I started writing this blog so I could find people who could have known people who knew my wife’s uncle.
This was my first article…
Many people wrote me and shared information and pictures.
Every time I would ask permission to post them. I only share what people permit me to do.
If you have been reading this blog from the start, you know my wife’s uncle did not want to talk much about his ordeal. So I bought the book The Unlucky Lady written by Émile Beaudoin. In the book there is a list of sailors who took part in that fateful mission on April 29, 1944.
Pierre Bachant’s name is not in the book. I can’t find any trace of him in the book.
But he has given me enough information to believe that what he said was true.
One of these things was that he recognised Thin in this picture…
Thin is in the middle of picture between the two guns. He is all but thin.
Dorothy wrote me last week. She recognised another sailor. She said his name was Jack Edwards. He was from Edmonton, Alberta.
Dorothy shared some information with me and even though I had a hard time figuring out who she was refering to in this picture, Dorothy and I had fun exchanging e-mails back and forth to find Jack.
Right, left, port, starboard… I was all confused. At least I knew who Thin was.
Jack is listed in the book under the name John. There is another Edwards in the crew. His name was Lloyd Edwards. He was from Ontario.
I believe it’s him…
Click to zoom in
What’s this blog all about…?
I think you know the answer.
By the way, are you related to Thin?
Georg Hein, who was sent to England as a boy to escape certain death in a concentration camp, changed his name to Peter Stevens and became a decorated RAF pilot. This daring young man was shot down, captured, and spent almost four terrifying years as a German POW.
When I read a book recently called Escape, Evasion and Revenge, written by Marc H. Stevens of Toronto about his father, I was fascinated by this unique story, and I asked Marc if he would write a guest column for me. I’m sure you will be as mesmerized as I was by his father’s courage and daring. For the whole story, however, you should really read the book! Following is a very condensed version of events.
This picture was also pasted in Jim L’Esperance’s Wartime Log.
I am sure it was pasted when Jim came back from Marlag und Milag Nord.
Jim is here with all the POWs.
He’s the third sailor on the right top row.
Jim is also on this picture taken in 1971.
This is the original sent by Yves Dufeil back in 2009 when I started this blog. I just added a few information since then so we may never forget these men and the sailors who never came back.
Lest We Forget those who never came back…
John rejoigned his fellow pilots last year.
I wrote him a message once, but he never replied. I would have like to meet him and talk about No. 4 E.F.T.S. Windsor Mills. I had written an article on him on this blog.
In fact make that two.
This is an article on Vintage Wings of Canada that pays homage to Johnny Typhoon. Much better than I could have.
It has to be him.
Same given name Robert.
Same name Wainwright.
Yeoman Petty Officer Bob Wainwright, from Newcastle, was a very lucky sailor!
The story he was telling deserves to be retold in bold characters.
Yeoman Petty Officer Bob Wainwright, from Newcastle, had already seen plenty of action whilst serving on Gloucester’s sister ship, Liverpool where he had narrowly escaped death when she was hit by two bombs which failed to explode. Later he was drafted to HMS Kent and was on board when she was torpedoed in September 1940. Three days later he joined Gloucester.
Bob was stationed on the bridge of Gloucester and had a grandstand view of the attacks that took place prior to the sinking;
‘When we ran out of ammunition we finished up firing the 6-inch guns and starshells, it was a waste of time really. Wave after wave of Stukas were concentrating on us. By the time the order came to abandon ship we had gone another half mile from where we were first hit. I saw men in the carley floats, and men who were swimming, being machine gunned by the enemy planes. I decided it might be safer to remain on the ship for as long as possible. A bomb hit the ship aft and the aft Director Control Tower went up in the air, then toppled over the side, it also took half of the main mast away. The aerials came crashing down and I took cover. One of the aerial insulators hit the captain’s steward and it took the top of his head clean off. I went back to the bridge and assisted a Sub Lieutenant to throw the Cypher books over the side. All the time pompom shells were exploding. Fiji was off the starboard side and Captain Rowley told me to make a signal to Fiji and ask her to come alongside but before I could do so, the captain took the flags from me and sent the signal himself. The reply came back, “Sorry but I will drop carley floats”. I made my way to the forecastle, where I saw a Royal Naval Reserve Lieutenant bravely directing men into the water, between air raids. The ship was listing so much that I just walked into the sea where I joined up with signalman Len ‘Al’ Bowley. We both knew that we could suffer severe internal injuries if the boilers exploded so we decided to swim as far from the ship as possible. The ship was wallowing in the water and I couldn’t believe she was about to sink. After Gloucester went down we were swimming from one piece of flotsam to another. Bowley kept asking me if we were going to make it. I told him, “of course we are” but in truth I didn’t think that we had a hope in hell’.
Here is a collection of pictures I found on the Internet of HMS Gloucester.
A Website about the ship.
In May 1941 the Royal Navy prevented any German sea-borne landing in force on the island of Crete. Immense losses were imposed upon the German transports which sailed from the overrun mainland of Greece itself, but the modern menace of the dive-bomber exacted a heavy toll from our ships, which in those days had little of the all-important air support. Dive-bombers destroyed both the Gloucester and the new cruiser Fiji on the same day – 22 May 1941. The RAF having been withdrawn, doubtless for good reasons, leaving our ships with only their own guns to defend themselves. Both fought fiercely until the end.
The US Eighth Air Force could now put up a force of over 1000 heavy bombers when called upon. Tens of thousands of young men in the air crews were now living a surprisingly regular existence on their bases in England. For a raid on Germany they would be off after 7 in the morning and back around 5 in the afternoon. Death was never far away, there would be few missions when they did not see some of their comrades lost.
The diary of Harley Tuck, a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 tells a story that would be familiar to many at the time: