HMS Warspite
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Messages 50 to 74

Sept. 17, 2017

I've been going through my Father's papers recently, some time after his death in 2007 (couldn't face the pain). Dad, like so many, rarely talked about his wartime experiences only in his latter years with gentle questioning did he open up a bit. He would talk a little too in response to questions about the nightmares he had in hospital which were plainly related to his time in WWII in battle.

I read in message 51 dated Feb. 7, 2014 things that rang a bell from what my Father told me as well as finding a hand written note of a few of his experiences, but one in particular which would make him fill up. It was when Warspite was damaged at Crete by a German dive bomber. He told me a gun had gone over with young men killed and one particular man who was a friend of my Dad's. I can't recall Dad ever telling me his name but he did say this person had borrowed a jumper from him which was new and had been sent to my Father by his Mother. Dad talked about a crane on board that he had got behind as the bomb came down which was obviously going to hit the Gun and men. He talked of his nose and ears bleeding when he woke as he had been knocked out. He talked of (and I'm not sure if it was on this occasion or not) a Petty Office who had a leg blown off.
Dad was 18 at the time.

Dad was a  Ganges boy, Shotley, Suffolk having joined when he was 15. At age 16 on 23 August 1939 he joined HMS Warspite in Alexandria. He said he had the choice in August 1941 to either leave the the Warspite whilst she was in for repairs in the USA after two years at sea or he could stay on her and not go home. He decided to leave Warspite to go home. I think she was the ship he had most affection for during his 12 plus years in the Royal Navy though (he was kept on due to the Korean War for nearly a year).

Anyway, I wondered if Mr. Les G. C. Riley was still on this earth as he must have been a brave age in 2014. I'm sure he would be interested to know of someone else who was there on that day and what his memory of the terrible time was. Maybe Mr. Riley, Message 51, would know the name of the lad/man who was killed who had borrowed a hand knitted jumper against the cold on that fateful day. 

I found a page of what my Father must have written in some sort of a diary, all the rest of the diary has got lost over time. He said :

"22nd May Battle of Crete

Been at sea 3 (could say 5) days to cover evacuation of our troops at Crete. Attacked by hundreds of German diver bombers. Cruisers Fiji and Gloucester run out of ammunition hit by dive bombers both went down with guns blazing to the last. Destroyer after destroyer going down. The sky is full of planes. Hundreds of bombs dropping round us. I felt dazed as I loaded shell after shell. Then they got us, there was a hell of an explosion and I was conscious of a terrific flash then it was black."

I turn the sheet over and plainly part is missing but I wonder if it's to do with Crete, Dad says :

".....long by bombers they kept this up for a week. Nerves getting ripped to tatters all I can hear is the crump of exploding bombs."

My Father's name was WALTER WILLIAM GOODBODY - from Ipswich Suffolk, born and bred.

I wish I had done all this when my Father was alive as I may well have left it too late for anyone of the time to be alive now. I had to just email you to see. Hoping to hear from anyone.

I have found a photo which has written on the back in my dear Dad's hand: "Len Newcombe Killed in Action on R1 4 inch guns 22 May 1941 A Great Pal."

So I now know the man who was such a friend of my Dad's who was killed. Wish I could somehow find his family, sad isn't it that these people are just faces to the generations left.

Auriol McElhinney (nee Goodbody)

Able Seaman Leonard Christopher "Len" Newcombe late of HMS Warspite.

Able Seaman Leonard Christopher "Len" Newcombe late of HMS Warspite.

Aug. 14, 2017

I have found a very small medallion of HMS Warspite and engraved on the reverse is my father's name, L. R. Baynton and the date 1926 with the number 219. I have also downloaded a picture of cadets in whites dancing the sailors hornpipe and dated 1928 and wondered if maybe he was one of the boys in the photograph.

The family story goes that my father ran away to sea at the age of 12. He was born on 20th June, 1912 and so was only 14 when the Medallion was issued. I believe he was very big for his age. Any snippet would be of interest to me, his daughter now aged a very (I hope) young 80. I was born Barbara Baynton in 1937.

Barbara Monger

June 6, 2017

While looking for information on the HMS Warspite I came across your message board. My grandfather, Thomas William Wight, from Sunderland County Durham, also known as "Knocker" served on the ship. My dad tells us he got into a fight with some US sailors while on shore leave in Hawaii amongst other things. He also did some of the cooking on board. We would be grateful for any info he died in 1997 and my dad has dementia now.

Sally Young (nee Wight)
Manchester, England

May 29, 2017

My father, CHARLES WILLIAM HISCOCK, served on the Warspite  during the second world war. He was Chief Petty Officer I believe. He didn't talk that much about his experiences, and I wouldn't know anything about this message board or the Warspite Association if I had not got to Marazion in Cornwall for a holiday. I then discovered the story of the final years of this great ship. If anyone remembers my dad please let me know.

Charles Hiscock

Jan. 4, 2017

My father James Stephen Estdale  X1272 served as a Royal Maine (Corporal) on HMS Warspite 22 March '44, to 4 march '45. He enlisted Chatam Division 18 September 1935 and also served on
HMS Valiant in 1936
HMS Emerald 15/05/1937 to 08/09/1938
HMS Resolution from 25/09/1938 and 04/09/1940
HMS Royal Sovereign from 08/01/1941 to 02/12/1943

Was assigned to Qdyssey Molecab IV (not sure what that was) 31/05/1945 to 06/09/45. Then at St Angelo in Malta 02/01/1946 to 18/07/1947 (Farham and Phonecia.)

Like many he refused to talk about his experiences but he was a pretty accomplished boxer. I am trying to find any wartime photos of him.

Mark Estdale

Oct. 26, 2016

My dad, Ced "Dutchy" or "Dutch" Hollands, served on the Warspite during WWII 1941- 1943 and is still living if anyone would like to ask him anything I would be happy to pass the message on. 

Tracey Wretham

June 8, 2016

My father, William Alfred (Hank) Hancock, served on HMS Warspite throughout WWII from Crete right through to D-Day seeing action all over the world on the most honoured ship in naval history.

Terence Ronald Hancock

Mar. 19, 2016

My Great grandmother's younger brother, James Loveless, served on HMS Warspite during WWI and died at the Battle of Jutland 31st May 1916 aged 20 years. The 'Lives of the First World War' (LIVES) website may be of interest to anyone wanting to gain or share information about those who served in any capacity during WWI.

With respect to Jutland, I have set up a 'community' for HMS Warspite and other ships that were at Jutland. This is part of an informal project whereby a few of us have set up a community for each and every British ship that served at Jutland, and we are attempting to locate ALL men who served on the ships at Jutland and include them in these communities. We are trying hard to complete this by the Jutland 100 anniversary.

If anyone is aware of a sailor they would like included in the Jutland ship communities, any information that can be provided (service number, name, ship) would be most useful; the more information the better. The best way to make contact would be via the messaging system on the LIVES website; contact details of the people managing each ship community are easy to find. If you're unsure of the ship, you can message me via LIVES; just access the Warspite community.

Jean Kimber
Cosby, Leicestershire

Dec. 12, 2015

My father-in-law, Tom 'Tommy' Stoddart from Newbbigin by Sea, Northumberland, served as a Sick Berth Attendant on the Warspite for a year, from April 1944. Tom, who passed away in May 2001, always spoke with great fondness (and enthusiasm) of his time on that ship. It seems that, almost without exception, those who have written of their experiences on HMS Warspite had huge affinity with the ship. I wonder if anyone has access to photos or albums, that they are prepared to share, of the ship's company taken from 1944-45?

Keith Edwards,
Wimborne, Dorset

Nov. 19, 2015

I am the Vice President of the USS Hancock Origination and it's historian. I have always loved Navy history and am very active in our organization. I am also a very avid model ship builder and I have a request from anyone that can help. I am seeking a small piece of wood or steel (only a couple of inches in size) that actually came off the Battleship HMS Warspite. With a note attesting to it's authenticity. To place in with the below model I have just completed.

If any of your members can help me out on this I would appreciate it greatly. I have read that members will journey to Cornwall and go to a pub which is decorated with paneling from the HMS Warspite. Perhaps they may have a small scrap of that paneling that I might use. I will gladly pay any shipping costs. I am a US Navy and US Air Force veteran with a combined service of 31 years.

In my grey years I have become a very avid model ship builder. When it is possible I have tried to include a small piece of the ship with the model being displayed. I have read much of the history of your incredible ship and its war record and how it fought to survive even on its way to the scrappers. I was stationed on the USS Hancock CVA-19 which was an Essex class Aircraft Carrier built in 1944. I was stationed aboard it from 1969 through the end of 1962, running a starting crew which also towed and started all types of aircraft for launches.

I have about 55 or so ships from many different Navies, but primarily American, British, German and Japanese. I try to build them historically correct and as highly detailed as possible. Usually in the 1:700 scale, but occasionally in a 1:350 scale.

Thank you very much,
Dennis E. Flynn
Howell, Michigan, USA

Oct. 31, 2015

I am making enquires and doing some research for a friend who's grand father served on the Warspite during WWII, his name is Andrew Riddle. Unfortunately he doesn't have any other information as it appears when Andrew died the contacts from his house were thrown out. My friend is from Edinburgh and presume his grandfather was also, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Keith Rooney

Aug. 2, 2015

I want to tell the association that my father, Charles Prow, of HMS Warspite passed away on Saturday Aug. 1, 2015


Apr. 30, 2015

My father was a Petty Officer Telegraphist on HMS Warspite from November 1941 to November 1943. His name was Thomas Tipping West, but as he was a man of very few words I leant very little of his wartime experiences. My mother told me he was in Ceylon and Malta and also that he was on the ship when it was bombed at the Salerno landings. He stayed on the Warspite until 13th November 1943 so he must have left it either in Malta or Gibraltar on its return home. He left the navy as a Chief Petty Officer in January 1946 having had a number of other postings after Warspite. He had several albums of photos but I understand these were destroyed just before he died in 1982. I see there are a number of Warspite telegraphists mentioned on our site and I would welcome any information about the period my father was part of the crew that might help me flesh out his life at that time.

Yours sincerely,
Chris West

Apr. 25, 2015

We would like to hear from anyone who served with Thomas Blackie (KX126778).  He was a stoker on the Warspite between Aug 42 - Nov 44.

Lyn Blackie

Feb. 22, 2015

I have dad's colourful certificate headed 'The first ship of the British Pacific Fleet to enter the South China Sea after the fall of Singapore' dated 20.5.45.

Don't know whether he was still on the Warspite; he was in Malta and several other countries. He told me that they were in the Med when war broke out and they only had tropical gear but were ordered north (to much colder climes).

The certificate has down one side places they visited/were stationed, including Chatham which was his base. (I still have the Post Office Savings Book opened for me at Chatham Barracks.)
down the RH side of the certificate are names of ships. However, possibly the nicest thing is on the reverse side of the certificate - signatures as follows:

A E (or W E) Park (looks like SPO)
Jack (looks like Dasty)
Bill Cottingham
Frank J (looks like Rak)
Edward Alfred Newman (P.O. QR2 BEM)
Kenneth Boulton (written next to this name is Abdul El Kebir El Emir El Bahr - nickname?)
A M Mealing
Laurence S Woods (PO Tel)

I have several war photos in this album that now belongs to my son.

Joyce (nee Lee)

Jan. 4, 2015

I have written a new novel that takes place aboard HMS Warspite. If anyone is interested please check my facebook page. I am donating profits to the British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Dave Stanley

Nov. 9, 2014

I wonder whether you have anything on your records about my father Ernest William Hemsworth (Also known as 'Bill') who served for a period on the Warspite during WWII? Dad boxed and was also a pretty useful goalkeeper, and before he died some years ago, told me of fond times he had on Warspite and as a diving instructor in his later years in the navy. He was from Gillingham in Kent.

Thank you,
Ross Hemsworth

Oct. 10, 2014

My grandfather, William Middleton, served on Warspite during WW1 and apparently was on torpedoes during encounters.  He did have shrapnel from the Battle of Jutland but when he passed, grandmother threw it out.  Is there a place where one can get a crew list? 

Kevin Middleton

Oct. 3, 2014

My father, Dennis James Radbourne, served on HMS Warspite from its repair at Bremerton until being bombed off Salerno. He did the big trip from Chatham to Vancouver to join the ship. I was amazed to discover he travelled with all the new crew and they did not know where Warspite was until they got there. He like so many others was so proud of this ship and having served aboard. I have just realised after reading Ian Ballantyne's book how lucky he was to get through it. He was a gunner assigned mainly to A turret. He passed away in 1996.

Robert Radbourne

Aug. 4, 2014

Just researching my father's past and ships he served on. Harry Stanley George Cox (called Tom). Came across Warspite. He mentioned it with happy memories. Joined Ganges at 16 in 1924. Warspite from 6 April 1924 for 1 year and 5 months until 1926. He loved his boat racing and running. He was a gunner and was 'side party' on Warspite. I have no idea what that was. Retired early in 1955 as a Lt.

Allan G. Cox

July 1, 2014

I have just found out that my father, William Charles Richards (known as Billy), served on the Warspite during the WWII and when they were based in Durban to have repairs done to the ship during the period here he met my mother and he applied to leave the ship here in Durban in order to marry her.  He was a stoker and if you have any information about him I would be most grateful.  I believe his half brother Tom Young was also on the Warspite at the time.

Wendy Hillary

Apr. 27, 2014

Cdr. William Leonard Spear served on HMS Warspite and his son, Michael Derek Crowley Spear was baptized on this ship in 1932. Can anyone tell me what happened to the ship's bell which evidently Michael's name was inscribed on? Or does anyone remember Cdr. Spear during that time?

Susan Spear

Feb. 25, 2014

My father, Douglas Vernon Glassborow, born 1920, joined Royal Navy age 16 years. Served on HMS Warspite during the war years. Have reason to believe he was a Chief Petty Officer. He never spoke of his navy life leaving many questions unanswered. Have recently obtained photographs of Warspite days belonging to my grandmother. Would be nice to put a story to them? He was injured in a battle late 1940's early 1950's? was hospitalised with a shrapnel wound. Did quite a lot of rowing competitions. Any information you have would be great fully received.

Roy Glassborow

Feb. 7, 2014

I recently bought my Grandad the Warspite book by Iain Ballantyne. My grandad's name is Les G. C. Riley. We never talked much about his time as a Royal Marine on the Warspite, but he has recently written me a letter telling me some details about his time on the ship and I have shown him this forum to which he likes and reads. He joined the R.M. on 5th Feb 1939 aged 17 at the Chatham Division. And was posted to the HMS Warspite on 7th March 1940 and took part in every action from then until March 1945. He was a gunner on the 15" guns. My grandad refers to page 133 & 135 of the book and has written " Mr. A. Jones was not the only survivor when we were hit by a bomb off Crete. I was in the same guns crew, only 4 died. Most of the wounded were sent to a hospital in Cairo."

My grandad was badly injured and thought by others he would not survive the night. "I was on hospital ship 'Marine' and later 64th General Hospital Alexandria. There was another member of the guns crew in the hospital with me, but he later died. I can't remember his name. Warspite went to the USA and I eventually went home by troopship arriving in the UK end of Oct 1941. I went back on the Warspite two months later on the 21st Dec 1941 and did the same journey as described in the Warspite book until Vancouver. The Warspite sailed on 7th Jan 1942 and we joined her at sea on that day off Vancouver Island. On the train journey across Canada we had one long stop every day. Military police were put on all exits and we were not allowed to leave the station. (The book pages 141/142 explains why). After the war my grandad became a policeman and worked his way to Station Sargent.

17 years later from leaving the Warspite he was meeting another Police Station Sargent. My grandad recognised his colleagues chauffeur (and he too recognised my grandad) and my grandad soon realised this man was a close wartime friend who served in the same gun crew throughout the war. They stayed in close contact until his friend passed away. I am just wondering how many other survivors there are from the Warspite or may have served with my grandad (1939 to 1945). He has started to talk more and more about his time on the ship and has started trying to use the internet.

Luke Nixon

Reply 1
Aug. 17, 2020

My great grandfather is likely the A. Jones your grandad mentions who survived the bomb off Crete. It was a 500lb armour piercing bomb, an officer and 37 men were killed in that hit and 31 others wounded. The Germans were using machine guns and bombs on their planes bombarding Cunningham's entire fleet. My great grandfather was: Arthur Frederick Jones (DOB - 6th October 1905) Died of pneumonia in August 1996 three weeks before his 91st birthday. I was 9 years old at the time. My father passed away in 2005 and my grandfather passed away this year 2020. 

Chief Petty Officer/Gunners mate who was captain of B Turret and a 70 man team, he lived in Gillingham, Kent, joined HMS Warspite in May 1937 and took part in every battle up  to the battle of Crete in 1941, when it was sent to Seattle, USA for repairs he then served on HMS Resolution until October 1941 after which he went home to family who he hadn't seen for 4 years. He was lucky to get back alive he said.

I have an extremely detailed article of him, the battleship, some of its battles and its history all written by his eldest son who was the night editor of the Natal Witness in South Africa which is where he moved to after the war. My father and I were born there but I have recently moved to the United Kingdom and live in North Fambridge, Essex. 

Photos below, maybe your grandfather will recognise him? Also see action photo of the 15inch guns being fired which are absolutely astonishing for their time and even now. I would very much like to connect with any family members of HMS Warspite, we need an official Facebook group for the families which I'd be happy to create and share the link to here on this message board if there isn't already one. 

My eldest great uncle is still alive at age 88 and has shared these with me. He would be very keen to talk to anyone who served on Warspite and is still with us today.

Lee Jones


Jan. 8, 2014

My father, Jack Hudson, served on the Warspite, he never talked about his service, but I recently found a photograph (showing below) of several men in uniform, they appear to be part of a boxing team. Does anyone have any information about such a team or Jack Hudson? In the photograph Jack Hudson has a badge on his arm that looks like a submarine.

Jack Hudson

Reply 1
Sept. 29, 2014

My father, William 'Nipper' Parkinson, was a keen boxer and served on HMS Warspite 1939-1942. I'm not sure if he is top right in your photograph. He served as a stoker, visiting Hawaii, Washington, Durban, but had to leave the ship in Sydney for an operation. On his return to the ship on the SS Nanking, they were captured in the Pacific by the German Raider 'Thor' and handed over to the Japanese. He spent the next three years as a POW in Kawasaki as a slave labourer and survived. He was awarded the BEM for stealing food for sick inmates. Any stories/pictures appreciated!

John Parkinson (son)

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Page published Jan. 19, 2014