 1916 until the armistice in 1918. It lost 10,737 officers and men during the war; while 30,892 were wounded.

The Admiralty Citadel partly obscure the poem by Rupert Brooke 1887–1915 which is inscribed on the one side of the memorial. Brooke, a member of the Hood Battalion of the RND, died of disease while en route with the division to Gallipoli in April 1915

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!

There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,

But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.

These laid the world away; poured out the red

Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be

Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,

That men call age; and those who would have been,

Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

The memorial was removed from its original site when work was started on the citadel, and it was eventually erected in a number of places before being re-installed in its original site on  13 November 2003. It is designated a grade II listed building.

In my opinion the glowering and overgrown citadel really overshadows the memorial, leaving it to look more like a feature as opposed to a proper memorial. 

DRW 2013-2018. Created 14/10/2018

Updated: 02/03/2019 — 05:04

George Leslie Drewry VC

George Leslie Drewry (03/11/1894 – 02/08/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions  at V Beach in the Landing at Cape Helles, during the Gallipoli Campaign. on  25 April 1915.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29264, Page: 8132, reads:

Assisted Commander Unwin at the work of securing the lighters under heavy rifle and maxim fire. He was wounded in the head, but continued his work and twice subsequently attempted to swim from lighter to lighter with a line.” 

The men of HMS River Clyde connected to this action were: George Leslie Drewry, Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson and George McKenzie Samson commanded by Acting Captain Edward Unwin.

He was accidentally killed at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, on 2 August 1918, and is buried in the City of London Cemetery, Manor Park, East London.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 21/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. Gallaher cigarette card by Card Promotions © 2001, first issued 1915. 

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:47

John Travers “Jack” Cornwell VC

John Travers “Jack” Cornwell 08/01/1900 – 02/06/1916 was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on board HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.

The Citation reads:
“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the grant of the Victoria Cross to Boy, First Class, John Travers Cornwell, O.N.J.42563 (died 2 June 1916), for the conspicuous act of bravery specified below. Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy, First Class, Jack Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders, until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him. His age was under sixteen and a half years.”

On 31 May 1916, Chester was scouting ahead of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland when the ship turned to investigate gunfire in the distance. At 17:30 hours, the Chester soon came under intense fire from four Kaiserliche Marine cruisers each her own size which had suddenly emerged from the haze and increasing funnel smoke of the battlefield. The shielded 5.5-inch gun mounting where Cornwell was serving as a sight-setter was affected by at least four nearby hits. The Chester’s gun mountings were open-backed shields and did not reach down to the deck. Splinters were thus able to pass under them or enter the open back when shells exploded nearby or behind. All the gun’s crew were killed or mortally injured except Cornwell, who, although severely wounded, managed to stand up again and remain at his post for more than 15 minutes, until Chester retired from the action with only one main gun still working. Chester had received a total of 18 hits, but partial hull armour meant that the interior of the ship suffered little serious damage and the ship itself was never in peril. Nevertheless, the situation on deck was dire. Many of the gun crews had lost lower limbs due to splinters passing under the gun shields. British ships report passing the Chester to cheers from limbless wounded gun crew laid out on her deck and smoking cigarettes, only to hear that the same crewmen had died a few hours later from blood loss and shock.

After the action, ship medics arrived on deck to find Cornwell the sole survivor at his gun, shards of steel penetrating his chest, looking at the gun sights and still waiting for orders. Being incapable of further action, Chester was ordered to the port of Immingham. There Cornwell was transferred to Grimsby General Hospital, although he was clearly dying. He died on the morning of 2 June 1916 before his mother could arrive at the hospital. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Cornwell

He is buried in the City of London Cemetery, Manor Park, East London.

The 5,5 Inch gun that Jack Cornwell manned is on display at the Imperial War Museum.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 21/05/2017. Jack Cornwell grave courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:47

Richard John Hammersley Ryan GC, RN

Richard John Hammersley Ryan (23/07/1903-21/09/1940). was awarded the George Cross for his actions on 16-21 September 1940 in Dagenham, Essex.

“He was 37 years old and serving in the Royal Navy when he was one of two officers who dealt with a Type C magnetic mine that fell at Clacton. When the first magnetic mines fell on London, Lt Cmdr Richard Ryan, with Chief Petty Officer Reginald Ellingworth, came forward without hesitation for the perilous work of making them safe, although with their unrivaled knowledge they were well aware of the dangers. The clock of the bomb fuse was normally timed to explode 21 seconds after impact. If it failed to do so, it might be restarted by the slightest movement. Together they dealt with 6 of these mines, one of them in a canal where they worked waist-deep in mud and water, making any escape impossible. The fuse could only be found and removed by groping for it under water. At Hornchurch they made safe a very hazardous mine which threatened the aerodrome and an explosives factory, and then they went to Dagenham to tackle a mine hanging from a parachute in a warehouse. Tragically, it exploded, killing them both.”

He is buried in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery

DRW © 2014-2018. Created 16/03/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:36

George Paterson Niven EGM

George Paterson Niven (1898 ? – 02/02/1947) was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions on 26/07/1929 at Skiathos, Greece, as a member of the crew of HMS Devonshire.

“On 25th July 1929, HMS Devonshire was carrying out full calibre firing when at the first salvo there was a massive explosion in X turret, which blew off the turret roof. Marine Albert Streams was the only man in the gun turret not killed or badly wounded. He climbed to the top of the turret but, on looking down and seeing the conditions, he climbed back into the smoke and flames, notwithstanding the grave risk of further explosions. He then helped evacuate the dead and wounded; when all were removed, he collapsed. Anthony Cobham GC then took stretcher parties, including Niven, aft and ordered one crew to follow him and the other to rig hoses. On reaching the turret, they assisted the men who were on fire. Cobham and Niven did what they could for them and then went into the turret, where there was still a lot of cordite burning fiercely.”

Niven and Cobham were both awarded the EGM, which was eventually exchanged for the new George Cross in 1940. Niven died in Birmingham on 2nd February 1949 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 16/03/2017. Image and information courtesy of Mark Green

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:37

Richard John Knowlton AM

Richard John Knowlton (11/05/1899 – 24/08/1981) was awarded the Albert medal for participating in the events of 14/09/1917 at Horsea Island, Portsmouth.

“He was 18 years old and serving in the Royal Navy when a seaplane collided with a Poulsen mast and remained wedged in it. The pilot, Acting Flight Commander E.A. De Ville, was thrown on to the aircraft wing and rendered unconscious. Knowlton, with Deckhand George Abbott GC and Seaman Nicholas Ruth AM at once climbed 100ft up the mast, where Ruth, making use of a boatswain’s chair, which moves up and down the inside of the mast, was hoisted up another 200ft to where the aircraft was lodged. He then climbed out on to the plane and secured De Ville with a masthead gantline until the other men arrived, then they lowered him to the ground.
The three men were well aware of the damaged and insecure condition of the mast which was bent at an angle where the seaplane was wedged. One of the three supports of the mast was fractured, and, so far as the men knew the mast or seaplane might at anytime have collapsed”

All three were awarded the Albert Medal, but Ruth died before he could exchange it for a GC. Knowlton declined to exchange his AM for a GC.

He is buried in London Road Cemetery, Salisbury, Wiltshire. 

© DRW 2014-2018. Created 16/03/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:37

Reginald Vincent Ellingworth GC

Reginald Vincent Ellingworth (28/01/1898-21/09/1940) and Richard Ryan were awarded the GC for their actions during operations between 16 and 21 September 1940 at Clacton, Essex.

“He was 42 years old and serving in the Royal Navy when he was one of two officers who dealt with a Type C magnetic mine that fell at Clacton. When the first magnetic mines fell on London, Richard Ryan GC, with Chief Petty Officer Reginald Ellingworth, came forward without hesitation for the perilous work of making them safe, although with their unrivalled knowledge they were well aware of the dangers. The clock of the bomb fuse was normally timed to explode 21 seconds after impact. If it failed to do so, it might be restarted by the slightest movement. Together they dealt with 6 of these mines, one of them in a canal where they worked waist-deep in mud and water, making any escape impossible. The fuse could only be found and removed by groping for it under water. At Hornchurch they made safe a very hazardous mine which threatened the aerodrome and an explosives factory, and then they went to Dagenham to tackle a mine hanging from a parachute in a warehouse. Tragically, it exploded, killing them both.”

He is buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth.

© DRW 2013-2018. Created 15/03/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:38

John Wallace Linton VC, DSO, DSC

John Wallace Linton (15/10/1905 – 23/03/1943) was posthumously awarded  the Victoria Cross while commanding HM Submarines.  (The convoy attack specified in the citation occurred off Libya on 28/29 May 1942) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Linton)

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 36028 Page :2329 reads:

“Commander John Wallace Linton, D.S.O., D.S.C., Royal Navy.
From the outbreak of War until H.M.S. Turbulent’s last patrol Commander Linton was constantly in command of submarines, and during that time inflicted great damage on the Enemy. He sank one Cruiser, one Destroyer, one U-boat, twenty-eight Supply Ships, some 100,000 tons in all, and destroyed three trains by gun-fire. In his last year he spent two hundred and fifty-four days at sea, submerged for nearly ‘half the time, and his ship was hunted thirteen times and had two hundred and fifty depth charges, aimed at her.
His many and brilliant successes were due to his constant activity and skill, and the daring which never failed him when there was an Enemy to be attacked. 
On one occasion, for instance, in H.M.S. Turbulent, he sighted a convoy of two Merchantmen
and two Destroyers in mist and moonlight. He worked round ahead of the ‘ convoy and dived to attack it as it passed through the moon’s rays. On bringing his sights to bear he found himself right ahead of a Destroyer. Yet he held his course till the Destroyer was almost on top of him, and, when his sights came on the convoy, he.fired. His great courage and determination were
rewarded. He sank one Merchantman and one Destroyer outright, and set the other ‘Merchantman on fire so that she blew up.”

On 6 May 1941 Lieutenant-Commander John Wallace Linton of HMS Pandora was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross:

“For courage and determination in sinking two Italian supply ships.”

On 15 September 1942 Commander John Wallace Linton, DSC, was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order:

“For courage and skill in successful submarine patrols in HMS Turbulent.”

 

He was killed in action in Maddalena Harbour, Italy, on 23 March 1943 and is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial panel 72 column 3

H.M. Submariner Turbulent was lost in March 1943, the circumstance of her loss are not known.   She is commemorated on the memorial at the  Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 27/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:21

Frederick Daniel Parslow VC

Frederick Daniel Parslow (14/01/1856 – 04/07/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while in the Atlantic during The first World War.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 31354 Page: 6445, reads:

“Lieutenant Frederick Parslow, R.N.R.

For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of the Horse Transport “Anglo Californian”

On the 4th July 1915. At 8am on 4th July 1915 a large submarine was sighted on the port beam at the distance of one mile. The ship, which was entirely unarmed, was immediately manoevred to bring the submarine astern; every effort was made to increase speed, and a S.O.S. call was sent out by wireless, an answer being received by a man-of war. At 9a.m. the submarine opened fire making occasional hits until 10.30a.m. meanwhile Lieutenant Parslow constantly altered course and kept the submarine astern.

At 10.30a.m. the enemy hoisted the signal to abandon the vessel as fast as possible and in order to save life Lt. Parslow decided to obey and stopped engines to give as many of the crew as wished the opportunity to get away in the boats. On receiving a wireless message from a destroyer however urging him to hold on for as long as possible he decided to get way on the ship again. The submarine then opened a heavy fire on the bridge and boats with guns and rifles wrecking the upper bridge, killing Lt. Parslow and carrying away one of the port davits causing the boat to drop into the sea and throwing its occupants into the water.

At about 11a.m. two destroyers arrived on the scene and the submarine dived.

Throughout the attack Lt. Parslow remained on the bridge on which the enemy fire was concentrated entirely without protection and by his magnificent heroism succeeded, at the cost of his own life, in saving a valuable ship and cargo

The Royal Navy awarded Captain Parslow a posthumous commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and he was then awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

He is buried in Cobh Old Cemetery, Cobh. Ireland. Plot B-15-8, Grave 478, and he is commemorated on Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 27/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:27
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