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BRITISH ADMIRALTY REPORTS of WORLD WAR 2

 

NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN - STAVANGER BOMBARDMENT (Operation Duck) and NEAR LOSS OF HMS SUFFOLK 17 APRIL 1940

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Suffolk (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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Norwegian Campaign Operations April to June 1940

 

 

Area of Operations, only some locations in text are shown

 


 

 

 

H.M.S. SUFFOLK / OPERATION DUCK

 

                                                                                                                        H.M.S. SUFFOLK

                                                                                                                        26TH APRIL 1940

Sir,

 

Be please to inform Their Lordships that Operation 'DUCK' was carried out by H.M. ship under command, and H.M. Ships KIPLING, HEREWARD, JUNO, and JANUS, on the 17th April 1940, in accordance with the Operation Orders issued by the Admiralty, Coastal Command Operations Instruction No. 14 dated the 15th April 1940, and such amendments to these instructions as were received by signal prior to the Operation.

 

Preliminary

 

2. On receipt of Admiral Signal timed 1935 of the 14th April, H.M.S. being then on passage from Thorshavn to Vestfjord after landing a Royal Marine Force for the protection of the Faeroe Islands and subsequent interception of the German Tanker SKAGERRAK, altered course for Scapa. In reply to Admiralty signal timed 2203 of the 14th April, I informed the Admiralty by Immediate signal that I expected to arrived at 1600 on the 15th April, provided that I could maintain high speed. H.M.S. SUFFOLK arrived at the point of arrival at 1700 on the 15th April and anchored at 1820.

 

3. With reference to paragraph 5 of Coastal Command Operation Instruction No. 14, Lieutenant Commander Fleming (Naval Observer) (n.b. A.H.T. Fleming) reported on board on arrival to establish contact and arrange details. As no Operation Orders had been received, full details of the cooperation could not be decided. It was necessary for Lieutenant Commander Fleming to fly to Leuchars not later than a.m. the 16th April in order to arrange with R.A.F. Leuchars details of the cooperating Hudson aircraft. As no Operation Orders had been received by 1000 on the 16th April, I directed him to proceed.

 

4. Soon after my arrival I was informed by signal by the Vice Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, that I should be required to sail about 1500 on the 16th April, that my second aircraft was to be embarked, and that detailed instructions were being flown from the Admiralty.

 

5. SUFFOLK's second aircraft, Walrus L.2284, was embarked a.m. the 16th April, after being tuned. Details of tuning aircraft are given in enclosure 4 to this report.

 

6. At 0930 on the 16th April, it was learnt from the Vice Admiral Commanding Orkneys and Shetlands that the Operation orders should arrive at Hatston by air at 1300. Arrangements were made for them to be delivered on board H.M.S. SUFFOLK by drifter from Scapa, immediately on arrival, as it was then blowing hard. They were not received on board until 1430.

 

7. As I thought that local knowledge of the coast might be of some value, I asked Vice Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, if the services of a Norwegian Pilot could be obtained. It so happened that Captain Ohlsen, Master of a Norwegian Merchant vessel, was due to arrive at Lyness that forenoon. He volunteered for the service and was embarked before sailing. In the subsequent operation, although he was able to identify the navigational marks on the coast line, his knowledge of the terrain and topography was not sufficient to assist in correcting the line of fire.

 

I regret to say that he received some minor facial injuries, being in the Ward Room ante-room when the ship was hit, and lost his personal effects in the subsequent flooding. His willing cooperation and to danger to which he was exposed seem worthy of recognition.

 

8. The Rear Admiral, Destroyers detailed H.M. destroyers KIPLING (Senior Officer), JUNO, JANUS, and HEREWARD to sail with H.M.S. SUFFOLK at 1500 and ordered them to have steam and be completed with fuel by that time. He also ordered the Commanding Officer of H.M.S. KIPLING to report on board SUFFOLK at 1400. As the destroyers were exercising T.S.D. Sweeps when these orders were received the Commanding Officer of H.M.S. KIPLING could not report before 1530, and the destroyers could not proceed, having completed with fuel and received their Operation Orders, until 1625.

 

Approach

 

9. Due to this late start, an average speed of 26 knots was required to reach Position 'A' by 0355 on the 17th April. I therefore ordered the destroyers to make good 26 knots and accept parting of the sweeps. In fact, the sweeps of the two leading destroyers held until the completion of the bombardment, and the rear two destroyers formed an A/S screen after commencement of the bombardment.

 

10. Before dark, signalled instructions were passed to the destroyers that when the leading ship, H.M.S. KIPLING, obtained contact with SEAL, she was to lead to the bearing on which SEAL was sighted, without further signal, and leave SEAL, if possible, on the starboard hand. They were also informed that speed would be reduced to 15 knots by signal at about that time on a course of 110 degrees. This would depend on the light conditions when contact was made with SEAL.

 

11. Nothing was sighted on passage except at 2355 when course was altered to pass clear of lights presumed to be trawlers.

 

12. It was my intention to catapult my first Walrus aircraft immediately after sighting SEAL and to catapult the second Walrus aircraft as soon as it was ready, i.e. about twenty minutes later and before opening fire with the main armament. Admiralty signal timed 1410 of the 16th April, received on board at 1512 just prior to sailing directed SUFFOLK to use one Walrus as spotting aircraft and the other one as stand by spotting aircraft. It was calculated that the Walrus aircraft could remain in the air for approximately an hour in the vicinity of Stavanger and, if conditions were favourable and by maximum economy of fuel, have enough fuel to return to Scotland. Undercarriages were removed to improve their changes of covering the distance successfully.

 

13. Admiralty's signal timed 1410 of the 16th April also ordered H.M.S. SUFFOLK to return to Rosyth. The Commander in Chief, Rosyth was not included in the addressees as received in SUFFOLK.

 

14. See Track Chart No. 1. At 0414, KIPLING was seen to alter course to port and a flashing light from SEAL was observed at the same time. Speed was reduced to 15 knots and at 0418, Walrus aircraft L.2281 (Lieutenant H.H. Bracken Observer, Petty Officer V. Redgrave Pilot, Naval Airman First Class D.R.B. Evans Air Gunner) was catapulted. Speed was then increased to 26 knots as it was getting light, and course shaped to pass SEAL to the starboard on a course of 110 degrees.

 

15. At 0420, in accordance with paragraph 14 of the Operation Orders, a signal was made to the Hudson aircraft to drop flare at 0435.

 

16. At 0432, SEAL was passed. At about this time warning rockets and A.A. gunfire were observed fine on the starboard bow, presumably coming from the shore defences of Stavanger aerodrome.

 

The flare was not identified from the other pyrotechnic above the aerodrome. It was now getting fairly light; the land could be seen but with no detail. The sea was calm, sky clear, with a light easterly wind. At 0445, speed was reduced to 15 knots and at 0447, the force was turned to the bombarding course of 181 degrees, the second Walrus aircraft L.2284 (Lieutenant (A) W.R.J. MacWhirter Pilot, Petty Officer Observer T.W. Snowden Observer, Naval Airman First Class R.P. Stanesby Air Gunner being catapulted as soon as the wind came on the port side. At this time fire was opened with the port 4 inch H.A. armament at an aircraft which had not identified itself.

 

17. Reports from the officer in charge of each aircraft from the time of flying off are forwarded as enclosures 2 and 3 to this report.

 

18. At 0505, a report was received that a torpedo had passed close astern from starboard to port, at an estimated distance of twenty yards. No destroyers obtained any submarine contact and no cooperating aircraft reported a submarine during the operation. Destroyers were warned that a submarine was in the vicinity and the position was given. (n.b. pen insertion: 'Speed increased to 19 knots.')

 

Bombardment

 

19. Technical details of the bombardment are given in enclosure No. 5 to this report.

 

Communication with the cooperating aircraft could not be established on 6650 kc/s and as the flare had not been seen, it was necessary to carry out of the bombardment with such direct observation as was possible, assisted by any reports that could be given by the aircraft by V/S. As was made clear by the reports received from the aircraft after the operation, the conditions for observation for particularly difficult as a thin layer of snow covered the area, and the camouflage effect produced by these conditions was most noticeable to observers on board SUFFOLK though the reason was not apparent in the early light.

 

20. As a result of the delay caused by endeavouring to establish wireless communication with the aircraft, the bombardment did not commence until 0513 (n.b. pen correction from 0509) at a range of about 20,000 yards. The southerly course was maintained until 0523, when fire was checked on the turn to the Northerly bombarding course. After the sixth, seventh, or eighth salvo, an explosion, followed by a heavy pall of smoke was seen. This may have been an oil tank or petrol dump.

 

21. Firing was continued on the Northerly course from 0527 to 0548, when the course was again altered to the Southward and the bombardment completed from 0553 to 0604, when the sun had risen sufficiently to make observation impracticable. 202 rounds were fired.

 

22. The failure of Wireless communication was most disappointing and inevitably had an adverse effect on the bombardment. Details of steps taken to tune and suggested reasons for the failure are given in enclosure No. 4 to this report.

 

23. From observation from the ship and from the verbal and written reports I have received from the officers in the three cooperating aircraft, I assess the damage resulting from the bombardment was follows:

 

Seaplane Base. Two petrol dumps near the base and some aircraft were destroyed and material damage to the slipways would have been caused. At least 20 H.E. shells exploded in close vicinity of this base.

 

Stavanger Aerodrome. There is no doubt that some damage must have been done to the buildings around the Northern edge of the airfield and I consider that some damage was done to the airfield itself and parked aircraft. Up to the time that the last aircraft left, on account of endurance, I do not consider that the fall of shot had crept sufficiently far right to hit the intersection of the run ways, but this should have been achieved during the last few salvoes. (n.b. pen correction. 'the last few salvoes' marked out and 'Run 2' inserted.)

 

24. On conclusion of one hour in the air in the vicinity of the aerodrome, both the Walrus aircraft returned to Scotland, L.2281, Lieutenant Bracken making a landfall at Rattray Head and thence to Aberdeen, and L.2284, Lieutenant (A) MacWhirter, descending in a loch near Aberdeen and thence to Invergordon. The Hudson, Lieutenant Commander Fleming, returned to Leuchars. The L.2281 was in the air for 4 hours 35 minutes and L.2284 for 4 hours 15 minutes, both machines having arrived almost at the limit of their endurance.

 

Withdrawal

 

25. At 0604, course was altered to 270 degrees, speed increased to 30 knots and destroyers formed on an A/S Screen. Destroyers were ordered to slip T.S.D. Sweeps.

 

26. The original Operation Order had ordered H.M.S. SUFFOLK to return to Scapa on completion of the operation, but this had been amended, immediately prior to departure from Scapa, to Rosyth, as stated in paragraph 13 of this report. Some fighter support had been arranged for the return passage to Scapa.

 

27. Subsequent to these orders, the Admiralty had given instructions in signal timed 2300 of the 16th April, received at 2340 during the approach, that SUFFOLK and destroyers were, on completion of Operation DUCK, to sweep northward to intercept enemy destroyers.

 

This signal was repeated to the Air Officer, Commanding, Coastal Command, the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, and the Rear Admiral, Submarines. The Rear Admiral, Submarines, in his signal timed 0057 of the 17th April had warned SEAL to keep clear to the North Eastward.

 

28. The fighter aircraft escort given in Coastal Command Operation Instruction No. 14 was amended by the Commander in Chief, Rosyth's signal timed 1958 of the 16th April, after the Force had sailed from Scapa, and further amendments were received by signal during the course of the operation.

 

29. At the commencement of the withdrawal therefore the following is the air support that I expected at various stages:

 

First escort of 3 Blenheims, originally at Point 'A' at 0430, but now delayed and not expected until 0615.                                      

 

                                                                           (CinC Rosyth's signal 0444/17)

 

Second escort of 3 Hudsons to take over at 0600 in position JSOX 5726 and remain while fuel permitted, approximately 0845.

 

                                                                           (CinC Rosyth's signal 0252/17)

 

As the first escort was delayed nearly 2 hours by weather, I expected the second escort to arrive later and remain longer. The third and fourth escorts had been cancelled.

 

                                                                           (CinC Rosyth's 0252/17th April).

 

30. At 0704, no air escort had been sighted. The Force was turned to the Northward to comply with Admiralty instructions to intercept enemy destroyers, speed being reduced to 25 knots to conserve fuel. At 0720, a report was made to the Admiralty that Operation DUCK had been completed, the course, speed, and position of the Force being given and repeated to the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, for the information of fighter escorts as well to the Senior Officers concerned in the new operation.

 

31. At 0810, fire was opened on enemy aircraft seen to be in a position to attack. The first attack took place at 0825 when an emergency air attack report was made. From then on, the ship was under continuous attack from High Level and Dive Bombing for 6 hours and 47 minutes. Details of each attack are forwarded as enclosure No. 1 to this report, positions of the air attacks being number and shown on the general track charge. From the commencement of the bombing, I had to keep the ship almost continuously under full rudder to avoid being hit and it was only on very occasions that a steady course could be maintained.

 

32. At 0934, I reported being attacked persistently by high and low bombing and at 0938, in view of the intensity of the attacks and that no air support had arrived, I decided to withdraw the Force at best speed to the Westward, thus officering the best chance of obtaining air support as early as possible and avoiding being hit, which seemed to be ultimately inevitable.

 

33. At 1037, H.M.S. SUFFOLK was hit by a heavy bomb from a steep dive bomber on the starboard side of the upper deck just for'ard of 'X' turret. The bomber approached down sun and was expected to make a High Level attack. The ship was brought beam on to meet this attack, but on reaching an angle of sight of 65 to 70 degrees, at a height of about 10,000 feet, the aircraft dived on the ship releasing the bomb at an estimated heighted of from 4 to 5 thousand feet. The weight of the bomb is estimated at 500 kilos. Details of the damage sustained, action taken to keep the ship steaming and steering, the conspicuous services rendered by Officers and men, both on deck and below deck to achieve this end, will form the subject of enclosure No. 8 to this report.

 

34. The bomb passed through the Ward Room, Warrant Officers' Flag, and storerooms on to the Platform Deck, from starboard to port, and exploded in the inflammable store close to the Bulkhead of the After Engine Room. The effect of this explosion penetrated forwarded to the After Engine Room, and aft, through 'X' Shell Room to 'X' Cordite Handing Room.

 

It is believed that a charge exploded in the Cordite Handing Room which penetrated the Cordite Hoist Trunk and vented into 'X' Gunhouse. The empty cordite cage at the top of the hoist was broken and the charge in the Right Traversing Rammer caught fire. The roof of the Turret was lifted. 'X' shell handing room and all Oil Fuel Tanks in the vicinity of the explosion were holed. The bulkhead of the After Engine Room was blown in, the Engine Room seriously damaged and flooded, and the force of the explosion vented up through the Engine Room Exhaust Trunks and up the hatches leading to the War Room Flat.

 

A column of flame was seen to reach the height of the gaff on the main mast destroying the ensign. Fires started in the Ward Room Flat, the Warrant Officers' Flat, and the Storerooms underneath, and in the entrance to the Officers' Galleys.

 

The second W/T Office and the After Gyro Compass Room was wrecked. The Main W/T Office was unable to transmit as a result of the blast. The After 8 inch Magazine had to be flooded. About 1,500 tons of water entered the ship in about 20 minutes.

 

35. The immediate effect on the ship's fighting efficiency was a reduction of maximum speed to about 18 knots, 'X' and 'Y' turrets out of action and Main and Second W/T Offices out of action. A considerable volume of water had entered the ship aft. Signals had to be passed by V/S to KIPLING for transmission.

 

36. At 1042, 1046, and 1052, I asked for fighters giving the position. At 1050, H.M.S. JANUS also reported that SUFFOLK had been hit giving the position. At 1102, I reported that the ship was heavily damaged, speed reduced to 18 knots, and that more air attacks were expected.

 

37. At 1050, KIPLING reported a mine ahead. This mine was suspected as having been laid by a Flying Boat which had been observed flying very low across the horizon ahead of the mean course made good. The object passed close on the starboard hand. I cannot say with any certainty whether, it was, in fact, a mine but look outs had reported that a low flying aircraft had been dropping something ahead of the ship.

 

38. At 1200, I received a signal from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, timed 1119 of the 17th April, directing all Skuas to be sent to my assistance, and at 1205, I received a signal from the Vice Admiral Commanding Orkneys and Shetlands, that Skuas were being sent. At 1214, I received the Commander in Chief, Rosyth's signal timed 1140 of the 17th April, informing me that 3 Blenheims and 3 Hudsons should be with me by 1230 and that air escort would be maintained. At this juncture, I knew also that H.M. ships REPULSE and RENOWN were ordered to my assistance though I did not know when they would arrive. As intensive bombing was still continuing, I reported by Most Immediate Signal to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, at 1216, that I had four destroyers with me, was making good 12 knots and that I only required air protection, as I thought the presence of further heavy ships in the area would only endanger them. At 1221, I made a further Most Immediate Signal to the Vice Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, giving my position, course, and speed, hoping that this might expedite the arrival of the air protection. At 1312, the air escort of Blenheims and Hudsons, expected at 1230, not having arrived, I informed the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, of my position relative to Duncansby Head in the hope that this would assist the direction of the aircraft to me as soon as possible.

 

39. At 1305, both steering motors were out of action as both after sections of the ring main had been flooded. At 1328, No, 2 steering motor was again brought into action by means of an emergency lead direct from No. 3 dynamo to the emergency terminals on the after steering department. Between 1305 and 1328, it was necessary to steer the ship by the screws and it was not possible to alter course to take avoiding action. Three attacks took place during this period, the last one being a near miss under the starboard counter at an estimated distance of 5 yards. This bomb appeared to explode on the surface and did much damage.

 

40. The attacks continued. Near misses, which blew in the Lower Deck scuttles after and punctured the ship's side, in conjunction with flooding into the Warrant Officers' Flat from below, had caused further extensive flooding.

 

41. At about 1415, friendly aircraft were observed arriving. Difficulty was experienced in making them identify themselves, but at 1429, I was satisfied that nine were in company and reported accordingly to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, who had asked for a report of their arrival. At 1440, I asked the Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands to send tugs as the steering gear might fail at any moment, giving my position, course, and speed. I later reported that more fighters were required as attacks were continuing. Bombing, however, continued until 1512 when the last attack took place. There were four attacks between 1430 and 1512, bombs falling extremely close, between 5 and 20 yards from the ship. It appeared that the fighters in pursuit of the enemy had left the overhead area unguarded. I ordered one fighter with whom we were in V/S touch to protect me from higher up, and keep a close patrol. With the exception of the hit, this series was the most dangerous and accurate experienced and it took place when the fighters were in company.

 

42. The majority of attacks were seen in time for the A.A. guns to open fire. One aircraft was seen to alight on the sea after unloading the remainder of its bombs. Another is thought to have been hit during its second dive bombing attack as it flew away emitting black smoke from its port engine and losing height. This aircraft is considered to be the one which obtained a hit in its first attack.

 

43. At 1604, the emergency terminals to No. 2 steering motor were flooded finally, the emergency leads had to be cut in order to close the door of the after Capstan Flat, and the ship to be steered by the screws.

 

44. At 1620, identities were exchanged with H.M. Ships RENOWN and REPULSE, who were sighted ahead. I reported my intentions to H.M.S. REPULSE of passing through the Fair Island Channel and down the West Coast of the Orkneys. REPULSE and RENOWN formed an escort ahead and astern and FURY augmented SUFFOLK's screen.

 

At 1718, I passed via REPULSE a situation report for the Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, and Admiralty. At 2026, RENOWN send all destroyers to screen and at 2041, I requested the Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, to send necessary tugs to meet the ship off Torness at 0330 on the 18th April.

 

45. A speed of about 15 knots was made good during the night, the weather being good, and it was practicable to alter course without difficulty and maintain a fairly accurate course by keeping one shaft going at 240 revolutions and adjusting the revolutions on the other.

 

The constant succession of near misses had completed the flooding of nearly all the compartments abaft the forward engine room and up to the Main Deck level and the sea was lapping over the quarterdeck. A near miss on the port side had caused flooding of one bulge compartment, the Chief and Petty Officers' and Marines' Bath Rooms, so that the ship had taken a list of eight degrees to port.

 

46. By 0545, H.M. Tug BANDIT had the ship in tow off Torness. The tugs IMPERIOUS and HENDON were made fast off Switha, with Mr. MacKenzie of Metal Industries, in charge of the towing operations. Hoxa Boom was passed at 0708 and the ship anchored in A.5 berth at 0809. It was possible to assist with the engines. The distance steamed with the steering gear was 164 miles.

 

47. By this time, with the list to Port, the top of the quarterdeck bollards were almost awash; it was apparent that the ship had settled after appreciably during the night and that she was still settling slowly. It was calculated that there was at least about 2500 tons of water in the after part of the ship. A decision was reached to beach the ship in Long Hope. H.M.S. SUFFOLK was aweigh at 1146 and was towed by tugs IMPERIOUS and HENDON under the direction of Mr. MacKenzie, to the beaching site in Long Hope. The ship took the ground at 1415 when salvage operations commenced. It was no longer possible to use the engines from the Fleet anchorage to Long Hope, owing to the flooding of the port pipe passage and to the presence of fuel in the feed water.

 

48. I regret to report that, as a result of the explosion and continuous air attacks, a casualty list of 32 killed and 38 injured was sustained.

 

The majority of the casualties occurred in the After Engine Room, 'X' Shell Room, Shell Handing Room, Cordite Handing Room, 'X' Gunhouse and numbers 8 and 9 Fire Parties. Details are given in enclosure 8 to this report.

 

49. During the day, few deliberate attacks were made on the destroyers, but one attack was observed on KIPLING, who afterwards reported that defects had occurred consequent to two near misses.

 

50. I commend the Commanding Officers of all destroyers for the handling of their ships during the operation and for the support they afforded me at all times. In particular, I wish to commend the good work of Commander A. St. Clair Ford, Commanding Officer of H.M.S. KIPLING.

 

51. The conditions for enemy aircraft were very good in the forenoon and ideal in the afternoon when there was blue sky, a bright sun, and patches of white cloud at a height of about 8,000 feet.

 

The enemy aircraft made full use of these conditions and were evidently very highly trained. 33 attacks were carried out, 87 splashes were marked, some of which probably contained more than one bomb. The attacks lasted from 0825 to 1512. It cannot be stated with certainty what types of machines were engaged but it is believed that Heinkel 111's carried out the majority of the High Level bombing attacks, while the aircraft used for Dive Bombing Attacks were probably Junkers 88's.

 

52. The behavior of the Officers and Ship's Company throughout the operation was exemplary. The ordeal was a severe one for those on deck who could see the near misses and see and hear the scream of the bombs, particularly during the period when the steering gear was out of action.

 

It was perhaps more severe for those below, who, engaged in keeping the ship steaming and steering, fighting fires, endeavouring to prevent flooding, and tending casualties, could feel the concussion from the explosion of bombs and the ship lifting to near misses.

 

As it seemed probable that the ship might be unable to survive another hit, and the state of affairs lasted for nearly five hours, I consider that their conduct is deserving of all praise.

 

                                                                                          I have the honour to be, Sir,

                                                                                          Your obedient Servant

                                                                                          (sgd) J.W. Durnford, CAPTAIN

 

The Secretary to the Admiralty

 

(Copies to: The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet

               The Commander in Chief, Rosyth

               The Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron

               The Rear Admiral (D), Home Fleet

 

 


 

 

(Enclose No. 7 to The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. SUFFOLK's Report of Proceedings)

 

Particulars of Casualties

 

Probable Cause of death Suffocation or drowning following unconsciousness due to the explosion.

 

After Engine Room

Sub Lieutenant (E) F.H. Collins, R.N.V.R.

S.P.O. William H. Gibson. P/K.55345

A/Ldg Sto. William W. Ives. P/KX.85880

Sto. 1. Leslie L. Bolster. P/KX.96074

Frank H. Chapman. Sto.1. P/KX. 96739

Sto. 1. Bernard Sweeney. P/KX.91856

 

'X' Shell Handing Room

E.R.A. William H. Powell. P/MX.55656

O.A. William Moore. P/MX. 57430

A.B. Alfred Wright. P/J.57430

 

'X' Gunhouse

Po.22666 Mne W.S. Long

 

Shell Handing Room

Po.X.1062 Mne B.F. Bayldon

Po.X.1229. Mne D. King

 

Shell Room

Po.X.1778 Corporal A.D. Martin

Po.X.1135. Mne A.J. Elliott

Po.X.2803. Mne N. Tovery

Po.X.3928. Mne P.L. Nichols

Po.X.3620. Mne J.G. Fairley

Po.X.1557. Mne R. Napier

Po.X.3422. Mne T.B. Williamson

Po.X. 3782. Mne C.J. Jones

 

Cordite Handing Room

Po.X.2530. Corporal J.R. Parker

Ply.20929. Mne P.J. Dungey

Po.X.3707. Mne A. Bennett

Ch.X.2217. Mne W.C. Lane

Po.X.3527. Mne G.E. Connelly

Po.3629. Mne W. Hargreaves

Po.X.3856. Mne D.C. Cheney

 

 

Died of wounds received Shock following burns

 

After Engine Room

Mechn. Thomas A.W. Elson. P/K.63318

Sto.1. Alfred H. Hefford. P/KX 90946

Sto.1. Daniel Sheppard. P/KX 96745

E.R.A. William Perkins. P.MX 60294 in H.M.H.S. AMARAPOORA

Sto.1. George Roberts. P/KX 88954 in H.M.H.S. AMARAPOORA

 

Injured

 

'X' Turret

 

Burns of hands and wound of head

Lieutenant J.K. Gardiner, R.M.

 

Burns and face and hands

Po.21731. Sergeant J.C.F. Higgs

R.M.B. Musc H.C. Kemp

Po.X.1043. Mne H.J. Wells

Po.X. 1218. Mne L.G. Hood

Po.X.969. Mne W.H. Tucker

Po.X.2855. Corporal F.C. Bevan

Po.X.1056. Mne R.J. Skeggs

Po.X.814. Mne G.E. Dormer

Po.X.3589. Mne N. Goldsmith

Po.X.1086. Corporal H.W. Tindell

Po.X.835. Mne J.M. Archibald

Po.X.1117. Mne H. Stirk

Po.X.3929. Mne G. Tolley

 

'X' and 'Y' Lobby

 

Burns of hands

Po.X.3835. Boy Bugler R.L. Anchor

 

Burns of face and hands

Leslie F. Stedman. Boy 1/c. P/JX.159889 (n.b. as entered. Correct number P.JX 160195)

Charles Playford. Boy 1/c. P/SSX.29177

Gordon Forbes. O.Sea. P/JX.158346

Frederick Gaynor. Boy 1/c. P/JX.159889

 

After Engine Room

 

Burns of face, arms, and shoulders

Mr. A.L.C. Walters, A/Wt Engr.

E.R.A. Harold Swailes, P/MX.47338

 

Burns of face and hands

George Byng. E.R.A. P.MX 48893

Alexander C. Poulter. Ldg Sto. P/K.64168

Maurice Grant. E.R.A. P/MX 48747 (n.b. in Admiralty list number as P/MX.46747)

James Dobie. Sto.1. P/KX.92521.

David Milledge. Sto.1. P/KX 77806.

 

Port Pom-Pom

 

Wound right eye (shell splinter)

Boy 1. Raymond Farnish. C/JX.159241

 

Central Store

 

Burns of face, hands, and legs

Payr Cadet M. Hay

Fred Parlett. Std. P/LX.22622

 

'X' Cordite Handing Room

 

Burns of face and hands

Richard Crayton. Cook. P/MX 58211

 

Doorway of 'X' and 'Y' Lobby

 

Partial traumatic amputation of right hand

James Funnell. A.B. P/J. P/J.89742

 

2nd W/T Office

 

Burns of hands and injury to back

Joseph Morgan. Boy Tel. P/JX.161651

 

Main W/T Office

 

Burns of face and hands

Sydney Pryke. O. Tel. P/SSX.26950

 

No. 8 Fire Party (Gun Room Flat)

No. 9 Fire Party (Ward Room Flat)

 

Burns of face, hands, and knees

Samuel Hazley. S.P.O. P/K.59327

Alfred J. Walker. Sto 1. P/KX.96648

Alex Cunningham. Sto 1. P/KX.96685

Walter Spreadbury. Ch. Sto. P/K.60095

Joseph Pickering. Sto.1. P/K.96742.

 

 


 

 

H.M.S. SUFFOLK

 

24th April, 1940

 

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS WALRUS L.2281

 

Sir,

 

I have the honour to report on the preparation of Walrus aircraft for Operation DUCK and my own proceedings in Walrus aircraft L.2281 during the bombardment.

 

2. With reference to paragraph 5 of Coastal Command Instructions No.14, Lieutenant Commander Fleming (Naval Observer) attended a preliminary conference on board H.M.S. SUFFOLK on the 15th April. In the absence of any other instructions in the orders for the operations, which had not yet been received, it was agreed that the spotting should be carried out by Hudson aircraft with the ship's own aircraft only being used as a stand by. The operation orders however ordered SUFFOLK's own aircraft to be the first spotting aircraft with the Royal Air Force Hudson as a standby.

 

3. In view of the recent changes in the catapult crew and aircraft handling personnel and modifications to the catapult, it was decided to devote the forenoon of the 16th April to loading drill and firing light shots. Walrus aircraft L.2284 was embarked at 1200 from Hatston.

 

4. For details of tuning Hudson and Walrus aircraft see Communication appendix.

 

5. Paragraph 18 of DUCK ordered aircraft to fly back to Scapa. It was calculated that under average conditions Walrus aircraft could remain in the Bombardment area for one hour before commencing the flight back.

 

6. The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. SUFFOLK ordered both aircraft to make their landfall at the nearest point on the coast of Scotland. The undercarriage and all equipment not actually required were removed to lighten the aircraft.

 

7. I was catapulted at 0418. The port float and hull of the aircraft struck the water a severe blow, due to an unexpected roll at the moment of launching. The pilot (Petty Officer V. Redgrave) succeeded in recovering. This was Petty Officer Redgrave's first experience in being catapulted from any ship and was performed in semi darkness. I consider he acted very creditably in this emergency and also during the subsequent operations.

 

8. The aircraft the proceeded towards Stavanger aerodrome climbing to obtain a position for dropping flares. When approaching 5 miles from the objective, a Hudson was seen to drop flares and incendiary bombs at about 0435. I therefore returned over the ship and commenced taking ranges and bearings of the target, which was easily identified from my height of 13,000 feet, in spite of a recent fall of snow covering the ground.

 

9. No enemy activity was observed at this time except for A.A. fire directed against the Hudson.

 

10. Throughout this period, continuous attempts were made by me to establish communications with SUFFOLK on 6650 kc/s. This ship was not heard at all. I was satisfied that my transmitter was working satisfactorily, range and bearings obtained were transmitted.

 

11. In spite of hearing no one else on the frequency I decided to continue transmitting the spotting reports in case reception in the ship was intact.

 

12. I did not observe SUFFOLK's first two salvoes. This is attributed to the fact that they fell far to the left. SUFFOLK's third salvo was observed falling in the sea and 'SS 20 LF 20' was signalled. The next three salvoes were observed in approximately the same placed and the following salvo went 'up' considerably and hit the seaplane base. This seemed to confirm that at least part of my signals were getting through. This last salvo started a large fire, judging by the bright flame and large quantities of black smoke I am of the opinion was a petrol fire.

 

13. Three subsequent salvoes were observed to fall, one starting a similar fire about 100 200 yards to the left of the first.

 

14. Spotting signals were made for all three salvoes using the naval method in preference to the clock code due to the large distances involved.

 

15. Although a tendency to go 'right' on the target were observed, these spotting signals were obviously not being acted upon in their entirety; LF 20 was actually made.

 

16. The bursting of shells on the land was particularly hard to observe unless the observer is looking at the actual place at the time of burst. Even H.E. shell were practically impossible to see. In the opening salvoes, this is a very serious disadvantage.

 

17. At this state (0622), it was necessary for me to make my departure for the Scottish Coast. The ship had found the correct range, but was still 'left'.

 

18. My flight back was uneventful and nothing was sighted until I made landfall five miles south of Rattray Head at 0835.

 

19. In view of a Northerly wind and shortage of petrol, I turned south and landed outside Aberdeen harbour, where damage due to the launching was repaired.

 

                                                                                                         I have the honour to be, Sir,

                                                                                                         Your obedient servant

                                                                                                         (sgd) H.H. Bracken, Lieutenant

 

The Commanding Officer,

H.M.S. SUFFOLK

 

 


 

 

H.M.S. SUFFOLK

 

22nd April 1940

 

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS OF WALRUS AIRCRAFT L.2284

 

Sir,

 

I have the honour to report on my proceedings in Walrus Aircraft L.2284 during Operation DUCK.

 

2. After being catapulted off at 0450 on the 17th April, I climbed to a position of 4000 feet over the ship to stand by to take over observation of fire.

 

3. I observed H.M.S. SUFFOLK open fire and listened for spotting signals which were not heard on 6650 kc/s, which frequency was partially jammed by a broadcasting station.

 

4. The fall of the first three salvoes was not observed and at this time I received a signal by V/S from SUFFOLK to spot by V/S. The ground round the objective was covered by a recent fall of snow, which made it almost impossible to locate the objective (the intersection of the white run a ways)

 

5. At 0515, it was still fairly dark, but I observed the result of the 3rd salvo, which ignited what was, without a doubt, a petrol dump on the slip way close to the seaplane base.

 

6. The remaining salvoes, about 25 but most probably more, were observed to fall between the ignited petrol dump and the hanger, on the Northern edge of the aerodrome. The spotting signals that I passed by V/S to SUFFOLK were all to inform to the ship to go right (i.e. South), which seemed to have the desired effect. The fall of shot had reached the Northern Edge of the aircraft, when at 0548 I was obliged to leave due to the aircraft's endurance, and set course for Scotland.

 

7. The fall of shot was extraordinarily difficult to see due to snow and lack of flash of the shells landing. I was engaged intermittently by enemy A.A. fire.

 

8. I observed the following aircraft operation near the bombardment area:

 

SUFFOLK's other Walrus about 8,000 feet above me.

 

One Hudson flying around the ship and somewhere over the aerodrome.

 

I saw no enemy machines in the air.

 

9. The flight across the North Sea was uneventful. The coast was sighted 0840 and I landed on a Loch near Aberdeen to verify petrol at 0850.

 

10. As sufficient petrol remained, I proceeded to Invergordon, where I reported to Operations, Coastal Command, by telephone at 1000.

 

11. Invergordon was selected as the Aircraft had been lighted as much as possible by removing the undercarriage.

 

                                                                                                         I have the honour to be, Sir,

                                                                                                         Your obedient servant

                                                                                                         (sgd) W.R.J. MacWhirter, Lieutenant (A)

 

 

The Commanding Officer,

H.M.S. SUFFOLK

 

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