Maritime Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Jo Usher, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. Jo Usher

    Jo Usher Member

    Searching for information on my Uncle Gnr Kennedy Stephen Williams Svs No 1509662 who served in 4th Maritime Rgt RA and was killed in action in WW2 in 1943. I have not been able to find any info about this Regiment nor details of what ships my uncle was on or where he was killed. Any info/ guidance would be very much appreciated.
  2. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    He died on board SS EMPIRE LAKE on 15 July 1943. It was sunk by U181.

    He was a DEMS Gunner.

    I have a relative who was also in the same Regiment and also died at sea but on a different steamship.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: Kennedy Williams
    Given Initials: K S
    Rank: Gunner
    Death Date: 15 Jul 1943
    Number: 1509662
    Birth Place: Essex
    Residence: Essex
    Regiment at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War: At sea
    Regiment at Death: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death: Royal Artillery


    Crewlist from Empire Lake (British steam merchant) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII -

    Empire Lake (British Steam merchant) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII -


    Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - John Harry Morgan MN died with the infamous sinking of the Collier, Empire Lake off Madagascar in 1943
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  4. CL1

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

  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    1509662 WILLIAMS Gnr KS - 4 Mar. Regt.

    Casualty list No. 1214
    Reported missing 15.7.43

    Casualty list 1439
    Previously reported missing now presumed killed in action

  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I looked into the sinking of the Empire Lake some 15 years ago. I am not good at the family tree sort of thing but my wife's sister's husband's brother was lost when the Empire Lake was sunk.

    The family thought that the sinking was in 1942 and asked me to confirm this. Unfortunately it was sunk in 1943. It came as a nasty surprise, not least to the crew, since it was the first time that U boats had been able to reach as far as the Indian Ocean.

    Empire Lake was sunk of the coast of Mozambique while carrying coal from S. Africa to Aden. At the time Aden was a British Protectorate and was used as a coaling station for shipping.

    Hugh MacLean, timuk and CL1 like this.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Yes indeed. John Harry Morgan from Ramsgate. His brother Sid still lives in Broadstairs, next door to Ramsgate.

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  9. Jo Usher

    Jo Usher Member

    Oh thank you I am so grateful. My family and I had no idea of the ship he was on.
  10. Jo Usher

    Jo Usher Member

    Thank you nearly 73 to the day how sad.
  11. Jo Usher

    Jo Usher Member

    Hi Mike thank you so much - Mozambique Wow I was thinking it would be in Europe somewhere. How sad that they thought they were safe ?
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Collier 2.jpg

    Empire Lake was a standard Ministry of War Transport design. There do not seem to be any photos of these ships, security and censorship were strict in wartime, but this is a collier of similar size, date and appearance.

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  14. Jo Usher

    Jo Usher Member

    Thank you. I was trying to find an image but as you say there doesn't seem to be any. Trying to imagine where they would have put the guns.

  15. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    That is the nature of research. One answer leads to the next question. I have not been able to find what guns were carried. Whatever they were the options for siting them are very limited.

    The general aim was to provide ships with at least one small obsolete artillery piece to counter surfaced submarines. The stern of the ship offered the best place for this. For defence against aircraft only machine guns were available until later in the war. These could be placed on the central island. The RA gunners actually worked the gun while some of the ships crew handled the ammunition.

    The above is better than just a guess but far from proven fact.

  16. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Empire Lake had spent the most of her short life carrying coal along the UK cost, having gone as far afield as Gibraltar on a couple of occasions. Some bold hero (who no doubt didn't have to sail on the ship}, then decided to send her, and her sister ship Empire Brook, to Aden, via the Cape, as Mike said. Both ships sailed from Durban on 8 July 1943, in convoy DN51, which dispersed two days later.

    These ships were designed for coastal work and, having very poor watertight subdivision (there were only two holds), didn't stand much of a chance in an attack.

    They were very slightly bigger than the Corfen, I have a peacetime photograph of another sister, Empire Gower, but it is hard to see the difference.

    As they were eqipped for coastal work, their armnement would have been limited. Maybe a 4" gun aft and two 20mm guns, maybe on the bridge wings. Convoyweb shows the voyage history of the ship; the guns could be shown on one of the convoy sailing forms. The ship's Articles will show how many gunners were carried, and who they were (usually listed as seamen, or something similar).

    Hugh MacLean likes this.
  17. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Incidentally, both ships are shown as carrying 'general, A/C'. General cargo means a mixture of manufactured items, including stores and spares, and A/C is, of course, aircraft.
    Hugh MacLean likes this.
  18. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The list of those lost includes a Lance Sergeant and a Gunner from the army and four seamen gunners.

  19. Bruneval

    Bruneval Well-Known Member

    Hi Jo,

    I would suggest you apply for your Uncle's Service Records as they will show you the ships he served on. My grand father served with 1st and 2nd Maritime Regts RA and from his records, I know which ships and when he served on them. With this information go onto the ConvoyWeb site which will give the convoy number, departure/arrival location, stop-offs en route, cargo, names of the other ships in the convoy and if any were lost to enemy action.

    Good luck.

  20. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Slightly off the way this thread is going but maybe of interest.
    MS Abbekerk.
    Extracted from:

    English sergeant Walter MacNab recalls boarding Abbekerk for the first time. As a so called DEMS gunners he and three colleagues are assigned to strengthen the ship’s defense capability. But, as the rest of the ship’s crew, he is not impressed with the means available.

    For such a large vessel the defences were laughable: On a platform at the rear deck an antiquated 4” gun was fitted ( the so called ‘anti U-boat’ gun). Furthermore 6 depth charges and smoke canisters. 2 ‘stripped’ Lewis machine guns ( relics from WO I and hopelessly inefficient) fitted on portable tripods on the bridge. The Lewis machine guns were operated by us, the four DEMS gunners who boarded at Gourock. The other weapons were operated by the ship’s crew. Gunner Walter MacNab

    BL 4 inch naval gun Mk VII (Source Wikipedia)

    Depth charges on board a freighter are very unusual, even during wartime. But because of her top speed Abbekerk should be able to launch them without blowing herself out of the water. The crew are not convinced by that and would have rather had more and more modern anti aircraft artillery.

    In Nov 1941 Abbekerk formed part of WS DM12Z and was carrying the guns and equipment of 35 Regt LAA. One officer and 15 ORs from 89 Battery were transferred to Abbekerk to bolster the DEMs and ship's gunners. They removed two of the Regiment's 40mm Bofors from the cargo hold and anchored them to the deck thus making Abbekerk one of the best defended merchantmen in the convoy and very handy when they reached Singapore.

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