DEMS gunner losses

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

  1. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member


    Saturday 7th June 1941

    GILL, Ernest F, Gunner, RA (4 Maritime Regt) 3460854 [MANCHESTER SOUTHERN CEMETERY]

    No obvious shipping event and with his place of burial being ashore, would seem to indicate a none shipping related loss. Any ideas?


  2. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Nothing to add Steve. He appears to have 'died' rather than killed or accident.

    GILL, Gunner, ERNEST FIELDING, 3460854, 4 Maritime A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery. 7 June 1941. Age 33. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gill, of Levenshulme, Manchester. Grave Ref. Sec. Z. C. of E. Grave 2473.

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  3. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for that. Yes the euphemism 'died' would indicate a none hostile death.


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  4. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member


    Sunday 8th June 1941

    CROFT, Thomas E, Gunner, RA (1/1 Maritime Regt), 889740, killed [PoM]
    MOTTRAM, Harold, Gunner, RA (1/1 Maritime Regt), 3600568, killed [PoM]

    Being the same unit and missing, would seem to indicate being lost at sea, but I can't identify an incident on this date which could have involved them. Any ideas?


  5. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Steve,
    They were lost on TREVARRACK which was lost with all hands.

    CROFT, Gunner, THOMAS EDWARD, 889740, 1/1 Maritime Regt., Royal Artillery. (SS Trevarrack) 8 June 1941. Age 21. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Croft, of Litherland, Lancashire. Panel 61, Column 2.
    MOTTRAM, Gunner, HAROLD, 3600568, 1/1 Maritime Regt., Royal Artillery. (SS Trevarrack) 8 June 1941. Panel 61, Column 2.

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  6. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for that. I had the five RN gunners lost with that sinking, but I hadn't connected the two Army gunners. Curiously I see that the sinking isn't listed in Lloyd's war losses.


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  7. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member


    Wednesday 11th June 1941

    THURSTON, Jonathen W, Bombardier, RA (5/3 Maritime Regt), 3966502, killed [ChM]

    Probably lost after S.S. Baron Carnegie was sunk. Lloyd's says 25 killed/missing from 39 onboard (including 3 RN and 2 Military gunners). CWGC lists 23 crew lost and I already have Gnr Nolan as one of the Army gunners lost with this sinking. Any ideas?


  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Steve,
    To confirm what you already suspected.

    THURSTON, Bombardier, JONATHEN WILLIAM, 3966502, 5/3 Maritime Regt., Royal Artillery. (SS Baron Carnegie) 11 June 1941. 50, 3.

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  9. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Friday 20th June 1941?

    HATCHER, Leonard, Gunner, RA (4/2 Maritime Regt), 6286762, killed [PlyM]
    SULLIVAN, Frederick W, Gunner, RA (4 Maritime Regt), 6286982, killed [PlyM]

    The two gunners are listed by as being lost onboard Silverpalm when that ship was sunk on the 9th June 1941. CWGC also list their deaths on the 9th, but the 2nd Maritime Regiment War Dairy (WO166/3388) lists them as being lost with Dutch ship Schieland on the 21st June.

    Any ideas which is correct?


  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron


    States lost 9th June 1941 Motor Vessel SILVERPALM built by J. L. Thompson & Sons Ltd. in 1929 for Silver Line Ltd. - S. & J. Thompson Ltd., London, Passenger / Cargo

    States below lost on 12th June then a number of crew found dead in lifeboat on 15th July 1941

    Assumption made below on name of ship loss

    At 03.26 hours on 12 Jun, 1941, U-371 hit a vessel of the Kent or Tongario type with two torpedoes and observed it sinking after 38 minutes. This must have been the Silverpalm (Master Richard Long Pallett), which was reported missing in the North Atlantic after being seen the last time on 1 June. On 15 July, a lifeboat with eight bodies was sighted by the British trawler Cave in grid AE 8569. The master, 53 crew members, eleven gunners and three passengers were lost. Read more at wrecksite:
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  11. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Clive,

    Thanks for that.

    Axis submarine successes credits the loss of Silverpalm to U101 at 18:35 on the 9th June. It doesn't identify the ship claimed by U371 on the 12th.

    Curiously CWGC only records the loss of 24 of the 54 missing crew from Silverpalm.


    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
  12. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Steve,
    Both gunners were lost on SILVERPALM. They were both 4 Maritime Regt - wondering why they are mentioned in 2 Maritime Regt W.D.?
    This is interesting, most sources have a total complement of about 68 and yet as you say there are about 20 seamen missing from the CWGC if the complement is correct. Obviously, the last crew agreement, if it has survived, would be key to establishing the crew and details within the logbook [Red Copy] may need to be checked if there were any more passengers.

    I don't have complete access to all my sources at the moment but I can see about 20 Chinese seamen noted in the Deaths at Sea Index for 1948 against SILVERPALM. Now as far as I am aware there was no other ship called SILVERPALM after 1941 so they must belong to the 1941 sinking. And, again, if that is true, they may have been missed by the CWGC and are non-commemorations. They are difficult to research for obvious reasons.

    The motorship SILVERPALM, Capt. R. L. Pallett, left Calcutta on April 17th, 1941, and Freetown on May 31st for Glasgow. She was sighted by the steamship SILVERLAUREL at 6.30 a.m. on June 1st. Nothing more was heard of the ship until, on July 17th, a ship's boat was found about 500 miles W. of the Hebrides containing eight bodies. Papers found on the bodies identified them as members of the crew of the SILVERPALM. The ship carried a crew of 54, 11 gunners and three passengers. [Dictionary of Disasters at Sea]

    I can identify the eleven gunners and the three passenger’s were DBS and shown as ship's crew on CWGC.

    Chief Officer George C.R. Stephenson
    Chief Engineer Hugh Campbell
    Third Engineer Joseph Green Mitchell

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  13. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Hugh,

    Thanks for that. Yes I can't understand why the 2nd Maritime Regiment WD list them on the Dutch ship. I've only got my handwritten notes, but the mention includes their serial numbers so there is no mistaking that its them.

    Thanks for the information about the three passengers, I had wondered why the ship had two Chief Engineers and two Chief Officers.


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  14. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Saturday 21st June 1941

    BOOTH, Eric W, Gunner, RA (6/3 Maritime Regt), 1572590, killed [ChM]

    No obvious loss. Possibly Gnr Booth was killed when Criton was intercepted by French patrol boat Air France IV NNW of Freetown. Lloyd's and the book 'La Marine Marchande Française' say 10 killed (though I suspect the book just took their information from Lloyd's), but CWGC lists no Criton crew deaths on the 21st. Lloyd's says 24 off the crew were interned, off whom 4 died during this or after being released. CWGC lists these 4 deaths.

    Any ideas?


  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Interesting story

    On 9 May 1941 HMS CILICIA stopped and captured Vichy French ship CRITON , and escorted her into Freetown. CRITON had carried a cargo of shells to replenish the garrison shore-batteries at Dakar following de Gaulle's abortive raid. CRITON 's French captain had her extensively sabotaged en route for Freetown, and even tried to ram CILICIA in Freetown roads. Some of CRITON 's French crew were pro-British, but most were very anti, including her captain (Capt Illisbule ). In Freetown, the RN appointed Ropner's as managers, despite the fact that she had not been through a prize court, and CRITON was crewed by a scratch crew of volunteers who were all looking for a rapid means of returning to the UK having recently lost their own ships - for example, Peter de Neumann, GM (later Captain), was due to be married and was trying to get home quickly, signed on as her Second Officer. CRITON sailed in convoy SL78, but could not maintain convoy speed due to the sabotage, and was ordered back to Freetown at noon on 20 June by the convoy escort, HMS ESPERANCE BAY . At 0930 GMT on the morning of the 21st June 1941, the CRITON spotted two unflagged warships approaching them from the direction of Conakry. One of these vessels ( EDITH GERMAINE ) went out to sea, and cut off any escape route. The other ( AIR FRANCE 4 ) ordered the CRITON to stop, whilst approaching from the port quarter. The CRITON immediately transmitted a radio message saying that they were about to be attacked. With this the AIR FRANCE 4 fired a shot at the CRITON , either at the radio room, or across the bows, and once more ordered the CRITON to stop. Immediately after the shot both warships raised French Ensigns. The CRITON then slowed, as it then appeared better to try and bluff it out rather than continue to attempt to escape. The AIR FRANCE 4 then signalled the CRITON demanding to have identification. The CRITON played for time, whilst the ship's international signal letters group was discovered, of course, the hope was that aircraft or a British warship would be sent to assist. The AIR FRANCE 4 came up alongside the CRITON , lay off about 50 yards and threatened the CRITON with its machine guns. In response to this threat the CRITON was forced into displaying, or maybe attempted a bluff by displaying, a set of flags which were obtained from the Flag locker, and which probably were the signal letters of the ship. For the CRITON these would have comprised the letter F (for France) followed by three other letters (identifying the ship). The AIR FRANCE 4 then ordered the CRITON to "Turnabout" and proceed into Conakry. CRITON replied telling AIR FRANCE 4 to "Go to Hell", and held her course. This verbal confrontation took place with the use of old fashioned megaphones! At this time (noon) two and a half hours had elapsed since CRITON first sighted the warships, and, no doubt, the French realised the danger which they might be in, and this coupled with the strange behaviour of the CRITON made the Captain of the AIR FRANCE 4 rather jumpy. Losing patience the AIR FRANCE 4 came to within 30 yards of the CRITON , and opened up with her machine guns. The Captain of the CRITON ordered "Full Speed Ahead", and whilst the CRITON gathered speed, the AIR FRANCE 4 began shelling the CRITON with her 75mm gun. Several members of the crew of the CRITON were injured during this event. Immediately the shelling commenced the Captain of the CRITON ordered "Stop Engines" and "Abandon Ship". The AIR FRANCE 4 fired some forty-five 75mm rounds at the CRITON , hitting her superstructure, but especially firing at her water line. Since the cargo was iron-ore which is very dense, the holds were mainly empty, even with a full load, and hence the shells which hit the hull went right through. Some shells narrowly missing de Neumann's boat, which was being launched on the far-side (and therefore invisible from AIR FRANCE 4 ). Captain Dobeson was the last to leave CRITON , but fell into de Neumann's boat and badly injured himself. After some time in the boats, and when the CRITON was adjudged to be thoroughly disabled, the survivors were picked up by AIR FRANCE 4 and taken into Conakry. At Conakry they were disembarked into a banana shed on one of the wharves and kept under guard for several hours until the police arrived. The men were then taken to a concentration camp in the jungle, about four miles outside of Conakry, where they were forced with bayonets and rifle butts into a specially prepared and wired off compound in a camp that was already occupied by Europeans. CRITON' s crew later learned that these other occupants were merchant seamen from sunken Allied merchant ships who had made landfall from their lifeboats on Vichy territory. However CRITON' s crew, and especially her executive officers were singled out for special treatment and kept isolated from the others with the threat that anyone who tried to talk through the wire would be shot. CRITON 's crew were individually interrogated by the French Colonial Police, whom CRITON 's crew regarded as effectively Gestapo. Quite quickly the French Naval Authorities had realised that, embarrassingly, they had sunk their own ship, and thus during the first weeks of their internment in "Sept Kilometres" camp, Conakry, these authorities attempted to blackmail the Officers (by suggesting it would be in their interests), to sign a statement saying that the CRITON had been scuttled. This the Captain and Officers steadfastly refused to do, and so the (Vichy) French Navy court-martialled the executive officers, charging them with piracy and acting as frank-tireurs. They were all found guilty, and, no doubt remembering Captain Fryatt, who was shot by the Germans as a frank-tireur in the First World War, wondered what their fate would be. This accusation was based on a technicality: the fact that the CRITON had displayed her French registration in answering the call for identification. The Vichy French Naval Authorities appeared to be desperate to blame the crew of the CRITON for the events which led to its sinking, presumably because they sank their own ship. The treatment of the survivors was uniformly bad, and they were kept isolated from other allied internees. In fact it was made clear that the crew of the CRITON were to receive special treatment. On September 26, 1941, the whole crew, except those in hospital in Conakry, were ordered out of the camp and into trucks. With a heavily armed guard they were escorted into the jungle, and they started to think that they were to be shot, but it turned out that they were being taken to Conakry railway station. Here they were put on board a train, and a journey began to an unknown destination that lasted until October 7, 1941, when they arrived, they discovered in the legendary city of Timbuctoo. Conditions in Conakry had been awful, but conditions in Timbuctoo were even worse. They remained in Timbuctoo, being kept under really poor conditions until August 5, 1942, when they were once more embarked upon a journey with unknown destination. On August 24, 1942, they arrived at a camp set up in an agricultural college just outside Kankan. Here they remained until December 14, 1942, when they began their journey of repatriation, arriving at Freetown on December 18, 1942. From Freetown they sailed back to the Clyde arriving on January 15, 1943. Peter de Neumann attended his investiture at Buckingham Palace on February 11th 1943, the story appeared in the national press the next day under the headline "The Man From Timbuctoo" (a title that stuck to him for the rest of his life), and he was married on February 13, 1943. After some survivors leave, he returned to sea. The crew of the CRITON received far worse treatment than any other British prisoners of the Vichy French, and were imprisoned longer than other prisoners in West Africa. After the war the French government made an ex gratia payment to the British government in compensation, but did not apologise. To add insult to injury, the British Labour government of the day kept the money, and the exceedingly poor treatment of the crew of the CRITON conveniently forgotten. Like the Japanese, the Vichy French withheld medicines, Red Cross parcels, clothing and footwear, leaving them rotting in the sun. Captain Gerald Dobeson, CRITON 's Master, received a King's Commendation for Brave Conduct in June 1943.

    CRITON crew who died: William Freeman - 19 November 1942. Douglas Hyland - 16 January 1943. Jack Savage - 10 September 1941. William T. Williams (Striker) - 20 August 1942. The following two from ALLENDE died and are buried in Timbuctoo. They were briefly imprisoned with CRITON 's crew following ALLENDE 's loss on 17 March 1942: John Graham - 2 May 1942. Allende William Soutter - 28 May 1942. Allende Read more at wrecksite:

    No mention of Booth

    BBC - WW2 People's War - A Fateful Voyage: Convoy under Attack in the Atlantic (Part 2) - Tale of Unexploded Bombs and Heroism
    CRITON's entire crew list follows:
    Captain Dobeson, G.T. WRAY CASTLE
    Chief Officer Chalmers, R.L. BENVENUE
    2nd Officer de Neumann, B.P. TEWKESBURY, EXHIBITOR, HMS CILICIA
    3rd Officer Christie, J.W. BENVENUE
    Token Prize Crew Stretton, S.K. HMS QUEEN OF BERMUDA
    Chief Engineer Clear, N.T. BRITISH GRENADIER
    2nd Engineer Francis, S. WRAY CASTLE
    3rd Engineer Armstrong, J. BRITISH GRENADIER
    4th Engineer Taylor, A.L. BENVRACKIE
    1st Radio Officer Carter, R. JHELUM
    2nd Radio Officer Whalley, G.A. MEMNON
    3rd Radio Officer Johnson, P. MEMNON
    Chief Steward Robert, L.C. BRITISH GRENADIER
    2nd Steward Gregory, H.A. BRITISH GRENADIER
    3rd Steward Hyland, D. BRITISH GRENADIER
    Cabin Boy Vaughan, G.C. TWEED
    Bosun Macleod, D. BRITISH GRENADIER
    Carpenter Ago (Burton) BRITISH GRENADIER
    Cook Oliver, R. TWEED
    Sailors Hunter, A. BRITISH GRENADIER
    Taylor, A. (Lewis Gunner?) WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
    Young, L. TEWKESBURY
    Prentice, R.J. BENVRACKIE
    Beresford, J. (Lewis Gunner ) WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (paid off at Freetown)
    Birdsell, L. (Lewis Gunner ) WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (paid off at Freetown)
    Nott, A. (Lewis Gunner ) TUNISIA (paid off at Freetown)
    All below natives from Freetown.
    Sailor Bounbouctar, A.
    Cook Mane, S
    Greasers Campbell, J.
    Korka, M.
    Chryser, E.
    Savage, J.
    Firemen Brainard, C
    Dixon, S
    Williams, G
    Williams, G
    Deen, N
    Caba, F
    Sams, W
    Johnson, P
    Parmar, P
    Camara, A
    Sanes, J
    Thomas, M
    Stowaway Michel, T
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  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Eric Walter Booth | War memorials
    drop them a line

    Eric Walter Booth
    Memorial: Thornbury & District Museum: 6th Maritime Regiment Memorial

    Regiment: 6th Maritime Regiment

    Medals: 1939–45 Star, War Medal 1939–1945

    Rank and number: Gunner

    Parents: William Walter and Lilian Booth

    Home address: 37 Windsor, Salford, Lancashire

    Pre-war occupation: Pipe Fitter for Enginerring Company

    Date of birth: 1920

    Date of death: 21/06/1941

    Buried/Commemorated at: Died at sea and commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial and the Maritime Memorial Thornbury

    Age: 21
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  17. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    This should also help tie up your #109.
    BOOTH, Gunner, ERIC WALTER, 1572590, 6/3 Maritime Regt., Royal Artillery. (SS SCHIELAND) 21 June 1941. Age 21. Son of William Walter and Lilian Booth, of Salford, Lancashire. 50, 3.

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  18. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Monday 23rd June 1941

    SHAW, James, Gunner, RA (1 Maritime Regt), 1560446, killed [PoM]]

    Probably lost after S.S. Trelissick attacked by German aircraft in the North Sea. Lloyd's says 2 killed from 42 crew onboard. CWGC lists 1 Merchant Navy crew loss.


  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: James Shaw
    Given Initials: J
    Rank: Gunner
    Death Date: 23 Jun 1941
    Number: 1560446
    Birth Place: Stockport
    Residence: Cheshire
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War: At sea
    Regiment at Death: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death: Royal Artillery

    James Shaw
    BIRTH 8 OCTOBER 1885 • Salford, Lancashire, England
    DEATH 23 JUNE 1941
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  20. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Your guess confirmed as correct. From my database.

    SHAW, Gunner, JAMES, 1560446, 1 Maritime Regt., Royal Artillery. 23 June 1941. Age 26. Panel 61, Column 2. [ss TRELISSICK]

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
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