HMS Odyssey and Special Operations - Does anybody know?

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by H2T OZ, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. H2T OZ

    H2T OZ Member

    Hello all,

    Is there anybody who can provide some assistance or clues to do with this puzzle?? Or maybe it is Ultra Secret??

    I am researching my grandfather's WW2 naval service history, and based on the certificate of service details he was enlisted as an ordinary seaman at HMS Collingwood in August 1943.
    (photo with 3 other ratings attached. Left Centre: My grandfather Nichol WILLIAMSON JX 523236 Signalman)

    His certificate of service details are as follows;

    HMS Collingwood - Ord Sea - 3rd Aug, 1943 to 14th Sept. 1943
    HMS Valkyrie II - Ord Sea - 18th Sept, 1943 to 28th Oct, 1943
    HMS Valkyrie II - Ord Sig. - 29th Oct, 1943 to 29th Feb, 1944
    HMS Mercury - Ord Sig. - 1st Mar, 1944 to 1st June, 1944
    HMS Odyssey - Ord Sig. - 2nd June, 1944 to 22nd June 1944
    HMS Odyssey - Sig. - 23rd June, 1944 to 5th Mar, 1945
    HMS Flycatcher - Sig. - 6th Mar, 1945 to 31st Mar, 1945 (MONAB 6 - Prep. in U.K.)
    HMS Nabstock - Sig. - 1st Apr, 1945 to 1st June 1946 (MONAB 6 - Australia)
    HMS Mercury - Sig. - 8th June, 1946 to 29th July, 1946
    HMS Mercury - Sig. - 30th July, 1946 to 25th Sept, 1946

    The story our entire family was told when he did talk about WW2 was the way we all thought it happened, but it was when his cert. of service came to light that questions started flying about what his roll in the war actually was.

    While researching his service history I have come to understand that the listed ships are stone frigates or shore establishments, but the portion of this that is most intriguing is HMS Odyssey around the time of the Normandy D-Day operations.

    I have read numerous forums, documents and webpages that discuss Combined Operations, Assault Units, Beach Commandos and so on that utilized RN Signals ratings for special operations in various battle theaters, and it seems unusual that his rating/ranking never exceeded that of a signalman over the course of 3 years in the Royal Navy. As far as we know, he has received stars and medals for Africa Star, France/Germany Star, Atlantic Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, and War Medal, but we have no idea as to the scope of his involvement.

    From a family perspective, we are currently sourcing MoD for his service record to see if it can shed some light on his service during WW2, but similar stories that I have come across indicate that information about HMS Odyssey in particular, and the Naval Parties organized and dispatched from there remain classified and it will be some time before they are made public.

    I am interested in making contact with others who are searching for information/answers if available that will assist in better understanding of what my grandad contributed during WW2.

    I look forward to hearing from you all soon.



    Attached Images
    • [​IMG]
  2. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Hi welcome to the forum H2T OZ

    All the best

  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    HMS Odyssey was a "Stone Frigate" a shore training and holding Establishment. It was previosly called HMS Excellent II. Personnel held on its accounts would have been involved in the clearing of recently captured enemy ports among other Combined Operations Duties.

    It was based at the Collingwood Hotel in Ifracombe

    HMS Osprey was decommissioned on 31 May 1946

    A search of the Combined Operations sites and the Stone frigates site will provide more information also a search of Google images with show some results
  4. H2T OZ

    H2T OZ Member

    Hi Jedburgh22,

    I have already researched about the shore establishments and their function, it's the details in between that I am in search of now.

    I am in the process of applying to the MoD for his service record, and until that can shed some light on the subject, it is good to read
    a broad range information and view photos from WW2, and it assists in my better understanding of the war.

    Who knows, I might come across something!

    H2T OZ
  5. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    There will be more to be found in the various Combined Operations Histories at the National Archives - these are to be found in file groups ADM, DEFE, & WO if you PM me your email address I can send you a list of these files in a spreadsheet
  6. tashamarques

    tashamarques New Member


    My grandad also has the Odyssey on his ship list, just under the Excellent II Evolution. We are waiting for the records from the MoD but I am trying to find out as much as possible. His naval certificate is just a copy and if the Odyssey isn't a ship then he doesn't appear to have left a shore establishment but received the Pacific star, Atlantic star, Arctic star etc. So confused and we have been warned that the records may not show anything. He passed away in 1989 so that bit of history will die with him -_-
  7. tashamarques

    tashamarques New Member

    Just looked at dates and they were at the Odyssey together :)
  8. Dorimort

    Dorimort New Member

    Just a couple of points which I have experienced in researching relatives in similar potentially classified areas - you need to apply a little lateral thinking in interpreting the Naval Service records. IN some cases the records will show a posting to a "stone frigate" or "Admin base" because everyone had to be attached to something under Naval discipline law, even when travelling. If you have formally requested your grandfather's records already that is great, but when they arrive, check and make sure you have received copies of his victualling and pay records. If not then a follow up request should get them for you at no extra cost. When you get these records, look for the small side notes and scribbles made anywhere on the form. They are nit made for fun, they all can act as a significant pointed for you. In my case such a scribble pointed to HMS Osprey, whilst another pointed to "A/s Trawlers", and yes they were connected - anti-submarine trawler duties around Iceland following A/S research duties out of Clyde (where HMS Osprey was located.

    Furthermore campaign medals are quite specific in their qualification requirements. If the Arctic Star is awarded that signifies for naval personnel, service above the Arctic circle, whereas the Africa Star was awarded to those serving anywhere in the Med.

    Have you researched the UK Navy Lists - only applicable if your relative was an officer.

    You will also find that during hostilities crew were "Lent" to other establishments for a period of time - this will not necessarily appear on the service record but will appear on the victualling (food and accommodation) records
  9. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello and welcome Dorimort,

    A pretty useful first post on RN records. I agree entirely on getting a copy of the pay and victualling records especially for those 'Lent' but there are some instances where still the accounting base is the only information shown unfortunately. Another thing to note is that the stone frigate or base ship will usually be shown first and if there is a ship or unit marked in brackets next to it then that is the place he was lent to.

    The RN were still using this form of record when I served in the mid 70s and 80s - pretty useless for those looking to find a full service history of their relatives.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  10. Donald Dunlop

    Donald Dunlop Member


    My father was at HMS Odyssey as a Ord Tel Rating, he served 21 Jan 1944 until 31 March 1945.
    I have searched sites with his certificate of service number and according to all there is no record of him ever serving.
    I have details that shows he was on the beaches on D Day -1 and I remember him telling me about digging in on the beaches for radio communications.
    My older cousins also say that he was on the beaches.
    Official records show he was never there and that HMS Odyssey was just an administrative building.
    Any information you have would be wonderful.

  11. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Disregard HMS Odyssey - it is only where his records will have been held. From what you say it sounds likely your father could have been in a RN Beach Commando.
    Royal Naval Beach Commandos 1942-45
    Composition of a RN Beach Commando can be seen here:
    Royal navy
    See Hugh's #9. If you haven't already applied for your father's Service Record from the MoD then do so. It may help, it may not but it may reveal where he was before D Day (ie. special training).
    Get a copy of military service records

    Roy Martin and Tricky Dicky like this.
  12. Donald Dunlop

    Donald Dunlop Member


    Many thanks, i've sent for his records. In his bible he records on the beaches monday & tuesday, as he was in communications where these guys sent in the day or nigh before 6th June

    Attached Files:

  13. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    A Signals Officer commemorated on CWGC and listed as having served on HMS Odyssey (and a naval rating who was also killed). This happened on HMS Bulolo, the command ship for Gold Beach. A bomb landed in the officers quarters causing a fire at 0605 hrs. Fires put out at 0645.

    2 men killed on Wednesday, 7 June:-

    OAKER, Cyril L, Ty/Act/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, killed
    YOUNG, George, Able Seaman, P/JX 234664, killed

    This vessel went back to on 27 June 1944 (having collided with LCT 1010 on the way back).
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
    timuk likes this.
  14. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    D-Day was a Tuesday. I, personally, am unaware of any RN landings the previous day. As I understand it the first in on D-Day on Gold, Juno and Sword were frogmen from 10 RN&RM LCOCUs (Landing Craft Obstacle Clearance Units). These were closely followed in the first wave landings by men of the RN Beach Commandos with the Beachmasters and Communicators.

  15. Donald Dunlop

    Donald Dunlop Member

    i sent off for my dads records and the following reply was given. I do know he was on the beach on D Day but surly the navy would admit the fact, or is the facts still to be released yet.
    Any help would be great

    Attached Files:

  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    It's not a case of the Navy not admitting your Dad landed on D-Day it is more a fact that there is nothing in his records to say he was. This is quite normal with navy records. Even if he had been on a seagoing ship you would not know where he was without searching for other records (eg. Ship's log, War Diaries etc). His Service Record will merely state he was in HMS XYZ, even that is not definite as he might have been on leave, sick, on a course or whatever when a particular incident happened.
    My guess as he was a Telegraphist is that he was part of a RNBSS (Royal Naval Beach Signal Station). Whether personnel lists
    for these exist I don't know. There are a couple in my previous link to RN Beach Commandos but your Dad is not listed on these.

  17. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Donald,
    Did you specifically ask for a copy of his Pay & Victualing Ledger?
    timuk likes this.
  18. Donald Dunlop

    Donald Dunlop Member

    Thanks Hugh

    I am going to ask for an internal review and take my questioning further, I cant understand why they have no records at all.
  19. Donald Dunlop

    Donald Dunlop Member


    I finally reply from the Navy and got my father pay and victualing.
    He was with Force S (Beach Party 1569 Fun Shore) at Sword Beach, not a great deal pops up on the internet, any advise on where next.
    It would be great if someone or there relatives can be contacted.
  20. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Donald,
    It is good that you persevered and got a result. Naval records are difficult to say the least and there are plenty of examples on this forum of that.The RN call their attachments Naval Parties so your dad was in Naval Party 1569 - *formed 05.44/VERNON 05.44/Normandy/Portsmouth 07.45/disbanded 08.45* (credit naval history site]. You may wish to search under that term rather than beach parties which bring up some dubious links.
    Roy Martin likes this.

Share This Page