DEMS gunner losses

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Steve49, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Not sure about Lloyd's or why some of the information therein is not as accurate as one might expect from such a publication - not sure if you have an earlier edition or indeed if later editions carried changes. Indeed it may also be down to the way army DEMS were recorded and reported. After all we are still searching some today that are shown as having died at sea but no ship recorded.

    COOPER, Kenneth G, Private, Army, 5730952, age 25, Dorsetshire Regt, killed 21 March 1941, (LONDON II)

    Regards
    Hugh
     
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  2. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for that information about Pte Cooper.

    I've got the 1989 edition of Lloyd's war losses Volume 1. Regarding the merchant navy losses they are generally accurate, for example London II is listed as 18 crew and 1 gunner, with 4 crew lost (confirmed by CWGC), but there is no indication that Pte Cooper was also lost. As you say, with numerous examples of missing DEMS gunners with no details of their the loss, clearly the record keeping from that organisation was poor, which I guess explains why Lloyd's is unable to present more details picture.

    Regards

    Steve
     
  3. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Monday 24th March 1941

    JOHNSON, Stanley A, Private, Army, 4757878 (York and Lancaster Regt), killed [PlyM]

    Probably lost with the sinking of Agnete Maersk. Pte Handisides from the York and Lancaster Regt is listed as being killed on that ship on this date. Though confusingly Lloyd's says 28 crew all missing (and CWGC lists 27 crew as lost).

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  4. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    AGNETE MAERSK was lost with all hands - total crew including 2 x gunners = 29.

    HANDISIDES, Thomas, Private, Army, 4757902, age 34, York and Lancaster Regt, killed,24 March 1941, (AGNETE MAERSK).
    JOHNSON, Stanley A, Private, Army, 4757878, age 22, York and Lancaster Regt, killed 24 March 1941, (AGNETE MAERSK).

    Regards
    Hugh
     
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  5. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Monday 31st March 1941


    LEWIS, Ronald G, Fusilier, Army, 3459127 (Lancashire Fusiliers), killed [PlyM]

    O'BRIEN, Joseph, Private, Army, 3959675 (Welch Regt), killed [PlyM]


    No obvious loss on the 31st March. From the 30th I'm missing gunners from Umona. Lloyd's says lost with 83 crew, 2 gunners and 15 passengers and CWGC lists 92 Merchant Navy deaths.

    Or could be Eastlea, sunk on 24th, but its Merchant Navy and RN casualties are listed on 30th. Strangely Lloyd's doesn't list the sinking, uboat.net says 34 crew and 3 gunners killed (but then lists 35 crew and 1 gunner). CWGC lists 35 crew and 1 RN gunner.

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  6. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Steve,
    I can account for 35 crew and 1 gunner aboard EASTLEA - none named above.
    I can also only account for 87 persons aboard UMONA from primary sources including the 7 DBS passengers but no gunners or civilians shown.

    Re O'Brien and Lewis, I have both gunners shown in my database, I am not 100% sure but I think both were lost in a ship that you have not considered - the Dutch coaster CELEBES. It is a query I need confirmation off though and I have contacted the Dutch archives. Any confirmations I get for this and indeed any others I will post in these pages.
    Regards
    Hugh
     
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  7. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for that. Regarding Umona I've rechecked my records and CWGC list 93 Merchant Navy deaths (the extra on is listed on the 30th April 1941). I'm assuming that the MN passengers are included in this total. Lloyd's says 3 crew, 1 gunner and 1 passenger survived the sinking, but I've only found reports that HMS Foxhound recovered three survivors. I'm curious who the gunners are, I've looked on CWGC for possible losses on the 29th, 30th and 31st, but haven't seem any likely personnel.

    For Eastlea I've identied AB Rivington as being the gunner (thought he's listed by CWGC on the 30th). It seems that the uboat.net report of a second gunner is mistaken.

    Yes Celebes could indeed be the one for the two Army gunners. I've got lost with 7 crew, but it would stand to reason that a ship engaged in UK coastal shipping would have an air defence team embarked. Likewise if I get any new information to confirm this I'll post.

    Regards,

    Steve
     
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  8. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Thursday 3rd April 1941

    WEIR, David, Private, Army, 3194556 (King's Own Scottish Borderers), killed [PlyM]
    WILKIE, George, Lance Corporal, Army, 3193929 (King's Own Scottish Borderers), killed [PlyM]

    Possibly lost onboard S.S. Greenawn, which was lost the North Sea with 12 crew, probably after being attacked by German aircraft.
     
  9. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Steve,

    WEIR, David, Private, Army, 3194556, killed 3 April 1941 (GREENAWN)
    WILKIE, George, Lance Corporal, Army, 3193929, age 25, killed 3 April 1941 (GREENAWN)

    Regards
    Hugh
     
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  10. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Thursday 17th April 1941

    DELAHAY, Robert E, Private, Army, 6345070 (Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regt), killed [PlyM]
    McGEE, Edward, Private, Army, 6091697 (The Queen's Royal Regt), killed [PlyM]
    WATSON, Edwin F, Private, Army, 6292759 (The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regt)), killed [PlyM]

    Possibly two were killed when Eskburn was damaged by a MTB, a book Schnellboote says two killed and CWGC identifies no crew losses. And another could have been lost when Effra was sunk, as Lloyd's says two missing and only one crew loss is listed by CWGC.

    Any ideas?

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  11. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Steve,
    I have nothing in my database for the three gunners lost on 17th April 1941 - more research work needed there but certainly worth trying to obtain the 1941 crew agreement for ESKBURN held at Kew in piece BT 381/1323.

    The losses for EFFRA on that date were AB Joseph Morell Burell - Merchant Navy and AB George William Howell - Royal Navy (DEMS).

    Howell, shown as lost at sea from EFFRA on 17 April but CWGC have a date of death as 3 May 1941 - his body must have been recovered from the sea as he is buried at
    SOUTHWOLD (ST. EDMUND) CHURCHYARD
    Sec. P.
    United Kingdom

    Regards
    Hugh
     
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  12. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for the information on Howell. I hadn't made the connection with him to Effra due to the 3rd May death and the fact naval-history had put his ship as 'Essra'. Yes I had AB Burell as the lost crew member.

    Eskburn is another one for the Kew list. I was hoping to visit next Tuesday via my journey to work, but unfortunately my Easyjet flight fell victim to the French 'Amber plus' status, so I'll be getting the train to Calais now. Sadly my visit to Kew will have to wait once more...

    Regards,

    Steve
     
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  13. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Sunday 20th April 1941

    KNOWLES, James G, Private, Army, 5346743 (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry), killed [PlyM]

    Possibly lost on Empire Endurance. The casualties for this sinking a bit confusing, CWGC identified casualties are 54 Merchant crew and 1 RNR passenger (plus two unidentified gunners) and the number of survivors appear to be 24. Namely 18 crew, 2 gunners and 4 passengers picked up from a lifeboat by HMCS Trillium on the 21st and 4 survivors picked up by Highland Brigade on the 9th May (another 24 survivors in this lifeboat died of exposure before or soon after recovery). Lloyd's says 89 crew and 5 passengers, of whom 20 crew and 4 passengers picked up, uboat.net says 39 crew, 2 gunners and 1 passenger lost in the sinking, plus another 24 crew who died of exposure, but then only lists 54 crew and 1 RNR passenger deaths. The reason for the discrepancy regarding the other nine 'missing' crew is unclear.

    Alternatively the gunners lost with Empire Endurance could be the following, with their dates of death incorrectly listed.

    Monday 21st April 1941

    BAKER, Frederick P, Gunner, RA 1547939 (4 Maritime Regt), killed [PlyM]
    SMITH, William R L, Gunner, RA, 4078163 (4 Maritime Regt), killed [PlyM]

    Any ideas?

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  14. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Steve,
    Let's try and deal with EMPIRE ENDURANCE first but without all the primary sources we will come up short, I guess.

    Some of the online research that I have seen is way off the mark - one site even had the RNR passenger listed as the ship's Master - I guess that was just ignorance with regard to the differences between a Skipper RNR and a Captain MN.

    There were two surviviors reports, one from Second Radio Officer D. McKeith and another by the Chief Officer D.S. Davies. McKeith states in his report that the crew numbered 69 this included 4 military gunners. In addition the ship was carrying as passengers 1 Sub Lt, RNR and 4 naval ratings. He also states that 24 of those on board were saved including the 4 naval ratings and 2 military gunners [which suggests, of course, that 2 military gunners were indeed lost]. There is ambiguity however as we also know that 7 others including the Chief Officer were rescued by HIGHLAND BRIGADE some of whom subsequently died.

    Hopefully the 1941 crew agreement for EMPIRE ENDURANCE [164841] held at Kew in piece BT 381/1624 will help with regard to numbers but no guarantee as the log was lost with the ship and we hope that the shore copy would be accurate but this is not always the case with ships that were lost.

    I have the two Maritime Regiment gunners Baker and Smith in my database as having been killed ashore - I do not know the cause of death or if they were attached to a ship at the time.

    Unfortunately, I have nothing on Private James G. Knowles. More work to do.

    Regards
    Hugh
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  15. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    'I have the two Maritime Regiment gunners Baker and Smith in my database as having been killed ashore - I do not know the cause of death or if they were attached to a ship at the time.'

    Hi Hugh,

    I have BLAIR, John, Gunner, RA, 1607628 (5/3 Maritime Regt) [PLYMOUTH (WESTON MILL) CEMETERY] lost on the 21st April, probably after being killed in the German air raids that targeted Plymouth/Devonport on this date. So it is possible that the Maritime Regt gunners perished in similar circumstances, but their bodies could not be recovered, thus explaining their listing on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. The majority of the more 120 naval personnel killed during the air raid have burial plots, but two are listed on the Plymouth Memorial.

    Regards,

    Steve

    Edit: Just looked at my Brookwood list and noticed the following entry for 20th April 1941.

    BUCKLEY, Charles, Private, Army, 5346626 (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry), killed [BM]

    He is not listed by CWGC as a DEMS gunner, but that is not a unique occurrence . Considering his unit and the date of his loss, he might be well be the second Empire Endurance lost gunner. As you say more work required, but an interesting possibility for placing him and Knowles.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  16. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Steve,
    Just discovered that Buckley and Knowles were initially thought of as missing at sea this was changed to killed in action at sea. If you note below Buckley is noted as D.E.M.S. I would suggest they served and died together. EMPIRE ENDURANCE would be one to check out.

    dems.JPG
    Regards
    Hugh
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  17. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Tuesday 22nd April 1941

    PEMBLETON, Frederick R, Fusilier, 6982091 (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) [CARLTON (GEDLING) CEMETERY]

    No obvious ship loss, several were damaged by aircraft during the day, but also he may have died ashore. Any ideas?

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  18. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2021
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  19. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Gents,

    Sunday 27th April 1941

    AYRE, Harold, Sergeant, RA, 5882422 (2/1 Maritime Regt), killed [PoM]

    No clear ship from Lloyd's, possibly lost in a non-hostile incident.

    The only incident on this date that could involve missing gunners is the sinking of Dutch vessel Slamat, but it seems that, that ships 21 gunners were Australian/New Zealand personnel (including two RANR gunners who were lost).

    Regards,

    Steve
     
  20. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    I can only tell you that he was initially missing from April 1941 in the Greece theatre so could quite easily have been aboard SLAMAT as crew or being transported.

    Some files that may assist - WO 361/141 - Casualties at sea, Mediterranean (evacuation of Greece and Crete): SS Slamat

    WO 361/139 - Casualties at sea, Mediterranean (evacuation of Greece and Crete): HMS Diamond, sunk on 27 April 1941; had picked up survivors from SS Slamat and Pennland


    WO 361/140 - Casualties at sea, Mediterranean (evacuation of Greece and Crete): HMS Wryneck, sunk on 27 April 1941; had picked up survivors from SS Slamat and Pennland

    HMS DIAMOND AND HMS WRYNECK picked up survivors but were then both sunk themselves in the air attack so a browse of those file may or may not find him mentioned.

    Regards
    Hugh



     
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