75th Anniversary of VJ Day: Stories from the War Memorials

Sidlesham

 

On the Sidlesham War Memorial are the names of two Brothers, Charles Frederick Dowdy and Harry Ernest Dowdy. Both brothers were in the Royal Navy.

Charles Dowdy died in the sinking of HMS Barham in November 1941, which we previously wrote about in our post ‘The Names on the War Memorial: Selsey 1939-1945′.

Harry was killed in February 1942 when HMS Scorpion, a river gunboat, was sunk by a Japanese destroyer off Sumatra.

Scorpion was an armed river boat of the dragonfly class. Her sister ship was the HMS Locust.

HMS LOCUST (FL 1677) Underway. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120193
HMS Dragonfly, Scorpion and Locust were all lost in the same incident.

Reports that HMS Scorpion was sunk somewhere in the vicinity of Muntok (Banka Island) near Singapore, were from another vessel, ‘The Mata Hari’, which picked up five of the Scorpion’s crew who had been swimming in the water for over five hours. The Mata Hari surrendered to the Japanese later that night at the mouth of the Moesi river, which flows into Palembang. Reportedly, 42 of the 47 ships that left Singapore that night were sunk. The actual specifics of the Scorpion’s demise appear to be that she was damaged by aircraft on February 9th 1942 and later sunk by a Japanese destroyer at the Banka Straits three to four days later.

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Reginald Makeham [Photo source: www.commandoveterans.org], on the Sidlesham War Memorial, was a private in 6 Troop Number 2 Commando The Gordon Highlanders. He took part in Operation Musketoon in 1942.

Operation Musketoon was a raid on an electricity generating station at Glomfjord, in German occupied Norway. Ten Commandos from No 2 Commando and 2 Norwegian corporals working for the SOE took part in the raid leaving their home port on the 11th September. They were taken by submarine to a remote Fjord, completed a difficult overland route and approached their target from the rear. Having evacuated the Norwegian workers first, they set explosive charges and blew up the plant, successfully destroyed it.

Seven of them were captured, while 3 escaped to Sweden, which was neutral territory. The captured commandos, including Reginald, were taken to Germany and held at Colditz Castle for a time, where they were later executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Hitler’s infamous Commando Order, an executive order that all captured commandos should be executed. The Germans told the Red Cross the commandos had escaped and not been recaptured to cover up their murder.

The story only emerged during the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

Why is a Gordon Highlander on the Sidlesham War Memorial? Because his mother, Mary, was living at 6 The Terrace in Sidlesham, during the war.

Glomfjord Hydroelectric Power Plant © Matti Paavola. Source: www.tracesofwar.com

The War in the Far East

Jack Warnock died October 9th 1943

Gordon Hardy Perry died March 3rd 1945

George Thomas Wilkins died April 9th 1945

All three of these Selsey men were enlisted in the Royal Artillery.

George Wilkins was posted to Singapore in early 1941, and Gordon Perry and Jack Warnock were also posted to Singapore, and were in a convoy of ships that arrived on February 15th 1942, just as the city fell to the Japanese.

Japan refused to sign the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. The prisoners rarely received Red Cross parcels, and they were in fact slowly starved to death. In the meantime, the Japanese authorities made them send home pre-printed postcards which suggested to their families that they were all right.

As prisoners of the Japanese, Gordon and George were sent to work on the notorious Burma railway and Jack was held in a POW camp in Thailand. The families heard nothing of them until 1945, when it was discovered that Jack had died of malnutrition and Beriberi disease (vitamin b deficiency) in 1943. Gordon survived into 1945, but was beaten by the guards, and was so debilitated by Beriberi and malnutrition he died of his wounds. George was killed whilst on a train being transported to a new camp. The train was attacked by USAAF planes and he was killed by a bomb, along with many other prisoners of war.

16,000 Allied troops died building the Burma railway. British, Dutch, Australian and Americans were forced to work under armed guard.

Burma Railway Memorial Plaque © 2018 Andrew Ruppenstein. Source: The Historical Marker Database https://www.hmdb.org/
Burma Railway Memorial © 2007 Mark Wilson. Source: www.flickr.com

Itchenor

John Harker was a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery attached to the 301st Field Regiment, East African Artillery. He died, aged 29, when the SS Khedive Ismail was torpedoed by the Japanese Submarine I-27, in the Indian Ocean on February 12th 1944. Son of Philip and Barbara Harker of Itchenor, and husband of Mrs Daphne Harker of Hampstead, he is commemorated on The East Africa Memorial, Kenya.

On February 5th 1944,  Khedive Ismail sailed from Mombasa heading for Colombo. On board were 1,324 passengers, 996 of which were members of the East African Artillery’s 301st Field Regiment. As part of  the Convoy, KR 8,  Khedive Ismail was escorted by the Hawkins-class heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins and P-class destroyers HMS Paladin and HMS Petard. 

On February 12th the KR 8 convoy had reached the One and a Half Degree Channel, south-west of the Maldives, but was spotted by the Japanese submarine I-27. While the I-27 took Khedive Ismail’s position, a lookout sighted I-27’s periscope and raised the alarm. Khedive Ismail’s DEMS gunners opened fire on the submarine, as the I-27 returned four torpedoes, two of which hit Khedive Ismail.

THE DESTROYER HMS PETARD AT SEA, DECEMBER 1943 (A 21715) The destroyer HMS PETARD at speed. As seen from the carrier HMS FORMIDABLE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119793
HMS PALADIN (FL 9423) Underway Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120765

The severe damage to her stern led to the ship sinking in only three minutes. Paladin lowered boats to rescue survivors, some of which were able to utilise floats that had floated away from the sunken ship.

Petard retaliated, releasing depth charges which forced the I-27 to the surface. The smaller Paladin reinforced the counter attack, which lasted two and a half hours. After Paladin suffered a gash to the hull while retreating, the I-27 took the opportunity to submerge under the dead and remaining survivors on the surface. The I-27 was finally destroyed after Petard released 7 torpedoes, sinking all on the submarine. Sadly, the continued attack on the I-27 killed more survivors from Khedive Ismail. From SS Khedive Ismail, only 208 men and 6 women survived the sinking and subsequent battle. It was recognised to be the largest loss of servicewomen, 77 in total, in the history of the Commonwealth, and the third largest loss of life from Allied ships during the war.

Brothers in Arms

 

To lose one son or daughter in a war is bad enough, but some families lost more than one. Here are the names of the brothers, cousins, a nephew, and an uncle, who were lost across the Manhood Peninsula.

Some are remembered in the road names in Selsey, remember them if you drive or walk up Hunnisett Close, Pennycord Close, or Donaldson Close.

(Siblings)

Alfred Percy Fullick August 1940

Frederick Roy Fullick May 1941

(their cousin)

Edward George (Jack) Fullick April 1942

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(Siblings)

Leslie Egbers November 1942

Peter Egbers December 1943

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(Siblings)

Donald Harry Hunnisett August 1943

Dick Hunnisett July 1944

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(Cousins)

Jack Pennycord October 1939

Bert Pennycord April 1943

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(Nephew and Uncle)

Louis Mitchell May 1940

Ernest Mitchell September 1943

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(Siblings)

Lionel Perry July 1942

Gorden Perry March 1945

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(Siblings)

Kenneth Edwards April 1944

George Edwards November 1944

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(Siblings)

Charles Dowdy November 1942

Harry Dowdy February 1942


Post by Dr Lesley Bromley

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