hmsdasher.co.uk is a site which I hope will evolve in time. This page is intended for anyone who wants to post a message regarding the ship, those lost, the survivors or any other relevant request. To give you an idea of how this page may develop please visit www.hmsroyaloak.co.uk/requests.htm to see how this has evolved.
Please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post your message to this page in the hope that other visitors may help with information.
PLEASE NOTE If there is no e mail after the message, please e mail me and I will forward it on to them.
My wife and I attended the funeral of Fred Plank this afternoon. Fred was Chief Laboratory Technician at St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey, Surrey and before he retired we were both work colleagues. Fred was also a member of our retirement group.
We were amazed to learn that Fred was a survivor of the HMS Dasher incident and when we got home I looked it up and found your web site. I am not too sure how many more survivors are around but they must be getting few and far between now.
By all accounts the incident was a cause of great sadness for the rest of Fred's life and he rarely if ever talked about it.
Well done for keeping the Dasher in our memories.
Click on the image for a larger version in a new window
I spoke to my brother in Australia this morning on the occasion of his 70th birthday. My brother was born in Lamlash Hospital. We then lived on Holy Island where my father was then an Assistant Lightkeeper. I was then a small child but fascinated by all of the naval shipping which then used the base at Lamlash. The boom gate vessel "HMS Imperia" was stationed almost off the inner light station.
Because my mother was still in hospital in Lamlash on 27 March my father was looking after me. He had to do some maintenance in the light room of the tower of the outer light (Pillar Rock) prior to lighting up time and he had me with him. We watched the planes landing on the carrier and the next thing we saw was - reflected in the lens - the smoke and flames on the sea.
Despite being very young I can still remember that awful sight. While the matter was a secret for a long time - and long before there was any publicity - my father always said that it was a fuel explosion on board. Perhaps he knew of this from naval personnel with whom the light keepers were often in contact with.
I have a copy of John Steele's book since first publication.
(Lord MacKenzie of Culkein)
|Charles Augustus George Roberts
I have recently applied for an Arctic Star Medal on behalf of my late father, Charles Augustus George Roberts 1906-1978 and in so doing looked up his service record and realised that next Wednesday is the 70th Anniversary of the Dasher sinking. I was thinking how I could commemorate this date when I discovered your wonderful web site.
My father, then Ord. Tel. Roberts No. JX341321 was one of the lucky ones to survive. Quite a strong swimmer he spent 45 mins in the water before being picked up by, he said Air Sea Rescue, but having read "They Were Never Told" I think it may have been a mine sweeper.
As a 7year old I remember him suddenly appearing in our house and my mother exclaiming "Charlie, what are you doing here"? He was wearing an odd uniform, I think whatever they could find for him. Later he said he joined the Navy to avoid the mud of WW1 trenches and got smothered in oil instead but he never spoke of the horrors of that awful night. I also remember him telling how when he visited our local Pub one of his pals greeted him with "I thought there was a war on, the Navy is always on bloody leave". He said he just walked away, he was that sort of character.
Three months after the sinking he sailed in HMS Walker, an escort destroyer, on the Russian convoys hence his qualification for the Arctic Star. That must have been hard with the sinking so fresh in the mind.
Yours Geoff Roberts [son]
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My grandfather was Archibald Gray one of the casulaties lost at sea aboard HMS Dasher in 1943. He was in the merchant navy and was 34yrs old.
His daughter (my mother) has recently passed away which has prompted me to find out more about my family history.
Archibald had another daughter May also deceased and his wife Isabella passed away when my mother was only 12yrs old so we have only ever known limited information. We know he had a brother and was wondering if you have had any enquirys regarding Archibald.
I would be so happy and grateful to hear if anybody knew him or had any stories or photos.
|Leading Seaman Clifford Thomas Booker Brown
I have been living in Orkney since 1999 & it was only a few years ago that I learnt that my Uncle, whom I knew was "lost at sea" was one of the casualties on HMS Dasher. He was Leading Seaman Clifford Thomas Booker Brown, he was my father's half brother from a previous marriage. That's all I know about him, if any one could enlighten to me to any facts or a photo would be great. I do not even know how old he was.
Our grandmother swore on that night she saw him lieing on his bed & knew he had been killed.
Jan Owen nee Brown
My grandads brother was on the dasher and lost his life. His name was Tom Neighbour. My mum got married and took the surname Raynham. My grandad has recently passed away and I have been reading a book on the Dasher that we bought him some years ago and to my surprise there was a John Raynham on the boat. This is most likely to be a coincidence but I would really like to follow up on it. If you can pass on any information about John Raynham I would be most grateful.
|Air Radio Mecahnic James Hodges Kelly
Just in the last year I obtained my Father's war record and HMS Dasher (891 Squadron) was listed in his record up to the day of the tragedy. He survived but I have no details. He had already survived the sinking of HMS Eagle in the Med on Operation Pedestal and went on to serve in the Pacific on HMS Victorious, being onboard, during the Kamikaze attacks, and right up to the end of the war in the pacific. He never spoke to anyone in the family about his wartime experiences.
I think he might have been a bit of a Jonah. When he was onboard a ship they used to shoot an albatross for luck before they sailed!
I was born in 1950 by which time my Father was in the Merchant Navy with BP tankers. He died in 1959, in his sleep, at 40 years old (odd having survived so much during the war). He was mostly at sea during the years I was growing up and I never really got to know him I don’t know if there are any survivors who may be able to help but I would be extremely grateful for any information that may be available.
Personally, I joined the Royal Navy in 1967 and served 14 years ending up as a Chief ERA (CMEA(P) in decimal currency, I was in the last entry of ERAs that passed out of HMS Caledonia in Rosyth) all that time without the slightest clue about my Father's war record!
Thanks, in anticipation,
Ned - Royal Naval nickname, proper name William Victor, for centuries, in the Kelly family, there were William Henry's and James Hodges Kellys, back to Nelson's time in the RN, but my Mother broke that tradition, my brother was James Hilary so the initials stayed the same, because they all died at sea, now I live onboard a yacht in Turkey!
|Cuthbert B Sweetnam
I am a member of the Lickey Hills Local History Society in NE Worcestershire, and I am researching the men on the local war memorials.
I have some information on all but one of those on a war memorial plaque in Cofton Hackett Church, however I have failed to find anything about a Cuthbert B Sweetman of the Fleet Air Arm listed as a casualty of the Second World War.
A friend of mine suggested that his name may have been spelt wrongly and was in fact Cuthbert B Sweetnam, one of those lost on HMS Dasher. This does seem to be a possibility. But he was born and married in Cardiff which is a distance from Worcestershire and was a leading supply assistant in the RN. This may be a misunderstanding on the part of the engravers.
There may have been an incorrect assumption that, if you were serving on board an aircraft carrying ship, you were part of the Fleet Air Arm. But, if this is our man, I cannot quite understand how he is on our war memorial in Cofton Hackett, Worcestershire.
Any suggestions gratefully received.
|Capt JA Cunningham
What an honourable mission you have set yourself upon.
My grandfather, Capt JA Cunningham (also a provost of Ardrossan) was one of the two or three Ardrossan harbour pilots before and during the war years.
I recall my late mother telling me of the dreadful night of the Dasher's accident. She spoke little of it other than to say that her father had been unable to tell the family of the appalling task he and others had undertaken on that night.
I understand that the Ardrossan pilot boat, with my grandfather aboard assisted in search and recovery of the bodies.
My mother would have been only 14 years old at the time and surely wouldn't have been told at the time and JAC died only some 4 years later.
My guess is that JAC would have confided in his wife and that many years later she told my mother. My mother told me of no details, and other than that her father had been out on the pilot boat for about two days in concern with the incident
and that little had been known of the whole event. She told me sometime in the 1990s.
More than that I've never known of the tragedy but often it has entered my mind - like tonight, for some reason, while I was preparing dinner. Impulsively I decided to Google 'HMS Dasher' and first up was your website.
I've ordered your video and shall order the book, hoping to add to my
understanding of that horrendous event.
|2 casualties from Cumbria
I have looked at your website regarding HMS Dasher, which I must say is excellent. My particular interest in 'Dasher' is in connection with two of the casualties whom I have come across in connection with a 'Roll of Honour' for the Cleator Moor area of Cumbria.
You are welcome to post the following information about these two crew mates of HMS Dasher to your memorial site if you wish.
The following two casualties of HMS Dasher came from neighbouring villages in West Cumberland (now Cumbria):
(1) Able Seaman William Barnes, Service No C/JX 238822, of 37 Wyndham Street, Cleator Moor, Cumberland
(son of Robert & Margaret Barnes).
So far as we know his body was not recovered. His name is on the Chatham Memorial.
His brother Private Alexander Barnes, 4th Battalion The Border Regiment, Service No 3598377, also died in WW2
Alexander Barnes was married to Freda Mary Barnes of Frizington, which is a neighbouring village to Cleator Moor. His death came less than 6 months after HMS Dasher went down. Alexander is buried in Madras, Chennai.
(2) Sylvester Woolaghan, of Frizington, Cumberland
The second casualty from West Cumbria who died on HMS Dasher came from the village of Frizington, which is about 3 miles from Cleator Moor. His name was Able Seaman C/JX 212950 Sylvester Woolaghan, aged 23. Sylvester was the son of Sylvester and Catherine Woolaghan. In addition to being remembered on the war memorial of his parish church - St Joseph's R.C. Church, Frizington - Able Seaman Woolaghan is also interred in the churchyard at St Joseph’s.
I have posted an article about these two casualties of HMS Dasher on 2WW Blogspot. If anyone wishes to read this:please click on the following link:
If anyone has additional information about these two casualties in particular (or photographs they would like to share for a volunteer 'Roll of Honour project') I would be pleased to hear from them.
I don't know when you posted your item on this ship and I can't really add much to the story.
My Grandfather John Lainson Field was the O/C during the war of HMS Fortitude ( Ardrossan) Sadly he died when I was just 7 in 1951 and so I never had the chance to talk about things Naval.
I understand he was the Officer in Charge of the Cortege that walked through the streets of the town to the cemetery carrying those bodies that had been recovered.
I believe that initially there were not many recovered from the water at the scene, but over the coming days more floated free from the wreck. My Grandmother who was living in married accommodation at the time also must have been aware of what had happened but even in later years never ever once mentioned a thing about the tragedy.
My Mother (their Daughter) I suspect must also have known about it but likewise she never mentioned a thing .
There must have been many Naval families at the time who could not help but realise something had happened and for those with relatives on board and not knowing, or even being told the facts , it must have been heartbreaking.
With a large explosion and followed by a fire which was witnessed by many from the shore people must have clamoured for news and not got any.
I dont know whether my Grandfather would ever have said anything in later years even if I had found out. I only read about it in the excellent book on the tragedy a few years ago and came across my Grandfather's name.
My Grandfather had been in the Navy since before WW1 and specialised in what at the time were called torpedo boat destroyers. His first Command was HMS Winchester and surprisingly during WW2 when my Father joined the Navy this was the ship he did his seamanship on !!
When my Grandfather retired from the Navy after WW1 he wanted to take up farming and was involved with this when WW2 came along. He knew he was too old for Command on the sea but volunteered and was given the posting of HMS Fortitude in Ardrossan.
The story about one of those bodies being recovered and used for the 'Man who never was' is most compelling. Despite the huge attempt at secrecy over the disaster, I have no doubt the German Intelligence of the time, must have realised that the ship's name never came up again and must have wondered what had happened to her.
The final insult must be when the files were at last released to the public domain and still nobody went public.
|E mail received 8/6/09
Able Seaman Harry Harper
Dear Peter, I thought I would pass on this piece of information which I came across a few years ago but only recently went back to investigate. Whilst walking my dogs in the local Greenock cemetery I come across many war graves but one in particular caught my eye; that of Able Seaman Harry Harper, RN C/JX 260671. Having the same surname I was naturally curious but after speaking with my father he could not shed any light on the possibility of Harry being related. Perhaps someone who actually is related may be interested to know of his burial site if not already aware of this information ? According to the inscription Harry was aged 33 yrs when killed on the Dasher. Below this is the following verse
" O for the touch of a vanished hand " God's greatest gift is remembrance
I hope this has some significance for someone.
Regards David George Harper
E mail received 9/3/09
Victor Leslie Webb
i have been researching my family tree and found that my grandads brother Victor Leslie Webb born 10/3/1921.served on HMS Dasher and was one of the unfortunate one that along with 100's of others lost his life when the vessel sank.
Victor was one of 5 brothers who were serving in the war at the time.I have enclosed a picture of him along with a cutting from the local paper that my cousin sent to me. My Grandfather was William George Webb the 1st on left of cutting
If you would like to include him along with others on your requests page the family would be honoured to have his name included with the other service personell.
Please feel free to contact me
Great Niece of Victor Leslie Webb
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E mail received 2/2/09
I am an ex RAF Aircrew Office and married to Sue nee Dickens: her father Reginald Dickens was a PO on Dasher when it went down: he survived.
He told us about the opening of the memorial; we offered to take him but he declined.
Over the past many years whenever we ventured to get him to talk about the Dasher he just went quite; and only referred to the actual sinking and his survival.
He died a couple of years ago, and we are now going through what ex RN things has passed to us, hence us sending this message.
|E mail received 2/2/09 (Click on image for a larger version)
Please find a photograph I have found of my grandfather, Reginald Holden, aboard HMS Dasher on the 29th Jan 1943. My grandfather is on the right, I don't know who the other chap is.
My granfather used to attend sea trials and worked for the Admiralty but I'm not sure of his exact role.
I hope the picture may be of some interest to you.
|George Edward Fox
My uncle, George E Fox, Air Mechanic (first class) was one of the many lost on HMS Dasher. My grandfather went through a lot of heartache, and spent a lot of time trying to find out from the admiralty how his only son died, but was met with a brickwall at each turn. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could find out any information.
Like many others, my mother has wondered for many years what happened to her brother, what caused the ship to sink and why there was so much secrecy. Whilst the books written by John & Noreen Steele have thrown some light on what actually happened, I know that my mother would be delighted to hear from any of the survivors that might have known George. I believe that he would have been about 21 at the time of the sinking.
Regrettably, my mother is now bedridden, and cannot see very well, but any information or stories that anyone might have about George would be most welcome and would bring her great happiness.
I would be very pleased to hear from anyone that might have some information for her, no matter how small.
|Frederick Arthur Morgan
Frederick Arthur Morgan was my uncle, i never got to meet him as I was born after the war.
We were always told by our father that a plane had crashed onto the deck and caused the explosion, this is what he genuinely believed.
My granny died before i was born, she too never knew the truth. Uncle Fred has one survivng sister living in Hetton -e Hole, Tyne & Wear, now into her 90's.
Thanks for all your efforts, on behalf of the Morgan family.
Have just found your site, and I am dumbfounded to find out about a story my dad told me as a little boy is true. His ship was HMS Isle of Sark. The story is sad but I am now a proud son of 70 years who's dad always said sailors don't let sailors down. I have attached a photo of my dad who died in 1987.
all the best
Click on the image to enlage
My Grandad was one of the very lucky survivors of HMS Dasher, George Lovegrove. 84yrs old
I am his granddaughter Jenny Davis, Now 29 years old and have two wonderful great grandchildren for George. My Mother and Farther immigrated over to Australia 30 years ago, and i have only seen my Grandad a hand full of times.
I am extreamly privilaged to say that my Grandad recently moved over to Australia after the sad news of my uncle and Grandmother passing. It has been 17 years since we have seen Grandad and i will be forever greatfull after reading your sad emails on all the tragiclly lost lives, that we can get to know and enjoy what time my Grandad has left.
I have only just recently started looking up on what history is available after seeing my Grandads medals and seeing my 10 and 12 year old boys interested in the devistating sinking of the Dasher.
My sons, partner and I go to the Dawn Service every year for our Anzac's and later to the parade through our city centre Perth, Western Australia. In 2008 my children and I can now stand and honnor our Grandad and Great Grandad with our fallen anzac's, and how proud we are to have this oppertunity.
WE LOVE YOU GRANDAD/GREAT, YOU ARE A TRUE HERO, SURVIVOR. HOW PROUD WE ARE TO CARRY THE LAST NAME LOVEGROVE. OXOX
E mail received 4/1/08
I have just come across your website; my father has been asked to contribute a piece on the Hawker Hunter aircraft for a book, and in introducing him to the author I am describing dad's experiences.
The point is, he began his aviation career by volunteering for the Navy in January 1942 - up to then he had been an ATC cadet, cycling with his brothers to get to Battle of Britain crash sites ASAP for souvenirs ! We still have some...
Dad ( Stan Lawson ) was made a Fleet Air Arm engine fitter on Seafires, first on HMS Unicorn - which he hated due to the snobbishness of the officers - then on two Escort Carriers, Stalker and Khedive - he has particularly fond memories of the latter, and is in contact with one or two ex-crew mates including a pilot.
He was on Unicorn for the Salerno landings, when even that medium sized carrier proved useless for the Seafire, which required a good headwind to keep landing speed, and had a fragile undercarriage.
My point is though, an experience he had on 'Unicorn' - he and his chums found themselves struggling to fit an external 'slipper' fuel tank to a Seafire, in the hangar. The floor of the hangar was vee-shaped, with a central trough - with all the high octane fuel spilt during the process, they found themselves ankle-deep in it sloshing from side to side as the ship rolled ! This I am sure is the answer to the demise of 'Dasher'.
I asked dad if anyone smoked, even sneakily, in the hangars but he reckons not - also during this particular episode the tannoy was blaring ' no smoking in the hangars' repeatedly. On 'Unicorn' there was already a practice of filling the aviation fuel tanks with seawater as they were expended - but it would only take a few minutes delay for explosive fumes to build up...
Dad also reckons he was at HMS Daedalus - Lee On Solent - when survivors from ' an escort carrier which had blown up in the Clyde ' were brought in. The story, probably genuinely believed, was the ship was thought to have been torpedoed.
Dad went on to spend the vast majority of his career -over 37 years - with Hawker Siddeley, later British Aerospace - he ended up as crew-chief on the development Sea Harriers of the Falklands, and the Harrier 2 GR5 development fleet ( he refused promotion beyond what he knew he was good at, and a lot of Test Pilots were very grateful ! ) - not bad for someone who started on Seafires & Hellcats...
Anyway I hope that is of some interest, please do not hesitate to contact me if we can be of any help.
E mail received 4/1/08
My name is Alan Bull from geelong victoria Aussie
today I am going to a funeral of a great fella who saw the explosion of the DASHER from his plane as he was waiting for her to come into the wind to land on her, we had long talks about the ship and what happened. Because he knew of the tragedy, he was sent to a remote area so he could not repeat anything of what he saw. His name is Lionel Godfrey.
We both had something in common, as I served on HMAS VENGEANCE an aircraft carrier here in Aussie. He reckoned stokers were the salt of the earth and it was fair dinkum too, I was one of them.
E mail received 27/9/07
Lt. Cmdr William Lothain Allan
I was interested to read the article on the Dasher in the Scotsman during June. I havent any direct information to contribute, but the incident left a lasting impression on me due to the fact that the Wife of Lt. Cmdr William Lothain Allan (known as Lothian) was my Mother's best friend when they lived near Glasgow.
I was Four and a Half at the time and the understandably shocked look on Mrs Allan's face as she broke the news to Mother has left a lasting impression on me. Shortly after the war I accompanied Mother and Mrs. Allan on the Boat from Ardrossan to Arran, I assume to allow her time for reflection near the site of the sinking.
I have very vague memories of him as a bright and cheerful individual who visited our house and would join in the parties held when my Aunt and Uncle's leaves coincided with his own.
As I said my memories are not directly connected but may add a little background information to the Saga
E mail received 14th Sept 2007
I've been heavily looking into my ancestry, tracing branches of my tree back to the 1500s. I've recently been told a family story by my mother, and on looking into it, have found your email address. Here is the story as she told it to me, about her sister, my aunt.
Jean was a wireless telegraphist in the Wrens and was stationed in Largs in the 1940's. They were in close contact with the ships in the Clyde, and Lord Louis Mountbatten's HQ were also in Largs. When their opposite numbers in the Royal Navy came on shore they were able to meet up with them and all became friendly, and ship-to-shore they were able to add their own little signatures when signing on and off duty.
On the night in question Jean knew whom she was in contact with on The Dasher when all of a sudden a message came over from him in plain text Morse, not in code, to say 'we've been hit'. She was so shocked that she replied 'say again' but that was the last she heard.
E mail received 11th Sept 2007
I am looking for any information relating to Dennis Ingram, one of the crew who went down on HMS Dasher. I believe my father-in-law may have been related to him.
I would like any information relating to Dennis if anyone has anything.
E mail received 2nd May 2007
K. H. Flower
I have just watched your video on HMS Dasher and felt I had to write to you.
My father, Kenneth Henry Flower, Acting Petty Officer, Air Mechanic , photograph attached, was just one of the many who perished.
I am now 64 years of age and have only over the last 10/12 years been finding out about the Dasher. As a child growing up all I was ever told was "your father died during the war - he went down with his ship" Nobody ever talked about what happened about the war years or what happened to my father's ship. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old when I was shown a newspaper, The Scottish Daily Express dated 19th May 1945 which first reported the loss of the Dasher. I still have this newspaper,together with the telegrams " missing on war service" "presumed dead" and a letter from Comodore E Thornton stating "it has become necessary to presume your husband's death to have occured on 27th March 1943". That letter was dated 23rd April 1943.
That day I lost not only my father but my mother. She couldn't cope with the loss of her husband , widowed at such a young age and being left with a 5 month old baby. She eventually abandoned me with my maternal grandparents who brought me up in Orkney. Although I always knew that they were my grandparents because they brought me up from infancy I always called them Mum and Dad and still refer to my maternal grandmother today as "my mum". I only referred to my mother by her name Minnie.
I never really got over the sense of being "abandoned" but began to understand how and why it happened after discovering a little of the story of the Dasher albeit that by that time I was in my 50's and my mother "Minnie" had been dead for many years, "accidental death" - overdose of sleeping pills! So I never got to tell her that I understood why it was that she abandoned me and that I "forgave" her.
There must be many other 60 something year olds who have similar stories to mine. I think we deserve to know the whole true story of what really happened. My mother died early in life never knowing the truth, probably feeling guilty about abandoning me so I think that the Admiralty/Government should come clean and tell those few of us left who have been affected all our lives by this tragedy what really happened. In my heart I know that they never will.
Maybe in my daughters' life time or maybe even in my grandsons' life time they will but it will be far to late to mean anything to anyone and that is exactly what they are banking on. Who knows one of my grandchildren or maybe someone elses grandchild or even great grandchild will take them to task one day.
Thank you for making your film and keeping the memory of HMS Dasher and all those who perished alive.
Valerie MacDougall (Mrs)
born Valerie Flower 5th October 1942
I found pieces of the mahogany flightdeck of HMS Dasher in 1999 - they had been washed up on Ardrossan South Beach. They had large bolt holes and were eaten through by Teredo Worms. A piece was sent by me to the Millennium Dome exhibition of flotsam and jetsom following a contact by the organisers - we had a digital photo of the specimen on our website.
I had an Uncle Dasher in the navy and it turned out that his side of the family had been in the navy since the time of Humphrey Gilbert, the half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh. The Dasher had been named after one of Uncle Dasher's Admiral Dasher ancestors.
The family are from Compton Castle in Devon. I am also from Devon - quite a coincidence finding a bit of the ship connected with my family!
My wife's Uncle Hugh remembers working at Troon Shipyard and hearing the explosion of the Dasher.
I hope that this is of some interest,