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Operations April to June 1940
Area of Operations, only some
locations in text are shown
H.M.S. SUFFOLK / OPERATION DUCK
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
pen insertion: 'Speed increased to 19 knots.')
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Second escort of 3 Hudsons to take over at
0600 in position JSOX 5726 and remain while fuel permitted, approximately 0845.
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.
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
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
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.
have the honour to be, Sir,
(sgd) J.W. Durnford,
The Secretary to the Admiralty
(Copies to: The Commander in Chief, Home
Commander in Chief, Rosyth
Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron
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
Sub Lieutenant (E) F.H. Collins, R.N.V.R.
S.P.O. William H.
Sto. William W. Ives. P/KX.85880
Sto. 1. Leslie L. Bolster.
Frank H. Chapman. Sto.1. P/KX. 96739
Sto. 1. Bernard Sweeney. P/KX.91856
E.R.A. William H. Powell. P/MX.55656
O.A. William Moore. P/MX. 57430
A.B. Alfred Wright. P/J.57430
Po.22666 Mne W.S.
Po.X.1229. Mne D.
Po.X.1778 Corporal A.D. Martin
Po.X.2803. Mne N.
Mne P.L. Nichols
Mne J.G. Fairley
Mne R. Napier
Mne T.B. Williamson
Po.X. 3782. Mne
Cordite Handing Room
Po.X.2530. Corporal J.R. Parker
Mne A. Bennett
Mne W.C. Lane
Po.3629. Mne W.
Died of wounds
received – Shock following burns
Mechn. Thomas A.W. Elson. P/K.63318
Sto.1. Alfred H. Hefford.
Sto.1. Daniel Sheppard. P/KX 96745
E.R.A. William Perkins. P.MX 60294 in
Sto.1. George Roberts. P/KX 88954 in
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.
Po.X. 1218. Mne L.G. Hood
Po.X.2855. Corporal F.C. Bevan
Po.X.3589. Mne N.
Po.X.1086. Corporal H.W. Tindell
Po.X.1117. Mne H.
Po.X.3929. Mne G.
'X' and 'Y' Lobby
Po.X.3835. Boy Bugler R.L. Anchor
face and hands
Leslie F. Stedman. Boy 1/c. P/JX.159889
(n.b. as entered. Correct
number P.JX 160195)
Boy 1/c. P/SSX.29177
Gordon Forbes. O.Sea.
Frederick Gaynor. Boy 1/c. P/JX.159889
face, arms, and shoulders
Mr. A.L.C. Walters, A/Wt Engr.
E.R.A. Harold Swailes,
face and hands
George Byng. E.R.A. P.MX 48893
Alexander C. Poulter. Ldg Sto.
Maurice Grant. E.R.A. P/MX 48747
(n.b. in Admiralty
list number as P/MX.46747)
James Dobie. Sto.1.
David Milledge. Sto.1.
right eye (shell splinter)
Boy 1. Raymond Farnish.
face, hands, and legs
Payr Cadet M. Hay
Cordite Handing Room
face and hands
Richard Crayton. Cook.
'X' and 'Y' Lobby
traumatic amputation of right hand
James Funnell. A.B.
hands and injury to back
Joseph Morgan. Boy Tel. P/JX.161651
face and hands
Sydney Pryke. O.
No. 8 Fire
Party (Gun Room Flat)
No. 9 Fire
Party (Ward Room Flat)
face, hands, and knees
Alfred J. Walker. Sto
Alex Cunningham. Sto
Ch. Sto. P/K.60095
Joseph Pickering. Sto.1. P/K.96742.
24th April, 1940
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS – WALRUS L.2281
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
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
13. Three subsequent salvoes were observed
to fall, one starting a similar fire about 100 – 200 yards to the left of
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.
have the honour to be, Sir,
(sgd) H.H. Bracken, Lieutenant
The Commanding Officer,
22nd April 1940
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS OF WALRUS AIRCRAFT L.2284
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
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:
Walrus about 8,000 feet above me.
One Hudson flying around the ship and somewhere over the
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.
was selected as the Aircraft had been lighted as much as possible by removing
have the honour to be, Sir,
(sgd) W.R.J. MacWhirter,
The Commanding Officer,