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Si Biggs

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In this months edition;

HMS Barham - 126 Royal Marines Lost

By Si Biggs on Nov 30, 2021 08:22 pm

1941 Loss of Battleship HMS Barham while supporting cruisers searching for a German convoy to Benghazi. She was under constant observation by enemy aircraft. Under attack by U331 and hit by three torpedoes which struck between funnel and X turret on port side.

Ship sank in position 32.34N 26.24E within 4 minutes after the magazine detonated.

Only 450 survived from the complement of about 1312, 126 Royal Marines lost their lives.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the ship was assigned to the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Home Fleets. Barham played a minor role in quelling the 1929 Palestine riots and the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. The ship was in the Mediterranean when the Second World War began in September 1939 and accidentally collided with and sank one of her escorting destroyers, HMS Duchess, on her voyage home three months later. She participated in the Battle of Dakar in mid-1940, where she damaged a Vichy French battleship and was slightly damaged in return. Barham was then transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, where she covered multiple Malta convoys. She helped to sink an Italian heavy cruiser and a destroyer during the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and was damaged by German aircraft two months later during the evacuation of Crete.

On the afternoon of 24 November 1941, the 1st Battle Squadron, Barham, Queen Elizabeth, and Valiant, with an escort of eight destroyers, departed Alexandria to cover the 7th and 15th Cruiser Squadrons as they hunted for Italian convoys in the Central Mediterranean. The following morning, the German submarine U-331, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Diedrich von Tiesenhausen, detected the faint engine noises of the British ships and moved to intercept. By the afternoon the submarine and the 1st Battle Squadron were on reciprocal courses and Tiesenhausen ordered his boat to battle stations around 16:00. An ASDIC operator aboard one of the leading destroyers, Jervis, detected the submarine at 16:18 at an estimated range of 900–1,100 yards (820–1,010 m), but the contact was disregarded as it subtended an angle between 40 and 60 degrees wide, far larger than a submarine. U-331 thus passed through the screen and was only in a position to fire her torpedoes after the leading ship, Queen Elizabeth, had passed her by and the second ship, Barham, was closing rapidly.

Tiesenhausen ordered all four bow torpedo tubes fired at a range of 375 metres (410 yd) at 16:25. Possibly due to her closeness to Valiant's bow wave and discharging the torpedoes, the boat's conning tower broached the surface and was fruitlessly engaged by one of the battleship's "pom-pom"s at a range of about 30 yards (27 m). The boat dived out of control after she broached, reaching an indicated depth of 265 metres (869 ft), well below her design depth rating of 150 metres (490 ft), before she stabilised without any damage. U-331 was not attacked by the escorting destroyers and reached port on 3 December. Tiesenhausen was not certain of the results of his attack and radioed that he had hit a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship with one torpedo.

There was no time for evasive action, and three of the four torpedoes struck amidships so closely together as to throw up a single massive water column. Barham quickly capsized to port and was lying on her side when a massive magazine explosion occurred about four minutes after she was torpedoed and sank her. The Board of Enquiry into the sinking ascribed the final explosion to a fire in the 4-inch magazines outboard of the main 15-inch magazines, which would have then spread to and detonated the contents of the main magazines. Due to the speed at which she sank, 862 officers and ratings were killed, including two who died of their wounds after being rescued. The destroyer Hotspur rescued some 337 survivors, including Vice-Admiral Henry Pridham-Wippell and the pair who later died of their wounds, while the Australian destroyer Nizam reportedly rescued some 150 men. Captain Geoffrey Cooke went down with his ship. The sinking was captured on film by a cameraman from Pathé News, aboard Valiant.

The crew are commemorated by a memorial bench, located in Nothe Gardens, Weymouth [Wikipedia]

Royal Marines Roll of Honour HMS Barham

AIREY, Sidney, Marine, PO/X 102279:

ANDERSON, Thomas W, Marine, PO/X 102259:

ARSCOTT, William R, Musician, RMB/X 572:

ATKINSON, George A, Marine, PO/X 101744:

BAILEY, John C, Marine, PLY/X 1795:

BAKER, Richard J, Marine, PO/X 4815:

BALL, Albert, Marine, PO/X 4039:

BARBER, Kenneth A, Marine, PO/X 4997:

BARKER, Albert E, Marine, PO/X 4491:

BATES, Harold G, Marine, PO/X 100101:

BEAN, Kenneth A, Marine, PO/X 100414:

BERRY, Joseph, Marine, PO/X 4370:

BERRY, Thomas J A, Marine, PO/X 663:

BISHOP, George, Marine, PLY/22433:

BOAG, Richard, Marine, PO/X 4210:

BONNARD, John W, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 133:

BOOTLE, John F, Musician, RMB/X 649:

BOWERS, Peter H, Marine, PO/X 2374:

BRIDLE, Edward G, Marine, PO/X 2390:

BROWELL, George B, Marine, PO/X 2517:

BROWN, Sydney, Marine, PO/X 2313:

BURNS, Samuel, Marine, PO/X 102297:

BURTON, Wilfred, Marine, PO/X 4743:

BUTLER, Roland, Marine, PO/X 5019:

BUTLIN, Colin R, Marine, PO/X 100294:

CAMPBELL, Robert, Marine, PO/X 100263:

CANNONS, Leslie E, Marine, PO/X 2378:

CHANDLER, William, Marine, PO/X 2227:

CHAPMAN, Charles S, Musician, RMB/X 1593:

CHARD, Ronald H, Band Master 2c, RMB/X 182:

CHILTON, George, Marine, PO/X 101784:

CHOWINGS, Samuel G, Marine, PO/X 100333:

CHRISTOPHER, James V, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 456:

COLLARD, Arthur L, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1269:

COOK, Basil S C, Marine, PO/X 2624:

CORRIE, John M, Lieutenant, RM:

CROSS, Leonard F, Marine, PO/X 1235:

CUTHBERT, Albert J, Marine, PO/X 937:

DAVIES, Herbert F, Colour Sergeant, RM, PO/22648:

DEACON, Ronald F, Marine, PO/X 3518:

EVERETT, Leslie R, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 2310:

FLINT, Wilfred L, Marine, RFR, PLY/18809:

FREEGARD, William G, Marine, PO/X 1939:

GARDNER, Kenneth R, Musician, RMB/X X 995:

GORMAN, William G, Marine, PO/X 3359:

GOVER, William A, Marine, PO/X 4040:

GREEN, George A, Marine, PO/X 102268:

GREEN, William H, Marine, PO/X 3517:

GURNEY, Kenneth A, Marine, PO/X 4590:

HALL, John W C, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 2436:

HARRIS, George I, Marine, PO/X 2708:

HARRIS, Harry, Marine, PO/X 100315:

HARRIS, William H, Ty/Sergeant, RM, PO/X 1139:

HATHERICK, Sydney, Marine, PO/X 1657:

HAWTIN, Thomas W, Marine, PO/X 3984:

HENTY, Alfred J, Marine, PO/X 4867:

HIBBERT, Charles L, Marine, PO/X 102299:

HIGGS, Richard H, Marine, PO/X 4001:

HILL, Christopher St G S, Lieutenant, RM:

HISCOCKS, Edward R J, Marine, PO/X 2333:

HOOKER, Victor E, Marine, PO/X 208 3371:

HUMBLE, John L, Marine, PO/X 4052:

INGALL, Laurence J, Bugler, CH/X 100537:

IRETON, Ernest, Marine, PO/X 4214:

JENNINGS, William J, Ty/Midshipman, RNR:

JERRARD, Ronald C J, Musician, RMB/X 46:

JONES, David R, Marine, PO/X 4174:

JONES, Haydn, Marine, PO/X 2459:

JONES, James H, Marine, PO/X 100118:

LEARMOUTH, Douglas C, Marine, PO/X 2304:

LEES, Harold M, Marine, PO/X 4542:

LEONARD, Francis, Musician, RMB/X 549:

LEWTY, Harry, Ty/Sergeant, RM, PO/22287:

LIDDINGTON, Aubrey W C, Marine, PO/X 2395:

LITTLEFORD, James, Marine, PO/X 4205:

LITTLEFORD, William, Marine, PO/X 4204:

LOCK, Henry, Marine, PO/X 4462:

LYMBURN, Andrew, Sergeant, RM, PO/21698,:

MAHY, Herbert E, Marine, PO/X 236:

MARTIN, James L, Marine, PO/X 2273:

MCLOUGHLIN, Reginald M, Marine, PO/X 2183:

MILLER, George R, Boy Bugler, PO/X 3320:

MILTON, Hedderville, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 2180:

MOIR, Stanley C, Musician, RMB/X 928:

MOORE, Frederick J, Marine, PO/X 2290,:

NICHOLLS, Harold D E, Marine, PO/X 1684:

PAINE, John R, Musician, RMB/X 627:

PARK, Alexander, Marine, PO/X 100564:

PARKIN, Ronald L, Marine, PO/X 4060:

PARTRIDGE, Walter R, Marine, PLY/X 2711:

PERROTT, Alfred C S, Marine, PO/X 1633:

PINNOCK, James R A, Marine, PO/X 3269:

PITT, Thomas R, Marine, PO/X 2298:

PITTS, George S, Captain, RM:

POOLE, William F, Marine, PO/X 2462:

RICH, George F, Marine, PO/X 4393:

ROBINSON, Harold W, Marine, PO/X 2715:

ROBINSON, William P, Marine, PLY/X 2051:

ROSE, George H, Marine, PO/X 1055:

SELBY, Stanley I, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1694:

SHEPPARD, Harry C, Marine, PO/X 3542:

SMITH, Joseph E, Marine, PO/X 3664:

SMYLIE, John F, Marine, PO/X 4563:

SNEDDON, John, Marine, PO/X 4624:

SPRINGETT, Frederick J W, Marine, PO/X 4063:

STONE, Roy F, Musician, RMB/X 1013:

STOWER, Walter H, Marine, CH/X 2315:

STURGESS, Edward L, Marine, PO/X 2287,:

TAYLOR, Leslie A, Sergeant, RM, PO/22437:

TEAGER, Clifford A, Marine, PO/X 4761:

TERRY, Reginald B, Marine, PO/X 21609:

THOMAS, Reginald F, Marine, PO/X X 2425,:

THOMAS, Ronald, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1284:

TOMLINSON, Arthur R, Marine, PO/X 4570:

TOWELL, Laurence F, Ty/Corporal, RM, PLY/X 778:

TRAVIS, Samuel G W, Marine, PO/X 4083:

UDEN, Peter W, Marine, PO/X 2332,:

UNDERWOOD, Richard C, Marine, PO/X 4064:

WALTON, Douglas H, Marine, PO/X 2422:

WEST, Mark, Marine, PO/X 4053:

WHEEL, William, Marine, PO/X 100303:

WHEELER, Noel H, Marine, PO/X 3275:

WILKINS, Percy J, Marine, PO/X 3560:

WISE, Richard G, Marine, PO/X 799:

WOOD, Robert, Marine, PO/X 4552:

WOODMAN, Edward W K, Marine, PO/X 3547:

WYATT, Ronald B, Musician, RMB/X 988.

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Withdrawal from Aden

By Si Biggs on Nov 29, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: 42 Cdo RM

Location: Aden

Period/ Conflict: Aden Emergency (1964 - 67)

Year: 1967

Date/s: 29th November 1967

Withdrawal From Aden - 45 and 42 Royal Marine Commandos

The overall plan for the withdrawal of the British Forces was to move the majority of troops out through Khormaksar Airfield whilst the equipment went by sea. The privilege of being the last to leave was accorded to the Royal Marines. Fittingly Four-Five was the last major unit of the permanent garrison to be withdrawn. 42 Commando would hold the airfield then they would withdraw to the naval task force and their Commando Carrier HMS Albion. By September 1967 all service families had been evacuated and 45 Cdo R.M. moved into their flats after leaving Little Aden the home of the unit for the best part of seven years.

42 Cdo arrived aboard HMS Albion on October the 11th. In their distinctive olive green jungle dress they took up positions North of the airport. This was the line that had been held by British troops since September. Roadblocks and OP'S sealed off the peninsula from the North and kept the airfield out of mortar range.

The NFL was busy defeating FLOSY; the Southern Arabian Army had left the Federation and joined the NFL and in one last fling decided to mortar 42 Commando's positions at Tawahi on the 11th of November 1967. Marine Blackman had the unfortunate distinction of being the last British serviceman to be wounded in Aden during this action.

Shortly before midnight on the 28th of November 1967 the first of 13 loads of 45 Commando was airborne. Throughout the morning of the 28th the outward flights took away the remaining members of the Aden Garrison and by 1230 the last company, Yankee Company Four-Five had been relieved by elements of 42 Cdo who up until then had been holding the line between Khormakser and Sheikh Othman.

Overhead, the helicopters from HMS Albion maintained a shuttle service from the airfield to the naval task force. Following the formalities the High Commissioner Sir Humphrey Trevelyan and the Service Chiefs left and then a brief farewell took place between the commanding Officers of 45 Cdo and 42 Cdo. It was the CO of 42 Commando Lt-Col Dai Morgan who had brought the advance party of 45 to Aden, over seven years before.

At one-thirty on 29th November 1967 the last aircraft left Aden. The last to board were the Commanding Officer 45 RM Commando, Commanding Officer Royal Air Force, Khormakser, Commander Aden Brigade, Brigadier General Staff and Senior Air Staff Officer Middle East Air Force.

The perimeter, was still being guarded by 42 Cdo C company of the King's Own Border Regiment and 8 (Alma) Light Commando Battery R.A. 42 Commando was the last to leave in their helicopters on the 29th. The last defiant act of the 45 Commando was the appearance of the Union Flag and White Ensign on one of the peaks of Jabal Shamsan overlooking Ma'alla, placed there during the last day before departure by Recce Troop.

But I would think the last man to leave the shores of Aden was a Royal Marine landing craft crewman slipping the bow line from the bollard on the quay and stepping onto the craft as it got under way, thinking "was it worth it"?

The epitaph to all servicemen of all the British Forces in Aden who were killed in this seven year war was written by a Fleet Street journalist who described the troops in Aden as men whose steadfast patience had been tested, and found to hold firm on thousands of unrewarded, forgotten occasions.

Extracted from Britain's Small Wars

More 'Dits';

Battle of Crater & Rescue of Downed Sioux - Aden 1967

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Battle of Porto Bello

By Si Biggs on Nov 20, 2021 09:08 am

Unit/ Formation: Marine Regiments

Location: Panama

Period/ Conflict: The War of Jenkins' Ear

Year: 1739

Date/s: 20 November 1739

Vernon's force appeared off Portobello on 20 November 1739. The British ships entered the bay prepared for a general attack, but a wind coming from the east obliged Vernon to concentrate his ships on the Todo Fierro harbour fort. The Spanish garrison was caught unprepared. When some Spaniards began to flee from several parts of the fort, several landing parties were sent inshore.

The British sailors and marines scaled the walls of the fort, struck the Spanish colours in the lower battery and hoisted an English ensign. The Spaniards surrendered then at discretion. Of the 300-man Spanish garrison, only 40 soldiers led by Lieutenant Don Juan Francisco Garganta had remained in the fort.

Once captured Todo Fierro, Vernon shifted his ships against Santiago Fortress, sinking a Spanish sloop and causing other damages. At dawn on the following morning, the Spaniards requested terms. Governor Francisco Javier Martínez de la Vega y Retes surrendered at the afternoon.

Portobello was occupied by the British at the cost of three dead and seven injured. Three prizes were taken: an armed snow which was renamed Triumph and two coastguards of 20 guns each one. The British occupied the town for three weeks, destroying the fortress and other key buildings and ending the settlement's main function as a major Spanish maritime base, before withdrawing.

More here: Wikipedia

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Operation Stone Age - Loss of HMS Arethusa & 31 Royal Marines

By Si Biggs on Nov 17, 2021 12:00 am

17 November 1942 / 20 November 1942

On 17 November 1942 a convoy of 4 merchants (MW-13) left Alexandria for Malta. This convoy was escorted by the British light cruisers HMS Arethusa, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido and 10 destroyers.

On the 18th HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN) was hit by a aerial torpedo. She was heavily damaged and towed back to Alexandria. 156 men lost their lives during this attack, 31 were Royal Marines.

She was patched up in Alexandria and was sailed via teh Red Sea and Durban to the Charleston Navy Yard in the USA for full repairs. These repairs were not completed until December 1943.

The convoy arrived safe at Malta on the 20th November. Marking the end of the Malta siege.

Extracts from Malta War Diary; [1]


The first convoy to Malta since Operation Pedestal (Santa Marija) in August sailed this morning.

The embarkation of a convoy from the eastern Mediterranean has been made possible by the Allied Army advance following the Battle of El Alamein.

Merchant ship Denbighshire

After a delay of 24 hours pending Allied occupation of the Gambut airfields, convoy MW 13 – codenamed Operation Stoneage – sailed from Suez and passed through the Canal to arrive at Port Said by dusk, proceeding straight to sea. The convoy is made up of four merchant ships, the 9,000 ton Dutch ship Bantam, the British 8,000 ton Denbighshire and two American ships: the 8,000 ton Mormacmoon and 7,000 ton Robin Locksley. The cruiser Euryalus and seven destroyers are escorting them to the approaches to Alexandria.


Convoy MW 13 and close escort arrived off Alexandria early today, where the accompanying Fleet destroyers were relieved by Hunt class ships of the 5th Flotilla. Led by the cruiser Euryalus, HMS Aldenham, Beaufort, Belvoir, Croome, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Hursley, Tetcott and the Greek Pindos departed for Malta with the four merchant ships at 15 knots at 0700 hours.

The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in Cleopatra, with Dido, Arethusa, Orion and the Twelfth and Fourteen Destroyer Flotillas, were sailed at 1330 hours, with the aim of reaching the convoy at daylight tomorrow.


The Operation Stoneage convoy was attacked today by German torpedo-bombers. HMS Arethusa was hit with the loss of 159 men.

The first enemy attack came mid-morning, some four hours after the full convoy had assembled. Cruisers HMS Cleopatra, Orion, Arethusa and Dido with seven Fleet destroyers joined convoy MW 13 and close escort at dawn. Single engined fighters from Matruba and Beaufighters from Gambut were dispatched to provide fighter protection throughout the day.

At 1110 hours the convoy was attacked by six JU 88s: one aircraft was seen to crash and no damage was caused. Five hours later 26 JU 52s escorted by two fighters were seen passing ahead of the convoy heading northeast. Four of the Allied aircraft attacked the raiders and each claimed to have damaged one.

Once the attack had subsided the Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and Fleet Destroyers parted company in order to cover the convoy north towards Malta.

Damage to Arethusa

Minutes later an explosion was heard and convoy command received a signal: Arethusa had been hit. Taking advantage of the failing light, torpedo bombers had launched another attack and the cruiser had been struck amidships by an aircraft torpedo, killing 159 members of the crew. The ship was badly damaged and turned back for Alexandria, escorted by Petard.

Two more torpedo bombers attacked the convoy during the evening. The second is believed probably destroyed by anti-aircraft fire from the American merchantman Robin Locksley.


The covering force of cruisers and destroyers rejoined the Operation Stoneage convoy at daylight today to cover the next stage of the journey of four merchant ships to Malta. Enemy aircraft were reported carrying out reconnaissance searches for the ships but did not attack.

As the convoy approached within range of Malta, the Island’s aircraft provided umbrella cover. The ships were sighted at dawn by Malta Beaufighters, in position 122 degrees 134 miles from Delimara. Four Beaufighters, 42 long-range and 19 short-range Spitfires carried out continuous patrols over the convoy for the last leg of its voyage.

They faced very rough weather and during the morning three Spitfires crashed ahead of the convoy. P/O Kelley 126 Squadron was picked up by the convoy ahead; Sgt Roberts 126 Squadron was last seen in his dinghy near the convoy. P/O Park 185 Squadron suffered engine trouble near the convoy and had to bale out. A destroyer sped to his rescue but he was found to be already dead. The reasons for the other two crashes are unknown.

HMS Orion

At 1400 hours Cleopatra, Dido, Orion and the six Fleet destroyers parted company with the convoy and returned to Alexandria. Just after 4pm the convoy’s commander reported being shadowed by enemy aircraft but there was no attack. Having patrolled continuously from dawn till dark, Malta aircraft finally escorted the convoy safely to within 30 miles of Grand Harbour.


At 0130 hours this morning all ships of the convoy were reported to have arrived safely in Grand Harbour. All four merchant ships, with Euryalus and ten Hunt class destroyers berthed safely during the night. By 3 am 3200 troops plus civilians had begun unloading the merchant ships and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.

HMS Arethusa

Ships Log November 1942 [2]

Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy MW13 (Operation STONEAGE).

16th Joined convoy with HM Destroyers JAVELIN, JERVIS, KELVIN, NUBIAN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN and PETARD as escort after it left Port Said.

17th Relieved as escort by HM Destroyers ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT, BELVOIR, CROOME, DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HURSLEY, HURWORTH, TETCOTT and Greek destroyer PINDOS. Returned to Alexandria with original screen.

18th Rejoined MW13 with HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA, DIDO and ORION and same destroyers. After unsuccessful air attacks came under further by torpedo carrying aircraft at dusk.

Hit on port side abreast B turret and took on heavy list to Port.

Extensive fires in forward structure due to oil fuel together with flooding. 156 killed and 42 injured Ship disabled.

Note: Hole in structure was later found to be 53 ft long and 35 feet deep.

19th Fires under control and took passage under own power using emergency steering, escorted by HMS PETARD, HMS JERVIS and HMS JAVELIN.

Taken in tow by PETARD when damaged section bucking. Other destroyers detached to return to MW13.

20th Tow by HMS PETARD stern first in continuation.

21st Arrived at Alexandria and assisted to tugs to prevent further damage by use of main engines.

December Under temporary repair at Alexandria to allow ocean passage.

Royal Marines Roll of Honour HMS Arethusa

BICK, Thomas F, Marine, CH/246617:

BRITTON, Henry W, Marine, PO/X 100319:

CAPLEHORN, Charles W, Band Corporal, RMB/X 262:

COLES, Miles G, Musician, RMB/X 434:

COTTERILL, Harold, Marine, CH/X 326:

COLLINS, Reginald W, Marine, CH/X 1062:

DOYLE, John J, Ty/Corporal, RM, DSM, CH/X 101024:

EASON, Dennis B, Marine, CH/X 104339:

FLETCHER Heskett W, Musician, RMB/X 1431:

GIBB, Stanley E, Ty/Sergeant, RFR, CH/24101:

GLAVES, Alfred, Marine, CH/X 104361:

JONES, Arthur G, Marine, CH/X 1902:

MARSHALL, Robert E, Marine, CH/X 100253:

MARTIN, Leonard G, Marine, CH/X 1932:

MCCORMICK, George, Marine, CH/X 3438:

MCMULLEN, Robert R, Marine, CH/X 102698:

MERRIFIELD, Samuel J, Musician, RMB/X 1001:

MORAN, Terence, Sergeant, RM, PLY/22144:

NETHERTON, Jack M, Marine, CH/X 3429:

PERRY, Ronald J, Musician, RMB/X 1185:

PLATTEN, Henry A W, Marine, CH/X 3073:

REYNOLDS, Arthur C, Marine, CH/X 102213:

SHEPHERD, Harold F, Ty/Corporal, RM, CH/X 100259:

SMART, William H, Marine, CH/X 102685:

SMITH, Reginald, Marine, CH/X 3363:

TAYLOR, Kenneth N, Marine, CH/X 100327:

TESTER, Alfred C, Act/Corporal, RM, CH/X 1517:

TOMPSETT, Leslie J, Marine, CH/X 2822:

WALKER, William H, Bandmaster 2c, RMB/2945:

WILLMOT, Henry S, Musician, RMB/X 1449:

WOOD, Ralph W, Musician, RMB/X 1725.

[1] Log extracts from Naval

[2] Malta War Diary

more here;

World War 2 Cruisers

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Bugler CE Timmins, 14, Youngest Marine Killed in WW1

By SImon Biggs on Nov 16, 2021 07:48 am

TIMMINS, CHARLES ERNEST PO/19601 Bugler Age:14 (Born 7th Dec. 1902) Royal Marine Light Infantry H.M.S "Cardiff.".

Son of Private John Llewellyn and Amy Timmins, of 33, Beresford Rd., Gillingham, Kent.

His father was killed in action on H.M.S. Hogue in 1914 and so wanting to get his own back on the enemy he left school at 14 and joined the Marines, the only role available at his age was that of boy bugler.

Charles served on the C-class light cruiser H.M.S Cardiff.

On the 17th of November 1917 HMS Cardiff was involved in a light cruiser action off Heligoland. The mission objective was to surprise the enemy, and try and force him into action.

He was killed when a piece of shrapnel from a shell blew a hole in his ships funnel and pierced his bugle whilst he was sounding the alert.

This portrait of ex-pupil, Bugler Boy Timmins was unveiled at Napier Road School, Gillingham, on the 14th April 1919 by Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee who was Commander in Chief of The Nore.

Bugler Timmins is representative of the thousands of Kent men and boys who were recruited into the Royal Navy where they served and, in many cases, perished.

Since the Royal Marine Buglers Branch was part of the Corps, not the Royal Marines Band Service, until 1976, the names of the Buglers who lost their lives in the two World Wars were not included on the Rolls of Honour. In 2010 a Roll of Honour for the men of the Royal Marines Buglers Branch was obtained and hung in the Memorial Room of the Royal Marines School of Music. The design includes the Corps crest and the dates '1918' and '1945' over the three panels that bear the names and dates.

(John Ambler, Royal Marines Band Service Historian, March 2014) (See inscriptions here)

Timmins bugle was presented to the Type 45/ Daring-class air-defence destroyer HMS Dragon in 2012.

See the location of Second Battle of Heligoland Bight here: RM A Geo History

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Royal Marines Light Infantry - The Battle of the Ancre (Battles of the Somme 1916)

By Si Biggs on Nov 13, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: RMLI

Location: France

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1916

Date/s: 13th to 15th November 1916

(1RM: 127 killed; 2RM 105 killed)

The British Army was still recovering from the huge losses incurred during the summer of 1916 on the Somme and the British High Command was keen to achieve success in the field to recover their reputation. They planned a final major action on the Somme before winter brought a halt to large scale attacks.

Senior officers had debated the merits of yet another major attack and great concern had been expressed about the potential loss of even more lives. A major factor in these discussions was the state of the ground. Due to the lack of proper roads, constant shelling from both sides throughout the summer campaigns and now the persistent heavy rain, the whole area had become a quagmire.

The planned attack had been postponed several times in the hope that as winter approached the ground might freeze over making it easier to negotiate.

During October 1916 the 1st Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry (1RMLI) rest of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division (RND) moved into the front line just North of the Ancre River, in preparation for the attack.

The weather was appalling and many trenches had been destroyed by artillery fire. The front line was no more than a series of joined up shell holes. There was little shelter from either the weather or the enemy and the supply trenches ran across open ground under constant German fire.

But working parties were constantly being sent to the front carrying stores and ammunition being stored for the coming attack.

The severe weather had reduced the RND’s 12 battalions’ numbers from an average of 700 men down to barely 500 each, when on the 10th November they received their final orders for the attack.

The RND’s 63rd Division’s front line was about 1,200m wide running at right angles to the Ancre river (see map).

About 250m ahead of the assembly trenches on higher ground, was the German front consisting of three lines of trenches (marked in blue on the map).

The third German trench, code named the Dotted Green Line was the first objective.

Beyond this was a small valley with Station Road running along it between Beaumont Hamel and Beaucourt Station.

On a ridge just beyond Station Road was the 2nd objective, a strongly fortified German position code named the Green Line (marked green).

Beyond this fortified position was a hill running up to the village of Beaucourt sur Ancre and in front of the village was the 3rd objective, the Beaucourt Trench code named the Yellow Line (yellow on the map).

The final objective was the red line (marked red) which was the position to be taken up following the successful capture of the village.

The front line unit of RND was the 188th Infantry Brigade - 1RMLI, Howe, Hawk and Hood Battalion, who were to attack the 1st objective advancing in four waves, one platoon of each Company in each wave. Having secured their first objective (the Dotted Green Line) they were to pause whilst the next assault group, 189th Infantry Brigade (2RMLI, Anson, Nelson and Drake) passed through their position to attack the 2nd objective (Green Line).

Once the 2nd objective had been taken, the first assault group were to pass through to attack the 3rd objective (Yellow Line / Beaucourt Trench)

The preliminary British bombardments began on the 6th November 1916 concentrating on the area between Beaumont Hamel and St. Pie

rre Divion. These barrages were repeated every morning in the hope that the Germans became used to them and would be less prepared for the actual attack.

The assault troops moved in to the assembly areas during the evening of 12th November (‘Y’ Day) and at 0300am the 1,000 men of 1RMLI and 2RMLI crawled through the mud into No Man’s Land, and waited in the rain in front of the German lines.

At 0545am on the 13th November the British barrage opened up once again on the German lines and the assault troops began to move forward through the very thick mist.

1RMLI met with disaster from the start; the German artillery and machine guns reacted immediately to the British barrage and brought intense fire onto the advancing marines. As a result more than half of them were killed or wounded in No Man’s Land, including all four company commanders of 1RMLI (Capt Loxley, Hoare, Browne and Sullivan).

But some marines managed to fight their way through the all three German trenches engaging in hand to hand combat to reach and capture their objective on the Dotted Green Line.

1RMLI were closely followed by 2RMLI who also suffered heavy casualties in No Man’s Land. Eventually they joined the 1RMLI survivors in taking the third German trench. Despite intermittent shelling all day and into the night, these Marines maintained their position making use of a partially constructed trench west of Station Road.

The survivors of RMLI regrouped during the morning of 14th November and some Marines were able to join Lt Cmdr Gilliland who combined the remnants of Howe, Anson and RMLI to assault the 2nd and 3rd objectives.

At the start of the battle 1RMLI had a strength of 490 men; after the battle just 138 were still fit for duty. And of 22 officers only 2 were fit for duty.

Meanwhile on the right of the 118th Brigade’s sector, Hood Battalion fought their way through the German front and captured all three trench lines in their sector. The Honourable Artillery Company (1HAC) captured the ‘Mound’ a key point which formed the southernmost point of the German trench system on the north bank of the Ancre. They also cleared the German dug-outs along the railway embankment.

Having taken their first objective (Dotted Green Line) Hood Battalion should have halted and waited for Drake to pass through to attack the Ridge beyond Station Road (Green line).

But Drake had already come under heavy fire from the German trenches to their left and had been engaged in fierce fighting at the cost of many lives. They had lost Lt Col Tetley their commanding officer and only 75 out of 500 men were still fit to fight.

So Lt Col Freyberg commanding officer of Hood decided to continue the advance towards the 2nd objective using his remaining 300 men plus the 75 men from Drake.

This attack was successful and they over ran the dug outs in their part of Station Road and reached the 2nd objective capturing 400 prisoners.

Hawke and Nelson Battalions had attacked in the mist at 0545am and as the first wave approached the German trenches, devastating German machine-gun fire broke out from a Redoubt between the first and second enemy trenches, opposite Hawke Battalion front.

It appears the mist concealed the precise location of the Redoubt and no British troops managed to get within striking distance; the artillery barrage had missed the Redoubt entirely.

Nearly 400 officers and men became casualties, mainly falling round the Redoubt.

Only about 20 men managed to get past the Redoubt but they had lost all their officers and became isolated. They then managed to join Lt Col Freyberg’s command and reached the Green Line 2nd objective.

A Lewis Gun team also managed to keep with the barrage as far as Station Road keeping the gun in action until the conclusion of Lt Col Freyberg’s attack.

Whilst the garrison of the Redoubt was engaging the troops of Hawke Battalion, the first two waves of the Nelson Battalion succeeded in forcing their way past the 1st objective, and attacked the German positions on the Green Line.

But here the fighting was again very heavy and they lost half of their men whilst assaulting the German positions on Station Road.

The third and fourth waves of Nelson suffered the same fate as the majority of the Hawke Battalion, falling in the front of the German trenches.

Further to the left of the sector Howe had kept up with the creeping barrage and had entered the first two rows of German trenches. Lt Cmdr Sprange and 20 men reached the third line but were unable to hold it. The enemy were able to move from the Redoubt and re-occupy this position.

However a detachment of about 180 men from Anson had been able to pass through the Howe Battalion and crossed the Station Road valley under the leadership of Lt Cmdr Gilliland to reach their objective, the green line on the Ridge.

So the only units to break through to the 2nd objective (the Green Line) were Lt Col Freyberg’s reaching high ground of tactical importance on the right, and Lt Cmdr Gilliland’s on the left of the sector in an area overlooked by the enemy.

From here they were to lead independent assaults on the 3rd objective (The Yellow Line) with both groups reaching it by about 5pm.

Fierce fighting continued throughout the night. At day break on the 14th November Col Freyberg although wounded several times, led the assault himself with a mixed detachment from the Howe, Drake, Hawke and Nelson battalions, and the H.A.C. and the 7/Royal Fusiliers, straight into Beaucourt.

The capture of Beaucourt was reported at 1030am and by that time 13/Royal Fusiliers and 13/Rifle Brigade, with a fresh barrage for their renewed assault, were in possession of most of Beaucourt Trench.

That afternoon the hold on Beaucourt was consolidated. Fears of a German counter-attack from the area of Baillescourt Farm, a mile to the East of the village, came to nothing after a heavy artillery bombardment of the area East of the village.

In the afternoon of the 15th November the 188th and 189th Brigades were withdrawn from the front line and marched back to Engelbelmer village.

Text above from Battle of Ancre (The Somme) Nov 1916 by Colin McKenzie

More dits;

,RMLI in action at Miraumont

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The Unknown Warrior Story - The Bands of HM Royal Marines

By Si Biggs on Nov 11, 2021 12:00 am

The Unknown Warrior, performed in the Royal Albert Hall for the Mountbatten Festival of Music 2021 by the Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

The Unknown Warrior is buried in Westminster Abbey as a memorial to the dead of World War One, particularly those who have no known grave.

In 1920, as part of ceremonies in Britain to commemorate the dead of World War One, there was a proposal that the body of an unknown soldier, sailor or airman lying in an unmarked grave abroad be returned to England for burial in Westminster Abbey. This was to symbolise all those who had died for their country, but whose place of death was not known, or whose body remained unidentified.

It is thought that the idea came from the reverend David Railton, who had served as a chaplain on the Western Front. There are a number of versions of how the selection of the Unknown Warrior was made, but it is generally agreed that between four and six bodies were exhumed from each of the main British battle areas on the Western Front on the night of 7 November 1920, and brought to the chapel at St Pol, in northern France.

Each was covered with a Union Jack. The commander of British troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier General LJ Wyatt, picked one. This was placed in a coffin which was taken to Boulogne, where it was transported to Dover on HMS Verdun. The other bodies were reburied.

On the morning of 11 November 1920 - the second anniversary of the armistice that ended World War One - the body of the Unknown Warrior was drawn in a procession to the Cenotaph. This new war memorial on Whitehall, designed by Edwin Lutyens, was then unveiled by George V. At 11 o'clock there was a two-minute silence, and the body was then taken to Westminster Abbey where it was buried at the west end of the nave.

To the surprise of the organisers, in the week after the burial an estimated 1,250,000 people visited the abbey, and the site is now one of the most visited war graves in the world.

The text inscribed on the tomb is taken from the bible (2 Chronicles 24:16): 'They buried him among the kings, because he had done good toward God and toward his house'.

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Capture of the Italian Armistice Commission - 30 Commando AU

By Si Biggs on Nov 09, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: 30 Cdo

Location: Cheragas

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1942

Date/s: 9th November 1942

The IAU ‘Special Engineering Unit’ led by Lieutenant Dunstan Curtis, DSC, RNVR was now ashore on Beer Green beach, about twelve miles west of Algiers, the IAU set off on a hot and sweaty march through the dust towards another target Ian Fleming had supplied them with, the Italian Armistice Commission HQ at Cheragas.

Curtis recalled later being astonished at how much [Fleming] knew about Algiers, how extremely detailed his intelligence was, and how much thought he had given to our whole show. He had organised air pictures, models, and given us an exact account of what we were to look for once we got to the enemy HQ.

The men spent an uneasy night in a garage with a bellyful of French beer and the next morning took the Italian Armistice Commission HQ in a villa high above the city, capturing seven Italian Other Ranks. The Italians wanted no trouble and gracefully surrendered their functioning W/T set and weapons – McGrath pocketed a Beretta M1934 pistol. Their chef cooked pasta and tomatoes for the hungry invaders.

In the pocket of an officer’s abandoned greatcoat, Dunstan Curtis found a notebook with particulars of an Italian code.

Dunstan Curtis qualified as a solicitor in 1937. He was commissioned with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the war. He was awarded the DSC in 1942, much of his wartime service being with Ian Fleming's 30AU (assault unit), whose primary role was to pinch enemy technology and information. He took part in the attack on St Nazaire whilst commanding MGB314, he was also on the Dieppe Raid, the capture of Algiers, and led his 'Curtforce' onto the beach on D-Day+1. In the final days of the war, whilst taking control of the Blohm & Voss works, Commander Curtis accepted the surrender of the city of Kiel. He was appointed CBE in 1963. It is said that his wartime exploits led Fleming to use him as one of the constituent characters of Commander James Bond.

More 30 CDO Dits.

Or search;

Read More/ Web Link: Ian Fleming's Commandos : The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit

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Storming of the Ottoman Fort Fao - Al Faw Peninsula

By Si Biggs on Nov 06, 2021 08:04 pm

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Iraq

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1914

Date/s: 6 November 1914

The Fao Landing occurred from the 6th to 8th November 1914 when British forces attacking the Ottoman stronghold of Fao and its fortress on the Al Faw Peninsular.

The landing was met with little resistance from the Turkish defenders who fled after intense shelling. It was the first military operation of the Mesopotamian Campaign and first amphibious landing of World War I.

To protect their Persian Gulf oil facilities, the British decided to capture the Ottoman-controlled section of the Persian Gulf coast. The Fortress of Fao was the main Ottoman fortress on the Persian Gulf coast and to Anglo commanders seemed like the logical jumping off point for any Ottoman attack on British oil facilities. The British assigned Indian Expeditionary Force D (IEF D) which consisted of the 6th (Poona) Division.

The initial landing force was a contingent of Royal Marines from the HMS Ocean and British Indian troops of the 16th (Poona) Brigade under Brigadier General W.S. Delamain. The British sloop HMS Odin shelled the Turkish positions near the old fortress of Fao, silencing the enemy batteries and clearing the way for the landing force.

A six-hundred strong force came ashore in the shallow, muddy waters with two mountain guns in tow and faced little resistance. The combined British and Indian force captured the poorly prepared Ottoman positions swiftly, seizing a large amount of largely undamaged material including several artillery guns, many of them still in position and loaded.

The rest of the Force sailed on to a place where they could safely disembark, at Sanniyeh.

Considerable difficulty was encountered as there were no barges, tugs or small boats suitable, and land transport was poor. These were factors that remained throughout the Mesopotamia campaign.

Evidently, the weak Ottoman garrison was abandoned by its soldiers when the fort commander known as the "Bimbashi of Fao Fort" was killed by a shell.

More here:

Fao Landing, Wikipedia

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General Sir Edward Nicolls KCB - The 'Fighting Nicolls'

By Si Biggs on Nov 05, 2021 12:00 am

Unit/ Formation: RM People

Location: Monte Christe

Period/ Conflict: Napoleonic Wars

Year: 1803

Date/s: Saturday 5th November 1803

Lieutenant Edward Nicolls RM led a 12 man cutting-out party in the cutter from HMS Blanche, and captured the French cutter Albion from under the battery at Monte Christe in Santo Domingo.

The Albion had a crew of 43 men and was armed with two 4-pounder guns and six swivels. In the fighting the French Captain wounded Nicolls with a pistol shot before being himself killed. The British lost two dead and two wounded, including Nicolls.

Later he became known as fighting Nicholls. During his remarkable career he saw action 107 times, was wounded six times, court martialed twice, and demoted. However, he was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

General Sir Edward Nicolls KCB (1779 – 5 February 1865) was an Anglo-Irish officer of the Royal Marines. Known as "Fighting Nicolls", he had a distinguished military career.

According to his obituary in the London Times, "He was in no fewer than 107 actions, in various parts of the world ... He had his left leg broken and his right leg severely injured, was shot through the body and right arm, had received a severe sabre cut in the head, was bayoneted in the chest, and had lost the sight of an eye."

In 1795, at the age of 16, he received his first commission in the Royal Marines and soon began service with shipborne detachments of marines. During the Napoleonic Wars and associated conflicts in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and North Sea, he served as a commander of ships' detachments, and gained his reputation for ferocity and courage.

From 1823 to 1828, he was the Commandant of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, which was followed by a posting from 1829 to 1835, as Superintendent of Fernando Po, off the coast of Africa, an important base in the British operations against the slave trade.

In 1835, Nicolls retired from the Royal Marines with the rank of a lieutenant colonel. For his service, Nicolls was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1855—among other honours—and was promoted to the rank of full general in his retirement.

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Japanese Midget Submarine Crews hunted in Madagascar

By Si Biggs on Nov 03, 2021 12:57 pm

The Battle of Madagascar (5 May – 6 November 1942) was a British campaign to capture the Vichy French-controlled island Madagascar during World War II. The seizure of the island by the British was to deny Madagascar's ports to the Imperial Japanese Navy and to prevent the loss or impairment of the Allied shipping routes to India, Australia and Southeast Asia. It began with Operation Ironclad, (commanded by Major-General Robert Sturges of the Royal Marines) the seizure of the port of Diego-Suarez (now Antsiranana) near the northern tip of the island, on 5 May 1942.

A subsequent campaign to secure the entire island, Operation Stream Line Jane, was opened on 10 September. The Allies broke into the interior, linking up with forces on the coast and secured the island by the end of October. Fighting ceased and an armistice was granted on 6 November. This was the first large-scale operation by the Allies combining sea, land and air forces. The island was placed under Free French control.

0n 27th April 1942: 'A' detachment's submarines I-16, I-18 and I-20 arrive at Penang and are joined by tender NISSHIN that had earlier been converted to carry midget submarines. On the 30th three Japanese "mother" submarines are loaded with a Type A Kō-hyōteki-class midget submarines a type which were also used in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the 1942 attack on Sydney Harbour.

I-30's plane is to reconnoiter selected points on the East African coast for possible attack and departs in advance. I-10, with Captain Ishizaki embarked, and the A Detachment depart Penang and sortie westward in the Indian Ocean. The I-10's plane is assigned stand-by duty.

The Japanese submarines I-10, I-16, and I-20 arrived three weeks later on 29 May. I-10's reconnaissance plane spotted HMS Ramillies at anchor in Diego-Suarez harbour, but the plane was spotted and Ramillies changed her berth.

The floatplane retrurns to I-10. Captain Ishizaki orders a midget submarine attack for 0230 on 31 May.

I-20 and I-16 launched two midget submarines, one of which managed to enter the harbour.

Lt Akieda Saburo with crew man PO1C Takemoto Masami piloted his craft to a point where he could get a shot in at HMS Ramillies. His first torpedo ran true and impacted just forward of A turret, ripping a 20-30 foot hole in the side of the ship. Although taking on a list and having to flood their magazines the battleship remained afloat, saved by its anti-torpedo bulges.

However the sudden loss of weight caused by the firing one of the torpedoes meant that I-20b was suddenly buoyant and floated to the surface. An Indian lookout on the nearby 6,993-ton oil tanker British Loyalty spotted the conning tower of the submarine. Someone on the tanker managed to get an anti-aircraft gun pointed in the direction of the midget submarine and squeezed off a burst. The volley flew wide and the submarine submerged before he could re-aim

The British escorts then started steaming about dropping depth charges and trying to find the Japanese midget. But the shallow waters frustrated the ASDIC system. Remarkably Lt Saburo stayed in the harbour, and manoeuvred for a killing shot on HMS Ramillies. He lined up his second shot and fired. The torpedo ran true again, however just before impact the British Loyalty steamed in-between the torpedo and the battleship. The tanker had been making a break for open water to avoid being torpedoed, however, this meant that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time for her, but inadvertently saved HMS Ramillies.

The crew of one of the midget submarines, Lieutenant Saburo Akieda and Petty Officer Masami Takemoto, beached their craft (M-20b) at Nosy Antalikely and moved inland towards their pick-up point near Cape Amber.

With both the I-20b's torpedoes gone Lt Saburo set course for the open sea, and the rendezvous point. However they didn't get far as their batteries were depleted. With no power the two Japanese sailors set their scuttling charge and left the boat but the charge failed to detonate. Both men reached the shore, where they approached natives and asked to be ferried to the mainland, which the natives happily helped them with.

Their new plan is to reach a rendezvous point on the northern tip of the island, to be picked up by their mother submarine.

At 1100 on the 1st of June both Japanese sailors approach locals in Anijabe village. They explained they're enemies of the British, but allies of the French and wish to avoid the British forces. They also attempted to purchase food, then leave the village.

One of the locals immediately went and found a patrol of British Royal Marines. The native explained about the visit of a pair of odd looking Chinese men, with pistols and curved swords, it appears the native wanted a payment for the information.

The Marines set off in pursuit of the Japanese and cornered them at Amponkarana Bay. They asked the Japanese to surrender, but they ducked into cover and opened fire, killing one of the Marines. After a short firefight there is a lull, and two shots rang out. Both Japanese sailors had shot themselves instead of risking capture.

Despite a prolonged search the Japanese mother submarines couldn't find any sign of the two midgets they launched. Eventually the subs left the area, apart from I-20 which stayed on station until the 3rd of June. On that day I-20 spent the day on the surface firing flares trying to signal the midget crew. Eventually as dark fell I-20 left the area.

Further reading;

Wikipedia Battle of Madagascar

Combined Fleet Website Imperial Submarines

Overlords Blog East Meets West

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I Was There! - I Saw the Royal Marines Go In at Walcheren

By Si Biggs on Nov 02, 2021 02:55 pm

The War Illustrated, Volume 8, No. 194, Page 441, November 24, 1944.

Westkapelle, keypoint in the Dutch island of Walcheren blocking the entrance to the Scheldt and Antwerp, was in our hands by November 2, 1944. Arthur Oakeshott, Reuters' special correspondent, saw it fall to the combined assault of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marine Commandos, and rocket planes and bombers of the R.A.F. Here he tells of this most hazardous and daring operation as he witnessed it from the H.Q. Ship.

As we approached the island, stretching away on either side and astern of us was a vast convoy of landing craft, and we could see the lighthouse tower and the famous 400-yard-wide gap torn in the dyke wall by R.A.F. Bombers at Zuidhoofd, just to the right of Westkapelle.

We approached to within some thousands of yards, to the accompaniment of the roar of the 15-in. guns of the battleship Warspite and the monitors Erebus and Lord Roberts. I thought it all seemed very unreal – until a couple of German shells fell among us. Guns blazed away from almost every craft and shells of very calibre went screaming to land on the shore and among the German batteries and beach fortifications. But more and more shells dropped among us and one of two ships were hit.

On an eminence to the left of the town were four large German guns in concrete emplacements, and these were shooting pretty accurately Bu this time several landing craft were afire and burning fiercely. Then I saw an unforgettable sight – dozens of landing craft bearing hundreds of men wearing green berets – the men of the famous Royal Marines. They were all singing – yes, singing as they went into that hell of fire and shell and flying metal. "They've got guts", said a sailor.

Still more and more craft swept past us, and all the time the German shells were falling among us, claiming a craft here, a man there. More were in flames. Then above the din of battle we heard the roar of aircraft, and looking up I saw scores of Typhoons screaming down – a puff of smoke, and their rockets flashed in at the German positions.

Deafening Roar of 15-in. Guns

Great spouts of black smoke streamed up into the sky from the bomb bursts, and the smaller fire from the Germans abruptly ceased. But those big batteries continued to take toll of the assault force. By this time the L.C.G.s (landing-craft, guns) were near enough to add their quota, and the noise and crash and banging became almost deafening, while, all the time, wave after wave of Typhoons roared in.

Above the din we heard the steady boom-boom of the "15-inchers" from two monitors and Warspite, and suddenly I saw a great burst of flame and black smoke come from one of these mighty German gun emplacements. It spoke no more – thanks to the R.N. The other three continued.

Then the rocket-firing landing craft came in. There was a zigzagged flash and a black pall of smoke, and hundreds of rockets sailed high into the air until they looked like a flock of migrating birds, and then dropped to explode with deafening detonations on the luckless German defenders of the island of Walcheren. Another roar of aircraft above us, and once more Typhoons, carrying bombs, sped in on the three remaining batteries and simultaneously, shells from the monitors and the battleship scored direct hits, and put No. 2 out of action.

Still the other two continued to fire, causing the invading ships considerable difficulty. Again and again I saw landing craft run a gauntlet of shell bursts as they nosed their way shorewards. Some did not get there. Still more shells poured in on the force that crept nearer and nearer the island, and then somebody said: "There goes the third one", and I could see flames belching out of the third of the German gun batteries. Warspite got that one, and a few minutes later the fourth battery was silenced again by the guns of the Royal Navy.

As we steamed away from Walcheren I could see fires here and there on the island and, dotted about the sea, several blazing craft – one burned all night. A wounded Marine Commando officer said to me: "Don't tell them at home that it was easy – it was damned difficult, but we did it – please tell them that!"

See the Actions Mapped out here:

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