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Prince of Wales Sea Training School

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Are you going to represent the PWSTS at the MN Memorial Service on Sunday 3rd September 2006 ?

click here to see the 2004 photographsFor the past two years the PWSTS Society has attended the Merchant Navy Memorial Service at Tower Hill in London and represented the Prince of Wales Sea Training School and remembered those seafarers that have given their lives for our freedom. On each occasion a PWSTS wreath has been laid by a PWSTS old boy and in 2005 we had our own standard bearer.

We intend to do the same this year and would like to know if you will be able to represent the PWSTS. If you would like to attend please contact the PWSTS Society. This will then enable us to formulate a list of those attending and make rendezvous arrangements etc.  mnservice@pwsts.org.uk

Why is Merchant Navy Day the 3rd September?

This was the outbreak of war, and it was on this date in 1939, that the first loss to our Merchant Fleet was incurred, when the Liner the S. S. Athenia of the (Anchor Donaldson Line ) was attacked by U.30. 200 miles off the Hebrides, with the loss of 93 passengers and 19 crew.

The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill records the names of 32,000 seafarers of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars and have no known grave but the sea. In the Second World War the Merchant Navy had a higher ratio of casualties than any of the armed services. The total sacrifice during the 20th century is known to be over 46,000 men and women. The Merchant Navy Association are the lead organisers and sponsors of the Tower Hill Service on the nearest Sunday to Merchant Navy Day every year.



2006 v
olunteers required please: Standard bearer and wreath layer








STANDARD BEARER

The PWSTS standard bearer will be issued on the day with a pair of white leather gauntlets, PWSTS flag, pole, leather harness and beret.


Click here for photographs of last years bearer Geoff Delivett (PWSTS 1963). He's shown being inspected by The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West GCB, DSC, ADC



click here
 




WREATH LAYER (only one required this year)

The PWSTS wreath layer will be provided with a PWSTS wreath.


Click here for photographs of last years wreath layers. Alan Playford (PWSTS 1958) PWSTS wreath layer and Tony Sullivan (PWSTS 1952) Kent wreath layer on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Kent.



click here



Merchant Navy Memorial
Trinity Square Gardens
Tower Hill
London
EC3N

Nearest Tube Station: Tower Hill

 




Dress for the day will be blue or black blazers with PWSTS blazer badge, tie, medals and decorations. Click here to order your blazer badge and tie

Click here for details and photographs of the last two memorial services



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PWSTS UK Director

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Bill Biffen has volunteered to lay our wreath. Thanks Bill.


Does anyone fancy carrying the standard?


 


To you guys down under - do you have a similar event in Australia? If not, here is a link to add your name to the Australian petition:


http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/



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Alan Playford has kindly volunteered to be our standard bearer. Thanks Alan. So far that makes two PWSTS boys attending. Anyone else coming to show support?



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updated list so far – If you’re free that weekend please join us:


LONDON 3rd Sept


Alan Playford (PWSTS 1958) PWSTS standard bearer
Bill Biffen (PWSTS 1943) PWSTS wreath layer
Ian Arnold (PWSTS 1964) standby standard bearer
Alan Knott (PWSTS 1963)
Alan Carman (PWSTS 1959)
Michael Lay**** (PWSTS 1970)
Derek Mantle (PWSTS  1948)
Roy Pearson (PWSTS 1953)
Patrick Sullivan (PWSTS 1955)
Duncan Pascoe (PWSTS 1975)
Bob Batchelor (PWSTS 1969)
Roger Hargis (PWSTS 1967)
Roger Head (PWSTS 1958)
Andy Gale


Dover 4th Sept


Roger Head (PWSTS 1958) PWSTS standard bearer
Lilly Bennett (PWSTS Little Cook)
Roy Pearson (PWSTS 1953)
Lionel Turner (PWSTS 1955)
Alan Knott (PWSTS 1963)



 



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Good turnout, that's excellent, well done Andy, thanks to all taking the time out to represent PWSTS and pay their respects.

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Cool Colin, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada.



PWSTS UK Director

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Introduction

When you think of high casualty rates and military operations, one may think of special forces operations such as Chindits behind Japanese lines in World War Two or Bomber Command over Occupied Europe. However, one section of people who were all volunteers and performed an absoultely essential operation were the Merchant Navy ships and men who took part in the Battle of the Atlantic.


During World War Two some 24,000 members of the Merchant and Fishing Fleets died and have no known grave but the sea; a ratio of approximately 1 in 3 who served.


Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was the name given to the conflict for control of the Atlantic Ocean, and in particular what became the convoy routes between North America and the UK. At the start of World War Two it was anticipated that the conflict would revolve around a show of capital ships. The effects of the use of submarines against merchant ship had been observed during the First World War, however these lessons had not been learned by September 1939.


While there were merchant vessels lost to U-Boat actions as early as 3 September 1939, due to their long sea voyages from Germany into the Atlantic the effects had not reached their later levels. With the fall of France in June 1940, Doenitz (then head of the German submarine arm) gained Atlantic Bases for his U-Boat fleet. The U-Boats could leave bases, such as La Rochelle, and quickly gain access to the convoy routes.


With more U-Boats at sea, the rate of sinking rapidly increased. Also with the use of Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft to direct (what Doenitz called) Wolf Packs of U-Boats on to the path of a convoy, the rate of loss became ever higher. Even though this partnership of aircraft and submarines was not fully exploited by the Germans, the rate of loss continued and threatened the UK existance.


The UK had to import all its oil supplies and vast majority of foodstuffs from overseas locations. If these links were cut then the UK would lose the war. Also once the USA entered the war, the Atlantic convoy routes were needed to build up men and material for the longed-for invasion of Europe.


However, with the introduction of short-wave (centimetric) radar and the greater use of aircraft (especially equiped with centimetric radar) the U-Boat threat was finally overcome. The U-Boat relied on surface manoeuverability to shadow a convoy and launch an attack. Radar-equipped aircraft and surface vessels took this advantage away.


The San Emiliano

The San Emiliano was owned by Eagle Oil & Shipping Company, launched in 1939 at Harland & Woolff. The dimensions of the vessel were 463.2 x 61.2 x 33.1 feet, providing a displacement of 8,071 tons. Powered by oil engines with a nominal horsepower of 502, the ship was capable of a top speed of 13.25 knots.


The San Emiliano was a tanker that was fully loaded with a cargo of high octane gasoline in all about 12,000 tons. She had left Trinidad on 6 August 1942, bound for the Cape and eventually Suez.


The following account was provided by the San Emiliano's Chief Officer Captain T.D. Finch. The account is taken from the publication "The World At War" by Mark Arnold-Foster, and appears in the episode that dealt with the Battle of the Atlantic:


We left Trinidad on 6 August 1942 in convoy, bound for the Cape and eventually Suez. In the evening of 9 August the convoy dispersed. Round about 6 in the evening as dusk fell I noticed a ship coming up from astern with full navigation lights blazing, indicating a neutral vessel. By 7 o'clock she was half-a-mile on our starboard beam and I noticed with the lights she was carrying that she was a hospital ship. By 8 p.m. when the 3rd officer relieved me of the watch she was well down on the horizon and disappearing. I've always had the idea that the U-boat must have been hanging around then, probably on the surface on that particular track and must have seen the hospital ship and more than likely saw us silhouetted against her lights.


At about 9 o'clock I decided to turn in for the night and was partially undressed when there was a terrific explosion from the starboard side which was immediately followed by another. I jumped out of the bunk, rushed to the cabin door, which came away in my hands, saw that the mess was ablaze, and started to run down the alley-way. I saw the apprentice running around and shouted to him 'Quick, this way . . . follow me'. We rushed back into my cabin, smacked the door back into position to prevent the fire entering, undid the thumb-screws to the port-hole, opened it up, and pushed the apprentice through it, and I followed him, landing on the shelter deck, down the ladder to the fore-deck and ran to the focs'lehead which I judged to be the safest place. By this time the ship was ablaze from bridge to stern, the whole sky being lit up by the flames which must have been hundreds of feet high. I saw the starboard life-boat had crashed into the sea but the port life-boat was still hanging in the davits, so I shouted to the apprentice 'Come-on ... quick . . . we've got two minutes to get that boat away. If we don't, we're dead'. As we were running along the fore-deck towards the bridge, this boat also crashed into the sea. . . . We had to jump from the shelter deck to the falls about 6 feet and slide down them. Three other men threw themselves into the boat in desperation. At this time I had let go the after painter and noticed men running round the poop who were on fire, throwing themselves into the sea which was itself on fire.


We were about 40 ft. from the ship's side when the 3rd officer came running along the fore-deck from the focs'lehead shouting 'Wait for me, wait for me!' He dived over the side and we picked him up. At the same time there was another man on the focs'lehead shouting, but there was nothing we could do because out of the 5 or 6 who got away into the boat, only 3 were able to row. Slowly the ship drew ahead of us whilst we struggled to keep clear of burning sea. We heard some screams for help and rowed over and pulled out of the water a fireman who was terribly burned, so much so that when we pulled him into the boat, the skin from his body and arms came off in our hands like gloves, and he was in a very bad way indeed.


Eventually we heard two other cries for help and found in the water an able seaman who was clothed and not burned. Shortly after we picked up a pumpman in the same condition. We tried to pursue the ship, looking for survivors, but it was an impossible task because those in the boat were so gravely injured and collapsing, leaving only three to row against the wind and sea.


So we stopped rowing and found the first apprentice terribly burned, so much so that his hands had to be freed from the oars with scissors. The third officer and I attended to the wounded and were horrified at the extent of their injuries. There seemed no further signs of life anywhere so we hoisted sail and set course for Trinidad. This time, the fireman who had been in such agony all night, died, and within minutes the second steward who had suffered terrible abdominal wounds and burns also passed away. I went over to him and lifted the blanket covering him and noticed the whole of his stomach badly injured and exposed. He had been very patient during the night and the only thing he complained of was the cold. Both these men were committed to the deep. We had been sailing for an hour or two when the second mate called me. He had been badly burned and severely injured below the waist. He wanted water which I gave him, but even then I knew it was hopeless and a few minutes later he passed away, and as I covered him up with a blanket I noticed that the senior apprentice's life was also drawing to a close. About mid-day he died having been very badly burned all over his body and had been so very brave trying to keep up the morale of the rest of the men by singing. The most pathetic thing about the whole tragedy was the extreme youth of these lads, which was uppermost in my mind as I committed them to the deep.


We continued on our voyage, in utter despair and sadness. At about 1 o'clock in the afternoon we heard the hum of a plane. He circled round several times, increasing height and then dropped a parachute, which held a cask of water but this broke on impact and so was wasted. I wasn't too concerned about water at that point as I reckoned I had enough to last us about 30 days. We proceeded and just before dark the plane returned.


He dropped the second parachute and this time it was a churn, rather like a milk churn. It was a good drop as it landed about 30 to 40 yards away from us. We picked it up and inside was a flask of iced water, cigarettes, chocolates and soup and a message saying 'steer south, coast within 110 miles'. I had had a rough idea that this was so, but steering south for me was against everything, e.g. current and the wind. However I decided to try so we turned round and headed south as far as we could judge. Dawn broke, we tidied the boat as far as we could and had a few rations. About ten o'clock the plane appeared again and dropped another parachute and this time it wasn't food but a message saying 'Help coming'.


About an hour after dusk we spotted a schooner sailing without lights. I grabbed a torch and signalled because I thought this was the help that had been sent, but as soon as he spotted the signal he turned away and went off into the night. About an hour and a half later the whole sky was lit up by flares, we heard a plane, and then the flares came down lighting up the whole ocean and we spotted our rescue ship which turned out to be the 'Admiral Jessop', U.S. Army Transport. He came along side and took the wounded off first, the rest climbed on board and then all were taken down to the sick bay and put under sedation. Before I was put under sedation the captain asked me what to do with the life-boat, and I told him to sink it as it had been such a boat load of misery, despair, and death, and I wanted no more to do with it. I learnt later that I could have sold it and with the cash I could have clothed the survivors.


Six survived out of a crew of 46, but before the war was over I think another three of those saved at that time, lost their lives later.


For his conduct in the aftermath of the sinking, Thomas Daniel Finch was awarded the George Medal (London Gazette 20 July 1943), together with the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at Sea.


Donald Owen Clarke

The posthumous George Cross recipient was Donald Owen Clarke.


Donald Clarke was born in Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham in 1923. At the time of his service on the San Emiliano, he was an Apprentice.


The following citation was published in the London Gazette dated 20 July 1943:


The ship, sailing alone, was attacked by the enemy and hit by two torpedoes. Fire broke out immediately, flames sweeping the vessel from bridge to poop. Apprentice Clarke was trapped in the accommodation and was severely burned. Despite this he made his way on deck and was one of those who got into the only boat which left the ship. The painter of the boat was kept fast and the helm put over and, as the vessel still carried some way, the boat was towed clear of the burning ship's side.


When the painter was cast off the boat drifted back and it was clear to all on board that it would require a tremendous effort to pull it out of danger. Most of the occupants, however, were so badly burned that they were unable to help, but Apprentice Clarke took an oar and pulled heartily for two hours without a word of complaint. It was not until after the boat was clear that it was realized how badly he had been injured. His hands had to be cut away from the oar as the burnt flesh had stuck to it. He had pulled as well as anyone, although he was rowing with the bones of his hands.


Later when lying at the bottom of the boat his thoughts were still with his shipmates and he sang to keep up their spirits. Next day he died, having shown the greatest fortitude. By his supreme effort, undertaken without thought of self and in spite of terrible agony, Apprentice Clarke ensured the safety of his comrades in the boat. His great heroism and selfless devotion were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Merchant Navy.


In addition to his George Cross, Clarke was also awarded the Liverpool Shipowners' Silver Medal and Conduct Badge.


Thomas Daniel Finch & Donald Wilfred Dennis

In addition to Thomas Daniel Finch, Donald Wilfred Dennis was awarded the George Medal for his conduct after the sinking of the San Emiliano. Messrs Finch amd Dennis were the Chief Officer and Chief Radio Officer respectively.


The following citation was published in the London Gazette on 20 July 1943:


The ship, sailing alone, was torpedoed and set on fire. The Chief Officer displayed courage and leadership of a very high order. When the ship was hit and set on fire he escaped through a 15 inch side scuttle on to the forward bulkhead and thence to the forecastle, where he took charge of a party of seven men which got away in a boat and, in the face of great danger and difficulties, made efforts to rescue others. His bravery and leadership were an inspiration, while his judgment and skill in keeping the boat secured to the ship until way had been lost prevented the flames from reaching it. Throughout the night the boat stood by the ship, the uninjured caring for the others as best they could, but during the next day four died from burns. Shortly afterwards the boat was sighted by aircraft which dropped medical stores and later in the day the survivors were picked up. Undaunted by his grim experience, Mr. Finch at once volunteered to serve in another ship as soon as he landed.


The Chief Radio Officer volunteered to release the only undamaged boat. Although he was badly burned he crawled through the flames on his hands and knees and released the falls. Throughout he displayed outstanding courage and fortitude, and but for his brave act the boat would not have got away and there would have been few, if any, survivors. The Third Officer displayed great courage and coolness, remaining on board until forced by the flames to jump overside. Later he was of great help to the Chief Officer in the boat.


Tower Hill Memorial

The Tower Hill Memorial commemorates those Merchant and Fishing Fleet seaman from both world wars who have no known grave apart from the sea. The memorial itself is located opposite the Tower of London and in front of Trinity House.


World War I Section


 


http://www.stephen-stratford.co.uk/merchant_navy.htm


 See you in September .......


 



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PWSTS Australian Director

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If I could I would join you all to Honor those men  , It is so sad to read those accounts, What amazes me is you could not join the armed forces until you where 18 years old but you could go to sea in the M.N at the age of 15. I will be with you all in thought on that day.


Michael



-- Edited by Michael at 08:23, 2006-08-17

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Prince of Wales Sea Training School

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Only a week to go! A record number of 14 PWSTS boys have said that they will attend, with a promise of a few more. I have sent final details to everyone by post. At the bottom of the letter is listed the mobile telephone number that I will be available on all weekend. If you haven’t received your letter please get in contact and I will update you.


It’s ‘possible’ that the PWSTS standard will travel down the Thames on a Metropolitan Police Launch. Standby for further details earlier next week.


Are you free next Sunday? Full details available at:http://www.pwsts.org.uk/mndaylist.htm


See you all on Sunday


Andy Gale



-- Edited by PWSTS Society at 12:18, 2006-08-26

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Andy , Reference our chat on the phone , Yes Jane & myself will be staying Saturday night at the old Thistle Tower (now renamed & under new management) by Tower Bridge , We will be watching We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in the afternoon . Once we are clear of the show we will phone you & meet up for a drink , shame not to realy .


If anyone else is stopping over & fancies a pint or three , feel free to get in touch with Andy or myself & lets have a good old chinwag .


My mobile is 07771952281


Sharky



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Likewise Jen and I will be watching Frank Sinatra at the Palladium Saturday afternoon and staying at the Holiday Inn in Regents Park. We’re looking forward to meeting up Saturday night mate and seeing anyone else who is staying over before the service.



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