HMS Duke of York
Message Board
Messages 25 through 49

Mar. 9, 2016

My father, FRANK SHIPPEY, served as Royal Marine on HMS Duke of York during the sinking of the Scharnhorst. My father was ship's butcher, also responsible for the rum ration on board. As a Royal Marine, he had a secondary role in the gunnery section. After the sinking of Scharnhorst, my father was one of the R.M.s tasked in guarding the survivors, [36] transferred from HMS Scorpion, and HMS Matchless. My father spoke of one of the survivors, Johann Merkle, known as Johnny Merkle, He spoke flawless English. My father appeared to like him.

My father died in the late 1980's before I was able to asked him more about Johnny, I have over the past three years, being researching the history of Johnny Merkle and found that he was born in Yugoslavia, to German speaking parents. they emigrated to Canada when he was two years old, being educated in Windsor, Ontario, but having to speak German at their home. He left Canada with his family in 1940, after his father had lost his job in a factory in Windsor, Ontario. They returned after crossing the Canadian border at Buffalo, in the the U.S.A. and then on a transit visa went to New York, boarding an Italian vessel to Trieste in Italy on the Yugoslavian border.

Johnny would end up on the Scharnhorst. After the sinking, and interrogation at Latimer House in Buckinghamshire, he was sent to a P.o.W. camp in Northern Ontario, Canada, Still serving as P.o.W. at Hansen P.o.W. camp in Ontario, he escaped, and fled to Windsor, where he had gone to school, and lived within the German speaking household. Eventually released, and returning to Germany, he would marry his wife, a lady from Stuttgart. They would emigrate to the U.S.A. in the early fifties eventually becoming an American. He died in 2000.

I know all the details about him, but NOT what he looked like. There are several photographs from the Imperial War Museum website, and other websites on some of the survivors. Can any one please identify Johnny from the photo's? There is an outstanding story, which I contributed to, written by Randy Richmond at The London Free Press [London Ontario, Canada.] You can find the article on the web search. The winding tale of an escaped German P.o.W. from Windsor who crossed paths with a London war vet in the Atlantic Ocean has taken another twist.

Lance Shippey

Oct. 4, 2015

My sister has passed on your details because of your interest in the fact that our dad Arthur Noel Bevan was on the Duke of York during the signing at the time of Japanese surrender. He has letter from the admiral sent to the men on board and photos etc. Our dad is 88 and very much alive and well.

Yours faithfully,
Angela Dunning
Chester, Cheshire, UK

Aug. 31, 2015

My father, Arthur Noel Bevan, who is now a fairly spry 88 year old served on HMS Duke of York with his older brother, Harold Bevan, and was present at the signing of the peace treaty in Japan. He has photos of the singing and the mass of planes flying overhead, he also has a press cutting which reported their attendance at the signing.

Linda McBurnie

Aug. 17, 2015

My fathers name was George Brooks and I know that he served as a gunner on the Duke of York when the Scharnhorst was sunk. He was also present on board when the Japanese signed the peace treaty in Tokyo Bay. My father joined the navy in 1942 and was demobbed in Australia in 1945. He also served on the ships Dems and Circassia and took part in several actions in northern waters including an attack on the Tirpitz.

Unfortunately my father passed away in 1976 before I started trying to piece together our family history. I have very little information about his time in the navy during the war and I wondered if any-one could help fill in the gaps especially if they have any pictures of him.

Nita Allen

July 15, 2015

My late father was a Chief Petty Officer on the Duke of York. I know he was at North Cape when the Scharnhorst was sunk. He was also there at the Japanese signing of the peace treaty in Tokyo Bay. His name was Anthony (Tony) Thacker. He loved the ocean and the fact that he had travelled the world. He brought a Koala Bear teddy bear back from Australia each for me and my brother. He told me the scariest time was when they knew U-boats were in the area. My father's brother 'Charles Ernest Thacker' was lost at sea in the war. He was an able seaman onboard the Leander Class HMS Neptune which sank after going into a mine field off Tripoli. My late father's ashes were scattered at sea - as was his wish.

Terry Thacker

Mar. 20, 2015

My father in law, John W. C. Donovan, served in the RN during WWII and we believe was involved in the action with the Scharnhorst. We also believe that he was a radio operator. However he did not talk about his experiences and the family would like to know more. On going through some old photographs we saw that he had an original of the Duke of York gunners at Scapa Flow. He also went to the USA, Malta and North Africa which seems to match the Duke of York's sailing record. I am enclosing some photos for you to see if you can assist my husband and his brothers in trying to find some information. Thanking you in anticipation.

Madeleine Donovan

Feb. 24, 2015

I own a vessel called Skipperess (showing below), about 13.8 m in length, that is claimed to be (built up from) the captain's gig from the Duke of York. She originally had two Gardner six-cylinder engines. Can anybody shed light on whether this is true? What service boats did the DoY carry?

Thomas Goodey

Reply 1
Mar. 9, 2016

My father served as R.M. on HMS D of Y and when I was very young, in the 1960's on a visit to my aunt in Worsley, nr. Eccles, in Lancashire, we crossed the "Patricroft" bridge which crosses the Bridgewater canal, Near the bridge and out of the water was the launch or captains gig being converted. My father spoke to the new owner, and said that he remembered the vessel from the Duke of York. The Patricroft bridge, is very close to the Gardner Engine plant, and l would imagine that the vessel was out of the water there to have work done by Gardners on the engines. You may be able to find some history on the engines and tie the dates together.

Lance Shippey

Jan. 20, 2015

My father, Frank Worner, Stoker 1st Class, was on the Duke of York during the Battle of North Cape, any information would be gratefully received. He died some years ago.

Peter F. Worner

Jan. 13, 2015

I was wondering were I would find the crew list of the ship from when it sunk the Scharnhorst?

Andy Kirkcaldy

Oct. 6, 2014

I have just come across this website while chatting to my father who served on the HMS Duke of York and was aboard the ship at the signing of the peace treaty. My fathers name is Edward Lee and was a bands man attached to the Royal Marine Band. If anyone would like to contact him I would be happy to pass on any messages.

John Lee

June 28, 2014

I am looking for any info about my grandad Stuart King. I know he served on HMS Duke Of York towards the end of WWII as I believe DOY was next to USS Missouri when the surrender document was signed by the Japanese. If any one could point me in the right direction that would be great.

Adam King

May 6, 2014

My dad was a petty officer stoker on the Duke of York when they sank the Scharnhorst, he was Percy Ward known as Sharky Ward. The only group picture I have is taken some where hot with the name HMS Hastings on the head band. He did 24 years and left the navy in 1945, I still have his dog tag a piece of brown type of plastic. There was nothing you could tell him about car engines must of been his navy training. He died in 1981. He was from Grimsby, but lived most of his life in Birkenhead and married my mum who was from Plymouth. He married her between postings.

Brian Ward

Apr. 1, 2014

My Great Grandad Stephen Brown was a Telegraphist on HMS York. I never met him. Did anyone know him?


Jan. 13, 2014

My Grandfather was a Royal Marine, he was on the 5.25 inch guns I recall, he always said his most vivid memories were aboard the Duke of York. He always said she was as deadly as she was big. My grandmother (still here) has his medals, photos, where he's been assigned ECT, its amazing to think about the things these boys who became our fathers and grandfathers saw and did, photos of them stood on massive warships that make the modern frigates or destroyers of today look a little pathetic (although they're much deadlier). Is there any way to obtain any records of a sailor's time on board ship?

Many thanks,
David R. Grant

Jan. 6, 2014

My father was on the Duke of York as a boy seaman in the Second World War. His name was Reginald Robert Rogers and he came from Nuneaton in Warwickshire. Sadly we lost him to cancer in May 2006. We have quite a few photos including those taken during the Japanese surrender and a copy of The Sunday Porter Number 23 dated 7th July 1946. It details the ship's shanty, a forward written by Admiral Lord Fraser, their diary from Feb. 1945 to July 1946 results from sports activities on board ship and a reprint of VI message from the commander in chief, British Pacific Fleet. It is a poor copy and I intend to retype it to share with other members of the family.

We would love to hear from anyone who knew him and get a copy of any other newsletters given out on ship. I have dad's Pacific Medal but am unsure where to get his service record to ascertain more accurate details of his time on board. Any help would be appreciated.

Elaine Turner

Jan. 3, 2014

My father was a stoker and served on the Duke of York several times, including the convoys and sinking of the Scharnhorst. He was given the medal awarded by Russia but sadly died before Britain recognised their efforts. I have applied for this and am awaiting a reply. His name was Walter Wilkinson. Apparently he was sometimes known as "Michael" due to his love of Irish music. Thank you for all your work in keeping the memories of these brave men alive.

Virginia Close (Wilkinson)

May 26, 2013

I am looking for any information regarding my father John (Jock) Ruddy, who served on the HMS Duke of York between 1943-45. He was a gunner I think. He was at the Tokyo surrender and fought in the battle of the Atlantic. I would appreciate any information.

Kind regards,
Susan Campbell
(youngest daughter)

Feb. 28, 2013

I am trying to find information on Randolph Turpin who I believe served on H.M.S. Duke of York during the early to mid forties. At the time he represented the Royal Navy boxing team and went on to become world middleweght champion. The information that I am looking for is not so much his boxing interests but his time in the navy particularly the Duke of York. Many thanks in anticipation.

Jack Rowe

Feb. 20, 2013

I would like to ask your help in locating my grandfather's service record. He served on the battleship Duke of York 1943-1945. But if this not possible I have been trying to locate a crew list of the Duke of York from 1943 - 45 but no such luck. My grandfather's name is Colin Penfold and he was from Rhodesia.

Kind regards,
Colin Penfold

Jan. 24, 2013

My late dad, Richard "Michael" Blanchfield, from Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland served on board the Duke of York. Am trying to find any records belong to him. Appreciate any help.

Eamonn Blanchfield
Dublin, Ireland

Dec. 25, 2012

My father-in-law served on the Duke of York in the the battle of the North Cape. He was a Royal Marine serving as part of a gun crew. In the picture of a gun crew of Scapa Flow does any one know the names of that particular gun crew. When I've enlarged it I'm sure that is my father-in-law kneeling down and the second from the right. His name was Daniel David Williams from Pontypridd South Wales. I don't know his service number. When he sadly died, four Marines attended the funeral to act as bearers.

John Watkins

June 5, 2012

My late father served on HMS Duke of York in the Pacific, and was there during the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay 1945, I am proud that he served on this great battleship. I have his dress medals, and also a postcard addressed to his mother (my nan) with the picture of the ship at anchor in Tokyo Bay. Miss you dad, XXX.

Stuart King

Apr. 25, 2012

I am currently researching my Dad and Granddad's military history and have a few photo's connected with HMS Duke of York. In your picture gallery the photograph at the top of the list is exactly like the one I have from my Dad's war photos. Dad was a Royal Marine (1944-1956) and served aboard  HMS Duke of York (MNE. Bernie Leigh), not sure of the dates, and has noted on the back of this photo, "Running trials in the Med" undated. I also have the following, "Air cover prior to entering Tokyo Bay", "Entering Tokyo Bay with Battle Emblems Flying" and "Victoria Harbour Hong Kong" undated. If you are interested in these photo's I will get them scanned and sent to you.

Frank Leigh
British Army 1968-1986
Australian Army 1991-1996

Apr. 22, 2012

Our father Hubert Wayland (Curly) was on the Duke of York approx 1942-1945, he knew of your website, but sadly was not able to see very well. Sadly he passed away on 2nd April 2012. We have a few pictures which we will scan and add to the picture gallery.

Robert Wayland
(Curly's son)

Feb. 9, 2012

My grandfather, John Henry Webb, served on the HMS Duke of York during Second World War after joining the Royal Navy as volunteer. At the time he was living in Dagenham, but originates from Barking, Essex. In 1943 he married my grandmother Louisa Moore and is shown wearing his naval uniform in a wedding photo. He was born in 1921, so was only in his early twenties when he joined up. Does anyone reading the message board have family who may have served with him? I believe he was a rear gunner. Please let me know if he is known to anyone.

Hazel Flower

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Messages 25 through 49
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Page published Aug. 24, 2007