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  #51  
Old 13-01-2018, 13:41
Sandy McAuslan Sandy McAuslan is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

Hi Caroline,
I have a thought about a possible - just - sequence of events that could result in your relatives history being spot on. I checked through the book RN Day by Day for RN warship losses in December 43 and January 44 and found only one that truly meets the requirement of location etc. It is my suggestion that he may have been a crew member of HMS Hardy (11). She was a destroyer - leader of the V class of War Emergency Destroyers and Escort Commander's ship of convoy JW56B. This was a 20 odd ship convoy with a very strong close escort and distant escort taking material to Russia. On 30th January 1944 she was torpedoed at a location off Bear Island. That is approximately a few hundred miles north of the northmost point of Norway. Every account says that HMS Venus went alongside and picked up the crew before scuttling Hardy with a torpedo. I can find no mention of crew losses - but. At that time of year there is absolutely no daylight that far north. There were at least 3 U-Boats in the area firing 'Gnat' homing torpedoes at the escorts - it was one of these that blew the stern off Hardy - and no one would be hanging about returning to their escort positions to protect the merchantmen. (The U-Boat numbers and Captains can be found on the net I will get them if you wish.) In the dark and in a U-boat hot spot it could easily take 15 days before a lifeboat was found. There would be ice, debris from sunk ships and other false images to confuse radar. After 15 days in a lifeboat all survivors would suffering from hypothermia, dehydration, exposure as well as psychological problems. To survive that long is a tremendous complement to the spirit and endurance of any individual involved. When found they would have to be transferred to any ship with proper medical facilities as soon as possible.
On 11th February 1944 Furious was involved in launching anti-shipping strikes in Norwegian waters and could it could well be that your relative would be transferred to Furious for medical attention and for pay and allowances purposes since his ship had been sunk.
It's only a' two plus two equals six' construction and no doubt our moderator Jim could comment on it's possibility but it might fit in with what you know.
All the best for your search,
Sandy McAuslan
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  #52  
Old 13-01-2018, 16:14
jbryce1437's Avatar
jbryce1437 jbryce1437 is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy McAuslan View Post
Hi Caroline,
I have a thought about a possible - just - sequence of events that could result in your relatives history being spot on. I checked through the book RN Day by Day for RN warship losses in December 43 and January 44 and found only one that truly meets the requirement of location etc. It is my suggestion that he may have been a crew member of HMS Hardy (11). She was a destroyer - leader of the V class of War Emergency Destroyers and Escort Commander's ship of convoy JW56B. This was a 20 odd ship convoy with a very strong close escort and distant escort taking material to Russia. On 30th January 1944 she was torpedoed at a location off Bear Island. That is approximately a few hundred miles north of the northmost point of Norway. Every account says that HMS Venus went alongside and picked up the crew before scuttling Hardy with a torpedo. I can find no mention of crew losses - but. At that time of year there is absolutely no daylight that far north. There were at least 3 U-Boats in the area firing 'Gnat' homing torpedoes at the escorts - it was one of these that blew the stern off Hardy - and no one would be hanging about returning to their escort positions to protect the merchantmen. (The U-Boat numbers and Captains can be found on the net I will get them if you wish.) In the dark and in a U-boat hot spot it could easily take 15 days before a lifeboat was found. There would be ice, debris from sunk ships and other false images to confuse radar. After 15 days in a lifeboat all survivors would suffering from hypothermia, dehydration, exposure as well as psychological problems. To survive that long is a tremendous complement to the spirit and endurance of any individual involved. When found they would have to be transferred to any ship with proper medical facilities as soon as possible.
On 11th February 1944 Furious was involved in launching anti-shipping strikes in Norwegian waters and could it could well be that your relative would be transferred to Furious for medical attention and for pay and allowances purposes since his ship had been sunk.
It's only a' two plus two equals six' construction and no doubt our moderator Jim could comment on it's possibility but it might fit in with what you know.
All the best for your search,
Sandy McAuslan
The scenario is quite possible Sandy. However, his service record should be able to put the matter straight and will include his place and date of birth.

Jim
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Old Ships: Raleigh 1963, Collingwood 63, Ark Royal 64, Collingwood 67, Undaunted 68, Porstmouth FMG 70, Exmouth 72, Victory 1974 as JEM, EM, OEM, LOEM, POOEL. Then 28 years in the Fire Service
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  #53  
Old 15-01-2018, 13:17
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

Dear Sandy,
It's only a' two plus two equals six' construction , you say! You are too modest.
I am absolutely bowled over that you took the trouble to put this together.
The application for David's service record is now in the post.
I don't expect detail but it will tell me if he was crew on HMS Hardy or not - his name was not listed here
https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/search.php ,
but I assume that list is not exhaustive.
How many crew did such a destroyer have?
I have been reading in fascination of U-Boats and Arctic Convoys, of the life of a Stoker, of Running the Gauntlet, of wolfpacks and seas "so rough we were walking on the ceiling".
Many thanks to you and all who do such outstanding work on the Forum,
Caroline
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  #54  
Old 15-01-2018, 13:49
Urs Heßling Urs Heßling is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbryce1437 View Post
The scenario is quite possible Sandy.
Yes, a great thumbs-up for Sandy for putting this theory together.

However, I question your "quite possible", Jim, having grave doubts whether it might be possible to survive 15 days (and nights) in an open lifeboat in the Arctic in January.
E.g., in a lifeboat of Induna, sunk in March, 1942, 10 of 40 men died in the first two nights.

@Caroline
in answer to your question: Hardy being a flotilla leader type and the escort Senior Officers ship, the crew must have been approx. 230 men

greetings, Urs
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  #55  
Old 15-01-2018, 16:54
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

230 men!
I hadn't imagined it was so many!

Yes, about the surviving in the lifeboats, I see what you mean. Perhaps the family story is a warped version: Say he was in a lifeboat for 2 hours then picked up by the Venus on which he stayed for 2 weeks that could easily morph into " lost on a boat for 2 weeks".
It seems conditions on the destroyers were very cramped, that the vessels couldn't be heated, and crews didn't get hot meals, or more than three hours' sleep a night; how much worse would conditions be if your vessel had just picked up tens or hundreds of survivors?
His death certificate records diabetes mellitus (he died aged 27). He never recovered from the ordeal, whatever it was exactly. Its amazing to me that he made it home to Southern Ireland at all.
Still so many questions, I shall keep searching and I'll be sure to share anything interesting I find.
David's little brother is still living on the family farm. I want him to know more.

PS I just found this eyewitness report.
quote
(1943, though the year is not mentioned)
30th December, HMS HARDY, a Destroyer Flotilla Leader, was torpedoed. At 0346 hours U-957 fired two Gnats (German Nautical Acoustical Torpedo) at the escorts of the convoy JW-56B and heard two detonations, which were claimed by U-957 as hits on two destroyers, but they were end- of- run detonations. At 03.57, U-278 fired a Gnat, which struck HMS Hardy. Virago was ordered to go alongside to pick up survivors. Hardy had been seriously damaged.

At 04.20 hours, U-957 fired a spread of three FAT (German torpedoes which circulated an area looking for targets) at two Corvettes, which laid stopped, which would have been the destroyer HMS Virago rescuing survivors from the torpedoed Destroyer HMS Hardy.

It was a difficult task for each ship, rising and falling with the tide and the crew of the Hardy had to make sure that Hardy was higher than Virago when they jumped or they would leap to certain death as the two ships collided. At times there was several feet difference.

During this rescue, Virago came in collision with HMS Hardy whilst attempting to go alongside, causing damage to Virago's bows and Virago returned to Murmansk escorted by Opportune for repairs. We must have spent a week in Murmansk for repairs by Russian women who fitted wooden bows which always leaked afterwards for we always seemed to have about 3 inches of water floating about in our mess deck. Hardy had been seriously damaged and had later, to be torpedoed, by HMS Venus.


unquote
(Was Hardy torpedoed more than once? No- it must just be the dates are wrong, am I right?)

Last edited by Caroline Collins : 15-01-2018 at 17:05. Reason: Just found some more info on HMS Hardy
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  #56  
Old 15-01-2018, 17:43
Urs Heßling Urs Heßling is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

hi, Caroline,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline Collins View Post
it must just be the dates are wrong, am I right?)
Yes, indeed you are right .. and the eyewitness' dates aren't.

You may see that, yourself, in the eyewitness' text as he jumps from (unmentioned) convoy JW.55B (late December, 1943, with Scharnhorst sunk) to convoy JW.56B (end of January, 1944, with the loss of Hardy)
see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_JW_55B and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_JW_56B

greetings, Urs
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  #57  
Old 15-01-2018, 18:01
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

Listen to this!
Another eyewitness account:
a daughter remembers her father's tales of his wartime service including
He
"told me that when one of his ships was torpedoed he was in the water and saw the ships’ cats swim past wearing their life jackets which the sailors had made out of ping pong balls and he thought ‘If they can survive, so can I.’ "

This man was named Richard Keith Pexton. He served on HMS Kent (amazing story of Olga the reindeer on deck), HMS Sheffield, Daffodil and HMS Hardy.

Now I am trying to imagine my great-uncle in freezing, heaving water with the cats floating by. !!??!!
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  #58  
Old 15-01-2018, 18:28
Urs Heßling Urs Heßling is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

hi, Caroline,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline Collins View Post
Listen to this!
Now I am trying to imagine my great-uncle in freezing, heaving water with the cats floating by. !!??!!
There may be differences between serious eyewitness' reports and "sailor's stories".
The life endurance of a person immersed in water in the Arctic in January is, dependent on clothing, anything less than 5 minutes.

greetings, Urs
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  #59  
Old 15-01-2018, 21:19
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

From the excellent website resource naval-history.net
35 casualties listed from the Hardy that night.
If they were 230, a little arithmetic gives 195 men RESCUED by HMS Venus and possibly HMS Virago.

Does anyone know how these survivors were welcomed on board? from a practical and also from an emotional point of view. It must have been with mixed feelings: joy that they're alive but pain knowing that cramped quarters are going to get more uncomfortable still.
It sounds like most men jumped from one ship to another in the case of HMS Hardy.
How was this done in the dark?
If men were in lifeboats, how could they be located?
What equipment if any was in a lifeboat?
They wouldn't afford much protection at all from the elements, would they?
An event like rescuing survivors would be entered in the ship's log.
What thinking does the captain of a rescuing vessel have to do - it is not a risk-free operation - he might damage his own ship. Is he just following orders, how is a rescue co-ordinated?
Were survivors shared out between the other ships of the convoy to avoid overcrowding , or is that impossible?
Only 100 more questions and we're done...

Last edited by Caroline Collins : 15-01-2018 at 21:21. Reason: typo
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  #60  
Old 16-01-2018, 09:12
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

I found another eyewitness account from a survivor of HMS Hardy torpedoing 30th January 1944



We picked the ship up from Glasgow, John Brown's, 12 of us. What they call advance party.
It was a brand new ship, we were cheered all the way down the Clyde.
We finished up at Scapa Flow. I saw the Fleet.
I said to a boy that joined with me,
"We can't lose!"
When I saw the size of the fleet and all the battle ships. I never thought we could lose, never.

It was my 19th birthday, January 1944.
We were called out for the second time to help a convoy. Slowing down to
drop depthcharges we were hit.
The back of the Ship was torpedoed right off. I had finished my watch and was asleep. It was 4am. It was my friend Bean who was on watch, I saw him laid out, he didn’t make it. The Germans knew when the watch changed and timed their attacks.
We were sinking. I saw part of the ship go under and the green of the sea, I thought that was it.
A Lieutenant ordered us to go up to the focsule where it was safer.
AB Mc Carthy dived straight overboard off the sinking ship. His face appeared and I pulled him back on board. The water was freezing. He asked me what we should do. I said,
"I am going to go down with the ship."

I had resigned myself to it. I never thought we would be rescued. We then looked for survivors and friends, You don’t think about your own safety in that kind of situation. The commander came, we tried to get the lifeboats off but they were frozen stuck. We managed to get one off. I held its rope as the others went and picked the men out of the freezing water.
The commander got the DSO The others got the British Empire Medal I got nothing as I was holding the rope!

Another ship came alongside. HMS Venus. The Captain said over the tannoy,
"if you can jump, jump but I am sorry I can't stop."
We all managed to jump off as the boat was sinking.

I saw our ship sink it was awful, you can’t imagine but someone stole the takings from the canteen till. A man asked me to hold one of his cases, I refused I had left all my belongings, only bothered about getting off!

We were taken to hospital in Russia, Kola Inlet.


I was really upset, out of 43 Merchant ships only 3 got in with only 8 survivors.
It was after the Scharnost the u boats had really set about the convoys.

A Norwegian destroyer cut the u boat that attacked us in half.
All the destroyers went around us to protect us.
I was very lucky to go back on this destroyer as a guest.

The Norwegian destroyer came with us into the harbour to the hospital.
Luckily I was chosen to go back on this ship. The Captain sent for us and said that we were his guests, so we didn’t have to work, we got a free ride!
When we got back there was a whip- round for us three and we got £43 which was a fortune then, 1944.

...
I went to a reunion 50 years later in Portsmouth. It was marvellous dancing to Glen Miller and all that. They had made a big cake with all the flotilla on, and our ship half way down, sinking.
The Captain of the ship that picked us up was sat in the corner, 50 years later. I went across to shake his hand and thank him for saving my life, he said I was about the 6th that night and he invited me and my wife to his table and we all had a marvellous night.
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  #61  
Old 16-01-2018, 20:49
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

This BBC Peoples' War eyewitness of the Arctic Convoys goes into great detail and also mentions how they accommodated survivors.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peop...a2223415.shtml
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  #62  
Old 16-01-2018, 20:58
Caroline Collins's Avatar
Caroline Collins Caroline Collins is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

A survivor of HMS Hardy (II) R08
Ivor Anthony Winter was on watch when HMS Hardy was struck. He later told his family that he attributed his position on deck to his survival, that the hand rails were covered in ice and he had to jump from his ship to HMS Venus. Ivor was taken to Northern Russia “Russia” where he was given a large creamy/white woolen sweater, a large hat with built in ear muffs and a “survivors breakfast”. For many years on return home he had what he called “snow blindness” where his eyes were deeply inflamed.

source : https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/c...erson/213.html
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  #63  
Old 17-01-2018, 11:45
Sandy McAuslan Sandy McAuslan is offline
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Default Re: HMS Furious

Hi again Caroline,
Be vary cautious about accepting eye witness stories without doing some research. For example Hardy had escorted JW56A out with her flotilla of destroyers. According to Bob Ruegg and Arnold Hague (acknowledged experts on convoys in WW2) that convoy lost 3 ships out of 12 and a destroyer - Obdurate - damaged. After Hardy et al reached Kola Inlet on 27/28 January the destroyers must have reprovisioned. rearmed and refuelled and immediately sailed to join the escort of 56B. They joined up with the 16 ships of that convoy, plus escorts. Some 15 U-Boats were ordered to converge and attack this convoy. (It would appear that the Germans were a bit miffed at Duke of York and company sinking the Scharnhorst on Boxing Day 1943.) So powerful was the escort that the only vessel lost to the attacks of the U-Boats was Hardy - and she was eventually sunk by a torpedo from Venus. All of the merchantmen and the other escorts were undamaged.
At this stage of the war Furious was all but worn out with no older carrier still operational in the RN. (Most had been sunk but Argus still existed though it had not carried out any operational flying since February 1943 being used after that only for Deck Landing Training in the Clyde.) Furious lasted 7 more months as an operational unit and was paid off into reserve on 15/09/44. Unique in appearance her conversion from a light battle cruiser included a forward flying off deck which allowed some aircraft types to launch when the main deck was unusable. Although Aircraft Carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth navies by Commander David Hobbs states this was never a success. I believe that the development of aircraft with higher and higher wing loadings was the main problem. There are many photographs of Fairy Flycatchers using this take off option. It was discarded in the 1930's - but so was the Flycatcher to be replaced by the Nimrod a very different kettle of fish.
Cheers Sandy
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