Arthur John Fishwick of the S.S. Goolistan

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Charley Fortnum, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Charley I was responding to your "quote"

  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Ah, yes--apologies--I asked that before noticing that there had been no survivors.
    Survivors' accounts are hard to come by when there are no survivors, it's true!
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  3. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hi Charley,
    He has a medal file at Kew in piece BT 395/1/31587 this can be downloaded for £3.50.
    There are no more on-line records for him so you will need to obtain his CRS 10 from Kew - this file if it has survived will contain his service record from Jan, 1941. This file should be held at Kew in piece BT 382/583 - best obtained by visit to Kew or via a researcher.
    As you have deduced there will be no survivor's report for the ship - this would usually be completed by the senior survivor.
    There is this file at Kew you may want to have a look through - ADM 199/2189/45 - QP15.
    The last Crew Agreement for the ship is held at Kew in piece BT 381/2041 - under the ship's official number 161512.


  4. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Hugh, I'm really grateful for your time. Could you possibly clarify a couple of things?

    What does CRS (in CRS 10) stand for?
    What actually is a 'Crew Agreement'?

    If it isn't infantry or artillery, I'm out of my depth.

    Edit: have now done the homework.Not usually so lazy, but I was out and about on my phone.

    Q1) Central Records Section.
    Q2) A contract between vessel owner(s) and crew.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  5. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Basically the CRS 10 is a record of service beginning Jan, 1941. The form is a bit messy but it will list a seaman's service - ships, dates and ports of engagement and discharge etc.
    The Crew Agreement is a document within the ship's Official Logbook which details the agreement between crew and owner it shows a list of all the crew including military DEMS gunners. The dates and places of engagement and discharge. The CA for GOOLISTAN will be made up from shoreside records as the logbook will have gone down with the vessel.

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  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Forgive my ignorance Hugh MacLean and other nautical types, but I'm unclear on what this medal file is showing.

    I'm confused by the noughts and crosses game here: what's he entitled to?

    FISHWICK, Arthur John:


  7. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Markings found on the record mean.

    a cross through a code, indicating that the medal was issued
    a circle over a code, indicating that only the ribbon for that medal has been issued
    a cross and a circle, indicating that both a medal and a ribbon have been issued
    The letter ‘R’ over a code can signify that an application for that medal was reviewed and refused.

    So his entitlement is the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star and the War Medal. His NoK did not receive the ribbons for the first three stars.

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2022
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  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Brilliant, thank you.

    I've been contacted by his descendants as a result of this thread and want to pass on all I can.
    Hugh MacLean likes this.
  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member Patron

    I know it isn't the Goolistan but the following gives an idea of the suffering of these poor crews:

    'The accounts of all of their voyages are harrowing, but none more so than that of the tramp ship Chulmleigh.i Owned by Tatem of Cardiff, she was a typical British tramp, run by a company whose feeding standards were, at best, average for the day, though she was reported to have good accommodation. The ship did not appear to have a gyrocompass, necessary for any voyage to high latitudes and having this equipment might have prevented her loss. She was well armed and had twenty two DEMS gunners, and as usual these servicemen had signed on as 'sailors.' Chulmleigh was commanded by thirty five year old Captain Daniel Williams, who had been Chief Officer on her previous trip to Russia. Chulmleigh again sailed for Russia after a month in London. In Iceland the crew were 'asked' to volunteer, if they did they would receive a special payment for the run of £100 per officer or £50 per rating.

    The voyage took the ship to the north of Iceland, past the unseen island of Jan Mayen and onward to pass south of Spitsbergen (Svalbard). The ship's Radio Officers brought in distress messages from four other independent ships, and one from a ship in a homeward convoy. On 5 November they received a message from the Admiralty instructing them to go to 77° North,ii before steering to pass Spitsbergen. By this time the ship had been on dead reckoningiii for several days, with wandering compasses,iv and in snow storms. In a brief break in the cloud the Chulmleigh had been located by an enemy reconnaissance aircraft. At 2330 on 5 November 1942 she struck a reef off the South Cape. The ship partly rode over the reef and was in danger of breaking her back, so the Master ordered the crew to abandon ship.

    He remained aboard with Chief Officer Fenn, and Second Engineer Middlemiss, in an unsuccessful attempt to re-float the vessel. The first death occurred when two men were thrown in the water while abandoning the ship. At about 0300/6 a radio distress message was sent. Some writers have assumed that this was only monitored by the enemy, but a website about the minesweeper HMS Gleanerv includes the following: ‘Information was exchanged with the Russian staff. Among that supplied to them was ... (b) distress message from Chulmleigh read on 78 k/cs at 0708/6th.’vi Admiralty monitoring stations also received the message and there are reports of the message being received by other British stations and ships.

    The beginning of the brief Arctic twilightvii showed the men that they were in a horseshoe shaped lagoon, surrounded by breakers. With a little more light, Captain Williams and his officers on the other boats were able to make out an opening in the reef, which they rowed through. Five Ju 88 bombers arrived and began to circle them and the crews prepared for a machine gun attack, but the aircraft bombed the ship instead. The ship was later torpedoed as well. The smallest of the boats, was abandoned and its crew shared between the other two.

    By the morning of 9 November, Captain Williams' boat was out of sight of land and they had lost sight of the other boat. The Master decided to start his boat's engine (as was usual the other boat had no engine), and with this they regained sight of land and found the Chief Officer's boat. Williams and Fenn decided that the motor boat should go on ahead to Barentsburg, which they believed to be about eighty miles to the north. Williams drove his crew on, with the boat shipping water, the gunwales covered with ice and the sails frozen hard.

    At first light the engine was restarted and a few hours later in fading light they sighted the entrance to the fjord in which lay Barentsburg, but at that point the engine failed. Not long after this the Master also lapsed into unconsciousness. Chulmleigh’s twenty two year old Third Officer David Clark was now in charge of a waterlogged boat, containing twenty seven men, one of them delirious and the Master apparently at the point of death. Clark already had frostbitten hands and feet, as did many of his crew. Just before noon the sky lightened and he found that they had lost sight of land again. He urged his failing men on to make sail and within an hour they saw land once more. He realised that if he did not find shelter soon they would all die, so he gave up any thoughts of making Barentsburg. He could see only a continuous line of breakers, so he steered south along the reef, but the wind again reached gale force. When it was again dark they saw lights on the shore (?) and the weary Third Mate took the boat back towards the reef several times, hoping to find an opening. It was not until 0200 on 12 November that a huge ground swell picked up the boat, carried it across the reef and threw it and its occupants on the beach.

    To his amazement Clark saw that there were a group of wooden huts only twenty yards away. But even crawling that distance was too much for many of the crew: three died where they lay. Clark, and the few others who were able, managed to bully and cajole or drag the rest to one of the huts where they all fell into an exhausted sleep. When they woke they explored the other huts and found that one contained a wood burning stove, matches and a supply of tinned food. Later visits to the other huts in the group yielded other food, and this, together with the remaining stores from the lifeboat, meant that they now had food and warmth.

    After a few days members of the party improved, including Captain Williams who was again able to take charge of the team. They were in a very poor condition, with most suffering from ''immersion foot" – the brave Third Officer being particularly badly affected. Only the four Army DEMS gunners seemed in reasonable shape. In the next four days thirteen died from gangrene, and the gunners helped the two officers by burying the dead and foraging for food.

    Twice Mr Clark and Lance Sergeant Peyer attempted to hike to Barentsburg, but were forced to give up. Three of the gunners then made another unsuccessful attempt to seek help. They did find a small hut with more food, which was opportune as their stores were running low. In mid- December, when there was no light at all, Captain Williams and Gunner Whiteside set out once more, but they were again forced to return. On Christmas Eve another member of the party died and Williams again set out in the darkness, taking with him the tough gunners Peyer and Whiteside. This time Whiteside collapsed and again they returned. Unknown to them all the time they were 'only' six miles from Barentsburg.

    On the morning of 2 January Whiteside threw open the door of the hut and started to babble incoherently. Williams went outside where he saw two figures in white winter camouflage skiing towards the hut. They were Norwegian soldiers on patrol: the crew's fifty eight day ordeal was over. The nine survivors were gaunt and hollow eyed, their clothes in rags with stinking pus soaking through home-made bandages. The Norwegian soldiers left all the food and cigarettes that they had with them and set off back to Barentsburg. With them went Gunners Whiteside and Burnett. The next day two sledge parties and a doctor arrived and Mr Clark and AB Hardy, the two most seriously ill, were taken back to Barentsburg. The doctor stayed with Williams and the other four, who were collected the next day.

    Over the next two months they were nursed back to health and two months later they were collected by two warships and taken back to the UK. When they reached home, and were discharged as at 6 November and were sent on survivors' leave. Mr Clark received £27.10.7d and the others between £11 and £41.viii This may have been because they had received the special payment for the run of £100 per officer or £50 per rating. Captain Williams was made an OBE, Mr Clarkix an MBE, but both were invalided out. Three of the gunners were awarded the BEM. Those who died on Spitsbergen, including two sixteen year old Apprentices, were re-buried at the Norwegian town of Tromso, with other casualties from the Russian convoys. The graves are the most northerly marked by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and are cared for by the people of the town. The most isolated of the CWGC graves are probably the two merchant seamen buried at Timbuctu. No more was heard of the Chief Officer Fenn's boat. Mr E J Fenn had been awarded an OBE and Lloyd's Medal for Gallantry at Sea for his part in saving crew and service personnel off of Singapore whilst Chief Officer of the Derrymore.x

    The merchant ships involved in Operation FB were:

    • Briarwood, Daldorch and John H B Latrobe (US) – returned to Iceland

    • Dekabrist (Russian), Empire Gilbert, Empire Sky, and William Clark (US) – Dekabrist was sunk by aircraft, the other three by U-boats. Plus Chulmleigh.

    • Empire Galliard, Empire Scott, Hugh Williamson (US), John Walker (US), Richard Halvey (US); reached Russia.

    • Twenty three Russian ships sailed independently to Russia; all but one arrived safely.

      About 1,325 merchant seamen and DEMS gunners sailed on the ships, of whom 332 lost their lives.
    , with a deck cargo of logs. Some of the grave stones – both courtesy Billy McGee

    Each British ship carried about twenty gunners (two and a half times normal), so about one third of those lost would have been gunners. The gunners did not receive the bonus.xi Some seamen thought that FB meant “Foolish B******”; but, had they known who was behind the project, they might have assumed that the B meant Billmeir, and the F?

    i Much of this account is taken from - Arctic Interlude, Independent to North Russia by Harry C Hutson.

    ii A Ship's Articles only permit her to go to 72° North. This instruction meant going well north of that.

    iii A calculated position using course, speed and current; if poorly known the position is unreliable.

    iv In high latitudes the compass card wants to point downwards toward the magnetic pole

    v HMS Gleaner 1942 Halcyon Class Minesweeper

    vi Time zones can differ within a few hundred miles in these latitudes.

    vii At 77° North the polar night lasts from 26 October to 15 February. From 12 November to the end of January there is civil polar night, a period without twilight bright enough to permit outdoor activities without artificial light.

    viii Survivors: MN - Clark, David Firth 3rd Officer, 34, Newton Abbot; Hardy, Andrew Thomas Able Seaman, 27, Shetland; Paterson, Robert Beatty Chief Radio Officer, 25, Dunoon; Williams, Daniel Morley Master, 35, Cardigan.
    Survivors: DEMS - Burnett, T. Gunner, 20, Liverpool; Callan, F. RN Gunner, 30, Oldham; Peyer, R. A. L/Sgt. 23, Norbury; Swainston, J. Gunner 38 Co. Durham; Whiteside, R. Gunner 20 Liverpool. Awards - For outstanding courage and leadership, Daniel Williams was awarded the OBE. David Clark was awarded the MBE and gunners Richard Peyer, Reginald Whiteside and James Burnett received the BEM.- Source Hugh MacLean & Billy McGee.

    ix Richard Woodman in the final volume of his A History of the British Merchant Navy, Fiddler's Green The Great Squandering: 1921 - 2010, says Clark 'did not live to see the arrival of two cruisers'.

    x Another epic that should not go unmentioned was the voyage of the HOPEMOUNT. This tanker sailed from Reykjavik on 8 April 1942 in convoy PQ 14, arriving on 19 April. She left Archangel on 29 July on a voyage that took her across the Arctic Ocean, refuelling Russian ships and bases. She reached 83°N 134°E, probably still a record for a British ship. When she arrived back in Loch Ewe on 11 January 1943 her crew were suffering from scurvy. Captain Shields report concludes “All....behaved extremely well, but nobody was outstanding – it was a case of all pulling together.” His report is summarized in Convoys to Russia 1941 – 1945 by Bob Ruegg and Arnold Hague. They say: “He must have been a remarkable Master with a first class crew and DEMS detachment." Other reports say that Shields was ill for much of the voyage, so her Chief Officer was effectively in command for this time.

    xi 829 Merchant Navy, and more than 1,000 Royal Naval men, lost their lives on the Russian Run.

    xii For a crew member's story see ://
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  10. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Amazing story and this mystery too, which I will develop into a thread one day:
    No, there is a 2018 thread that explains: Vichy French Prison camp in Timbuctu and the thread on the ship, SS Allende: SS Allende

    On 25/11/22 I added an update on this mystery on the Vichy French thread.

    Just a shame the forum thread and CWGC has the wrong explanation:
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2022
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