What was Lt. Charles Napier Stewart DSC, RNR up to for 6 weeks?

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by martinedwards, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    continuing with my research into my grandfather....

    HMS Violet has Lt. Charles Napier Stewart DSC, RNR appointed Commander on 9th April 1942, where according to anything I can find online, he remained on charge until 10th June 1945, which included several scrapes including being credited with the sinking of U 641 in Jan 44.

    all well and good........


    my grandfathers naval record has HIM, Lt. Ernest Govan McMillan RNR as in command (temporary)

    according to the typed out record he was in command of the Violet for those 5 weeks or so from 15th April and back on the Philoctetes in Freetown by 24th May

    so where was Lt Stewart for the first 5 weeks of his command, and why was my grandfather, who had never been on a Corvette before put in command and sail, escorting 4 convoys when his previous experience was on Philoctetes, a destroyer depot ship and Kilmun and Lasso which were both cable layers.

    the hand written sheet with all his dates etc on it has

    PHILOCTETES vice Buchan----------------- P.L.T. ---20.12.41--- CW 19.12.41 (5
    VIOLET in Cd tempy vice Thomas (RNVS) ---T/LT ----15.4.42 ----CW 6.5.42 (6
    PHILOCTETES holds---------------------------------25.5.42-----CW 15.7.42

    I'm not 100% sure about the word holds in the third line...., might be Rolds?

    I'm confused by the right column which starts CW (I think) as the dates here don't line up.

    the first one has him posted on Philoctetes 20th Dec 41 and the right hand column is 19th dec.... so a day earlier.....

    the Violet entry is dated 15th April ad the RH column is 6th May.....

    and the Philoctetes entry is 25th May, and the 3rd column is 15th July.....

    any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    You may get better results by posting a scan of the record and let many eyes look at the print.

    I have just looked at the website HMS Violet (K 35) of the Royal Navy - British Corvette of the Flower class - Allied Warships of WWII - uboat.net

    which confirms your post regarding Lt Stewart's dates in command.

    The only abbreviation I came up with for CW was Chemical Warfare, which perhaps is a false track to take.

    I have taken a look at a copy of a friends WW2 RN Record and cannot see any reference to CW and so it will be interesting to see the scan.

    This website purports to have a crew list, but there is only one McMillan shown as a Stoker.

    H.M.S Violet Home Page

    There is a direct hyperlink for an email to the site owner and so a communication may prove worthwhile.

  3. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    Thanks Tom, I've been to both those sites, and I have emailed the guy at the one with the crew list to tell him about Mac.

    anyway, here's the scan of the photocopy.

    is the disability pay of £220 pa about right for a RNR Lt? there is a family legend that he was on a higher pension than he should have had because he was doing cloak & dagger stuff as a civilian in the Irish free state..... could ba all rubbish of course!!

  4. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    haring around google....

    found this Admiral's record....

    Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Vian G.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O.

    he has a bundle of CW codes......

    and after a little MORE googling I find Mountbatten's record with a key!!

    CW entry made by the Commission and Warrant branch of the Admiralty
    back to the admiral.......

    so CW is just official "we dun it"

    also a FPSL like Mac....

    the Admirals is

    FPSL CW 43835/42 Recd for further 14 days sick leave 17/11/42 resurvey 3/12/42

    Macs is Placed on Victory FPSL....... 8/12/42 until 31/1/43,

    maybe this is the TB caught up with him and it's time to start the process to invalide him out.

    maybe that's why he was pulled off the Violet after the 5 or 6 weeks......

    Mac then continued Victory FPSL 1/2/43 19/2/43 and was officially signed off on the 19/2/43 as unfit for Naval work.
  5. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    Lt. Charles Stewart finished on his last command, HMS Northern Reward (4.85), an ASW Trawler on 6th March 1942.

    all the records for HMS Violet I can find online have him taking command on 9th April 1942, so he gets a month of leave between ships? or maybe it took a month to get to Freetown to meet up with her?

    convoy OS22 left Liverpool on 13 March

    HMS Violet joined as escort on the 28th of March and stayed with the convoy into Freetown on 1st of April

    T/Lt. Frank Clarin Reynolds, RCNVR surrendered his command of Violet on the 9th of April.

    According to all the info on the Web, Lt Stewart took over on the 9th, but My Grandfathers record says HE took over from 15/4 until 24/5 as shown in the scan above which is supported by the typed service record.


    Lt Stewart isn't around from 6th March 1942 until 24th of May 1942

    Now, I Have found that the Northern Reward was based in Kirkwall and patrolled between Scotland and Iceland (and might have sunk U-47.. (Northern Reward and U-47 : The Bosun's Watch) so getting from there to Freetown..... he COULD have even been (at least scheduled) onboard one of the ships in the OS22 convoy.....

    maybe.... and this is a wild stab in the dark..... he missed his transfer? through Illness or some other reason that meant he couldn't take over his command for those five weeks.......

    as an experienced 1st officer My Grandfather was given the command to keep the Violet running, but only until her rightful commander arrived?

    is that possible? is it LIKELY?

    This research stuff is really interesting!! I can't imagine the nightmare it must have been before the interweb......
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Have you checked the 'Naval-History' (I think thats what its called?) website? They apear to use info gained from ships logs.

    If not joy there I would look at the Ships Log at the National Archives.
  7. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

  8. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    well, the latest is from the son of the coxwain (Wallie Parrish)at the time of the handover.

    Sadly Mr Parrish didn't have any diaries and is no longer with us.

    Of the 4 surviving Violet crew, only one was onboard during that time, Harold Green (92) and he "cannot recall" my grandfather......

    ah well.....

    HOPEFULLY I'll be able to get my paws on some further paperwork that a cousin in Donegal is alleged to have.......

    watch this space!
  9. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Martin, very interesting following your researches here, I do hope you get a satisfactory conclusion.
    I have experienced a similar confusion with researching my Uncle's RN service (although all we got from RN back in 1997 was a list of ships/establishments that held his pay record). There was a gap in the record from July to September 1943 (before he joined Landing Craft and Combined Operations Unit as a PO Motor Mechanic) and before that he had been at shore establishments.
    Looking through some family documents we found that he had been in America and Bermuda (souveneirs and receipts) and can only guess that he was involved in the transport of LCTs or LSTs from America to the UK in preparation for D-Day. The abbreviated service record shows nothing about any overseas service. I am trying to get a copy of the FULL service record but it looks like we will have to pay another £30 to MoD for it and wait a fair while for it to arrive.
  10. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    We have a letter that Mac wrote as a vent, never meaning to send.
    its dated 8th Sept 42 when he was on the Philoctetes in Freetown in west Africa, but "addressed" as Trinidad...... and gives details of fuelling destroyers at sea......

    I THOUGHT that Philoctetes stayed anchored in Freetown as a base, but maybe it wandered out to do jobs like that, or maybe he was helping out on another ship......

    so much to find out, so few left alive who remember......
  11. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    So some transcript of that letter, which obviously was never sent as it would have been censored to pieces. it's actually a transcript by my aunt who MIGHT have added the quote marks......

    He never mentions the ship that he is on, but I'm GUESSING that it must be the Philoctetes as that's where he was supposed to be, and the mention of the Freetown mussels.

    Its a nice insight into the hassles of fuelling on the move...... this must be part of the build up to the malta run (operation Pedestal) as the ships mentioned were all there and the time is right........

    Three days after leaving, I went down with a bang. Malaria, and a B. awful dose at that. Spending eight days in my bunk and being dug out at 6am on the nineth day to take over the bridge for the oiling party.

    This party was very hush hush and impressed us a lot when we caught up with it. Aircraft carrier Victorious (flag), Indominatable, Eagle & Argus, Cruisers Phoebe, Charybdis, etc and millions of destroyers. The oiling started at dawn and with us able to do a maximum of 6 knots owing to an accumulation of Freetown mussels, and the weather being strong NE trades with a somewhat more than moderate sea, we took a gloomy view of the possibilities. Our worst forebodings were soon realised as you will appreciate if you have the patience to go on reading this.

    First came Icarus and Fury After having been buttoned up on the beam for half an hour (troughing) Icarus' skipper & I made the first "cock".

    I had naturally been steering right into the wind and sea by magnetic compass when Icarus to check the course and ORDERED me to steer 017 degrees and I fell for it. This meant an alteration of 18 degrees for me, and I proceeded to do it asty asty. This might have been OK only the alteration according to the Icarus -gyro compass- was only 3 degrees and he and Fury did not attempt to follow me beyond that.

    there was a great snapping of tow rope and pipelines, some bumping and boring and that was that.

    The amount my compass was affected by the two destroyers must have been about 15 degrees. I did not know that until afterwards, muggins having only allowed normal error for ships head.

    It is a fact nobody thought of the possible magnetic effect of the ships alongside. For my part I can only blame a head full of Quinnine and although nobody blamed me of course, I feel that I and some others aught to have been kicked in the pants for being so dumb. However the remedy was obvious and the "cock" was not repeated. Icarus knew how to handle his ship but he was an impatient body with a great love of his loudhailer and like a mother-in-law for giving advice.

    Our skipper "asked" him to desist and after we had rigged new gear he returned quite quickly and was as good as gold. We got cracking again with Icarus and Intrepid on each beam and Fury astern on the stirrup.

    more to follow when I've typed it up.
  12. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    next bit........

    That was all for that night except for the cleaning up, and Foresight arrived at the crack of dawn with much signaling, raucous loud hailing, lots of ideas but very jumpy. He proved to be our No 1 headache. Everything was ticking over nicely with oil going into him at about 180 tons and hour (5” line) and we were busy getting lightning going on the port side, when Foresight parted the breast and instead of staying close and and rushing across another breast he simply slipped towing spring and pipeline and beat it, leaving us to recover 150 feet of 5” hose he had dumped into the drink. That was an hour and a half’s work and meant we had to suspend lightning – who was very good – until the gear had been recovered. Foresight closed us again in a few minutes and when he was asked to wait, demanded to know what the hell was causing the delay. He was told by our skipper, who came up from the oil and sweat of the well deck to do it. I learnt a lot of new words. The weather was pretty bloody by this time, and lightning parted four breasts but held on through it all until by sheer bad luck the pipe line burst and he slipped. We got foresight going again in the trough and then lightning astern on the stirrup and managed to finish them with only the loss of one more breast to Foresight.
    XXXXX came lookout to starboard and made a good job of it. By this time our decks were cluttered with busted gear towing springs were all gone and we were reduced to towing destroyers with 8” manilas. Our gang was going hell for leather clearing and repairing when Indominitable arrived after dark.

    That was a job and a half but we managed to get her buttoned up eventually. Unfortunately as we were ready to start pumping she dropped back on the tow and away went the lot. I have never seen such superb ship handling as Indom. And the parting of everything must have been as heartbreaking for them as it was for us. Actually a 2 ½” forged ring between a 14” manilla and a 5 1/2 “ were snapped in two. Our maximum speed during this was 6 knots. Quite useless.

    Anyway the Captain and the chief officer arrived on the bridge about 01:00 and they were about all in. we had lost about 300 feet of 5” hose and tons of other gear.

    However with the aid of a noggin or so we made, or tried to make, our plans for the day and concocted a signal to RAA accordingly. Dawn and Vansittart, and did he show us how! Simply lay fender to fender and yarned. He knew something that bird.

    Next we had Whistler and Westcott and Westcott made a 160 degree turn with us whilst buttoned up. After finishing him we proceeded on a 2 day patrol off the straits eventually heading for Gib.

    On arrival there Lots of little thing cropped up which made me think a little and I came to the conclusion that perhaps we had let the party down.

    You may notice that I have not mentioned the second officer. Well, he was not worth a damn and did not appear on the bridge during the whole operation. Not even to wind chronometers. It was NOT malaria.

    In Gib we learned that Eagle had gone and as I had a brother on her I was rather anxious. I found him on Argus as a survivor and we made the most of a week together.

    We sailed from Gib to rendezvous with 2E and oil her escorts and then proceed to Freetown. Pathfinder was the first to arrive and he was little trouble; then at dead of night came Quentin and he was super. Vincey next and what a balls. We were then ordered to Trinidad and told we were to load for Gib. I thought it rather foolish to give the Lads and w*gs something to talk about in Trinidad.

    We spent ten days there sailing ultimately as com of a tanker convoy

    We were very lucky.

    Shortly after leaving I discovered that the master was selling rum to the naval ratings and then things became more uncomfortable.

    We had a good passage without much incident. Vincey did fire a few salvos at a conning tower which turned out to be a raft full of survivors from an American ship. 12 men 4 kiddies and a woman, been adrift for 20 days.
  13. martinedwards

    martinedwards Member

    and not connected to the letter.... looking at his pay rate from this link (1942)


    a LT on 13 & 6 a day, so multiply up for 365 days.... is that right? so £246 a year... and he was pensioned off at £200pa..... is that normal?

    is the legend that he was pensioned at a bonus to keep the IRA & german sympathisers busy possible?
  14. CNS

    CNS Junior Member

    Hello there! I am Alison Deacon nee Stewart. I have some of my father's records and papers etc. I will check through them and see if I can track down your missing weeks. I am sure he would have loved 6 weeks leave but doubt if this was the case. Incidently, my father did not receive the DSC untill some time after his appointment to Violet, for the sinking of a U-boat in 1944.
    I will be in touch when I have dug out any information.

    Happy New Year
  15. gundogger

    gundogger New Member

    Dear Mrs Deacon,
    Having read the story of Operation Postmaster and your father's involvement,by being in command of HMS Violet, though he was not aboard until June 1942,5 months after the event,I found this web site http://platenboring.com/violet/
    and upon clicking on Lt C N Stewarts name in the crew list I read his naval sea service. It states that he returned to the Merchant Navy.
    On this site
    it says and I quote "Born 14 feb 1909 - Newport Fife Scotland. Died 13 mar 1958 - Japanese Territorial Waters (Cheefoo - South China Navigation Co.)
    It's the Cheefoo bit that intrigues me as I was an officer with the China Navigation Company,of Hong Kong,from 1957 to 1960 and wondered if our paths had ever crossed.
    I have sent you a private message as well.

    Yours sincerely,
    T H Connell

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