The Neptune Association



Please note that this page only contains messages posted to the forum during the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. To get in touch, VISIT THE MAIN FORUM PAGE where you can view the latest messages and add a message.

AB Vern Campbell

from: John McGregor, 30 Dec 2010, 14:41

Hello John
Yes the splendid photo of Vern Campbell with your grandparents is shown below on 4 September 2010. The books are all available for sale but if you live outside the UK the postal charge will be higher. Press BUY THE BOOK to get to the BOOKS page of the website.


from: John Campbell, 28 Dec 2010, 22:59

I have recently came across the sites about the loss of the Neptune and have been delighted to read of some of the history of the ill fated ship and, the presence of a photo of my uncle, Vern Campbell, along with my grandparents. I will look at purchasing some of the books if they are still available

Able Seaman James A Birss

from: John McGregor, 28 Dec 2010, 17:18

Dear Irene How nice to hear from you. We have been in contact with James' grandson Wayne Keen who sent this photo, but we have no other details. The photo is attached to the website Roll of Honour - just click on his name.

James is included on the recently published book Minefield 2nd edition on page 61. The size of the book is 250 pages and costs £20 (plus £3.00 postage in UK). To order a copy click on BUY THE BOOK

James A Birss

from: Irene Burson, 27 Dec 2010, 21:24

James was my Great Uncle, if anyone has any photo's or information on him could they please email me

HMS Neptune 1861

from: John Andrews, 27 Dec 2010, 14:37

My Great Great grandfather was a Ships Corporal aboard HMS Neptune. On the night of Sunday 7th April 1861 he and other members of the ships company were recorded as being at anchor in Malta Harbour. The list below is a copy of the Census Report, can anybody identify others from this list or provide any further information about HMS Neptune from this period?

John Andrews

Ships company HMS Neptune Sunday 7th April 1861


from: John McGregor, 23 Dec 2010, 19:48

The term Shipwright came from sailing ship days where they were responsible for the wooden hull, the sails and rigging. As such a Shipwright was the original tradesman and very important on board the ship. By the 1940's, with the intensely technical nature of modern steel hulled ships, many other specialisations were needed and the term Artificer covered engineering, electrical, ordnance (guns) and all other trades. The Shipwrights were still responsible for the steel hull, ship's stability, the ship's boats (not the engine), their sails, the canvas awnings, and for all carpentry and welding. Nowadays their title is Marine Engineer Artificer (Hull).


from: David Cranham, 18 Dec 2010, 09:04

Good morning John,
The latest post refers to A Chief shipwright,
what would a shipwrights duties be.
Regards David

Chief Shipwright Batt

from: John McGregor, 17 Dec 2010, 23:04

Hi Corinne
William was serving on board HMS Ajax in Malta and was asked to sail with Neptune at the very last minute as her Chief Shipwright was sick. He joined for one trip and never came back - a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. William's grand daughter, Corinne Roach, from Sheerness in Kent sent the photo.

Chief Shipwright William James Batt

from: corrinne roach, 10 Dec 2010, 14:50

Hello John and Christine,
I have just received my copy of Minefield and simply cannot put into words the immense feeling of pride I have when seeing my Grandad there in print. I am overwhelmed. It has been my ambition to get him recognised and now here he is for our future generations to see. Thank you SO much for this and many thanks to Christine for the sweet note she enclosed with my book. Keep up the good work Best wishes to you, Corrinne Roach.

Service at Alrewas on 19th December

from: John McGregor, 10 Dec 2010, 13:28

Hi Susanne We will meet in the Chapel for the Arboretum service at 1100 and then we go to the Neptune & Kandahar memorial. I will not be there this year and our service is being taken by Commander Nick Wright and his wife Gerry. They will be on the look out for you.

Thanks so much for the kind remarks about the book. I attach the photo you sent of your grandfather Stoker Reginald Bell - included on page 117 of Minefield 2.

Service at Alrewas on 19th December

from: Suzanne Poulton, 10 Dec 2010, 00:24

What time is the Service at Alrewas on 19th December? Also, I would like to send my appreciation for all the effort that has gone into publishing the latest edition of 'Minefield'.

Minefield 2nd Edition

from: John McGregor, 6 Dec 2010, 22:38

Hi David
Thank you for your kind words. We believe the book is a unique tribute in naval literature. Relatives of 440 casualties have made contact out of the 836 men who died in the two ships, and a paragraph or two of information has been included for each man. Where the details are available, each man's age, parent's names, wife's name and home town are given. For 367 of the casualties, a photo has been included. Remarkably, these have been preserved within families for nearly 70 years. The book is split into sections covering the various departments - Officers, Seamen, Artificers, Stokers, Royal Marines, Supply, Communications and Wiremen. There is a large section about Kandahar and her crew with several eye-witness accounts. The size of the book is 250 pages and costs £20 (plus £3.00 postage).


Musician David Dick

from: David Dick Cranham, 6 Dec 2010, 13:38

I have just received my copy of Minefield, a wonderful publication! Well done and many thanks to all involved.

Bidkar Boyte

from: John McGregor, 4 Dec 2010, 07:50

Hi Linda I only have information on the crew of the 2nd World War HMS Neptune - built 1934, sunk 1941.

Bidkar Boyte

from: Linda Freeman, 29 Nov 2010, 14:28

Has anyone ANY information on Bidkar Boyte? Yes, real name!!
He is listed on the 1861 census as Leading Seaman on the Wooden Sail "Neptune" that was broken up in 1865 I think.
I am tracing the tree of a friend and this guy has popped up.
I would love to be able to tell her something about him more than I already have.
Many thanks,

Able Seaman Lloyd Lord

from: John McGregor, 29 Nov 2010, 07:57

Dear Tony

Your photo of Able Seaman Lloyd Lord is of particular interest as his body was found off Tobruk harbour in late Feb 1942, 600 miles from where Neptune sank. He is one of just two casualties buried in Tobruk, the other being Lieutenant Donald Wilson. Were they on another carley raft? I have added Lord's photo to the website Roll of Honour.

Leading Seaman Norman Capon

from: John McGregor, 28 Nov 2010, 22:34

Dear Tony These photographs are invaluable but sadly were received too late for inclusion in the 2nd edition of MINEFIELD - published on Saturday November 27th. Those of Button, Capon, Walkinshaw have been added to the Roll of Honour on the website. Capon is shown below.

HMS Canopus was a pre Dreadnought battleship built in 1897 and scapped in 1920. In WW2, the 1945 Navy List shows it was the name given to a small training establishment headed by a retired Commander and just 16 officers (mostly retired) - not sure where.

HMS Canopus

from: Tony Goodwin, 28 Nov 2010, 00:44

A number of ratings from NZ served on HMS Canopus prior to being drafted. I cannot find any reference to this name apart from a pre 1900 battleship.Was it a shore station somewhere?

New photographs

from: tony Goodwin, 14 Nov 2010, 13:11

I have a number of photographs relating to Button K A. A/1778, Capon A N. NZ1464, and Campbell A V. O/7422. Hopefully Walkinshaw L R. O/7402 in the near future. These four were associated with the NZ Baptist Bible Class movement prior to going overseas

Message from David Dick Cranham

11 Nov 2010, 17:25

Musician David Dick as a small boy with Family.

Leading Steward Joseph Clive Nicholls

from: John McGregor, 6 Nov 2010, 17:36

Dear Ann What a nice occasion for you. I have attached a photo you sent some time ago of your father as Butler to the Marquess of Bute standing between two footmen when serving at Cardiff Castle.

Leading Steward Joseph Clive Nicholls

from: Ann Nicholls-Jones, 4 Nov 2010, 15:19

The irony of fate!

Today, 4th November 2010, for the first time, the Welsh Field of Remembrance was opened within the confines of Cardiff Castle. I placed a cross in memory of my father Joseph Clive Nicholls, casualty HMS Neptune 19th December 1941. Here, before the castle, where my father had been steward to the 4th Marquess of Bute and which had also been his only home before his marriage, I stood, 70 years after his departure in 1940 to serve in the Royal Navy.

It was a most moving occasion for the daughter who has no remembrance of her father.

Ann Nicholls-Jones.

Unknown sailor

from: John McGregor, 3 Nov 2010, 10:10

Thanks Jason. My feeling is that the photo is quite old and could even be from WW1. If anyone recognises him please make contact.

old postcard

from: JasonOsborne, 1 Nov 2010, 23:54

I was recently on my holidays in torquay and came across a small antique
shop, Can't remember the name of it but i picked up a few old postcards,
one of the cards stood out, of two young men one in sailor attire and on the hat it said HMS Neptune and the photographer that took this picture was
( J osbourne photo of hull ) printed in the right hand corner of the picture this is also my name, and i am studying photography also, I Was not aware of HMS Neptune until i came across this postcard. Its strange the way things come into our possession, teaching us about the heroic things that have come to pass.
If anyone knows the sailor who is in this photograph, could you please let me know as it would be nice to give him a name!

Leading Seaman Roy Vincent & Able Seaman Basil Mervyn Atkinson of Hastings, NZ.

from: John McGregor, 1 Nov 2010, 16:04

Dear Elizabeth
Thanks for the contact and I confirm the Atkinsons were from Hastings. I will send you Jennifer Jones' email address.

Atkinson brothers

from: Elizabeth Gunn, 28 Oct 2010, 07:42

Dear John

re Leading Seaman Roy Vincent & Able Seaman Basil Mervyn Atkinson of Hastings, NZ.

Some 24 Oak trees were planted at the end of WW2 at what was then Tomoana Freezing Works, Tomoana Road, Hastings. Each tree was in memory of a Tomoana employee who lost their lives during the war. We are a small group of Hastings citizens who are interested in our local history & are using the Roll of Honour in our Hall of Memories at the Hastings District Library in our efforts to trace if any of these men were Tomoana employees.I see there was a message posted on 2nd May 2008 by Jennifer A Jones regarding Roy & Basil & wonder if you could please contact her with my query as to whether either of them had any connection with Tomoana Freezing Works prior to enlisting?
Thank you for such an excellent site.
Yours sincerely
Elizabeth Gunn

Musician David Dick - 15 RM's

from: John McGregor, 9 Oct 2010, 13:37

Hi David Thanks for identifying your uncle which I realise you did some time ago. Those identified in the photo now reads:
Back Row: Stanley Wright, Ronald Dubber, ?, ?, Charles Plain ?, ?, William Rogers
Front Row: Cyril Poole, David Dick, Donald Joyce, ?, ?, William Crocker

Musician David Dick

from: David Dick Cranham, 8 Oct 2010, 10:44

School photo of Musician David Dick

school photo of musician David Dick

photo of 15 Marines

from: David Cranham, 8 Oct 2010, 10:41

My uncle Musician David Dick is next to Cyril Poole he is wearing a hat and holding a Cigarette
Regards David Dick Cranham

Musician David Dick

Marine Stanley Wright

from: John McGregor, 7 Oct 2010, 18:28

Dear Richard
Thanks for making contact and I have again attached the photo taken on 15 August 1941 of the 15 Royal Marines. If anyone recognises an unidentified one please contact me as we are finalising the 2nd Edition of Minefield this week. Those identified are:
Back Row: Stanley Wright, Ronald Dubber, ?, ?, Charles Plain ?, ?, William Rogers
Front Row: Cyril Poole, ?, Donald Joyce, ?, ?, William Crocker

Marine Stanley Wright

from: Richard Coghlan, 2 Oct 2010, 16:15

My sister Kathleen Bird who is now 82 years old, in her youth lived with her uncle Leonard Wright. His son Stanley Wright she has identified from the photograph of the 15 marines taken onboard ship.He is the first from the left back row. I trust this may assist you in your research , should you require any further information I may be able to help.

I Have recently obtained a photograph of a church service held on board H M S Neptune(not dated)which my sister noticed hanging in the ladies room of a local hotel, I was able to negotiate its removal for my sister , you may well have a copy. As a military history addict I found your site most interesting.
best Wishes Richard Coghlan

Marine George Blackwell

from: John McGregor, 1 Oct 2010, 22:09

Hi Rosemary You should have received an email with David Blackwell's address

Marine George Blackwell

from: Rosemary Clegg, 25 Sep 2010, 19:19

Hi John

I have noticed a new message from a member of the Blackwell family. Pleased would you ask them to contact.

Rosemary Clegg

Boy Bugler W J Rogers

from: Simon Westlake, 22 Sep 2010, 18:57

My apologies - the group photograph of Royal Marines referred to in my earlier message is the one posted on 20 Jun 2008 in response to Carol Sailes message.

Best regards

Simon Westlake

Boy Bugler W J Rogers

from: Simon Westlake, 22 Sep 2010, 18:53

Thank you to Diana Clayton for getting in touch, with a group photo of Royal Marines from HMS NEPTUNE. Boy Bugler Rogers (Bill) is the young man on the right hand side of the rear rank, in a stance that my wife always remembers her grandfather (Bill's brother) adopting. This picture was found after a search of family documents, following the receipt of the group picture from Diana. The picture was taken in Simonstown and sent as a postcard with the simple, but touching message - 'To Mother, from Bill with love.'

This picture was taken at Belby's Studio in Simonstown and sent as a postcard with the simple, but touching message - 'To Mother, from Bill with love.'
Boy Bugler W J (Bill) Rogers - taken in Simonstown aged 18


from: John McGregor, 21 Sep 2010, 21:33

Hi Kathy
Thanks for the kind remarks and I hope your mother and uncles enjoy the site. If you go to the website Roll of Honour, your grandfather's details and three photos of him have been added.


from: kathy kirch, 17 Sep 2010, 07:35

My cousin sent this link to me. I was thrilled and surprised to see so much information on the lost crew of the HMS Neptune. My grandfather Donald H. O'mara was a member of the crew. My mother and grandmother before her death told me many wonderful stories about my grandfather.
My mother and her brothers have very vivid memories of their father and still miss him very much. I can't wait to show my mother and my uncles this site. Its wonderful to know they are not forgotten. Kathy Kirch, USA

Boy Bugler W J ROGERS

from: Simon Westlake, 13 Sep 2010, 20:01

It is only today that I found that Boy Bugler William (Bill) J ROGERS (my wife's Great-Uncle) was lost on HMS NEPTUNE. Her family have always spoken of 'Uncle Bill' the Boy Bugler, but have had very little information about him and his service. If anyone has any particular information about the RM Band on HMS NEPTUNE in 1941, or by some miracle Bill himself, I would very much appreciate hearing about it, especially if there are any photographs in existence.

Many thanks.

Marine George Blackwell

from: John McGregor, 12 Sep 2010, 22:06

Dear David
I have just sent you an email with George's grandson, Martin Ferriday's address so hope you get in touch with your unexpected cousin! I have also given you Rosemary Clegg's address - a researcher in Little Wenlock Shropshire who wants to get in touch.

Marine George Blackwell HMS Neptune

from: David Blackwell, 10 Sep 2010, 14:42

I have only recently discovered your excellent site re HMS Neptune. My fathers brother was the George mentioned by Rosemary clegg 080509. In your response to her item, you mentioned Martin Ferriday and his grandfather George Blackwell lost on HMS Neptune. If they are the same George, what a supprise, we didn't know that George had married, let alone have children. It would be good to find members of our extended family, John if its possible could you contact Martin on our behalf.

NZ Baptist Ratings

from: John McGregor, 9 Sep 2010, 16:42

Dear Tony
Thank you for the good photo of Vern Campbell which is just in time to be included in the 2nd edition of MINEFIELD as a late addition. I regret I have no idea which ratings in Neptune had affiliations to the Baptist church. If you check our website Roll of Honour you will find photos of Button and Calder and a poor one of Vern Campbell.

NZ Baptist Ratings

from: Tony Goodwin, 4 Sep 2010, 06:53

I am researching crew who had affiliation with the Baptist Churches in New Zealand. I have to date Button K A, Campbell A V, Capon A N, and Walkinshaw L R. Also a letter written to Contact Magazine by Calder F T South Africa

Vern Campbell and Parents

Ordinary Seaman John Smith

from: John McGregor, 2 Aug 2010, 12:51

If you look at the website Roll of Honour page under John Smith you will find a good photo of him sent by his son. The detail shows he came from Leicestershire too. I will be in touch by email.

hms neptune

from: j.s.smith, 27 Jul 2010, 09:41

i am looking for info and if poss photo of my husbands uncle ord.sea.john smith p/jx.162182 r.n.h.m.s. neptune. he was killed 19 december 1941. age 18 an lived in hinckley leicestershire.we know nothing about the neptune and only have photoes of john as a baby any info will be greatfully recived thank you

Stoker Barry John Lewis

from: John McGregor, 27 Jul 2010, 06:22

The only survivor of the Neptune crew which sank off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean was Able Seaman Norman Walton. It would be best to get your father's service records. If he was rescued near Trincomalee which is in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) then he was a survivor from another ship.

information about my father

from: Barry John Lewis, 26 Jul 2010, 19:57

My father William John Lewis was a stoker serving on HMS Neptune and I have a brass casting of a sailor standing at attention and saluting, my father told the story of how the casting was made and this and the casting have been handed down to my eldest grandson along with service record and medals. Perhaps someone else has a version of the story so I may be able to fill some gaps.I also know my father was pulled from the water after a long period of time and taken to Trikamalee.My grandson is at present trying to build a life record of my Father.

William John Lewis

Memorial Service at Arboretum 9th July 2010

from: John McGregor, 20 Jul 2010, 06:25

Hi Carol

Thank you so much for your kind message much appreciated.

Memorial Service at Arboretum 9th July 2010

from: carol grace, 19 Jul 2010, 15:43


Thank you and all the team for making this day possible, it was such a memorable event. We enjoyed meeting other relatives and talking to them, it was quite emotional but what an experience.

I wish we could have stayed longer and talked to many more people.

It was a pleasure to meet you and hopefully we will see you again in the future

Very best wishes
Carol and Billy (Grace) niece of
HMS Neptune W.E. Grffiths.

Unidentified sailor

from: Frankie wallace, 13 Jun 2010, 21:31

Dear sir. I was at my old friends house as i go often his name is john robertson and he tells me of his old tales in the navy. He is 87 years old and a very good friend and we have a good laugh together. I thought just by chance i would get a old picture of him on the internet and i entered his name and a picture of him is on your website with the caption. Unidentified sailor. So i thought i would tell you who it is. He was a torpedo man on Hms capetown and tartar. He also played the bugal instrument so if you happen to find any more pics of him could you please forward them to me as it would really make his day thank you Frankie

Petty Officer Stoker Thomas Cunningham

from: John McGregor, 13 Jun 2010, 12:51

Hi Michelle Have changed it.

Petty Officer Stoker Thomas Cunningham

from: Michelle Cunningham, 8 Jun 2010, 19:09

Hi John
I would appreciate it if the error as to my grandfather's age as shown in the Roll of Honour on the Neptune Association's website could be corrected. My grandfather was 28 years old when he died aboard the Neptune, and not 39. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has already corrected its records on the basis of the official documentation I submitted to it and as I understand it, the Neptune Association's Roll is based on the CWGC data. Michelle

Petty Officer Stoker Thomas Cunningham

from: John McGregor, 5 Jun 2010, 23:30

Hi Michelle We have been in touch by email and know that your grandfather's brothers were John and Terrence. If anyone in the Blackburn area knows of the Cunningham family please email me on and I will pass on the details to Michelle.

Petty Officer Thomas Cunningham

from: Michelle Cunningham, 19 May 2010, 20:29

Researching my family history in January of this year, I learnt for the first time that my paternal grandfather was Petty Officer Thomas Cunningham. His parents were Joseph Thomas and Mary Cunningham (born Flaherty) of Blackburn. I would be grateful to receive any further information about my grandfather and about family in the United Kingdom.

Michelle Cunningham

William Campbell, served on the Neptune

from: Lyn Dear, 19 May 2010, 01:37

Uncle Bill, though I never knew him was a chief petty officer on the Neptune. He was born at Coromandel in 1894 to Thomas and Eliza, and was the fourth out of ten children. He was educated at Mt Albert Grammar School in Auckland.
My notes say that he went AWOL off the Hood and served in the battle of the River Plate on the Achillies. His older brother Tom 24/379 went through the war without a scratch.

William Campbell on leave with his mother Eliza nee Andrews

SS Scillin

from: Mr Ron Graham, 17 May 2010, 20:01

Hi John- me again,thanks for that info regarding the sinkings of ships (coming away from the war zone ) carrying POWs _I have the names of the 5-6 ships which were sunk under that heading. Been an ex army man I do understand the need ,at the time to safeguard where your Intellegence was comung from -but P212 (HMS Sahib had been in signal contact with S10 Malta (several hours before the event that night) and had ,following that communication changed direction to intercept & sink the Scillin-4 years ago I managed to track down two of the guys who the Sahib pulled out of the water that night Interesting to note the Sahib herself was sunk/lost on 24 April 1943 with the loss of one sailor EG England by name -Many sad stories & needless loss of life Thanks again think your doing a grand job ! Regards RonG
PS I saw HMS Sahibs name on a shield in Malta last month

info and photos

from: Mrs Debra Gomer, 11 May 2010, 14:04

Does anyone know my Dad Derek Hunter he served on HMS Neptune in 1950 as the cook. I am putting together a scrapbook of his navy days, so any info/photos would be Brilliant, no matter how little the info it would be put to good use.
My Dad has Alzheimers and he has fond memories of his navy days and i've been told this will be good for dad to talk and show pictures of these days.
I hope there is someone out there who can help.
Thank you
Kind regards
Debra Gomer (Hunter)

Cook James Lunn

from: John McGregor, 11 May 2010, 06:06

Yes a message was left on the FORUM page on 30 April 2008, by your cousin Val Bethell. I am sending you her contact details by email. She lives in England and I know you live in Canada. Here is James aged 16 with his sports trophies.

James Granville Lunn

from: Tricia Kearns, 9 May 2010, 23:21

We were on your site looking for info on the Neptune as my father-in-law (OWEN)'s brother James Granville Lunn was lost on the Neptune. Owen has previously supplied you with his picture. We were surprised to see the message from Valerie Bethell nee Greenhalgh looking for information.

Owen remembers her well if she is the cousin who he used to call Tiny. John Greehalgh and Owen spent lots of time together.

If you could pass along our message we would be happy to update Valerie on the Lunn family.

SS Scillin

from: John McGregor, 9 May 2010, 22:04

Hi Ron. You have touched on a very strange story indeed. The fact is that from Autumn 1941 we had cracked the Italian C38 version of the enigma code, and from then we knew the precise movements of Italian ships between Italy and Libya. The ships were carrying troops, ammunition, lorries, guns, fuel and all that an army needs for war. RN Submarines were dispatched from Malta to intercept these ships and sink them. The empty ships returning from Libya were used for carrying wounded soldiers and Prisoners of War. Churchill edicted that we could not exclude sinking ships carrying POW's in case the Italians realised the code had been cracked and in fact 6 ships were sunk carrying British POW's. However in November 1942 the SS Scillin was sunk by British submarine Sahib. She was carrying 800 British POW's and 200 Italian troops, of whom 24 and 36 respectively were saved by the submarine, the most she could carry. The submarine Captain was horrified when he realised what had happened. The loss of life was too high to stomach, and after the Scillin no more POW carrying ships were sunk.

Loss of life

from: Ron Graham, 9 May 2010, 14:47

Hi John
Just came across your excellent & most informative web site - I found an old newspaper cutting from an old (2-3 years) Newcastle Evening Chronical which was among my papers The reason for my interest is because, although unconnected my father (a soldier ) died in that general area with another 8oo guys (POWs ) some 11 months later (14/11/42 )when the SS Sillian was sunk. We, alas were never given the full story & a lot of the lads families(wifes/mothers etc )died never knowing what happened. Many many sad story/mistakes were made by our friends in the War Office/HMG & covered up for 50 years. Anyway I think you have a very well put together web site and are doing a great job keeping alive the memories of some wonderful brave young men who were among the first to give their life for their country in WW2-Thank Yours Ron Graham Old Soldier & son

Stoker Douglas Gregory

from: John McGregor, 4 May 2010, 19:15

Dear Robyn
Yes your uncle was a Neptune casualty and until now we had a rather poor photo of him but no more details. I will be in touch by email.

My Uncle

from: Robyn Johansen, 30 Apr 2010, 17:28

Douglas Alfred Gregory a stoker was on The Neptune age 22.
He was from Whatatutu Gisborne.

Thanks for this website..

Douglas Alfred Gregory..age 22.

RPO George Lowings

from: John McGregor, 12 Apr 2010, 21:22

Dear Lyn It was good to hear from you and I confirm that RPO George Lowings was indeed a casualty. Your great uncle's name is on the memorial at the National arboretum and also on our website Roll of Honour.

Thank you for your address and I will write with further details in a couple of weeks time.

George Lowings

from: Lynn Cocksedge, 2 Apr 2010, 14:26

Petty Officer Regulating George Lowings was onboard, HMS Neptune when it sank in 1941.
If anyone has any information or photos of him, I would like to hear from them - please.

George Lowings was the son of William Lowings, whose younger brother Bertie Arthur Lowings was my Grandfather.
I am researching the Lowings Family History, so any information would be gratefully appreciated.

kind regards
Lynn Cocksedge

Ordnance Artificer Edward Hughes

from: John McGregor, 30 Mar 2010, 21:54

Hello Arthur It is very good to hear from you and 'Yes' OA Edward Hughes was indeed a Neptune casualty. Please send me a copy of his photo soon as we are finalising the 2nd edition of MINEFIELD the pictorial tribute to all those who died.
The ceremony at Alrewas near Burton on Trent in Staffordshire on July 9th, is open to all Neptune contacts. It will cost £15 per person which covers your lunch and a contribution towards the many expenses of the day. I will be in touch by email with more details. Meanwhile here is the photosent by Arthur.

OA Edward Hughes

from: Arthur Airey, 29 Mar 2010, 19:54

I have looked at your website,very good and informative, my uncle was Ordinance Articifer Edward Hughes who went down on the Neptune. I have a photograph of him in uniform and info about his parents (my grandparents). If of interest to you I can let you have this info.I have noticed that you have a memorial service in June 2010 and would like to attend, however I don't know the place where it is being held, and could you tell me if it is only open to members of your society.
Best regards,
Arthur Airey

Joseph F Allen (stoker)

from: John McGregor, 19 Mar 2010, 07:33

Dear Anne
Thanks so much for making contact and 'Yes' Joseph Allen was one of those who died in Neptune. Thanks also for the kind words about the website. The words for each man on our Roll of Honour page comes from the Commonwealth War Graves site which does contain some errors. So far we have put on the details for all names up to 'F'. I have changed Joseph's mother's maiden name to Porter. I will be in touch by email with further info on our Neptune Association.

Joseph F Allen

from: anne, 16 Mar 2010, 14:24

Me again! I didn't realise there was more info if you clicked on the name in the roll of honour. I am a bit puzzled that you have Joe's parents as Robert Ramsey Allen and Edith Allen nee Freeman. My research has Edith's surname as Porter. Can you shed any light?

Joseph F Allen (stoker)

from: Anne Wright, 16 Mar 2010, 14:07

Firstly what a fantastic website - many, many thanks to all involved. Joe was my granddad's brother and my mam remembers hearing how my grandma fainted in the butcher's when news of the loss of the Neptune was announced on the radio.If anyone has a picture we would love to see it.Thanks again Anne

Henry Field

from: John McGregor, 15 Mar 2010, 07:39

I have checked the Roll of Honour and Henry Field is not on the list. The only two Fields who died are PO Cook William AA Field and Ordinary Seaman Ronald FG Field. Are you sure he was a casualty?

Henry Field

from: Faldelah, 13 Mar 2010, 13:46

Hi there
i would like to know if anyone possibly has a picture of Henry field.

Kandahar painting

from: John McGregor, 13 Mar 2010, 07:46

Dear Alan The most dramatic painting you could do on Kandahar would be based on the photo taken with the stern blown off and the bows half submerged when HMS Jaguar came to rescue the crew.

Sadly Nixie Taverner (our Association President) is not in the best of health and lives in a Residential Home.


from: Alan Vernon, 23 Feb 2010, 10:19

I am shortly commencing a painting of HMS Kandahar and, when I googled her, Obviously the Neptune site came up. I painted Neptune twice for Rory O'Conor's daughter in 2002, is that dear lady still around?

Wireman Wilfred Gailes

from: John McGregor, 22 Feb 2010, 19:51

Dear Sergeant Barney

It was a pleasure to hear from you about your uncle Wireman Wilfred Gailes. Please make every effort to find that photo of him in naval uniform as we are finalising the 2nd edition of the book MINEFIELD. There were only 8 Wiremen on board Neptune and we have heard from relatives or contacts of 6 of them. See messages on this FORUM dated 14 Nov 08, 23 Jan 08 and one from "Windy" Gailes on 8 Aug 07. I will be in touch by email.

Wireman Wilfred Gailes

from: Sgt P R Barnes, 20 Feb 2010, 19:14

In the late '70's I was shown a photograph of a young man in naval uniform at the home of my Great Grandmother, Hannah Gailes,in Co Durham, I didn't know his name just that he had been killed in the sinking of his ship (I was only 7!). I'm still researching my family history but I think he is my Great Grandfather's Nephew and am virtually certain that he is Wireman Gailes from the Neptune.

I'm so very proud of him and hope to be able to find a photograph of this brave young man whose final hours must have been appalling. If anyone can help with any further information, please get in touch.


AB Ronald Wigham

from: John McGregor, 20 Feb 2010, 19:04

Dear Jon It was very good to hear from you about your uncle Ronald Wigham. You are the first relative to make contact and I confirm he was a casualty when Kandahar struck a mine when going to the rescue of HMS Neptune. Can you find a photo of him? You may spot him in the group photo of the Kandhar crew taken in Summer 1941 - see photo in my FORUM answer on 24 October 08.
Ronald's name in on the Naval Memorial on Plymouth Hoe. In addition we built a Memorial at the National Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire and on it are the names of all 837 Neptune and Kandahar casualties. I will be in touch by email.


from: Jonathan Pollock, 20 Feb 2010, 04:16


My Great Uncle was one of those tragically killed aboard HMS Kandahar. As far as I know none of my family have looked into his death as it was clearly very painfull for my grandmother. Does anybody know anything about Ronnie? Any snippet of information would be greatly appreciated.
Also I am led to believe that there are memorials to both Neptune and Kandahar? Where are they? Please feel free to email me at the above address.

Many thanks,

Jon Pollock

Ernest Wild

from: John McGregor, 15 Feb 2010, 07:03

Hi Janet It is good to hear from you. We have not heard from a relative of Ernest Wild before, but we have a couple of researchers in South Africa who may be able to get a photo of him. The detail I have is that he was aged 31, and the son of Capt. A. H. Wild and V. Wild; husband of Audrey M. Wild, of Westville, Natal, South Africa - see our Roll of Honour page. I will contact you by email with details of our Association.

Ernest Wild

from: Janet Jefferies, 1 Feb 2010, 23:32

I have only recently been made aware of a South African relative who died on The Neptune. I have no other details but if someone has informaton I would be very grateful and would be able to pass it on to his family.

Plumber Henry Vercoe

from: John McGregor, 24 Dec 2009, 17:35

This splendid photo of Henry Vercoe was received today from his nephew Neale Dickson (see message of 29 Sept 2009).

Leading Seaman Reginald Bright

from: John McGregor, 24 Dec 2009, 17:31

Hello Dave. Yes, Reginald Bright was one of those men who died in Neptune. We do not have any information or a photo of your uncle and you are the first of his relatives to make contact. I will contact you by email as we would like to know his age and his parents names (your grand parents)and where they came from - to be added to the Roll of Honour.


from: DAVE BRIGHT, 23 Dec 2009, 10:53

Hi I have been researching my family history and found an Uncle who I never met was serving on H.M.S.NEPTUNE AS A LEADING SEAMAN and I found his name on the memorial in Portsmouth and looked up neptune on the internet and found the Neptune Association and wondered if anybody would have any information on my uncle or photos of him
What a great site very interesting to read
Regards Dave and a merry Christmas to all

Neptune Association 2009 AGM

from: Pauline Anwyl-Jones, 14 Dec 2009, 18:02

Although I have no official connection with HMS Neptune & Kandahar, it was really nice to meet up at the meeting with members I met during the Malta/Libya trip. The ensuing drinks and meal was also very enjoyable. I hope I have the opportunity of seeing you again during the course of the coming year. In the meantime, Seasons Greetings to one and all.

Able Seamen Merryweather and Hubbard

from: John McGregor, 11 Dec 2009, 06:55

Dear Rory Thanks for your message and the offer to help with details of AB John Merryweather and AB Wallace Hubbard. I have emailed you with the addresses of the family contacts on the FORUM - Susi Wrathall in September 2009 and Sybil Bannister-Jones in May 2008.

SA casualties aboard Neptune

from: Rory Reynolds, 28 Nov 2009, 16:10

I've noted that at least two SA families are trying to find out more about Merryweather and Hubbard (2 SA navy chaps who went down with the Neptune.)

I might be able to assist them with information if you would be kind enough to provide them with my e-mail address on enquiry.

Rory Reynolds

Minefield 2nd edition

from: Janet Stonestreet, 21 Nov 2009, 14:08

When will the 2nd edition be now published as I see from your website that the deadline has now been extended until February 2010. We are so looking forward to seeing it.
Jane Stonestreet

Stoker Charles Kerr

from: John McGregor, 12 Nov 2009, 08:12

Dear Pauline We have been sent these two photos of your great uncle. I think they came from your Gran some 8 years ago, and if you look up the website Roll of Honour and click on his name they come up.

Kerr, Charles S.G., Stoker - aka Charlie

from: Pauline Anderson, 11 Nov 2009, 17:38

My Gran, who is 85, often talks fondly of her big brother Charlie was delighted when I found this website.

I know this is a long shot, but should anyone have any group or even single photographs that may feature Charlie could please post them.

Best Regards,
Pauline Anderson

We will remember them

Warrant Officer Shipwright Harold Hoar

from: John McGregor, 11 Nov 2009, 16:50

Good to hear from you Della and I am glad you found him on the Roll amongst the officers. Aged 48, Harold was the oldest man on board . His daughter Doreen King has been a member for some years - presumably a cousin or aunt.

Harold Hoar

from: Della Cannings, 11 Nov 2009, 12:54

I have found him on your Roll of Honour ....! sorry to have bothered you


Harold Hoar

from: Della Cannings, 11 Nov 2009, 12:26

Harold Hoar was a shipwright in the Navy - he is on the Plymouth Naval War memorial on the Hoe - Panel 45 Column 1. His neice is my next of kin - Monica Palmer nee Hoar.
Coomonwealth War Graves Commission have him as being lost when HMS Neptune sunk 1941 but I cannot find him on your Role of Honour.

What am I doing wrong or has he been missed off?

I understand he served also on HMS Carysfort WW1 and also stood by at Birkenhead for the building of HMS prince of Wales WW2

Della Cannings

Mechanician Walter Thorne

from: John McGregor, 10 Nov 2009, 08:01

Thank you Annya for the kind remarks which I fully endorse. We do our best to remember the Neptune casualties by showing their photos and details on our website Roll of Honour page.
Walter is seated on the right of this group of engineers (Chiefs & Petty Officers) taken in 1938. Several would have been amongst the casualties. Are any recognised?

Walter Thorne

from: Annya Derx, 8 Nov 2009, 20:23

On this rememberance Sunday, I just wanted to write how I miss never knowing my Grandfather, and to remember all the brave men who fought with him on HMS Neptune.
I am proud to be the Grand daughter of Walter Thorne. Mechanician, a wonderful husband and father of two daughters and a proud sailor.
God Bless them all

Ordnance Atrificer Reginald Jones

from: John McGregor, 8 Nov 2009, 07:58

Hi Jason. Thanks so much for the reminder. The photo of your uncle, OA 4th Class Reginald Jones has arrived. It has been scanned and added to the Roll of Honour. He and his friend were 5th Class OA's in the photo. OA4's had the rank of Petty Officer while OA5's were Leading ratings. Yes, he does look very young, but if taken at Chatham when they joined Neptune in April 1941 he was probably 21. If anyone recognises his friend please make contact. There were just 5 other OA4's on board called Denney, Hughes, Marsden, Quinn and Robertson. Only the family of OA Joseph Quinn has made contact so far - photo on Roll of Honour.

Ord'Ar't'c'r Reginald D.Jones.

from: Jason K.Jones., 4 Nov 2009, 22:46

Hi John,i hope you are well,i now at last have a photo of my uncle Reggy,and will send you a copy by mail as i do not have the first idea how to go about putting it onto computer and sending it by E-mail,i still have your address from the E-mail you sent me asking for my address to send me more details on the Neptune Association,i did reply but in case it didn't get through my address is;18 Sheldon R'd,Ickford,Aylesbury,Bucks,HP189HT. Many Thanks,Jason.

Thomas Knight Wheeler

from: John McGregor, 4 Nov 2009, 22:41

Hello Pam Your great grandfather's ship must have been the "Rigged Turret Battleship" of 9700 tons built in 1874 armed with 12 muzzle loading guns. She was scrapped before the First World War and the next HMS Neptune was the 4th "Dreadnought" Class Battleship built in 1909 of 20000 tons. She was scrapped in the 1920's and the next HMS Neptune was our medium sized cruiser built in 1934 and sunk in 1941. I just do not have any information of what your grandfather's ship was doing when he was killed. It was probably an accident of some sort.

HMS Neptune 1890's

from: Pam Wilson, 29 Oct 2009, 09:27

My Great Grandfather Thomas Knight Wheeler, from Holyhead in Anglesey was serving on HMS Neptune when my Grandma was born in 1888.

He was killed at sea sometime before the turn of the century and I don't know how find out more about what happened to him. I would be very grateful for any help or advice in finding out more.



Petty Officer George McDowell - Yeoman of Signals

from: John McGregor, 21 Oct 2009, 09:28

Hi Lynne It is good to hear from you. The photo of your uncle George McDowell came from Ken Coates a Kandahar survivor who sent a number of crew photos. I have also been told what happened to his Albert Medal. It was bought by a collector in the USA for about £1200 in 1993. I will send further details by email. Only 45 Albert Medals were issued in WW2 so it is very rare.

George McDowell - Kandahar

from: Lynne Fleming, 9 Oct 2009, 10:02

i have recently begun searching my family and i knew that my great uncle had tragically died during WW2, it was lovely to find so much information on him and i was really surprised to find an actual photo of him, my Dad will be so pleased to see the information found on this site.
Unfortunately the 'albert medal' that he was awarded has sadly been lost, does any one have any idea of how to request a duplicate??
Will have to search out my Dad's photos to see if we have any other photos of the Kandahar and her crew.


from: John McGregor, 9 Oct 2009, 09:32

Delay in publishing MINEFIELD 2nd edition

The Committee announces a further delay to this book. It is partly due to the wealth and importance of material still being received. More importantly, Adrian has found he cannot finish it to his satisfaction without substantially improving it by including a few lines on each person. His aim is to make it a book rather than a collection of photographs. Starting in July, this input has been taken on by John McGregor, Diana Clayton (Royal Marines) and Valerie Pennifer (Kandahar). This is an intensive task. Once completed, Adrian will 'set' the pages and arrange for publication.

The book cannot be finished in time for the AGM on November 21st, but many of the individual pages will be on display and those attending the AGM will be able to view them. The deadline for new material is February 2010. Any photos after that date will still be seen on the website Roll of Honour which now has about 300 photos attached. Members are asked to be patient. The 2nd edition will be a book of well over 200 pages compared with the 1st edition of 92 pages and over 350 casualties will be shown compared with 202 in the 1st edition.

All those who have already paid for their copies will get them without any price increase. The selling price for the 2nd edition is £22.50 including p&p.

Able Seaman Ivo Palmer

from: Gill West, 3 Oct 2009, 09:32

Hi John
Have not visited the website for a while but very pleased to see the update on the Roll of Honour with Ivo's picture featured. Contact was made last year with Ivor & Sheila Luckhurst and they gave me a wealth of material about Ivo which of course I shall always treasure. It is a great shame that my Mother, Ivo's sister now 93, cannot either see these items nor comprehend the new found connection to Ivo these days. Please advise when the new book you were compiling will be available. Kind regards, Gill

Plumber 4th Class Henry Vercoe

from: John McGregor, 1 Oct 2009, 07:47

Hi Neale It was very good to hear of your uncle Henry Vercoe and how moving it would have been to hear his voice on the NZ recording. I will send you details of our Association by email.

Plumber Vercoe

from: Neale Dickson, 29 Sep 2009, 08:42

The story i have been told about the Neptune was that is was on its way to New Zealand, that is why she had so many New Zealanders on board.It was a bit sad because i heard the recording of my Great Uncle on the Archives web site only a couple of years after my Grandfather died, he would have liked to have heard his voice again. Thanks for the great web site

AB John Merryweather

from: John McGregor, 17 Sep 2009, 20:05

To get his service record which gives his date of birth and where he served, write to 2nd Sea Lord's Department DPNS(2), Building 1/152, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 3PX. Say your husband is the next of kin and state that he is a Neptune casualty. I believe there is a charge of £30.

John Merryweather

from: Susi Wrathall, 17 Sep 2009, 16:21

Hi John

Thanks for your reply. John and Doreen were only married for a very short time and had no children. John was also an only child and his parents have aslo passed away by now. Would you by any chance know where we can find his date of birth, because that is what we need for our Local home affairs.

Able Seaman John Merryweather

from: John McGregor, 17 Sep 2009, 10:59

Dear Susi How nice to hear from you and maybe I can help. Firstly the Commonwealth War Graves print out confirms he died in Neptune and gives these details; John was aged 27, the son of Charles J. and Mary L. Merryweather, of Durban, Natal, South Africa; husband of D. J. Merryweather, of Durban. You can print this by going to and hitting 'Search our records'.
John's name is on the Roll of Honour at the SimonsTown Naval Museum where you should get advice about his death certificate. His name is on the Plymouth Hoe War Memorial and the Neptune memorial at Alrewas, Staffordshire. You should be able to get a death certificate from Durban Registry Office.

Did John have any children?

Able Seaman John Merryweather

from: Susi Wrathall, 16 Sep 2009, 10:55

Firstly this forum is awsome, and we are hoping that someone out there will be able to assist us. My late mother in Law was married to John Merryweather in the early 40's. John was one of the many casualties of the HMS Neptune in Dec 1941, and she never saw him again. She remarried a few years later. The problem we now have is that her 2 sons Jon and Chris Wrathall are applying for a British Passport and the emabassy requires a death certificate of their moms previous husband John Merryweather, as she was lsited as a widow. Without this document the application process will come to a halt. We dont even know John Merryweathers date of birth, all we know is he was born in 1914 in Durban South Africa. We have no other information, not even a picture.

We would be greatful if someone on this forum can assist in getting this document or guide us in the right direction.

Kind regards

Ord Seaman Henry Turner

from: John McGregor, 23 Aug 2009, 19:05

Dear Elaine The Neptune tale is full of coincidences. Soon after your message, photos of Henry Turner and his medals were offered on ebay. We bid but they went for almost £100 - too much. However the buyer sent copies yesterday. Henry Turner is sitting in the front row 2nd from right, next to the Chief Petty Officer. The sailor's cap badges show they were under training at the shore establishment HMS St George.

Ord Seamen Richard Belsom & Henry Turner

from: John McGregor, 18 Aug 2009, 18:24

Dear Elaine It is very good to hear from you. Thank you so much for the excellent photo of your great uncle Richard Belsom with his friend Ordinary Seaman Henry Turner. I checked the casualty list for someone called 'Turner' and found him. It is splendid to receive not just one but two Neptune casualty photos and they will be included in the 2nd edition of Minefield and also put on the website Roll of Honour.

Ordinary Seaman R Belsom

from: Elaine Elliott, 15 Aug 2009, 18:12

I have been researching our family tree and have discovered that my husband's Great Uncle was Ordinary Seaman Richard Belsom serving on HMS Neptune. I have attached a photograph which you may like to use for your website. Richard is on the left and I believe the other gentleman is "Turner" as you can see from what was written on the back of the photograph.

Kind regards Elaine Elliott

Kings Squad Royal Marines June 1940

from: John McGregor, 14 Aug 2009, 08:45

Dear Rorie That really is 'gold dust'. I agree we only have photos for Cray, Dufton, Facer and Hynard.

Meanwhile Colonel McGarel Groves whom we met in Malta (a term mate of Lieut Hartnoll) is chasing the RM Museum for further class photos with Neptune casualties.

'381 Kings Squad Royal Marines who passed out from training on 24th June 1940'

from: Rorie Grieve, 10 Aug 2009, 08:33

I came across a piece of potential 'gold dust' yesterday so I thought I would check it out with you immediately. Are you aware of a group photograph of '381 Kings Squad Royal Marines who passed out from training on 24th June 1940'? It has all the names officially at the foot and someone has annotated the fates of the men where known, among whom are 11 who subsequently became Neptune casualties, 7 of whom do not currently have attached photographs on our Roll of Honour. The 11 are as follows:

Cloughly - Norman Dennis Stuart PLY/X 3749

Cray - Terence Charles PLY/X 3754

Day - James Eric (SC) PLY/X 3752

Dufton - John PLY/X 3765

Facer - George Bernard PLY/X 3784

Glover - Reginald John PLY/X 3759

Harrison - Robert Lyttle PLY/X 3783

Hill - Thomas William PLY/X 3764

Hynard - Walter George PLY/X 3756

Raindle - William James PLY/X 3753

Willis - Oswald Gilbert Lancelot PLY/X 3785

You probably have it, but I was quite excited!


from: John McGregor, 13 Jul 2009, 11:07

Dear Sarah

I think your postcard of Side-Boy is quite charming. He is sitting inside one of Neptune's lifebelts and has an identity disk around his neck which every sailor wore during wartime. The disk would give his name, rank and official number. It is likely that Side-Boy was also a casualty when Neptune sank on 19 Dec 1941 and I bet some of the sailors tried to save him.

Ships cat Side-Boy

from: Sarah Sweet, 13 Jul 2009, 08:48

Dear Sir, I am writing with an attached jpeg of an old postcard of what appears to be the ships cat called side-boy. This postcard came into my possession some years ago and now hangs on the wall in my art studio, I look at the postcard everyday and it always brings a smile to my face. The cat looks like it is well fed and very happy. When my grandfather Ivan Courtney passed away some postcards came to me and this was one my grandfather was not a marine he was an officer in charge of bomb disposal during the war in fact he was involved in both the wars, so I'm not sure how he came to have this postcard. Just thought I would put a search in on the internet for HMS Neptune and came across your website and the devastating story of its demise in 1941. Not sure whether or not this cat was on that ship or a previous HMS Neptune. Thought it may be of some interest too someone somewhere.

Kind regards
Sarah Sweet

Battle for Malta Medal

from: John McGregor, 13 Jul 2009, 06:00

This reply is in answer to Mike Newton's request for information about the Battle for Malta medal.
This medal was commissioned by the British Legion and struck for the 60th anniversary and reunion of all those involved in the Battle for Malta, serving between June 1940 and September 1943. Neptune and Kandahar ships companies appear to merit a full-sized medal which descendants can apply for should they so wish. The criteria for this Malta medal is that all applications will be considered on merit.

The medal, pictured here, shows the George Cross on one side and the islands of Malta and her flag on the other. The ribbon is red and white as in the Maltese flag. It has a uniquely designed suspender which is based on the lookout turrets and castellated walls of the ancient city of Valletta. It is a distinctive and fitting tribute to be worn with pride but not alongside campaign medals or gallantry decorations, but separately and distinctively. It is suggested that the best place to wear it below the campaign bar when wearing campaign medals of your relative. These should be worn on your right breast.

Information for the application:
HMS Neptune was awarded the Malta Convoys 1941 battle honour for convoy escort duties, mainly in the Eastern Mediterranean and then attachment to Force K, based in Malta for operations against Axis convoys bound for North Africa. It was during these operations that she was sunk.

HMS Kandahar was awarded Malta Convoys 1941 battle honour for Eastern Mediterranean operations before being sunk off North Africa during Force K operations, whilst operating from Malta.

Ordinary Seaman GeorgeHopwood

from: John McGregor, 13 Jul 2009, 05:33

Dear Stuart

It is very good to hear from you and many thanks for joining the Neptune Association. I have removed the photo as only the top part of his head came through. The problem is that the FORUM page will only take small photos as there is a memory limitation. Please send the photo as an email attachment to me and I will reduce its size to fit.
I have found George on the casualty list and in due course we will attach his photo to the website Roll of Honour. He is shown as the husband of Irene Hopwood of Didsbury Manchester. Did he have any children?


from: Stuart Bayley, 12 Jul 2009, 08:52

Hello John

I am the nephew of the widdow of George (Bob) Hopwood who was lost on the Neptune and I would like to add this photograph to your archive. I have recently joined your association and will post you what i know about my uncle. I also have a few items I will scan and send in case they are of interest to anyone.

Kind Regards Stuart Bayley

Robert Hopwood

force k

from: Ciaran Carson, 14 Jun 2009, 15:11

Dear John

i would like to thank you for the information you provided
i uploaded a video tribute to the HMS Penelope to youtube and was thinking of making a video for force k and as the HMS Neptune was part of force k even though for not long the crew should get the malta medal as they deserve the medal if they havent been rewarded them as they give there lives as part of force k

George Blackwell

from: rosemary clegg, 26 May 2009, 21:30

Thank you John for your help, I look forward to you putting me intouch with Martin.



from: Mike Newton, 15 May 2009, 20:39

I've been wondering if Neptune's crew are entitled to the MALTA Medal

Mike N.

ERA 3rd Class Cyril Martin

from: John McGregor, 15 May 2009, 19:26

Dear Martin. How very good to hear from you and to identify Cyril as the ERA3 on the left of the three ERA's in the photo. William Wright was obviously a good friend as he sent back to his family 2 other photos of Cyril who must have been promoted to ERA3 (Chief Petty Officer) sometime in 1941. This photo is inscribed Pincher Martin, Chief ERA Blackett, ERA's Anderson, Painter, Roach, Dowrich & Tiger Flowers. Of these Martin, Painter and Flowers died in Neptune while the others had left the ship.

ERA 4th Class Cyril Richard William Martin

from: Martin Eddy, 15 May 2009, 09:47

This picture appeared on the site in December 2006 and I am pleased to confirm the ERA 3 on the left is my late mother's brother Cyril Martin.

Cyril was the son of Richard and Ethel Martin of Swanvale, Falmouth, Cornwall. He had three younger sisters: the eldest Mrs Sylvia Clay still lives in Falmouth and the youngest Mrs Margaret Lowry lives in Surrey. My mother Mrs Jean Eddy was the middle sister but sadly passed away in 1981.

We found a copy of this picture in an old family album and the sisters remember it well. It has the legend Fleet Club Studio, Alexandria, on the back ~ I believe the ship spent some time there in the summer of 1940. In the picture Cyril is an ERA 3 but his CWGC certificate has him ERA 4th Class at the time of the loss, when he was 25. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

If it is possible the family would very much appreciate this picture being used alongside Cyril's name on the Roll of Honour in the same way as it has been for William Wright. In this way these shipmates can be remembered together, which we're sure they would have liked. You can still sense the strong bond between them almost seventy years later.

Warmest thanks and congratulations to all who have set up and contributed to this wonderful site.

Martin Eddy

Ordnance Artificer 4th Class Reginald Jones

from: John McGregor, 13 May 2009, 14:51

Hi Jason. Yes, Reginald was one of the 764 Neptune casualties. Aged just 22, he was the son of George and Marion Jones of Tottenham. You are the first of his family to make contact and so far we haven't got a photo of him. How strange about the dream. The Ordnance Artificers specialised in the guns and "4th Class" meant he was a Petty Officer. The silver spoon could have been a gunnery efficiency award.


from: JasonK.Jones., 11 May 2009, 17:06

Ordnance Artificer Reginald G.Jones was my uncle reggie,the only one of my father's five brothers and three sisters i never got to meet.My dad was only a boy at the time but he remembers his mother telling him his brother reg'was gone she knew as the night before she saw in a dream an image of their dad,who had died the year before,coming from the sea and cradling reg'in his arms and taking back down into the sea,sometime later of course they found out she was right.My dad remembers his mum having reggie's medals and also a silver spoon of some sort which was apparently some sort of gunnery award??.I would love to see a photo of my uncle reg,especially in naval uniform but sadly my dad has none. Thankyou very much,Jason Jones.

HMS Penelope & Force K

from: John McGregor, 11 May 2009, 17:03

Dear Ciaran. Thanks for making contact about your grandfather John Larmour who served in HMS Penelope. A good book about Force K is "Malta Striking Forces" by Peter Smith & Edwin Walker. Neptune was only in charge of the ships of Force K for one operation on 18/19 December 1941. Here is why Penelope was nick-named "pepperpot". Maybe your grandad is in the photo.

force k

from: Ciaran Carson, 11 May 2009, 10:05

my granda john larmour served on hms penelope (hms pepperpot) my dad has been telling me about force k he told me about the hms neptune sinking and that they could do nothing to help and that when the hms penelope left malta on the 8th of april 1942 force k came to an end and the nickname hms pepperpot came from force k i would love to hear more about force k

Stoker Frank Dowling

from: John McGregor, 10 May 2009, 17:10

Hi Cheryl. We received this good photo (FORUM 25Nov06) of your grandfather Frank Dowling from his brother Leonard who presumably is your uncle. What a large family you have! We have also heard from Pamela Graham, another niece Julie Pearson and her daughter Fay. The Commonwealth War graves records his name and official no. and does not mention his parents or wife. We can update this.

my grandfather.

from: cheryl ann pagan, 9 May 2009, 03:01

my grandad was frank dowling who was a stoker on the kandehar. my mother is helen joyce dowling and her sister who recently passed away was june dowling. there was also 7 brothers, douglas,basil,leonard,frank,jonny,harold and cyril who is a half brother. I used to stay with my gran during the summer hols when i was growing up and i so loved her to bits. She always seemed like a strong person and would talk of my grandad constantly. i know she never recovered from his death and she never celebrated xmas again.x

Marine George Blackwell

from: John McGregor, 8 May 2009, 23:10

Dear Rosemary. We were contacted 3 years ago by Martin Ferriday from Highbridge Somerset about his grandfather George Blackwell. His grandmother died within a year and Martin's father was adopted and brought up by her parents who were Ferridays. I will email you and put you in touch with Martin.

Marine George Blackwell

from: Rosemary Clegg, 8 May 2009, 10:47

I have been researching the family and military history of men on several local war memorials. One memorial in the village of Little Wenlock Shropshire, has the name of R Blackwell. I have not been able to find information on the man. I now think the correct first initial should be G Blackwell. I found a recording of Monumental inscriptions of Little Wenlock by Shropshire family History Society. They record a small memorial stone with the words"In rememberance of our dear son George who was lost on the Neptune December 19th 1941 age 25 years.
I saw a posting by the grandson of George and wondered if he could help me.

Shipwright John Skentelbery

from: John McGregor, 7 May 2009, 15:21

Dear Corrinne. Here are two photos of Neptune Shipwrights sent by Skentelbery's son David. It is more likely that your father Chief Shipwright William Batt would feature in HMS Ajax photos as he was loaned to Neptune from Ajax on the afternoon of 18th Dec 1941. He was desperately unlucky to be killed only a few hours later.

Chief Shipwright William James Batt

from: Corrinne, 27 Apr 2009, 14:03

ON the photo's page of my newsletter I noticed a picture of Shipwright John Skentlebery and wondered if his relatives have any photos with other shipwrights on as my grandad William James Batt was Chief Shipwright on the Neptune. It would make my day if I could find out more about him. Thanks to John I know he wasn't supposed to be on the Neptune but was called on at the last minute due to someone being ill we assume. He was previously on H.M.S.Ajax. Any news would be most welcome. Thank you.

Stoker Frederick Paskell

from: John McGregor, 26 Apr 2009, 09:51

It seems that the medal belonged to Sergeant William Frederick Paskell of the Middlesex Regiment who was killed on 23 April 1917 - maybe at Passchendaele? Maureen's father Frederick William Paskell was born four weeks later on 19 May 1917 and it seems he was named after Sgt Paskell. Maureen is trying to establish the exact relationship.

Stoker Frederick Paskell

from: John McGregor, 24 Apr 2009, 06:55

Thanks for posting this message Brian. Frederick Paskell's daughter Maureen is indeed very interested in this medal. Her father's medals have been lost for many years. We have spoken by phone and Maureen will also be in touch soon. Thank you also for saying you are not expecting payment for this precious item.

medal forw.f paskell

from: BRIAN JONES, 19 Apr 2009, 10:42

I have come across a memorial medal for William Frederick Paskell if anyone is interested in this item please get in touch.

Ordinary Telegraphist Leslie A. Collins,

from: John McGregor, 19 Apr 2009, 09:09

Dear Bill Thank you so much for making contact. You are the first who has mentioned Ord Tel Leslie Collins who died in Kandahar. It is very nice that he is remembered with such admiration. I will send you an email with the photo of the Kandahar crew attached and please let me know if you identify him. You will also find it on the FORUM page in my answer to another Kandahar contact on 24 Oct 08.

I am glad we are helping in your family research.

HMS Kandahar

from: Bill Jones, 19 Apr 2009, 02:26

Dear John McGregor,
Noticing Elizabeth Lewis's message to you of Nov 18, 2007, would you be kind enough to share with me the photo she asks you for of the crew of HMS Kandahar?

I believe it should contain the image of Leslie A. Collins, Ordinary Telegraphist. Les was a visitor to my parents' house in 1939-40 when I was only 7-8 years old, when he came to visit my older brother. Both were members of our church in Birmingham, and I remember so clearly my mother's admiration of Les's conduct and politeness, which she advised me to emulate. Both he and my brother were killed in the war, my brother on Malta, therefore not that far from where Les died.

I am writing a family history, and this information that I found on your informative website is a fluke of the first order! I can't believe my luck. If I can include a photo of Les in the history, it would touch a lot of peoples' hearts.

Very gratefully,

Bill Jones
Rye, NH. USA.

Leading Stoker Thomas Black

from: John McGregor, 18 Apr 2009, 09:55

Hi Angie The bandsmen shown are all Royal Marines and we have identified about half of them. Thomas's son Duncan (who must be your uncle) has also mentioned that his father was in the ship's band for social events. He sent a good photo of Thomas which is on our Roll of Honour page.

Thomas F Black

from: Angie Mearns, 16 Apr 2009, 15:01


My grandfather's young brother was Thomas Black who was on the Neptune. We believe he was a saxophone player, we have been looking at the photograph of the band on this website, can anyone name the men in the photograph - many thanks

Angie Mearns

Painter 4th Class Stanley Payne RNZN

from: John McGregor, 31 Mar 2009, 05:46

Hi Debbie
It is great to hear from you and Stanley Payne is on the list of NZ casualties. No, we have not heard from a relative of him before and we do not have a photo, but it wonderful that you have heard his voice on the NZ Xmas radio tape from 1941 (never broadcast after Neptune was sunk). I will be in touch by email.

Stanley Payne

from: Debbie Platt, 28 Mar 2009, 08:28


I have recently started researching my family history and my Dad talked about his half brother Stan who
"went down on the Neptune". He didnt really talk much about his family and they had all passed away before I was born, but was wondering if anyone has any photos or contact details. I listened to the Radio NZ Broadcast and he passes a message (via Desmonds McCauley) back to his wife and son, (which would be my cousin) so if anyone had any contact details for them or even a name I would be grateful.


Debbie Platt

AB Lindsey "Bob" Ashton

from: John McGregor, 11 Feb 2009, 07:08

Norma Hudson daughter of our one survivor who had just unveiled the new Neptune memorial in Dunedin then stayed with Royden Thomson, son of a Neptune casualty. She sent me this amazing story on how she found Bob Ashton's relatives with the help of a psychic cat:

"Royden and Sandie Thomson returned from the ceremony in Dunedin to their house in Cromwell to find a strange cat inside. Sandie recognised the cat as a neighbours and took it round to the house. They told her they had been away to a special ceremony in Dunedin and had left the cat with friends. Turns out the man in Cromwell is the brother of Bob Ashton, a Neptune casualty, and his family had been to the same memorial ceremony as we had and not known. It took a cat to bring us all together. As we were staying with Royden at the time we all spent a lovely evening together sharing stories of Neptune. The coincidences surrounding relatives of Neptune crew just get better." He was delighted when I told him about "Minefield" and the possibility of inserting his brother's photo, as was his mother.

Stoker George Needham

from: Brian Denial, 20 Jan 2009, 19:57

Further to my niece's correspondence regarding my cousin, Stoker G Needham.
I enclose a photo of my cousin taken shortly before the Neptune Disaster. I am the boy in the picture. I will be 76 years of age in March of this year. George's brother Frank also a stoker was in the same convoy. He survived the war and lived to old age.
The photo of George and Brian Denial
Stoker George Needham

Stoker George Needham

from: John McGregor, 3 Jan 2009, 16:24

After a few telephone calls "George from Sheffield" turns out to be Stoker George Needham who was killed in HMS Neptune. So the good news is we have contact with the family of yet another Neptune casualty and possibly his photo too. In total we have heard from relatives of 304 Neptune and 24 Kandahar casualties and have photos of 282 of them and 31 more who were there but survived.

George from Sheffield

from: John McGregor, 1 Jan 2009, 18:08

Dear Margaret I did a search on the Neptune casualty list and found 8 casualties from Sheffield but only one called George. His wife was Evelyn Burdett. I hope you can find out more from relatives.

Unknown sailor

from: John McGregor, 24 Dec 2008, 18:48

Thanks Rorie. The next edition of Minefield will be published in 2009 as a tribute to Neptune and Kandahar casualties and currently we have 320 photos. Also those who were there that night and survived will be included. Some pages will contain photos of those who served in Neptune before she sank but unless someone recognises and identifies the unknown sailor he won't be included.

Unidentified Able Seaman of HMS Neptune

from: Rorie Grieve, 23 Dec 2008, 09:03

Hello, John, As previously suggested, I am attaching a photograph which has on its reverse the caption "Capetown, Feb 1939" just in case a visitor to the forum might recognise the subject. Having looked through the photographs on the Forum and in the first edition of Minefield, I do not think this cheerful crew member is yet represented and I know you would agree that it would be great to put a face to yet another name on the Roll of Honour.

Dunedin memorial dedication

from: John McGregor, 19 Dec 2008, 19:47

The Dunedin dedication went very well with 200 attending. and congratulations to the organisers, Nigel McPherson and Royden Thompson. I have attached 4 photos of the memorial.

HMS Neptune Memorial, Dunedin NZ

from: Nigel McPherson, 22 Nov 2008, 03:03

To Hudson Biggs and any others interested. Your message to John McGregor noted. The date of the unveiling however is Friday 12th. December. The location is the Cross Wharf Otago Harbour (Dunedin) at 1845 hrs.

Royal Marine Band

from: John McGregor, 21 Nov 2008, 12:16

Your theory may be correct David. Two more relatives of the Neptune band have recently made contact, both of the bandsmen featuring in the Simonstown photo - Musician Hayward Goddard is the drummer behind the large drum and Musician Charles Plain is the saxophonist 2nd from right.

Royal Marine Band

from: David Cranham, 18 Nov 2008, 11:41

Dear John,
My uncle David Dick is bottom row 2nd.left with his hand on Musician Poole's shoulder,holding a cigarette, band leader Joyce is next to him, the young man top right with his sleeves rolled up is in the photograph of the band on the quay at Simonstown.
having compared photos of Musicians published in Neptunes Legacy and Minefield I'm sure their are other band members in the photo,but I suppose they were all shipmates together and such a gathering of Marines and Musicians would not be unusual.
Regards David

Able Seaman Hudson Biggs

from: John McGregor, 18 Nov 2008, 10:52

Thanks for your message, Hudson. Checking Neptune's crew list you must be a relative of Able Seaman Hudson Biggs. We have already been sent a photo of him in a batch of NZ crew members. I will be in touch by email.

Later - a much better photo of Hudson has been submitted.

You are right that a memorial is being dedicated on 12 Dec 08 to the Dunedin based NZ's lost and I hope you will be there at the ceremony. I am passing your name to the organiser Nigel McPherson brother of a Neptune casualty.

Neptune Memorial - Dunedin, NZ

from: Hudson Biggs, 17 Nov 2008, 06:29

Hello, attached is a scanned clipping from the Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, NZ dated 15 Nov 2008. It details a proposed memorial to the Otago sailors who perished on the Neptune in Dec 1941.

HMS Neptune Memorial - Dunedin, New Zealand

Wireman Peter Ovenstone

from: John McGregor, 16 Nov 2008, 11:43

Dear Alex What a very good school project. Peter Ovenstone aged 19 was the son of Thomas and Maggie Ovenstone of St Monance Fife so you may be able to track down some of his relatives. Is the school nearby? He was one of just 8 Wiremen (now known as electricians) in Neptune and you can see the list on the Plymouth War Memorial in a FORUM page message dated 8 Aug 07. The message was placed by Windy Gailes, a nephew of Wireman Gailes.

Wireman Peter Ovenstone, HMS Neptune

from: Alex Crawford, 14 Nov 2008, 22:01


Well done on a very informative website.

I am currently putting together a Roll of Honour for a local school in Fife. One of the names on the Roll is that of Peter Ovenstone. A look through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website shows that Peter (19) was a Wireman onboard HMS Neptune when she was sunk.

Would you have any further details on Peter? I have yet to track down any survining relatives as I have only just started this project.



Boy 1st Class William Jeffrey Dodd

from: John McGregor, 10 Nov 2008, 07:29

Hi Chris Welcome to our Neptune community! Checking the casualty list, Boy 1st Class William Jeffrey Dodd aged 17 from Atherstone Warwickshire, was indeed killed in HMS Neptune. Please could your dad find the photo of him and his mates so that it can be included in the 2nd edition of "Minefield". I will be in touch by email as all photos of casualties are very important to us.

Geoff Dodd

from: CHRIS DODD, 6 Nov 2008, 04:14

Dear john

My dads brother Geoff Dodd was on the neptune im sure my dad still has photos of his brother with his ship mates that might be of intrest.

grandad's postcard

from: John McGregor, 5 Nov 2008, 07:22

Dear Paul I am afraid the photo you attached was too large to fit on the Forum. Any photos should be reduced to less than 500Kb. If your grandad produced a postcard of Neptune please send it to my email address

grandads postcard and cap ribons

from: paul john cox, 2 Nov 2008, 20:14

i was looking through my grandads photo collection,he was a fleet photographer and made phots into postcards and other duties.he served on many ships.his name was ernest edwin cox

Neptune cap

from: John McGregor, 29 Oct 2008, 12:31

Dear Frank Whenever a sailor joins a ship or shore establishment he gets a cap with the ship's name on it. The current HMS Neptune is the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane in Scotland. So a cap is not rare but a nice gift to a friend or visitor.

HMS Neptune Hat

from: frank pauciello, 25 Oct 2008, 19:02

I have a round HMS Neptune hat that i got at a submarine base in Scotland in 1999. It appears new. Are these hats used in training or newly made in honor of the Neptune?

Joseph Cain

from: John McGregor, 24 Oct 2008, 07:46

Dear Graeme How fascinating that your wife's grandad was a survivor from HMS Kandahar. No we have not got a crew list and I doubt that one exists as all 174 survivors were swiftly sent to other ships and told not to discuss the tragedy. What we have got is an excellent photo of the entire Kandahar crew taken in summer 1941 which probabaly includes your grandad. We have an even better one of the engine room department. What was his branch?

Joseph Cain

from: Graeme Watson, 30 Sep 2008, 08:50


I would like to know whether I can view the crew list for HMS Kandahr. I understand that my wife's grandfather Joe Cain from the Isle of Man was on the boat during the 1941 campaign and was one of those rescued.

Hope you can help


Graeme Watson

Musician Dick in Photo of 15 RM's 20June08

from: John McGregor, 29 Sep 2008, 06:31

It is an interesting proposition David as the numbers (15) are about right, however Marine Ronald Dubber is back row second from left (identified by his son) and Sergeant William Crocker is front row right (identified by his daughter). Musician Cyril Poole is bottom row left. Which is your uncle David Dick and is Bandmaster Joyce in the centre?

Musician Cyril Poole

from: Davi Dick Cranham, 26 Sep 2008, 07:58

Good Morning John,
I am glad to see the website is still attracting new interest, I notice a relative of musician Cyril Poole has been in contact and you have again published the photo of 15 Royal Marines.
My uncle David Dick is in the photo as is Bandleader Joyce,
and possibly 2 other musicians, could this be a photograph of the Band members?
Regards David Dick Cranham

Stoker 2nd class Herbert Payne

from: John McGregor, 23 Sep 2008, 05:44

Hi Janet and its good to hear from you again and Herbert's photo is attached. Yes there is another delay in publishing the second edition of "Minefield". Would all those who have contributed so generously for their copies, please be patient. The new edition will be nearly twice as large and Adrian just hasnt been able to finish it but it will come out sometime in 2009. The advantage of the delay is that more and more photos of casualties are being received - another 23 in 2008. We now have 310 casualty photos.

One Neptune book which has hust been printed is "Sole Survivor - One Man's journey" by Norma Hudson daughter of Norman Walton. It is very moving and very well written and I warmly recommend it. The book launch will be combined with our AGM on November 15th in the Union Jack Club. Details will shortly be shown on the BOOKS page of this website.

new book

from: Janet Stonestreet, 21 Sep 2008, 14:53

I was wondering when the next edition of Mediterranean Minefield will be coming as we have sent photos and information about a relation Stoker 2nd class Herbert Payne who went down with the Neptune.
I look forward to hearing from you.

father was a soldier in the WWII (African front)

from: John McGregor, 21 Sep 2008, 14:16

Dear Fulvio Thanks you so much for your comment - our first from Italy. When did your father serve in North Africa? Is he still alive and was he in Libya in 1941? If so his memories would be valuable indeed.

Walton and HMS Neptune

from: Fulvio Venturi, 21 Sep 2008, 07:34

This morning I read Mr. Walton's obituary and his incredible biography on The Neptune association site. I am very interested to war stories and I think you do a great job for the memory of those guys whose lost their lives in such tragic events. My father too was a soldier in the WWII (African front) and my grandfather had been an able seaman of Regia Marina, serving on Rn Benedetto Brin, Rn Citta di Sassari and Rn Rosolino Pilo during WWI. He had been sunk twice also.
All my best,
Fulvio Venturi

Surgeon Lieutenant Cameron Fraser

from: John McGregor, 15 Sep 2008, 05:57

Dear Caroline I was very pleased to hear from you as we have been trying to get a photo of Cameron for a long time. In 2005 we produced "Minefield" - a photographic tribute to the casualties and it contained 205 photos. Since then we have been sent more and more photos and now have 310 of the 836 who died in Neptune and Kandahar. A couple of pages is devoted to the two doctors but not the dentist (Cameron).

I tried your email address without success. Please email me at as I would like to have a chat.

hms Neptune

from: caroline meredith, 12 Sep 2008, 08:52

My sister found this site - very sad to read about - my uncle Cameron Fraser was on the Neptune - we will send you a photograph - thank you for site which is wonderful caroline

Petty Officer Stoker Gerald Gundry

from: John McGregor, 11 Sep 2008, 06:08

Dear Janet How good to hear from you. The photo was taken when Gerald was a Stoker so it was probably before he joined Neptune, however if anyone recognises the other two please leave a message.
Gerald's widow Gwen sent this lovely photo of their wedding which is included in MINEFIELD.

Petty Officer Stoker W .Gerald Gundry

from: Janet Vivyan, 6 Aug 2008, 13:14

I have only recently found this site. Gerald was my mother's cousin and although I don't remember him I do remember the sadness at the time he died. This photo came from my mother's collection and I wonder if anyone can identify the others with him. His name is on the memorial on Plymouth Hoe.

Gerald Gundry (centre) others unknown

Neptune and Bismarck

from: Daniel Underbakke, 1 Aug 2008, 16:49

I have read several books about the pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck in May 1941. Neptune is always listed as part of the Home Fleet, but then it disappears from the story. Can anybody tell my why Neptune doesn't get mentioned other than in the order of battle.

Memorial stone for John E Stewart - Lead telegraphist

from: Sarndra, 13 Jul 2008, 07:32

Howdy.... was cemetery trawling today and came across John's memorial stone along with his mother at Waikaraka Cemetery, Onehunga, Auckland New Zealand.

Have attached.

John E Stewart memorial - at bottom - on mothers headstone

Petty Officer Stoker Albert Cregoe

from: John McGregor, 27 Jun 2008, 08:34

His niece Pamela Williams has sent a photo of Albert - published in MINEFIELD. I hope Maureen Axworthy will see this and make contact. Is she in the telephone book? We have great interest in contacting the descendants of all casualties, especially sons and daughters.

find relative

from: k maclennan, 21 Jun 2008, 19:23

my great uncle called albert cregoe he was a petty officer stoker on the hms neptune . we believe he had a daughter called maureen axworthy who was adopted after her mum passed from tb .she was adopted by a family called th axworthys who lived in st budeaux in plymouth devon. her birth mother was called olive surname unknown but she lived in stonehouse plymouth we would like to trace maureen as her dads siters children are here living in plymouth can anyone help us find her thankyou k maclennan.

Poole, Cyril E Musician

from: John McGregor, 20 Jun 2008, 08:23

Dear Carol
You can ask for his service records from: 2nd Sea Lords Department, DPNS(N) 2, Building 1/152,HM Naval Base Portsmouth, PO1 3PX Quote Neptune casualty. It may cost £30.
The photo of Cyril came from his nephew in law Peter Hardiman. He is also in the group of 15 RM's taken on 17 Aug 41 - bottom left.

Poole, Cyril E Musician

from: Carol Sailes, 1 Jun 2008, 19:39

Hello John

Can you tell me where I can get the service records for Cyril E Poole, who was a cousin of my Father? Can you also tell me where you got his photograph? That is the only photo of him that the family now have, and it was great to see it.

By the way, his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves website states that he was 19, when he was, in fact, only just turned 18.

Best wishes and a big thank you on a great site.

Carol Sailes

Henry Field

from: John McGregor, 15 May 2008, 18:19

Hello e.j. I confirm that Henry Field was not a Neptune casualty. I have no method of finding out whether he served in Neptune before she sank. If you are a direct descendant then you can ask for his service record from the Second Sea Lord's department.

hms neptune research

from: e.j., 15 May 2008, 10:08

hi, i am doing some research re: henry field(s) crew of hms neptune. can you please help. Back in the late 1930's when the hms neptune was here in south africa, a man by the name of Henry Field(s), claims to be a crew member of the hms neptune. can you please varify if there indeed was a crew member by that name. He did not neccissarily perish in the sad December 1941 catastrophe. he may have been part of the crew before then. i would just like to find out more on henry field(s). can you please assist?

thank you



from: Adrian St. Clair (Author of Mediterranean Minefield), 12 May 2008, 19:27

I wish to add my thanks on behalf of the Association for all the material that is coming to Commander John McGregor, which will be, for the greater part, added into the second edition, which seems to be expanding rapidly. It's amazing to see so many stories. I lost my uncle, my father's brother, who was only 19 years old, and my grandmother died as a result of the shock of losing her dearest twin.

Please would any relative of a Neptune or Kandahar casualty who hasn't yet madecontact, please send a copy of their relative's photo urgently. The absolute deadline for inclusion in the second edition is June 30th.

Able Seaman Cecil Wood RNZN

from: John McGregor, 11 May 2008, 05:55

Thanks for your message and how very good to hear from you. Remarkably I have a group photo of 10 Neptune sailors sent by Peter Goldsmith nephew of Able Seaman Stan Kingdon RNZN and it includes Cecil Wood seated front row second from left. I posted it on the website on 29 Aug 2007. From discussions with relatives the sailors (all of whom died just five weeks later) are as follows:
Back Row:
Able Seaman Frederick Windsor from Newfoundland (previously believed to be AB Abel Keefe also a Newfie)
Able Seaman George Dennison - New Zealand Navy
Able Seaman Joc Smith RN
Able Seaman Eric Haines - South African Navy
Able Seaman Stanley Kingdon - New Zealand Navy
Boy Seaman Edgar Holden RN aged 17
Front Row:
Able Seaman Ross Buckley - New Zealand Navy
Able Seaman Cecil Wood - New Zealand Navy
Leading Seaman Reginald Turley RN - buried in Tripoli - we visted his grave on April 26th.
Able Seaman Frank Calder South African Navy

I can send you two of the three books from our webpage BOOKS but Minefield is out of stock (sold out) and the second edition will be published this autumn containing about 320 photos of casualties and more are received every week - quite remakable after 67 years. Please send me your postal address and they will be sent.

Books - Able Seaman Cecil Wood RNZN

from: John Gilbert, 8 May 2008, 07:58

My wife had an uncle that went down with the Neptune able seamen Cecil Wood a New Zealander we live in Australia and would like to purchase the (2) books shown on the front of this article cost and postage please to Australia

John Gilbert

AB Wallace Hubbard (South Africa)

from: John McGregor, 8 May 2008, 06:07

Thanks for the message Sybil. Photo of Wallace (sent by you) attached.


from: SYBIL BANISTER-JONES, 5 May 2008, 14:14

If anyone has any personal details of my uncle Wallace Hubbard who died on the Neptune, I would be very grateful

Roy and Basil Atkinson

from: Jennifer A Jones, 2 May 2008, 06:34

I have an old family photo of another pair of brothers who were so tragically lost when HMS Neptune went down.

They were Leading Seaman Roy Vincent Atkinson and Able Seaman Basil Mervyn Atkinson aged 22yrs and 20yrs respectively in 1941. The photo is taken at their home in Hastings, Hawke Bay. New Zealand just before they sailed off on their fatal voyage. They were the sons of Christopher and Fanny Atkinson.

The Atkinson boys were cousins of my mother, Frances May Jacques, nee Cooley, and I found the photo while tracing our family history. I would dearly like to contact anyone who has further information about the Atkinson boys and any of their family especially of any who may still be living in New Zealand My email address is supplied to John McGregor.

Roy Vincent Atkinson and Basil Mervyn Atkinson

Cook James Lunn

from: John McGregor, 1 May 2008, 18:26

Dear Val What a nice surprise for you! The photo of James Lunn was sent by his brother Owen, who lives in Victoria, Canada. It was too late for the first edition but will be included in the second edition to be published this autumn.

James G Lunn - Cook (O)

from: Val Bethell, 30 Apr 2008, 19:27

I am tracing my Fathers family history.
James Lunn was my Fathers Cousin.
I was very suprised to find your site, and even more suprised to find a photo of him.
I would love to hear from anyone that has any information on him.
I would also like to say how interesting & informative I found your site.

Val Bethell ( Nee Greenhalgh )

Sergeant Arnold Reid RAF

from: John McGregor, 27 Apr 2008, 18:53

This is a quite extraordinary story and very much part of the Neptune/Kandahar tragedy. Flight Sergeant Dennis Reason and his crew including Sergeant AJ Reid and four others found HMS Kandahar in a brilliant mission some 50 miles from where they had been told to go and, not using radio but by flashing signals to each ship in turn, directed HMS Jaguar to her, thereby saving 173 members of Kandahar's crew. In a desperately sad sequel the Wellington with all her crew disappeared in her very next mission. I can do no better than to quote from Wing Commander Tony Spooner's book "In Full Flight". Spooner was the boss of the Special Duties Wellingtons in Malta:

"Captain Agnew, to save further losses took the rest of the Force to safety out of this highly lethal area. It was an unenviable decision to have to make. He and Rory O'Connor had long been together, and were old friends from Dartmouth and Whale Island days. But Rory O'Connor in Neptune, together with all her company, and Kandahar's, too, had to be abandoned to the sea in enemy waters at night.
Aurora and Penelope were both damaged, as their paravanes had touched off several mines. Force K and the remains of Force H limped back to Malta at reduced speed.
Captain Agnew was standing and staring at the walls of his cabin as he told me about the action. His face was half turned away from me. His voice told me of the strain.
"You understand, Spooner," he said, "that I had to give the order to withdraw." There was no doubt in his voice, only a deep, echoing sadness.
Neptune and her crew were gone. But we bucked up a lot next day when first we received a message from a patrolling aircraft of 69 Squadron that Kandahar was somehow still afloat. She had lost forty-three feet of her stern, but skill and craftsmanship in her making and the calmness and discipline of her crew had somehow enabled her, or two-thirds of her, to keep above the surface of the sea. She was over a hundred miles from Malta and obviously immobile. She had no engines, no power, and no fighting value. She could send no signals. She was such a sitting duck that our hopes soon fell. It seemed certain that during the day an enemy plane or destroyer or even a Motor Torpedo Boat would be sure to apply the coup-de-grace. Either that or she would sink without further attack.
The destroyer Jaguar was ready to put to sea again, and a plan was swiftly prepared. The ship would go out that night and would try to get close enough to the sinking Kandahar to pick up those of her crew who had not been killed. It was hoped also that a few of Neptune's survivors might have been able to get aboard Kandahar. Would I go out and help?
The A.S.V. beacon we had made for the Navy had gone down with Neptune so the task wasn't going to be at all easy. I enquired from my friends in Naval Operations what the chances were. They said it was 10 to 1 against Kandahar even being afloat. We only had one plane serviceable, and I decided to send Dennis Reason, who hadn't flown for a week or so. He had been training a second pilot to our specialised work, and he had told me that his crew was now capable of carrying out any job. I regarded this rescue attempt as no more than a training exercise for Reason (flight-sergeant now), as I had been assured that if she wasn't already sunk the Italians were certain to send Kandahar, powerless and stationary, to the bottom as soon as darkness fell.
As it happened, Reason found Kandahar still just afloat. She was listing and low in the water. He radioed this news and hastened back to make contact with the on-rushing Jaguar and to guide her to the right position. Also, on his own initiative, he carried out a search to the south, from where enemy forces would most likely be coming. To his dismay he located a force of Motor Torpedo Boats on their way. They were closer to Kandahar than was Jaguar and would clearly get to the stricken ship first. At this point he displayed a touch of greatness. He had observed that the enemy torpedo boats were slightly off-track and would, if they held their course, pass to one side by a mile or so of Kandahar. Could he, he wondered, get them so far off track that they would miss altogether? It was the only hope. He thereupon flew back to Kandahar but to one side and, when about thirty miles distant from Kandahar, he proceeded to put up the best pyrotechnical display he possibly could. He jettisoned his drift-taking flame floats and left them bobbing on the water; then, climbing high, he launched flare after flare, and as these drifted down he dived down to go skimming over the water firing all his guns upwards. Tracer bullets thus flew upwards as flares drifted down.
The ruse worked. The enemy boats altered course and sped towards the display. And by the time they realised their error, Reason had guided Jaguar alongside the stricken Kandahar and, in a flurry of frenzied activity, Jaguar safely took off all 173 men aboard her. A few minutes later Kandahar rolled over and sank - torpedoed by Jaguar to prevent her falling into enemy hands.
When the survivors reached port almost the first action they took was to ask the Wellington crew to visit them. The party was to be held on board one of the naval cruisers. Reason and his crew were all away from camp. "Chiefy" gave me some clues where they might be, and the Navy set forth to round them up. One by one they were located: all except the principal guest. Eventually they found Dennis Reason emerging from church as it was now Sunday. I kept well clear but I gathered that the party was a vast success. One twenty-one-year-old flight sergeant and his crew were chaired, feted, feasted and cheered. When it was all over I gave them all a few days leave and they went off to Gozo, the smaller island to the north of Malta.
I was absolutely elated at Reason's great success. We had flown together for nearly a year, and we had done over fifty operational flights sitting inches apart. I felt entitled to regard him as a protege. Also, I now knew for certain that in him I had another first-rate crew. This was good news, too, as David Beaty and I had carried almost all the load to that point.
A few days later Reason took his crew on a search for enemy ships and had the Fleet Air Arm torpedo-carrying biplanes at Hal Far at readiness. He and his crew went out in high spirits, They never came back. It was less than a week since he had saved 173 men. And we never knew what became of him, Was it our old enemy ice? Did an unkind fate decide to burden him with a faulty engine? Our Wellingtons wouldn't fly with one inoperative. Did the lack of an accurate altimeter lead him into the waves as he searched low? Did the absence of any proper weather report lure him to his destruction? Or did he and his crew die gloriously attacking the enemy?
All I know was that an unbelievable event had happened; that my eager, young, fresh-faced companion-in-arms was gone, And I felt as empty within as Captain Agnew must have felt when forced to abandon his old shipmate to his certain death.
Flight-Sergeant Dennis Reason, from somewhere in Stafford, I salute you. Before you died you proved yourself.

H.M.S. Kandahar

from: Mr M Sanderson, 12 Apr 2008, 21:42

Recently I visited Malta on behalf of my stepsister to try to unravel the mystery of her father Sgt A.J.Reid who was lost in action
as crew member of a wellington Bomber on the 23rd Dec 1941.
I now know that he served in Malta Special Duties Flight.
Three days prior to his death on the night of the 20th his plane piloted by Flight Sgt Reason led H.M.S. Jaguar to the stricken Kandahar and also decoyed enemy destroyers away.
In gratidude the Royal Navy held a party for the crew of
the plane.
I would dearly like to hear from any Kandahar Survivors as it would mean a lot to my stepsister.

Anderson twins

from: John McGregor, 11 Apr 2008, 11:15

For a mother to have lost both her twin sons was so desperately sad. She would have heard the news on 26 Dec 41 as did all the other families and one must suspect that it led to her death just five days later.

William John & Henry Bruce Anderson

from: Derrick Hodgson, 11 Apr 2008, 03:56

I have located a picture of the Anderson twins who were tragically killed on the HMS Neptune 19/20 Dec 1941. They lived in an area called Glendowie not a stones throw away from where I live. It is so sad to think their mum died 10 days later.

William John & Henry Bruce Anderson

from: Derrick Hodgson, 11 Apr 2008, 03:33

The above were Able Seamen aboard the HMS Neptune at the time of her sinking. They were twins. Firstly I am no relation however I was walking my dog in the Purewa Cemetery here in Auckland NZ and I noticed the attached plaques acknowledging William John and Henry Bruce Anderson as being 'lost at sea' aboard the HMS Neptune. This intrigued me so I read on. There was another plaque of the mother of the above seamen. She died on the 31st Dec 1941. Thirdly there was a plaque of the father of William and Henry who lived a long life and died 87yrs young. I did a little research, found your site and noticed the sinking of the Neptune accurred on the 19th/20th Dec 1941 and that there mother Charlotte May Anderson died on the 31st Dec 1941. What happened to her I do not know maybe she died of a broken heart. William and Henry's mum and dad were married in the year of 1920 (Folio no: 04434) Charlotte's maiden name was Webster.
I submit the picture William and Henry's plaque in recognition of this family who made a difference in this world.
Derrick Hodgson

Plaque of William John and Henry Bruce Anderson

Lt Peter Arbuthnot

from: John McGregor, 11 Apr 2008, 03:30

I am indeed very interested to hear from anyone with links to Lt Peter Arbuthnot who had the key job of Navigating Officer of HMS Neptune. His family was also close to that of Captain Rory O'Conor who specifically asked him to join him in Neptune. His father was Admiral Sir Geoffrey Arbithnot - a well known naval family. I have heard from the families of 36 of the 44 officers on board. Another reason is that Peter's father, who was in an excellent position to know how to do it, made very detailed investigations into what happened and why, and I would dearly like to see the result.

So please do send me the stills from HMS Kent.

Lt Peter Arbuthnot

from: Paul Seaton, 11 Apr 2008, 00:47

I have some movie film from the Imp. War Mus apparently showing Peter Arbuthnot ( Killed, Neptune) earlier in his career on the bridge of HMS Kent out in the far east 1939. ( My interest is in the Kent as my late father served on her )
I am looking for photos of Peter A to be sure which person ( in the film I have) he is. (The film was shot by Lt Commander George Blundell of the Kent).

I wondered if you could help in any way ? I could email you a still or 2 from the film .

Hoping to hear from you

Paul Seaton


from: Donna McDonald, 6 Apr 2008, 07:47


horace jack broughton

from: John McGregor, 6 Apr 2008, 06:14

Neptune certainly visited Gibraltar, Simonstown and Alexandria where some got to see the pyramids, but she definitely didn't go to Murmansk. Maybe he was serving in another ship on a Russian convoy after being lucky enough to have left Neptune before she sank.

horace jack broughton

from: graham broughton, 4 Apr 2008, 09:50

Graham Broughton again.
Not much to add but the only thing I have left of my dads time on the Neptune is a crucifix he bought in the middle east I think it was Cairo and although he wasnt religeous I think he bought it because it was war and maybe it just might help, well as far as Im concerned it must have because he escaped the sinking by one day! I would like to know the journeys that Neptune sailed because dad talked about, Murmansk, Gib, Simonstown and the piramids so they saw a hell of a lot of different climates and cultures.And I still would like to see more photos because I am sure that someone out there has one with my dad on.
ps keep up the great work because we as relatives owe it to those great men who must have had terrifying times and endured much suffering at the last.

Musician David Dick

from: John McGregor, 3 Apr 2008, 06:09

Thanks for the photo of Musician David Dick as best man at a wedding. If anyone recognises the bridegroom (a Leading Seaman Gunner) who may have served in Neptune, please make contact. A guess is that the wedding took place in July 41 in South Africa on Neptune's passage around the Cape.

Musician David Dick

from: David Dick Cranham, 1 Apr 2008, 17:58

My uncle Musician David Dick officiating as best man at a wedding possibly a shipmate from Neptune

James William Bull AB

from: John McGregor, 31 Mar 2008, 06:16

Dear Robert Good to hear from you and Yes your grandfather James Bull was a Neptune casualty. No we haven't had any information on him - yet. Have you a photo as we are finalising the second edition of MINEFIELD? There is still time to include it. I will send you an email with further details of the Association.

James William Bull AB

from: Robert Bull, 24 Mar 2008, 17:19

Does anyone have any information about my Grandfather James William Bull.

Stoker Eric Sanders

from: John McGregor, 23 Mar 2008, 07:03

Miraculously Samantha's cousin Steve Sanders in Australia, whom she has never been in touch with before, has produced this good photo of their uncle Eric Sanders

Stoker Eric Sanders

from: John McGregor, 7 Mar 2008, 07:22

Dear Samantha Good to hear from you again. I have emailed you the address I had for Stephen Sanders who also enquired about Eric on the Forum page in Dec 2005. I hope you get in touch with him and that one of you can find a photo of Eric from a mutual relative for the next edition of "Minefield" due out this autumn. Stephen was a submariner and I knew a lot of the Aussie submariners who came over here for training from my time in submarines.


from: SAMANTHA SANDERS, 5 Mar 2008, 12:11


Able Seaman William E Griffiths

from: John McGregor, 4 Mar 2008, 15:58

Hi Carol Thank you for your initiative with Radio Merseyside. I hope it works. Here are the two photos sent - William Griffiths is on the left and his sister Marjorie (your mum) on the right. We dont know the name of the other sailor.


from: carol grace, 23 Feb 2008, 18:08

From Carol Grace
23rd Febuary 2008

Dear John my brother Brian found this site and told my sister Margaret Grace, who has contacted you and told me all about it. My uncle (Billy,)Abel Seaman William E Griffiths died while serving on H.M.S. Neptune,during the second world war.

Our mum Marjorie, often spoke to us about her brother. We are so gratefull for people like you who have set up this web site.

Margaret has the names of seamen who served on Neptune,who were from Liverpool, who's relatives maybe unaware of the site.
Margaret and i are going to contact radio merseyside,the A TEAM and ask them to help us find the relatives of seaman fom Liverpool, who served on the Neptune.
Tank you John

Able Seaman Ivo Palmer

from: John McGregor, 23 Feb 2008, 10:11

Dear Mary Ann I will send you an email with Gill West's address. She lives very close to you in Graveney outside Faversham. Here is a photo of Ivo's wedding to Gladys in 1939.

Ivo Palmer

from: Mrs M Jarrtt, 22 Feb 2008, 15:09

Dear Mr McGregor

Back in the autumn of 2007 I sent you an e-mail on behalf of my friend regarding Able Seaman Ivo Palmer who was serving on HMS Neptune. My Friends would be very pleased to hear from Mrs Gill West of Sittingbourne who is the niece of Ivo Palmer. Mrs Gladys Palmer,Ivo Palmer's wife re-married a few years later. She then had a son who is called Ivor Luckhurst. Ivor has some pictures of Ivo Palmer and would love to make contact with Mrs Gill West.

My Friends Ivor and Sheila Luckhurst can be contacted either through my e-mai address or directly by telephone on 01227 752873 or by letter to their address:
Ivor Luckhurst
Woodland Cottage
Rhode Common
ME13 9PU

Kind regards
Mary Ann Jarrett

Alfred Jenkins

from: John McGregor, 22 Feb 2008, 11:20

G'day Dean You are right - we are behindhand in attaching photos on the Roll of Honour. Alf's photo is now there but we have roughly another 50 to add.
Later - Alf's photo is now on the Roll of Honour

Alfred Jenkins

from: Dean Smith, 19 Feb 2008, 08:25

G'day John,
I hope alls well. I have just checked the roll of honour page and noticed Alf's photo hasn't yet been included which was a little disappointing as I really feel it is important to include the photos where we can.Hope to se it up there soon!
I have been in contact with an ex Neptune sailor who lives just a little way down the road and he saw Neptune actually sail out on her last trip!
He was on a course for a few weeks and as such had been sent off to shore to complete it.
It turns out the course was cancelled and him and his mate rushed back to the docks to try to rejoin the ship but just missed her. I have met him a couple of times and am compiling some fantastic stories.

Dean Smith


from: John McGregor, 18 Feb 2008, 07:52

Hi Julie Thanks for the interesting question! In sailing ship days your great grandfather would have been working in the quarterdeck part of the ship - (the after end). As a Petty Officer he would have been in charge of maybe 30 seamen dealing with the decks, the mast and rope rigging and the various ships boats. At 'action stations' the seamen would have manned the guns. The word 'afterguard' indicates he was in charge of the discipline.
Please see photo of his ship on the FORUM - 18 Nov 2007.

HMS Neptune census 1861

from: Julie SCARROTT, 24 Jan 2008, 20:07

My 2 x Great Grandfather SAMUEL GROOM born 7th Oct 1817 in Portsmouth served on HMS Neptune and was stationed in Malta Harbour in 1861. He was Captain of the Afterguard and I gather he was a 2nd class working petty officer whom served on the quarter deck. Could anyone advise exactly what sort of job he did. Many thanks


Wireman Sidney Statham

from: John McGregor, 23 Jan 2008, 07:26

Dear James I found it very moving to get your message about Sidney Statham of Helsby, Cheshire. If you look at the entry for 8 Aug 07 you will see my reply to Windy Gailes about his uncle - also a Wireman in Neptune who posted his photo from the Plymouth War Memorial showing the Wiremen killed in 1941 - nearly all Neptune casualties. You can see Sidney's name at the bottom.
Not only that but in January 2004 flowers were left by a relative of Sidney's - Mrs Norah Bdguszewski from Doncaster. I managed to find out her address and wrote but without reply. If you have his cap maybe you are related? How did it come into your possession?


from: james alvis, 19 Jan 2008, 20:11

I have a Hat with the name HMSNEPTUNE on it
it also has statham in pen on the inside
need info .thanks

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