Family Requests

Here are some e mails I have received giving information about HMS Royal Oak
or requesting further information. If you can help please e mail the addresses provided.

If there are no e mail addresses, please e mail me and I will forward them on

Newest e mails will be added to the top of the page.

Please note I print the messages as I receive them so am not responsible for grammar and spelling!!

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Hello Peter 
Here is a link to a youtube video I made when my family visited Scapa Flow for the 2004 commemoration, if it's suitable to be included on your website.

Best wishes Martin Hooper (nephew of stoker Tom Osborne)

Dear Peter

Following the death of my parents, I found this amongst my father's belongings. It was my Granny's 'autograph' book full of poems and messages from friends and family. The photos attached are two of the pages.

I've looked up the names and on the official HMS Royal Oak list of crew members (, most of these names are on it and listed as musicians in the Royal Marine Band:

Joseph Peter Basham
Frederick Reuben Cowen
Horace Joseph Goodchild
Charles William Ingle
William John McKie
Styant Henry Pace
Henry Emsley Parker
Frank Rothwell

Larger version Larger version

When I look up the HMS Royal Oak website, where it lists those lost and the survivors, I don't see any of them. My Granny lived in Ross-shire in the Highlands, so I am wondering if HMS Royal Oak came into Invergordon in 1919 and perhaps, she met the band then. She also worked in Edinburgh in the early 1920's (unsure of when she moved there - could be late 1919) so maybe it was Leith. I thought somebody might recognise some of the signatures. The page with all the signatures is dated 24th August 1919 and the poem by Bert Cotton is dated 4th September 1919.

Anyway, it would be lovely to see if there's anyone who recognises any of the names.

With best wishes

Anne Watmough

PS. The signature Rita Macdonald was my Aunty and I'm not sure what the blue-pencilled signature says.

Wilfred Edward Andrews

My uncle was one of the dead on board HMS Royal Oak in 1939 ,
His name was Wilfred Edward Andrews and was 17. I wondered if you have any information on him or even any photos .....
I’ve been to Portsmouth and been to the memorial and seen his name and was quite an emotional moment for me as it would be .
As most of his family have passed away now I’m interested in finding any information on my uncle ...
Hoping you can help or anyone
Kindest Regards
Mr Mark Andrews

Underwater video and 3D scans


Aubrey Amor

Hello Peter,

I was web surfing on this wet Friday afternoon when I came upon you name etc. in connection with the HMS Royal Oak.

My brother, Marine Aubrey Amor was aboard on that fateful day, but fortunately survived
this terrible ordeal. He, is now dead, but his son Paul is still alive and lives near Portsmouth.

My brother, like so many other survivors, would never talk about his ordeal with the family. I therefore try to read up as much as I can and when I can about it.

I am now 84 years old and so coming to the end of my life. Time is therefore critical to me. I so wish I had come across your site earlier. I will therefore study it assiduously. 

My best regards
Colin Reeves


Attached are some photos of my Grandfather who died on the Royal Oak in 1939 at Scapa Flow. His Family was from Portsmouth and lived at Tipner Green, Stamshaw. His wife was Alice Carter, with Children Hetty, Peggy,Sheila,Doreen and my Father John Edward Carter.
Today only Doreen is still with us and I always promised I would try and put his Photographs on the Royal Oak site. I hope this may be possible. As his Male Carter Grandson I proudly keep his medals to be able to hand on to my son in future.

The first photo only recently came to light as i was collecting family photos and is of him in the centre back row as a goalkeeper. My father was not interested in playing football but without knowing this I also liked to play in Goal in local Havant football. Mid 1960's.




The second photo is of him at a slightly younger age and he served in many ships after WW1

The Third photo is of him at start or WW1 where in Portsmouth he signed up to the Hampshire Regiment , Machine Gun Corp.He was taken as a POW in 1916 in France where he stayed until the end of the War.

The whole of our Family and all the subsequent grandchildren and Great grandchildren are immensely proud of his sacrifice so we may enjoy a Better and Free way of life.
We did meet up with Joe Ince at the 60th Anniversary, 1999 Remembrance Service in the Portsmouth Dockyard.
Please Post this if possible so that i can show my Aunt Doreen his Legacy will always live.
Many Thanks. John Michael Carter and Family.

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George Edward Myers

Remembering my father George Edward Myers, lost on HMS Royal Oak, on this VE day.

He is on the right.

If anyone recognises the friend with him, please let me (his son Roger Edward Myers) know. My email address is

Frank O'Neill Dall

I have just come across some details for my grandad's (Robert Dall) late brother who served on The Royal Oak but sadly was killed on The Hood.
Frank O'Neill Dall was born on the 30th April 1922 in Leith, Edinburgh to David & Mary Dall. He was my mum's uncle, unfortunately my mum wasn't born when he died. This is Frank's photo which I hope May be added to the crews list.

Tam Webster

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'HMS Royal Oak In WW1 With Reference To HMS Royal Oak In 1939'

by Godfrey Dykes

Good morning.

As conscious as anybody can be that did not lose love ones in the sinking of the 'Mighty Oak', I am cognisant with the sheer sensitivity of the Royal Oak [08] site and the associated website inter alia. My wife and I visited Orkney some many many years ago to pay our respects to the vessel, and the all too many graves and monuments in the Hoy areas.

I am ex navy [1953-1984] and now an octogenarian, I dabble in naval history as a hobbyist.

I have written this Word file 'HMS Royal Oak In WW1 With Reference To HMS Royal Oak In 1939'. It is available to download and read at leisure.

It remains an integral part of my naval website, which carries [some hidden] getting on for a 1000 separate stories, and in addition to this I have several other naval technical websites.

One day perhaps and hopefully, the navy will build and commission a new Royal Oak and it can wear again the Battle honours won by previous Royal Oak's.

Yours sincerely

Godfrey DYKES
Bury St Edmunds

William Arthur Waterfield

We are wanting to share with you the attached pictures of Williams Arthur Waterfield. We are wondering if you could put these onto your page at
We also have some information to accompany the photos:
William Arthur Waterfield of 49 Yate Street Derby aged 19.
Joined six months before and in his last letter home said that he was in the sick bay with a crushed leg.
A wreath of chrysanthemums and lilies was placed on the shrine in Yates Street by the neighbours in the presence of his brother and sister.
If you require any further information and clarification pleased do not hesitate to contact us. We will look forward to seeing these photographs shared with everyone researching HMS Royal Oak.

Kind Regards
Jack Blaver & Susan Giles


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Photo from 1932 or 1938?

I have come across a small photo of 12 crew members of the Royal Oak. The note on the back of the photo mentions Sunday 31 July, but no year so this may have been either 1932 or 1938 as they were the only 2 years in the 1930s being a Sunday.
My family has no connection with the Royal Oak, so I'm assuming it may have been a friend.
Best wishes,

Robert Spragg

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Stuart R. Whitmore (RN D/JX 134177)

I recently came across this cutting that my mother had kept. Her uncle, Stuart R. Whitmore (RN D/JX 134177), served on the Royal Oak as an Able Seaman prior to the war, and was a survivor of the sinking of the Courageous on Sept 17th 1939. He went on to serve on HMS Victorious for the rest of the war, I believe. I'm afraid that this all I know at the moment, but thought you may be interested, and perhaps had some more information, particularly where I might learn of dates etc for his service. I don't think that I am in a position to obtain his service records from the Navy.

Graham Palmer

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FULLER Able Seaman
P/JX 127659

Hello Peter
My name is Paul Fuller and, I believe I am a descendant of a member of the crew of the Royal Oak.
My father would not talk about his family at all so, I know virtually nothing save that I am the disappointment in the family to break with tradition and not go into the Navy.
I see from the crew list that there was a Fuller that was one of the casualties.
I would assume that he would be a Great Uncle if that was the case.
The reason I am emailing you is that I do have the document in the two photographs I have attached and thought they should be added to your site
It was in amongst my father's belongings and I have had it in a drawer for 20 years.
Cheers for your time

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Posted 13/12/18

'The Sea Takes No Prisoners'

Dear Mr. Rowlands:

My book, 'The Sea Takes No Prisoners: Stories from the Men & Ships of the Royal Navy in the Second World War' was released in September by Unicorn Press (UK). It includes a chapter on the R battleships of which Royal Oak was one. The book's contents primarily contains memoirs, anecdotes and stories from veterans of the RN from 1939 Ð 1945. The chapter includes a number of direct accounts about the loss of Royal Oak in Scapa.

I hope that the members of your team and organization might find my book interesting.

Attached is a document with links to my Amazon author sites and to my blog that is directly related to the book.

Thank you,

Ed Wong, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

1. Blog about book with excerpts, photos and announcements. Includes unpublished material.

2. author site.

3. Facebook page with announcements and links:

4. author site (USA)

Alexander Basil Mennie

Hi peter

my granddad last ship was the royal oak , in the First World War his name is Alexander basil mennie , I have no photo of him in uniform I know he has got medal but not sure which ones my auntie sold them , and did not tell the family

Patricia Saunders

George Albert Hamblin and Herbert John Hamblin

Dear Peter

My mother who is 90 remarked last week that it was the anniversary of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak. The family of one of the casualties, George Albert Hamblin, lived near my mother in St Thomas's, Oxford. She understood from her mother that George Hamblin was one of an uncle and nephew who died on the ship; my mother couldn't recall the other sailor's name. George's
name is recorded on the war memorial in the parish church.

I saw another Hamblin - Herbert John - listed as a casualty. Using the *Ancestry* website he does appear to have been George Hamblin's uncle; the youngest half-brother of George's father, Thomas Henry. Herbert John was born at Chilton Foliat, a village near Hungerford, Berkshire. Hoping this information is of interest, my mother thought it should be passed on, before memories fade.

Regards, Mark Hathaway

ALBERRY, Jack, Stoker 1c, P/KX 83975, MPK

I'm Dave Alberry, I am came across this name 'ALBERRY, Jack, Stoker 1c, P/KX 83975, MPK' and he died during the sinking of the Royal Oak, I'm led to believe as a Stoker Class 1. It turns out the memorial for him is in my town so I wondered if he had any relation to me as my grandad said the family had a massive divide at one point. It would be amazing if anyone knew of him or even better had any photos or 'Dits'.

Anything would be great help.

Many thanks


Leading Seaman, William,Percy Adams, J86379

Hello, While researching my genealogy on Guernsey relatives I came across
your brilliant, very poignant site. Just reading of the death of my 2nd
cousin, Leading Seaman, William,Percy Adams, J86379 on HMS Royal Oak, I am
hoping I may find some information on him or perhaps others may.
Janet Hogan
New Zealand

5th Aug 2018

John N. D. Meade RN, P/MX759182

Dear Peter,
I am writing to advise you that, my father passed away on Sunday 4th instant from natural causes.
He was, I believe, the last survivor of the Royal Oak here in Britain.
Yours sincerely,
Paul N P Meade (son)

ps. the attached photo is of him receiving the Ushakov medal for serving on the Arctic Convoys.
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William Royal

I have only today found your great site .
Please find pictures of my great Uncle Bill; Brother of my maternal Grandmother Mildred Ring (nee Royal )
The photo on board says on the back Bill in Yugoslavia .

I was pleased to be able to download a certificate from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission , which obviously anyone interested can do too

Thank you for your fine efforts

Steve Wales

W (Bill) Hancox

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Please find attached a photo that has just come into my possession from my father's youngest brother. It may be of interest to families of the other 4 sailors.

It shows my dad W (Bill) Hancox with 4 other sailors on board the Royal Oak. He only joined the ship in the previous June. Dad is the one at the back without a cap.

He survived the sinking, having run through blast screens which were on fire which blinded him and then was picked up by Daisy ll and filled up with whisky.

He had cordite burns to his face and head. He spent time on a naval hospital ship and insisted that a nurse showed him the way out. Luckily the blindness was only temporary and he went on to serve to the end
of the war.

He rejoined as a reserve in '46 until '53 and served as training officer in the Outer Hebrides during the Korean war.


Gill Haynes

Reginald George Birch (HMS Royal Oak Survivor)

Good afternoon, Peter. Greetings from Australia.

Very pleased to have recently received the Arctic Star from The Ministry of Defence U.K for my father's service in the Russian Convoys later in the War. (HMS Hebe)

Not bad for a chap who wasn't a very good swimmer.

Malcolm Birch

3rd Sept 2017

Mac Williams

My uncle Mac Williams, torpedoman, was a Royal Oak survivor. He was on survivors leave when i remember him carrying me, aged 2-3, from 1 Bristol Street to 21 Bristol St, Brighton during an air raid in 1942 (?). He stayed with us when attending reunions in Portsmouth.

George Mason


John Nestor Meade

Dear Sir,
I am writing to advise, though I expect you have knowledge already, of the passing in December 2016 of Arthur Smith, heralded to have been the last survivor of the Oak. I am further advising that, this is not true, my father, John Nestor Meade has now become the last known survivor.
I have corrected the News of Portsmouth's piece, though could not make contact with the website at, though this does not matter.
I am hoping I can attach a current photo of him for your website. He can be seen as the cheeky chappie looking at the camera whilst on sombre duties at Lyness cemetery, in the book Last Dawn. The second attachment is, him receiving his Arctic Convoy medal from a very nice lady from the Russian Embassy.
Yours sincerely,
Paul N P M Meade (son)

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Arthur Gibbs

My grandfather, Arthur Gibbs was a survivor of the catastrophe. My mother recently passed me some of his old letters and one described to his wife how he'd escaped from the ship that night.

This inspired me to create a series of images using some of the words from his letter. I thought you might be interested in seeing them

Kind regards,


William John Bellas Savage

Dear Peter,

Last year I was researching the names on the Sandford and Holton Heath War Memorial
at the request of our parish council chairman. You gave me the information that led me to contact the great niece, Lucy Reynolds, of William John Bellas Savage. William was only 17 and serving on the Royal Oak when it was attacked and sunk at Scapa Flo.
Lucy sent me a photo of W
illiam taken while he was at the training ship HMS St Vincent. I thought you would a copy so that his face can be put to his name.

Thank you so much for your help.
Kind regards.
Sheila Watters

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Daisy 11

My name is Anita Whyte and i am researching my family history.
My grandmother told me that one of my ancestors was on board the Daisy II when the Royal Oak was sunk. My grandmother's maiden name was Buchan and my grandfather's name was Henderson. I would love to find out who was on the Daisy II that night.

This site is brilliant by the way,


Daisy 11 crew

There was a lady on your website who was after the names of the crew of Daisy 2 on that night, I don,t know if anyone has contacted you but the photo,s and names were of the crew that night:

John Gatt D.S.C was the skipper.

John Stephen

John Gardner

Johnnie Duthie

Alex Stephen

Bobby Duthie.

I hope this is of help

Mick Fisher


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Re: John (Jack) Overton 1919 - 1939

This is my Great Uncle Jack who served on the HMS Royal Oak. He died, aged
20, on board in 1939. He lived in Towcester, Northamptonshire but I am not
sure if he was born there.
Mrs F King


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Horace FORSEY 1921-1939

Dear Peter
Congratulations on your impressive website.I have just come into possession of my mother's photo album (she died at the age of 41 in 1964 & it appears that my grandmother did not think that I should see pix of her "canoodling" with young men who were not my father! Oh dear ...)
Included in her album are photos from a young man from the same village (Skidby, near Hull in Yorkshire), and news cuttings re his death on the Royal Oak. (The ship is a postcard, the rest are original photographs.) I wondered whether you would like to display some (particularly the "Honours Board" and the ship's cat?).

Jane Full


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Frank Bartholomew

Hello Peter, my grandfather on my father's side of the family was a stoker
on this ship as far as l no in 1918. His name was Frank Bartholomew, if
anyone has any information about him l would greatly appreciate it. His
D.O.B was 25/11/1893 and he was born in Hackney London. I am just
starting to search my family history and no hardly anything about him.
Many thanks,


Model of H.M.S. Royal Oak, scale 1/350

Hello Peter,
I wondered if you could put on the H.M.S. Royal Oak page something for me,
I have had a gentleman contact me who is intending to make a model of H.M.S. Royal Oak, scale 1/350, we need to know the number of people interested to see if it is feasible, but if they were to contact me I could give them some more information. The gentleman is connected with the Royal Navy.
I have already asked on Facebook about getting people to ask me if they want one, it purely depends on the amount of interest we can find.

Agnes Ratter



I have been looking at the website and hope the attached photo and info. will be of interest to add to the collection.
My Father's youngest brother JOSEPH EDWARD HIGHFIELD died on the Royal Oak in 1939. He was Engine room Artificer 4th class. P/MX 56195. He was aged just 23 years and was born in Peckham S. London. His name is on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial Panel 34 Column 3.

Mrs I M Brown
17 April, 2016

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Presentation casket to Lady Edith Edgcumbe nee Villiers

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Further to Joanne Cairns message below, I visited Mount Edgcumbe House in Cornwall and saw the ornate carved casket presented to Lady Edith Edgcumbe with thanks for her help launching HMS Royal Oak at Devonport Dockyard.

It is an oak presentation casket with the Edgcumbe boar on and intricate oak leaf carvings. Inside there is a painting of HMS Royal Oak passing Mount Edgcumbe by Ernest Harrington and a presentation Gavel and Chisel.

The chisel is engraved HMS Royal Oak, 17th November 1914. Devonport Dockyard.

Peter Rowlands


grayCan you identify the boy on the left?

Hi Peter,
Was hoping your request for information page could help identify the person on left of attached photo?
The boy on right is Wullie Gemmell Mitchel Baker, age 17, who was a Boy 1st class and sadly lost his
life when ship was lost.
The photo belongs to his younger brother Albert Baker who in now 88 years old, he remembers the boy
on left visiting the family home just before they went on board but cant remember his name, only that he
may be from Newcastle area!
He has just always wondered what happened to him, Did he survive?!!?
I know its a long shot but hopefully someone may recognise him from their own family photographs.
Thanking You

Colin Gray

William (Bill) Hughlock

Sadly I have to report to you that my brother William (Bill) Hughlock a Royal Marine survivor from the sinking of HMS Royal Oak has recently passed away at the age of 95.
He passed away after a short stay in a rest home in Massachusetts, USA, where he settled a few years after the war ended.
Thank you Peter for your devotion to the upkeep of the HMS Royal Oak internet pages which I have visited many times over the last few years.

Dave Hughlock

Leonard Moses

Hello Peter,

I well remember that awful day 14 oct 1939, my sisters birthday, I lost my boyfriend ,Leonard Moses, ,I was 19 at the time and had never experienced so tragic an event. Leonard sent me a gold necklace which he had bought in scotland. for me, I received it two days after his death. I still have that necklace, still wrapped up in its brown paper,still with the postage stamp.

Joan Hardcastle, nee Webb.

William Casey

Hi Peter,
I hope all is well. My great-uncle, William Casey was a survivor of the Royal Oak. I noticed C.P. Casey's post on your site about their father W. Casey and thought I'd share the below pictures. I'm not sure if the group shot was taken on board or is from a different ship.

Laura Buttigieg

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Order of service St Magnus Cathedral 14/10/1948

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(Photos provided by James Pirie, Buckie, Scotland)


Joshua Lawrence Roberts

Like many people I came across you site whilst researching family history.
My Granddad served on HMS Royal Oak, and according the writing on the reverse of this photo, this is King George the VI visiting the ship. My granddad (Joshua Lawrence Roberts) is in the rear rank, towards the bottom right hand corner , third from right.

I have enclosed another photo, and these seem to have been taken whilst on HMS Durban, I think the chap on the right may be Stoker Eric Sylvester, whose family have provided you with many photographs

Stephen Roberts

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Joshua Lawrence Roberts

Like many people I came across you site whilst researching family history.
My Granddad served on HMS Royal Oak, and according the writing on the reverse of this photo, this is King George the VI visiting the ship. My granddad (Joshua Lawrence Roberts) is in the rear rank, towards the bottom right hand corner , third from right.

I have enclosed another photo, and these seem to have been taken whilst on HMS Durban, I think the chap on the right may be Stoker Eric Sylvester, whose family have provided you with many photographs

Stephen Roberts

(Click on the images to see a larger version in a new window)

Joshua Lawrence Roberts

Like many people I came across you site whilst researching family history.
My Granddad served on HMS Royal Oak, and according the writing on the reverse of this photo, this is King George the VI visiting the ship. My granddad (Joshua Lawrence Roberts) is in the rear rank, towards the bottom right hand corner , third from right.

I have enclosed another photo, and these seem to have been taken whilst on HMS Durban, I think the chap on the right may be Stoker Eric Sylvester, whose family have provided you with many photographs

Stephen Roberts

(Click on the images to see a larger version in a new window)

E. Wheeler

I am wondering if anyone can help me with information about E. Wheeler who lost his life on the Royal Oak? I am helping a friend with their family tree and I strongly suspect he was one of their grandfather's brothers. Any help at all which would help me confirm that he was the man I'm looking for would be gratefully received.

Many thanks

Sue Coates


Picture of Royal Oak in Malta

I saw this picture of HMS Royal Oak on its way out of Malta's Grand Harbour on facebook and figured you might like to see it:

You can see a larger version in a new window by following this link:

I found your site because I was intrigued about the ship. I hadn't heard of it before.


Frank Abela

George William Dell

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Mr Rowlands

Just come across your website about the HMS Royal Oak.

My Grandad 'George William Dell' served on the Royal Oak from 11th July 1916 to 20th May 1919 as a stoker.

Just wondered if you would be interested in the attached photograph which is of him on board playing a mandolin which my Aunt (his daughter) said was presented to him by the ship's company, although how much of the ship's company that actually involved is obviously opened to issue.

Apparently it was always referred to as his ship. She also recalled running home to tell him that his ship had been sunk but he had already heard the news on the radio, was very upset and could not at first accept that it had happened.

I do have his Service Record and his Stoker's Manual with a few pages of hand written notes, basically on boilers and how they function. There are also about twenty names written on the last sheet.

I found your website very interesting and fascinating. Cannot understand how I have not seen it before.


Graeme Dell

HMS Royal Oak 75th Anniversary
Ordinary Seaman Cuthbert Heslop

Hi Peter,

Just back from Orkney, and what a wonderful place.

Thought you might be interested in this, and the attached pictures.

My Uncle was Ordinary Seaman Cuthbert Heslop and you don't have a picture of him on your site.

I've also included his last letter home, that arrived the Monday after he was killed.

Just a life changing experience. I was interviewed for this report, and I was so happy with the final results.

Susan Heslop

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Hi Peter

I have written a poem about the Royal Oak as a tribute, I have no
connection with the events apart from being British and feeling the loss of any service men.

14th of October 1939

The night stole them, torpedoes in the dark,
panic, explosions, sleep and confusion.
Way below the treacherous waves
Fernleigh returns carried from Peterborough
long miles back north to Orkney untamed.
Resting with his friends, peace comes at last
on the ocean bed carved from coral.
Some seventy years ago fire and
ice water took his comrades.
Now a steady young hand places
him deep, remains to return.
Royal Oak shifts slightly
nodding in acknowledgment
the arrival of one last comrade
before resuming her sleep,

Andy Scotson

Signal Boy Maurice RYALL

Dear Peter,

Today being the 75th anniversary of the sinking of HMS ROYAL OAK I thought
you might like this photo of my wife's uncle, Signal Boy Maurice RYALL, who
was a casualty of this event. Maurice died a few months before his
seventeenth birthday. His cap tally reads HMS ST VINCENT so presumably
taken during his training time.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Gomm


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Royal Oak survivors photo

Dear Peter,

I have been given the attached picture of a sailor posting a list of Royal Oak survivors outside of Portsmouth Naval Barracks after the loss of the Ship unfortunatly the names on the list is unreadble, But someone may recognize the sad lady and those looking at the list, I thought it may be of interest to those using this site.

Thank you

Bryan Wilkins.

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Hi Pete found these postcards in some family papers, we have no connection with the Royal Oak as a family. Have seen your site and thought they may be of interest to you.

Regards Trev.

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Royal Oak survivor C. P. Casey

My father w p casey passed away 1991 was one of the survivors from that terrible tragedy .he always talked about her not all good I'm afraid ,he was a leading seaman then and served until 1958 when he retired as cpo 1st class master at arms at Pompey hms victory I brought to several reunions over the years but he stopped due the emotional strain it caused him but he still thought of his old shipmates

Stoker Eric Sylvester's photo album

1932 - 1934

Brian Sylvester, Eric's son, has sent us over 40 excellent images from his father's photo album. They have been given their own page at


William (Bill) Hughlock

Hello Peter

Once again I want to thank you for your continued updating of the HMS Royal Oak pages, I quite often visit the pages and I am always amazed at the hard work you have put into them over the years.

My brother William (Bill) Hughlock was a survivor that fatal day and is still alive but not so well now. He is living in a nursing home in New Hampshire suffering from dementia, unfortunately by now not recognizing family members but still in his own world, getting around the grounds of the home. He is well into his mid nineties now.

I have attached this photo of Bill taken a few years ago. Please feel free to use it if you wish.

Once again Peter, thank you and wishing you a Happy New Year.
Note he still wears with pride his Royal Marine Association lapel badge.

David Hughlock
Pomona, California.

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Frank Ede update

This is a pre Second World War scanned photograph of my great uncle Frank Ede (left side, standing) when he was a Stoker First Class.

The Leading Stoker sitting in the middle is his brother William 'Fred' Frederick Ede. The man on the right is, I have reason to believe, Frank's brother Stoker Second Class Edward 'Ted' Charles Ede. The three good conduct pay chevrons on Fred's left arm indicate a service of nine or so years; I believe he joined the Royal Navy in 1919 or 1920.

As far as I know a sailor was awarded a maximum of three chevrons. I now know that Fred married Miss J Reed on 14 July 1934, at St Paul's Church, Crawley.

I'd wager that the photo was taken on his wedding day. I also know that Frank married Miss Ivy May Reed in 1939, at St Michael's Church, Camberley, Surrey.

Kind Regards,

SSgt Kris Rudd.

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Frank Ede

I am Kristofer Rudd, a Geordie lad from Blyth, Northumberland. I am a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Military Police serving in Hampshire, Great Britain.

I have established that my great uncle Frank EDE, from my dad's side of the family, was a Leading Stoker serving in the Royal Navy during the opening act of World War 2. From the extensive research I have completed to date I can provide the following information:

P/KX 81595 Leading Stoker Frank EDE was probably born in Farnborough, Hampshire, sometime in October 1913. His birth was registered at the district of Hartley Wintney that year. His parents were Mr Allen EDE (born 1870) and Mrs Maud EDE (NFDK). His older sister, my much loved and dearly departed grandmother Mrs Elsie May RUDD (nee EDE) was born in 1912. I don't know where or when Frank enlisted with the Royal Navy, but he was eventually drafted aboard the mighty, venerable HMS Royal Oak. He was a Leading Rate and I assume that he would have had many good ship mates among his fellow Stokers. Frank married Miss Ivy May REED in 1939 and I have reason to believe that they lived in Camberley, Surrey (beautiful area). I have found no records in historic birth registers to indicate that Frank and Ivy had any children.

Frank was among the other Sailors, Ratings and Officers who were tragically killed aboard HMS Royal Oak on 14th of October 1939. He was listed Missing Presumed Killed and I have no doubt that he was in the Stoker's Mess when one of U47's torpedoes hit that area of the ship. He was 25 years old. I have written to the Director Naval Personnel in a bid to get a copy of Frank's personnel record.

Does anyone on this site have any information, photographs or stories involving Frank? If so, I'd love to hear from you or anyone related to Frank's family.

Keep up the excellent work.

Kristofer Rudd

Augustus George Stanley

I have just found your Site and read it. I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and my Mom, who was Charlotte Elizabeth Stanley, and a sister to Augustus George Stanley who was on the ship at the time it was sunk and killed.

Mom was in Witbank, South Africa at the time, working on contract as a nurse at the Witbank Hospital, she was notified via a telegram from her Mom ( the parents were James and Annie Stanley from Dunmanway, Cork. Ireland ) of Gus's death.

This was long before my time of course.

I have somewhere in her papers the actual telegram that Mom received about her brother's death, received from her Mom some days later, after the event. She often spoke about him.

My Dad was from S A, and joined up when the War broke out, and his Regiment went up North, with most being taken at Tobruk. He was not.

My Mom and Dad married in 1945, and I have a sister, Shannon.

I have just applied and received my Irish Passport, and am going back to Ireland sometime soon to try and trace the farm that my Grand Parents lived on in or near Knockduff. I have made some contact with the Stanley family over there, and we are in the process of establishing if we are connected.

Thank you for the Site.

Gavin Flanagan.

WH Harvey

Hello Peter
I have become aware of a black marble mantle clock that bears the inscription "Presented to WH Harvey by the CPOs Mess HMS Royal Oak 3 November 1904"
I would be grateful if any of your audience could throw light on this inscription as to who WH Harvey was and why the presentation.
Many thanks in advance
Bob Briney

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John (Jack) Brown

We have just been looking at your page on the website for the Royal Oak. My husband suggested I contact you regarding your request for anyone with a contact to the Royal Oak.

My husbands name is Richard Brown and his Dad, John (Jack) Brown was in the Royal Navy and served on the Royal Oak. Jack was on the ship when it was hit and sunk in October 1939 and was one of the survivors.

Kind regards

Jan and Richard Brown

Robert Martin

Dear Peter,

I discovered your site whilst looking for a place to share my new-found information. I hope it is of some use to you as I find it extremely exciting and I am proud to have the memories of a member of my family.

My father's cousin, Robert Martin, was a survivor of HMS Royal Oak. He was 18 years old and only 20 months into his very long Navy career when the tragedy struck. I have attached some newspaper cuttings, telegrams and postcard/photographs that I found whilst clearing out Bob's home.

Sadly Bob passed away on 3 January this year. He was 91 years old and served in the Royal Navy until he was 63. He was a Lieutenant Commander at retiring age but continued in service at HMS Dryad as Lieutenant (Retired) until 31 August 1984. He married May but they never had any children of their own and they lived all their married life in the same bungalow in Waterlooville. It was whilst helping May's nephew and niece to collate all Bob's belongings that we came across a box of Navy books, which they passed on to me as I come from a long line of Sailors. They thought that my sons, 3 of whom are currently serving in the Royal Navy, would be interested in the books. My husband, father, uncle and grandfather were all in the Navy too. Inside one of the books I found a treasure trove in the form of newspaper clippings, photos and - the thing that really made me stop and get my breathe back - 2 telegrams telling of Bob's safety. One from the Admiralty and one from Bob himself. I don't know which newspapers the clippings come from, but I guess it was the local publication at the time - something else for me to research.

I trawled the internet initially looking for somewhere to share my find. I am very proud of Bob's story and I can certainly understand how his family would have been worried - my own son was serving on HMS Triumph when it fired the first missile on Libya in 2011 and I was worried sick when I discovered where they were.

I appreciate that you were appealing for details of the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, but hope that Bob's story is of interest to you and your readers. I have been a regular reader since finding the site.

I hope you are able to use this information.

Kind regards

Trisha Peterson (Mrs)

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Screenwriter looking for deck plans of Royal Oak

Dear Peter,

I am a screenwriter and I am writing a feature film script about the sinking of HMS Royal Oak. I have already completed an epic about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

Whilst writing that, I found that there were things I could not understand without a deck plan. I now have the same problem, only more so, with the Royal Oak.

Do you know where I can beg buy or borrow a deck plan of the battleship? I will, of course, gladly reimburse any expenses.

Many thanks for your consideration,

Jonathan Webb

Bertie Johnson

A report in the Western Morning News dated 26th February 2013 stated:

A veteran of one of the great Second World War tragedies has died in Plymouth.
Bertie Johnson, the oldest survivor of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak, died last week at the age of 97.

Read more:

Lieutenant Robert Harper Gokenn?

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I have in my possession a photograph of Lieutenant Robert Harper, the last name is obscure (Gokenn?). It is undated and features him in uniform. I am very happy to send it to you. I would really like to know who he was and what happened to him.

My father served in the Navy aboard HMS Belfast but that is another story! He was one of the early supporters of the Royal Oak being considered for a proper memorial. His name was Robert Fisher.

Yours sincerely

Hazel Macmillan

New photo of Royal Oak

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For some time my son Graham West has been telling me about a picture of HMS Royal Oak that he had seen in a pub that he had visited. He asked about this picture because it was one that he had not seen before. The landlord told him that it was brought in by someone who asked if they would like this print which was a limited edition as their pub was named the same. Graham has recently been back to the pub and tried to take a photo of it. Unfortunately, because he had to use a flash it has reflected some of the surroundings in the room. Hopefully there is enough to be able to perhaps recognise the original. Could you please put it on the website and see if anyone knows anything about this picture. We personally would be delighted to be able to get a copy of it if possible, there may be someone who knows where it originated from. It was apparently taken in 1938 the year I was born and from the stern of the preceeding ship. I don't know if you can clean the picture up to make it more recognisable or not. I would be glad to hear your comments about this.

A very Happy New Year to you and all who are associated with this memorable ship.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila F. West (nee Benney) Daughter of Chief Petty Officer Charles Edward Benney late of HMS Royal Oak

Hi Sheila

I contacted Dave Jeffery who is the landlord of the Royal Oak pub in Hooksway, West Sussex. He kindly sent me the attached photos. This is a photo I have never seen before so I thought visitors would be interested to see it and if there is anyone who can shed more light on it, I am sure we would all like to hear from you.

Regarding the centre photo there is an inaccuracy in that Royal Oak was obviously sunk by U47 rather than U27.

Peter Rowlands

I have an old post card of the Royal Oak which I have scanned and attached for you if interested. The date of the card is not known but looks as if it was not armed at this time but the overall shape looks as though it may be the same one.
If it is of use to your site please display as you seem fit.
Terry Lloyd

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Terry - I think this is a drawing of the previous Royal Oak. She served in the Special Flying Squadron in 1896, Mediterranean Fleet (1897-1902), Home Fleet (1903-1905), Reserve Fleet (1905-1907), and the new Home Fleet (1907-1911), before decommissioning in 1912 and being scrapped in 1914

Peter Rowlands

Did Lady Edith Edgcumbe nee Villiers launch Royal Oak?

I just came across your website after trying to find out about HMS Royal Oak. I work at Mount Edgcumbe House and today the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe came to see us and brought with him an item he owns but that he would like to loan to us for display in the house.

It is an oak presentation casket with the Edgcumbe boar on and intricate oak leaf carvings. Inside there is a painting of HMS Royal Oak passing Mount Edgcumbe by Ernest Harrington and a presentation Gavel and Chisel.

The chisel is engraved HMS Royal Oak, 17th November 1914. Devonport Dockyard.

The Earl thinks this was given to Lady Edith Edgcumbe nee Villiers, the 5th Countess of Mount Edgcumbe (there is an EV monogram on the lid) because she was chosen to launch HMS Royal Oak. I wonder if you could confirm this for us as I can't find any mention of it online.

Joanne Cairns

Acknowledgement to the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and Mount Edgcumbe House

Hi Joanne

I don't know the answer to this one but hopefully someone will know and write in


Grandfather Arthur D Ketcher

I have just read the article about the Memorial book ref Kenneth Toop has placed at St Michael's church in Basingstoke. I was able to visit it today. I sent a pray to the crew who died and survived.
I was told that my Grandfather Arthur D KETCHER, who lived in Portsmouth, was on that ship. He had to help out a soldier from another Ship near by. On doing so, while on the other ship. He saw the Royal Oak being attacked. And he luckily survived.
He has passed away now. But, I thought I want send a message and my regards to Kenneth Toop. On seeing this memorial book and sending my prays to the men that died on the ship, knowing my Grandfather was lucky to survive.

Grand daughter of A D KETCHER.

Harold Derry

Please find enclosed copy of an article that appeared in the Berwick Advertiser in memory of those that had fallen during WW2, i believe it appeared circa 1946. You have my permission to use it.

G. D. Moffat
Nephew of above.

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Joseph Henry Miller

Dear Peter,

I attach a photograph of my late mother's brother, Joseph Henry Miller. He is identified on your roll call of those lost on Royal Oak.

He was only nineteen years of age when he died and I will always remember the love with which he was rememberd in our family. I would greatly appreciate his photograph being displayed on your website.

I also attach a poem I wrote about him after hearing stories from my mother.


Keith Greener

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*Our Josey (Joseph Henry Miller)*

I heard your last gasp - the one you brought to me;
I heard your last cry - the one that died with you;
I heard your last step - the one you took to me;
I heard your last prayer - the one you took with you.

I heard mother's heart - the one she shared with you;
Falter and stall - as she read the Royal note;
The message cut deep - the one that did praise you;
I heard mother's soul - cry deep in her throat.

From Scarpa Flow's depths - you reached out to tell us;
When reaching Death's door - your spirit flew home;
Your last goodbyes said - we know that you loved us;
My brother take heart - we'll live on in this poem.

Keith Greener: 14th November 2012

This poem reflects my mother's experience the night her brother died on the Royal Oak. My late mother explained to me - I was not born until well after the war ended - that at the exact time the Royal Oak was sinking after being hit by a German U-Boat's torpedoes in Scarpa Flow, although hundreds of miles away living in Seaham Harbour, she heard heart-stopping choking noises on the stairs. Coastal towns, Seaham included, had been warned of a possible German invasion and my mother, believing this was happening, grabbed my two sisters out of bed and concealed them and herself in the wardrobe. The terrifying sounds lasted a short while then ended abruptly. Eventually realising that things in the house were normal and no person had entered, my mother worried that she may have experienced a premonition of her brother's death; something proven the following day.

Survivor Frank Brooke looking for news
of survivor Mickey Davey

My Father, Frank Brooke, asked me to post this message on your site. He was a survivor of the Royal Oak disaster, and is still alive and kicking, aged 92 years, on the Isle of Wight. (I have attached an old newspaper clipping which you may find of interest)

He asled if anyone had any information on a friend of his, who also survived that fateful night, Mickey Davey.

Hopefully someone might know something.

Best wishes

Sharon Wakefield
(daughter of Frank Brooke)

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John Stevenson

Hi Peter

I hope this is of interest to you

I only came across this recently courtesy of a relative

It is my relation John Stevenson (picture here) who lost his life on the Oak


Gordon McFarlane

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Video tribute to Joseph Pascal Wilkins

I recently put together a tribute to my Grandfather and crew of the Royal Oak which is dedicated to my Dad, Bryan Joseph Wilkins. I posted a link on the Royal Oak page on facebook so that anyone interested in watching it could. Unfortunately my link has been temporarily disabled due to it generating too much traffic.

I have uploaded the video to Aframe media services were it is available to view and download in different formats

I am therefore writing to you to graciously ask if you could add the Tribute video to the Royal Oak website. I would be eternally grateful if this could be made possible. I have attached the link to the file for you to download, view and consider.

Thank you for you time Peter,

Kind regards,

Mark Wilkins

John James Perriman's photo album

I have a copy of the photographic log for HMS Royal Oak from 1927-1929 as my grand father John James Perriman was on the ship during his career. I was wondering if this is a common item?

The album has 22 double sided pages with 3 or 4 postcards or photos on each

Many thanks

Jo Clews

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Corporal John J Coombes

I am writing on behalf of my sister Jane. Our father, a Royal Marine Corporal at the time, survived the sinking of HMS ROYAL OAK but lost his life later in the war as a Sergeant during the evacuation of Crete.

He wrote the enclosed summary of his experience of the sinking of HMS ROYAL OAK in a letter written whilst at Arborfield Camp a few months after the sinking (pic of him and his trainee group at Arborfield attached, and also one of him before the War - he is the one closest to the tent door).

The original handwritten letter is owned by Jane and is previously undisclosed, but a copy has recently been given to the Royal Marines' Museum, Eastney and, if you felt it appropriate, Jane would be pleased for it to be included in your own excellent HMS ROYAL OAK website. The Royal Marines' Museum have no objection to this.

My sisters and I and our spouses went to Orkney on the 70th anniversary of the sinking, and I was privileged to meet Royal Oak survivor Royal Marine Colonel Norman Thackeray there, who had been a Marine at the time of the sinking, and remembered our father.

I hope you will find this of interest for your website.

Best wishes
Mike Coombes

Lieutenant-Commander Mike Coombes OBE BSc Royal Navy (Retd)
Navy List Research
134 Woolacombe Road
Blackheath, London SE3 8QN
Tel: 44 (0)20 8856 1405

(Click on the images for a larger version in a new window)

Extract of letter written by Corporal John J Coombes a few months after the event, recounting his own experience on the sinking of HMS ROYAL OAK at Scapa Flow:

I can talk about the Royal Oak affair (now very much out of the limelight) without getting all upset. At first I used to feel very miserable when I thought of the splendid men who I had lost, and it unsettled me a little. I make very few good friends, two of them went with her.

I was on watch, 12-4, and had just gone down to see the Keyboard Sentry. A sailor came along for the magazine keys and as he was signing the book we heard a very muffled explosion forward. All of the plates in the ship rang against each other and the whole ship shuddered. I told the sentry, who was scared, to stay on his post, and ran forward to the marines mess deck myself. One or two men were turning out of their hammocks, most stayed where they were. They thought, I guess, that it was a small collision or something, and did not want to have to get up in the middle of the night as they were not duty watch. I can understand it.

I went from there onto the quarter-deck, and for about a quarter of an hour people were coming and going, and an investigation was going on forward. I was sent to tell the drifter to get up steam. We just stood and wondered and talked. There was a faint smell of cordite, or something similar.

We were so keyed up that the second explosion, which was terrific, was not, in my experience at least, half so bad a shock as it might very easily have been. There was a flash, the whole ship was blown up, and debris shot up into the air. It was followed almost immediately by another and the ship straight away started to heel over. Dense flames swept right over the quarter deck, they almost choked one.

I could not keep my footing on the deck. She was heeling to starboard, so I ran to the port rail and hung on. Several men were either jumping into the drifter or over the boom into the picket boat. Part of the superstructure had crashed over and smashed the launch on the starboard side.

When the ship was nearly on her side I decided that she really was going to sink, and made up my mind when the starboard side of the quarterdeck went up (The marines mess deck below was just over the magazine) I climbed the rail and ran down the ship's side. Men were trying to scramble through the ports from inside. We could see the flames inside as we helped a few out.

We had hardly rescued any before she turned right over. I scrambled onto the keel, and jumped as far to port as I could. Thought 'I shall be dragged down'. I was drawn under, but not far, I kicked and struggled through arms and legs and got to the top again. (The depth was not great, and therefore the suction was not too bad. Some men say that the keel re-appeared, but I did not see it).

The sea was thick with heads. I swam to get away from them, and struck out on my own. I must have gone about 200 yards when I found a piece of wood, and held on to it. There were cries for help all around, the sound of engines, but I could see nothing. A sailor swam up from somewhere. I remember saying something about making our way to shore holding onto the wood. About 1 3/4 miles away were cliffs, the other way, low beach, about 4 miles away. We kicked out for low beach. We started out but gave up because of the cold! Whilst we were still kicking the drifter came near to us, we shouted but were not heard. A little later she passed again, going very slowly. We took a chance, left the wood, struck out for her and came up as she stopped to pick some men from off of a Carly raft.

It was devilish cold and we stayed for another two hours in the drifter until she was nearly full. By the time that they had taken us on board the Pegasus I had nearly given up the ghost. Three or four men died of exposure.

I heard all about the worst part, which I personally had not witnessed, from other men. The sheets of flame below which burned them in their hammocks, mess decks blowing up under their feet etc ...

Thats all.

Corporal John J Coombes

3D hologram of Royal Oak

Dear Peter,

I run a tech startup company in Edinburgh specialising in scientific 3D visualisation using holographic technology.

ADUS UK, who scanned the Royal Oak a couple of years ago, contacted us about the feasibility of making a hologram from their scan data. I am pleased to report that we managed to do it and it will be released shortly in the form of a video.

It is planned to show the hologram at the Orkney museum. I hope that you would find this holographic depiction of interest and we would welcome any opportunity to publicise our work further.

Please see below for a video of the Royal Oak hologram:

Best regards,


Javid Khan
Founder & Managing Director
Holoxica Ltd,
Scottish Microelectronics Centre
The King's Buildings
West Mains Rd
Edinburgh EH9 3JF
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 7813
Fax: +44 (0)131 650 7475
Cell: +44 (0)7552 482133
skype: holoxica

Royal Oak book mark

A Gentleman I know has asked if I could establish whether there is any value to the attached item which is in his possession. He believes it may be used as a book mark and it's about the size of a man's middle finger. I wonder if anyone may be able to advise.

Kind regards

Howard Millman

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William Barrie Anderson

I've visited your web site on several occasions to learn more about HMS Royal Oak and found my late uncle's name on the roll call of those lost - W B Anderson. His name was William Barrie Anderson and he was born in Twechar which is in North Lanarkshire near Glasgow.

I found a framed painting of him in his uniform and a cut out of the ship stuck to the bottom of it. I had it restored by a friend and then took a photograph of it which I have attached.

Billy Cullen

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Royal Oak - The locomotive

Loco Owner Dave Cunningham and his team of volunteers are currently completing the repaint of 50 017 into original Network South East livery. The work has been taken place over the past 14 months and the bodywork overhaul has included stripping the bodywork back to bare metal and extensive replating and refabricating work. After months of preparation work, the final coats of gloss are now being applied.

Portsmouth Cathedral plaque

I attended the Portsmouth Cathedral Sunday 18th and laid a copy of the Royal Oak badge at the inlaid stone dedicated to all boy seaman killed in WW11 under the age of 18 years,

in all 534 killed in action 24 other causes all serving on 80 warships throughout the war,, of those 125 were of the Royal Oak, because I lost my father on the Oak I felt a duty to attend and knowing several surviving Royal Oak boy seaman I was pleased that I did,

At the Cathedral other former boy seaman of  RN & RM which included many standard bearers from different Associations, as seen in the attached photo's, over 200 packed the Cathdral.


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John W Fowler

Thank you for a great website

my grandfather served on the royal oak and I am chasing any information on John w Fowler

any information from any one would be fantastic I still don't even know what he looked like so any photos would be fantastic

Mark Fowler

New Book

Gunther Prien - My Way to Scapa Flow

by Guenter Lauke, Lauke Gunter (Ed.)
Lauke Media, 2011
ISBN: 9783942660822, 259 pages
Format: PDF, OL

Price: 42,50 EUR

Harry Jones P/JX Boy 1st Class

Southwater War Memorial
1939 - 1945

P/JX Boy 1st Class Royal Navy. HMS Royal Oak

Died age 16
14th October 1939 Horsham's first war casualty

Portsmouth Naval Memorial Panel 24 Column 2

Son of Harry and Florence Elizabeth Jones of Lorna Doone, Worthing Road,

Born 23rd October 1923 in Queen Street, Horsham.

Went first to school in Southwater and later Denne Road Infants School, St John's School and then Victory Road School, where he became Chief Monitor and School Captain. In 1936 he won the high jump at the Sussex County School Championships, clearing 4ft 9 inches.

He sent away for papers to join the Navy when he was just 11 years old and on 8th February 1938 he joined HMS Vincent at Gosport for training, being promoted to Leading Boy after only two months. Later he became PO Boy and then Instructor Boy, the highest rank he could obtain in the Barracks.

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Freddie Clark

I found some old photos and information of my great uncle Freddie Clark who died on the Royal Oak, he joined the service under age he was 16 years old, he was from Birmingham, its great what you have done on this web site in paying homage to all the men and boys that died for their country, thanks from our family.

Roy Clark

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Ronald Schofield

Dear Mr. Rowlands

My name is Sarah Wilson and I am a keen history student. I have just started studying the 2nd World War and have known for sometime that my great uncle was a victim of the HMS Royal Oak disaster in 1939.

I have never taken much interest in it but I visited your website 2 days ago and have loved reading all the information about the men on board and interesting facts about the vessel itself. I have been able to supply photo's of my uncle to the royal navy website which is now displayed next to him name which I am very happy about.

Ronald Schofield was the only son of Clarence and Bridget Ann Scholfield. Clarence Schofield had died a few years before my uncle's death. The family was devastated when he died at only 22 years of age. My uncle actually has the telegrams that were sent from the war office to my great Grandma, informing her of her sons death. I have a picture of him in his naval uniform and another man of whom I do not know the identity. My parents asked my grandma, Marjory Alice (Ronald's sister) if she would like to visit Portsmouth and see the memorial but she was too upset even all those years later. My Great grandmother did not want any part in the investigation as she was too devastated. I do not think my grandparents ever recovered from his death and even now, my father (Ronald's nephew) seems upset. My grandmother died in 2000 and being only 6, I never got chance to ask her about the tragic incident at Scapa Flow. It has been my ambition to visit Scapa Flow on the anniversary to see the wreath be placed on the ship. I am a keen history student and would be keen to visit many places but this place I feel is more special than all the rest.

I have attached the picture of him. Ron is the man standing top right. The other picture we are unsure if it is Ronald or whether it is another uncle.

I hope this information has been of some help for your fantastic website-thank you!

Best regards,

Sarah Wilson

Thomas H Chadwick

I would like to share a little of my family history and connection with HMS Royal Oak. Also provide comment on something that Col. R.C Mitchell (Retd) wrote on your page as well as my brother in law Herb Ilic.

My paternal Grandfather was born in Oldham in 1899 and enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1914, he served on various ships during WW1 and took semi retirement during the late 20's and early 30's from regular service and joined the Navy Reserves. Prior to the commencement of WW2 he was re-enlisted and in or around July 1939 re joined the HMS Royal Oak as a Chief Stoker. I recall my dad saying to me that grandad was pleased going back to the "Old Girl" as he had served on the Oak earlier in his career. I believe that my grandfather may have replaced Col R.C Mitchell's injured father... Unfortunately, my granddad never made it off the Oak and went down with her on that fateful night. (My dad was only 14 yrs at the time).

My father Thomas Chadwick enlisted in the British Army in 1941 (16 yrs, he lied about his age) he spent 6 months in the infantry at which time he and a couple of his mates joined the Royal Welsh Airborne Regiment. My father served with distinction in France, Italy,  Palestine and I believe he was also in North Africa as I have his African Star. Like my brother in law stated on your web site, my father was a cook but carried his Tommy Gun with pride! Dad was one of the first troops to be confronted with the Germans Tiger Tank, he had a few stories about those days I tell you.

During WW2 my mother served in the Land Army as a Nurse, her family took more than its fair share of casualties. Her father William Sale lost all of his 5 younger brothers in Europe and her mother's brother Tom Dolan (pre war Northern England Heavy Weight Boxing Champ) lost his leg and later his life at his own hand.

I never knew what my Grandfather Thomas H Chadwick did as a job in the Royal Navy not until I had enlisted myself and met an officer that showed an interest in helping me research his Service History. Its uncanny that so long from the Oaks fate that I unwittingly followed my grandfather footsteps and became a stoker...

Kind Regards
Steven W Chadwick BCM&E (Hons), MURP, Dip PM
Stoker (retired) - Royal Australian Navy

Royal Marines Online

I am involved in a project to produce Rolls of Honour for Royal Marines over the various conflicts/ campaigns/ events. The belief is that when they cross the Bar they will only die if they are forgotten.

So far I have put together items on over 8000. I try to get as much as possible on each man since they were more than just a name.

Regards Ted Sparrow

Horace Baber

Dear Peter,

Firstly, thank you for providing such a wonderful website on the Royal Oak.
Secondly, I wondered if you and/or webpage visitors might be able to help me with a question?  My great great uncle, Horace Baber, was a survivor of the torpedoing of the Royal Oak, but does not appear on any survivors lists that I can find. He wrote a first hand account of his experiences on that night, which is stored at the Royal Naval Museum. He was, I believe, in the Royal Marines.
Would this mean that he was not regular crew? And is this why he is not listed on survivors' lists?
Thirdly, if anyone has any further information on Horace, I would love to know more, as he died before I was born.

Many thanks,Vic Millard

John Gatt's medals and pocket watch

I thought you might like to see this photo. It is of my grandfathers medals. The silver pocket watch on the left was presented to him from friends and relatives of the Royal Oak.

Iain Gatt
Isle of Man

Iain's grandfather was John Gatt D.S.C. who was the skipper of MV Daisy 11 which rescued over 300 people from the water

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Stanley Wood

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I am hoping you can help solve a mystery by putting some photographs onto the Royal Oak website if possible.

I have attached a file with four photographs of my uncle Stanley Wood who was one of the Boy Sailors who died, aged 17, on the Royal Oak in 1939. The first photograph is of Stan when he was training on HMS Ganges, the second is Stan with a friend, again on the HMS Ganges, the third is of Stan, sitting on the far right, with two friends and he is alongside the guns presumably on the Royal Oak and the final photograph is another friend of Stan's who my Dad says is called Stevenson (I don't know if that is the correct spelling of his surname) and he thinks he served on the Royal Oak with Stan.

We, as a family, have wondered over the years who these men are and if any of them survived if they served with Stan on the Royal Oak and we would be grateful if any one could help us put names to these friends in the photographs. If you cannot open the file, please let me know and I will attach the photographs individually.

My Dad, Morgan Wood, has always told us how his Mum was notified of Stan's death, it must have been a real trauma for her and the many other families who received similar telegrams. There were a number of other men on the Oak with the same name or initials as Stan and my grandmother received a telegram to say that Stan had been saved, then another to say that he had perished and it wasn't until a kind neighbour sent a telegram to the Naval Office, that she finally found out that he had in fact died along with so many other brave men.

After looking on the website I read about Buckley Memorials commenting on the Royal Oak emblem request, it was my family who had requested the Royal Oak emblem for a memorial headstone, I must admit that I have only ever seen one emblem, that of the crown and was surprised at the emblem etched on our memorial when I was expecting to see the crown but we are happy with the work done.

Thanks for all the emails on the website, it is a fantastic tribute to so many brave men who lost their lives and those who survived that tragic night in 1939 and enables others to understand a little more of the unfolding events.

Kind regards

Val Farragher

Ernest J Amos

Hello, i've been researching my family tree and found that my 1st cousin 2x removed, Ernest J Amos was killed on the Royal Oak. My Dad says that his mom told him about this. I had no idea until I started looking. I don't think that Ernest had any siblings and his immediate family would be long gone. Would his name be on the memorial? I'd like to go and see it at some stage.

Justine Walshe

Hi Justine

Thanks for your e mail enquiry.
The Commonwealth War Graves website has a search facility at which shows that his name is listed on the memorial at Portsmouth.
I hope this helps.

Best wishes
Peter Rowlands

Arthur Edwards

Hi Peter, It's been a while since I have been on your site & it has grown. I was looking through my photo's & found a picture of my great Uncle Arthur Edwards who was lost on The Royal Oak. It was taken at my late Grand parents big day, I have attached a copy for your file.

Kind Regards,

Troy Edwards

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Mystery photograph

I've been looking into my family history and have found the attached photograph.
Looked up your website after deciphering the name on the sailors' hats. I knew nothing about any of it. Can you tell from the photo the sort of period of time it might have been taken?
I have no idea who the two sailors are but on the back are the words "To Louie from Alfred". I don't know which one of them is Alfred. If anyone has another photo with the same people in it and you know who they are please let me know. Is there a way of finding out the surnames of all the Alfreds that served on the ship?
Jean Digby-Smith

Hi Jean

I can't shed any more light for you but hopefully there might be someone out there who can

Best wishes

Peter Rowlands

Walter Slawson

I'm inquiring on behalf of my wife, Heather Smith. We have just discovered that her Great Uncle, Walter Slawson, Ordinary Seaman, died on the Royal Oak. He was from Llanidloes in Mid Wales. The website is a very moving record of the event. With the passage of time it is unlikely that there is a survivor from the tragedy who has any recollection of Walter, but it is worth a try, of course. It would be interesting what part of the ship he was stationed at and what his tasks were.

I was especially moved by the decription of the hellish fiery conditions on board at the end, recorded by a survivor.

It is not my business to salute the memory of crew as I have had no military or naval involvement of any kind. But of course we owe our freedom to their willingness to defend it.

Thank you all.

Steve Smith

William Boyle

My Uncle, William Boyle - my father's brother - went down on the Royal Oak. I think he had a young family but I have no idea where they are or who they are, if anyone can help I would love to hear from them.

Thank you.

Tina Raghoobar

Hi Peter,

My name is Phill Poland, I work as a graphic designer for Buckley Memorials, a memorial company in Flintshire, North Wales. We design, create and incribe headstones, vases, cremation stones etc.

A few weeks ago we had a request for a HMS Royal Oak badge to be etched next to an inscription for a "Stanley Woods, 1921-1939" The client brought in a picture of a sewn badge, which wasn't great quality so I decided to google it and find a better one. This didn't prove easy, but when I googled "hms royal oak", your page was on top and I spent a while reading through everything, great job with it all!

Anyway, I decided to recreate the old badge in the style of modern badges. As your website was top of google, I thought I'd send the result on to you. I thought it might be good to get it out there in case anyone finds themselves in need of a good quality, modern-day representation of the badge. I noticed there were 2 versions, one with a fleur-de-lis and one with a crown, so I have attached both! I'm not sure what the difference is but maybe you will know.

Thanks again for the website, it is a great tribute to those lost as well as a very informative source for people who are interested in anything to do with the Royal Oak.

If you need anything else, you can add me on facebook or just reply to me on this email (work address).

Phill Poland

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Victor Roy Thompson survivor

It is with great sadness that must tell you of my fathers passing last night 22 July 2011.

After surviving the Royal Oak sinking my father went on to serve in the Royal Navy for a further 25 years. during the war he served on the Manchester and various other ships. In the early 50's he was loaned to the Royal Malayan Navy, during this time he was shot at by terrorists as he rode back to barracks on his motor cycle. We as family joined him in 1952 in Singapore and after 2 years. We returned to my fathers home Town of Tamworth where he joined HMS Gamecock at that time a Royal Naval Air Station. I can remember the Gannets and Seafires (now an army barracks I believe). In 1956 we moved to Portsmouth where he took over the Gym in HM Barracks Victory now known as HMB Nelson, because of this drafting I am very proud to say, it enabled to me to join the HMS Victory Sea Cadets at the age of 7 (privileged to the sons of serving Royal Naval personnel only), here I learned how to scrub decks and polish Bright work! As a Chief PTI my father was involved in the formation of the Amateur Athletics Association, He was an Amateur Boxing Association Referee and a great football player and fan. Summer Saturdays always involved a coach trip to some Athletic ground somewhere with 'his' team.

My Father retired from the Royal Navy in 1959 as Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (today's equivalent I think would be Fleet Chief), he joined Eton College as a Gym Master and went on to get involved in the 'Disabled Games' (now known as the Para Olympics I believe) at that time they took place at Stowe School near Buckingham and at Stoke Mandeville near Aylesbury. He was also a national swimming coach and was involved in the Tokyo and Mexico Olympics.

He had been ill for a very long time, drawn out I am sure by his physical fitness, though expected it still comes as a shock and his place will now be filled with loving memories.

For me at least he was a real hero and I am confident that he is now with my mother and has rejoined his ship.

God Bless

D R Thompson

Royal Oak badge?

My name is Steve Ramsey, I live here on the Isle of Wight. I wonder if you can assist me please?, Some years ago now I came across a badge that is an anchor with an oakleaf and acorn attached, this was pinned on a piece of cardboard along with a British Legend lapel badge. Looking on your fantastic website a short while ago I noticed your e-mail address and wonder if you would recognise this badge as an item associated with HMS Royal Oak?
I have attached a picture of the badge for your perusal. If this is an item associated to the Royal Oak I would be interested to know.
Kind Regard's

Walter A.C. Jacobs

My name is Patrick (RICK) Michael Johnson, Walter A.C. Jacobs was my uncle who went down with the Royal Oak on Oct. 14 1939.

My mother, Daphne Margaret Jacobs (maiden name) was Walters sister. She will be 90 years old this fall and is not always clear on information going back to the war. I was wondering if you could steer me in the right direction as to find out more about my uncle. I have in my possession three letters written by my uncle on H.M.S.Royal Oak stationary dated 1/9/39 and 1/10/39 the third one has no date.

They are more notes than letters not saying very much and very short. I also have a letter addressed to my uncle from the Royal Naval and Royal Marina Recruiting Office on 1(a)Southgate Street, Winchester. It refers to his application for entry into the H.M. Royal Navy and instructs him to attend this office for medical and educational examination. It is dated August 31,1938 and requests him to attend on Sept. 5 1938. It goes on to say a railway warrant for his return journey was attached. I find all this very fascinating and would like to know more about my uncle and his time aboard the Royal Oak.

Any information regarding his service would be greatly appreciated. My mother gave me a picture of him in dressed in his uniform when I was 16 years old and I have had that picture hanging in my home ever since then and I know very little about the man.

Thankyou for your time

p.s. I can be contacted through Email at

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AJ Hoskins

Hello my name is Rachael Seng and my great grandfather AJ Hoskins was a survivor of the Royal Oak sinking, his daughter is my grandmother and she was 80 in march, his then wife, son and two daughters were in Malta when the ship was sunk,

we are trying to find out as much as we can as my grandmother would like to know if there are any other siblings out there as my great grandfather re married after the war, we know that he died in the late 1960's of a pulmonary embolism, and we have photos of him before the war, my 6 year old son looks very similar, and the family has his blue eyes.

Any help in this matter would be most appreciated as I would like my family to know their family history, any help regarding anything on my great-grandfather would be appreciated.

Many thanks Rachael Seng

I wonder if you could help me find the name of a relative who lost his life when the ship was sunk.

My sister, who is now 80 years old, recalled that when she was about 10 years old our mother had told her that her cousin had lost his life on the Royal Oak. We don't know which branch of the family he came from so don't know his name but we do know that he lived in Great Harwood, Lancashire ( maybe in Holgate Street). Would you be able to give me this information or if not, can you give me advice as to who I could contact.

Thank you in advance for any help you may be able to give.

Kind regards
Lynne Sampson

A new Royal Oak memorial has been erected in Scapa Bay

The obelisk was paid for by donations from survivors, families of those lost and friends of the H.M.S Royal Oak Survivors Association, payment of the lapel pins and a donation from Orkney Marine Services on behalf of OIC.
The piece of land was gifted to the Association by Orkney Marine Services for the obelisk to be placed on which helped by not requiring Planning Permission which had been causing a lot of problems.
The obelisk was made in Aberdeen by Robertsons and erected by John & Malcolm Dowell of James Dowell & Sons of Kirkwall. The Memorial is in Norden Grey and stands 6ft 1 inches high from ground to tip.

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George Alexander McMillan

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These are some pictures of George Alexander McMillan who perished with the sinking of the Royal Oak in 1939 and I would be grateful to hear from anybody who can remember him.

He was the step brother of my wife's mother and his late older brother John was also in the FAA. John married a WREN who survives him.

My wife has some other memorabilia that she will be happy to share if it is of interest but mainly she would like to find out anything more about George who was very close to his step sister.

Dick Foyle


hi peter, i have attached a pic of a "diddy box" W.TICKNER R.A. H.M.S. ERIN , H.M.S. ROYAL OAK. it is shown on your site some years ago but this is an improved picture.

i don't understand why there would be R.A. people aboard unless they manned the guns.? perhaps you could add this again in case it rings a bell with some of the new watchers.
best wishes brian.

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Charles Edward Monkman

I am an amateur genealogist researching my family history. My father in law, James Thomson had an uncle who served on the Royal Oak. I'm not sure if he was still on the ship when it sent down but he did survive the war. My father-in-laws's uncle was a Charles Edward Monkman who served as a marine on the Royal Oak from 1927 to 1932.
The interesting part which may be of interest to you, is a photographic history in a large embossed photo book with "HMS ROYAL OAK" on the front cover. The book is packed full of postcard photographs of the ships tours in the Mediterranean in the 1920's and 30's. These include the ships company at play, work and towns and cities visited. There are loose postcards at the end of the book which don't have any details of them. There is also a fabulous photo of the full ships company on the boat.
I've attached a few scans which I hope will be of interest.

Chris McKay

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Thomas Hughes

Dear Peter,
Reading an article in last Saturday's Daily Express about the Royal Oak, prompted me to venture into the attic for a little bit of family research. I've attached a picture of Thomas Hughes, Able Seaman P/J 91758 MPK, wearing his World War 1 medals. He was born in 1901 in Bilston, Staffordshire, the son of Emmanuel and Annie Maria Hughes and later husband of Lilian Mary Hughes of Gosport Hampshire. "Uncle Tom" went down on the Royal Oak on 14th October 1939, aged 38. He was my Great Uncle, being my father's (William Bennett), Mother's (Beatrice May Bennett (nee Hughes)) Brother. He was a great inspiration to my father, who joined the RAF in 1941, became a Warrant Officer navigating Lancaster and Wellington bombers and awarded the DFM in 1943.
I hope this will be of interest to other readers of your excellent website.
My very best wishes,
Christopher J. Bennett (Aged 58), Wolverhampton

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Sidney Clipperton?

Dear Peter,

I found your web site by way of a google search when looking for the roll of the lost from HMS Royal Oak. What an excellent site.

I wonder if you may be able to help.

I had a maiden aunt who was engaged to a member of the crew of HMS Royal Oak who was lost. Sadly she died some years ago and I am now working on the memory of my elderly mother now in her 90s.

She recalls that the name Sidney Clipperton and that he was telegraphist. She recalls running letters between the two when he was in RNB Chatham prior to the war.

I have searched you roll of honour and cannot find the name Sidney Clipperton and wonder if you might be able to shed any light on the reason for this.

I recall in the 1970s my Aunt mentioning his name prior to my returning to HMS Hermione which was due to enter Scapa Flow for Remembrance Day whilst taking part in a Joint Maritime Course. We held our Remembrance service and laid a wreath at the site of the wreck.

Whilst speaking to my mother yesterday she described his as a leading telegraphist but then said that he wore a POs uniform and not a junior rates square rig so he could have been an acting PO Tel or had been rated PO.

She also recalls that he came from the Great Yarmouth area and that his family were well connected there.

My aunt did not marry and continued to work as a nurse for the rest of her working life.

Any help you may be able to give would be most appreciated.

Kind Regards _ Steve

Stephen G Small
Lieutenant Royal Naval Reserve
Deputy District Officer [West Kent]

Albert Edward MILLER

Royal Leamington Spa, War Memorial Roll of Honour


9th November 2010

Dear Sir / Madam,

I would be very grateful if you would please consider this letter of enquiry;

After completing the 'Roll of Honour' for the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) 1939-1945(1946-1947) i have begun the Leamington WW2 Roll of Honour 1939-.

Amongst those commemorated is;

Boy 1st Class, P/JX158589, Albert Edward MILLER (HMS Royal Oak) Royal Navy

Died: 14th October 1939, Aged: 16.

Commemorated: Portsmouth Naval Memorial

I would be very grateful for your consideration of this letter of enquiry and any help or advice afforded me regarding information about Albert, his job on board and HMS Royal Oak at the time of Albert's death please.

Thank You.

Kindest Regards

Mr. David John Eason GCM

Ernie Upham

I have copied this photo of my uncle, Ernie Upham, I hope it is of interest to you.
The image is a bit blurred but you can still make out HMS Royal Oak on some of their caps. This photo was taken just before the War in Plymouth.
Ernie was still a teenager when the Royal Oak was torpedoed. He is pictured on the far right. Although he was one of the survivors, I wonder if others in the photo were so fortunate?
Would anybody recognise any of these sailors after all these years? After the war Ernie joined the South African Navy and emigrated there. He passed away in the early 1980's.

Yours sincerely
Trevor Upham

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Harold George Lilley

Having discovered your website recently, you may like to know that my father-in-law, who is approaching 95, lost a cousin on HMS Royal Oak - Harold George Lilley from New Milton, Hampshire who was always known as George within the family.

I'm attaching a transcript of a newspaper article which has a brief account of the incident plus an obituary for Stoker Lilley. (You can download the file here). The photograph is also taken from the paper, as no originals seems to have survived in the family.

There appears to be a mistake in the article which states that three local residents lost their lives, but implies that a fourth from nearby Brockenhurst met the same fate. However, the three victims listed are from New Milton, Lymington and Brockenhurst.

As you will already know, the name of H G Lilley is inscribed on the Naval Memorial at Portsmouth (Southsea), but he is also shown on the New Milton town war memorial as G Lilley.

I hope you will find the attachments of interest and, should anyone have any additional information about George Lilley it would be very much appreciated.

Best wishes,
Gordon Lewis

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Edward Joseph O'Neill

My name is Martin. I've recently discovered that my Great Grandfather, Edward Joseph O'Neill, was a crew member on the HMS Royal Oak as a Sick Berth Attendant.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1920 and whilst the HMS Royal Oak was deployed in Malta he married my Great Grandmother, Janet Rosina Gibson, and in that same year she gave birth to my Grandfather, Michael John O'Neill, whom I believe would have been born in Malta and then brought to live in Plymouth, Devon.

Other than this I have no information on them and their time in Malta with the Royal Navy. I believe that they would have been living (at least Mother and Son) in Plymouth by 1933. If there is anyone that might be able to help me find out more about them and their time on the HMS Royal Oak in Malta then I will be extremely grateful.

Take care,

Martin O'Neill


I recently discovered my mother was adopted and I am investigating a link to G.Shepherd who perished on the Royal Oak- he was married to my grandmother nee Annie Leach from Portsmouth and he may have been my grandfather!
I have no other information about him or his family and would be interested to hear from anyone else who knew him.

Thank you for your help

John Britten

Hearts of Oak
The Human Tragedy of HMS Royal Oak
By Dilip Sarkar

This book has been written with the cooperation of many of the survivors and families of the victims.

It incorporates the latest research and interviews with survivors.

Publication: 16 June 2010

Price: £16.99

ISBN: 978-1-84868-944-2

Size: 248 x 172mm

Binding: A Paperback Original

Extent: 128 pages 100 photographs

Download full details here


Dilip Sarkar is retired policeman and a deep wreck diver who has dived the German naval wrecks at Orkney on several occasions. He is the author of over 20 history books and in 2003 was made an MBE for services to aviation history. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. He lives in Worcester.

Dilip Sarkar MBE FRHistS

PO Box 1941, Worcester WR1 9BQ

07512 342 085

Photos & Drawings 1923 - 1939

I am taking this occasion to write to you as I have perused your website with great interest. My father served aboard the 'Royal Oak' from 1923 thru 1939 as Chief Stoker. He served on other ships as well during this time, including 'HMS Marlborough, HMS Ark Royal, 1st Submarine Flotilla, etc but to name a few. He always returned though to his 'Mother' ship. It was only through as unfortunate accident to his hand and wrist that saw him medically discharged in June 1939, otherwise he would have been on board during its fateful demise, and I wouldn't be sending you this message now!!
I have many photos of HMS Royal Oak taken over the years, from when my father first entered service, until he left. I have taken this opportunity in attaching some photos including 2 of the the boiler rooms of HMS Royal Oak, these shots no doubt you will agree are quite rare.
Given that some of these pictures are at least 82-84 years old (my father enlisted in 1926) it takes a while to clean them up on the computer. Even so, and I'm sure that you will agree, they are in pretty remarkable condition considering their age.
My father told me that there was a plaque on the wall of the boiler room and if I can remember correctly read thus:
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
and we shall shock them; nought shall make us rue

(Shakespeare. King John Act V Scene 7)

Yours sincerely

Col. R.C. Mitchell (retd)

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George Williams

Peter , a year ago I used your web site and asked if any one had any information on my Great uncle George Williams who died on the Royal oak.
Well we have been answered , my Nana is beside her self that we have found out some more information, but most rewarding, is we have found the rest of a family she never knew that existeded, all thanks to you and your excellent site , many thanks to you and your dedication in helping reuniting friends and family, God bless you and your family.

Kind regards

Shane and Leonie Broadbent

Alan Chick

The young man in the attached photograph is my uncle Alan Chick who died on the 'Oak' aged just 19 years.

He came from Portsmouth and the Royal oak was his first ship. He was the son of Frederick George Chick and Caroline A. Chick (Bull) and came from a long line of Servicemen and Naval Dockyard workers. My father was his elder brother.


Maureen Moore (Chick)

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W Cheesley

Peter , I was scanning your site recently and came across W Cheesley who died on Royal Oak aged 29, in the "family requests" with an e mail from Simon Cheesly regarding his grandfather W Cheesley.

W Cheesley was my mothers brother and I have photos of my Uncle Bill and family details that I am sure
Simon and father would like to see and know about. I have tried to e mail his address but failed to deliver on the system. I live in Plymouth and I am not sure how long that request has been on the website.

Could you help me locate them


Ken Ford

John Neston Mead, Albert Valentine Frost and Victor Ayles

Dear Peter,
I would be very interested in having any information about John Neston Mead, Albert Valentine Frost and Victor Ayles all of whom were survivors of the Royal Oak. All three of these men stayed with the families Hutchinson at Bridgend House in Thurso - my grandmother and my great grandmother.
My son was interested in the history of the Royal Oak following a history project at school. My mother, who was 5 at the time of the sinking of the ship, remembers these young men who came to stay at the two adjoining Hutchinson houses on the night the ship sank.
She tells us that she was rather disappointed because her image of a sailor was that of the man on the packet of Capstan cigarettes and she had said to her father "but they are just boys!". So true - they were just boys and your web site brings that point home very strongly with all the wonderful photos of these brave young men.
John and Albert stayed with my grandmother. Victor with my great grandmother. Apparently Victor met up with my aunt and my grandmother at a memorial service in Thurso - we are not sure of the date but it must have been before 1999.

If anyone knows of the whereabouts or has information on any of these three men I'd be very interested as would my mother and my aunt.

Thank you so much.

Kind regards,
Jane Reay Jones

Ronald Sharp

I have just recently discovered and read your website with much interest.
Please find attached a couple of photographs of my father's brother Ronald Sharp; Boy 1st Class P/JX 158031 who was aged only 16 when he lost his life with the sinking of the Royal Oak.
Ronald was from Grimston, nr Aldbrough, Hull in the East Ridding of Yorkshire.

Kind regards
Jeff Sharp

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Daisy 11

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed my site visit today.

I have been researching the family of late and was always curious about the Daisy II - or the Daisy aye aye as mum called it! So when I discovered via the Aberdeen Ship Building Museum Project of her involvement with HMS Royal Oak I was delighted to find your site and read the tale of one of the survivors.

It appears that my grandparents, Maggie and John McPherson, were owners of the ship 1939-43. She was a steel built Steam Herring Drifter commissioned in 1908. Her length 86'1", beam 18'2" & draft 8'10". The records report that she rescued 375 crew members of the Royal Oak and that John Gath of Rosehearty was skipper at the time. She continued in service, fishing, until 1950 when the registry closed on 30th May and she was sold for scrap.
I wonder if any of your readers know who was on the crew that night or have a picture of her.
Keep up the good work

Fiona Crawford

'The Fallen Oak' 3D visualisation

There is an excellent 3d visualisation clip of Royal Oak underwater at

Charles Edward Ferry

I am looking for any information on my grandad Charles Edward Ferry I understand from family that he was a survivour of the Royal Oak and he was effected badly he died in 1972 I am trying to do our family tree If anyone as any information I would be most grateful

Dyanne Harvey

Walter Clive Bonner

I am looking for family members from Walter Clive Bonner, Godalming Surrey --1913-- 14.10.1939. He was a crew member of H.M.S. Royal Oak and Rank Band Corporal.
Parents Walter Bonner b.1889 and Florence Martin.
Other children----
Nigel Martin 1915---1989
Raymond Geoffery 1919----1998

His grand-father was also my grand-father. I have a letter written to my mother a few months before his death. Also a photo from him in uniform (right).

I would be pleased to hear from anyone with connections or who may have known something about him.

Eileen Junge

Royal Oak christmas card & tie pin

Hi Peter

I thought you might like these photo's of my royal oak christmas card & tie pin for your memorabilia page on your excellent webpage, i think the date is around about 1930.

Andrew Sibly

Arthur Kempster

My name is Rhianedd Preece. My nana'a brother, Arthur Kempster, was on the HMS Royal Oak when it sank and was presumed dead. He left his home in Rhyl when he was young to join the navy and his family did not hear from him again until news of his death at just 19 years old.
My nana, Joyce Jones, died 2 years ago but visited Orkney with her 3 sisters.
I have been trying to discover as much as I can about him after joining the navy but I'm not having much luck. I know it's a long shot but I would be grateful of any infomation anyone has on him.
Thank you.Rhianedd Preece

Stephen Duncan

My name is Jack Duncan, my dad Stephen Duncan, Seaman 12769 served in the Royal Navy 1926 - 1932, during that time he served on the following ships:

Royal Oak

I am trying to trace some records of my Dad and I would be grateful if anyone knows of any sources that may have crew pictures or information.

Thanks and Best Regards,

Jack Duncan

Royal Oak on CD

Dear Mr.Rowlands,
I'm a professional musician from the Netherlands and I've just released a CD with music from the late 1920s.

One of the pieces is called:
H.M.S.Royal Oak, a Jazzoratorium by Erwin Schulhoff and Otto Rombach. This piece, for a 20-piece orchestra, choir and soloists, was premiered at the Frankfurt Radio in 1930.
The composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) was from Prague, one of the first 'serious' composers who used jazzelements in his concertworks. He died in a concentration camp. Otto Rombach was a German author. The story, told in this 35-minute work, is quite funny.
In short: the admiral of the cruiser H.M.S.Royal Oak on the open sea, gives the order to the ship's company, that from now on Jazzmusic is forbidden! The crew is revolting against this order and is chained up. When the ship finally arrives in England, a hudge crowd welcomes the captured sailors and due to the force of the press and the general public the admiral is going to be sentenced and the sailors are given a royal welcome!!

The music is very amusing, jazzy.
In the biography of Erwin Schulhoff, written some 15 years ago, it says that apparently the story is based on real incident. The writer of the biography died a few years ago, so I cannot ask him about this.
Does anyone have any more information about this?

With best regards,
Werner Herbers

Royal Oak photo

Here is a photo sent to me by Tom Redman which I thought you might like for your excellent site.
David Page

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Survivor William Hughlock

I am the youngest brother to HMS Royal Oak survivor William Hughlock.
He is still alive and kicking at the grand old age of 89. William is now living in the Pine Rock Manor, in New Hampshire, USA, see the link below. I am unable to visit with him as I am living in Los Angeles County in southern California but as you can read, I am in touch with him via his daughter in law who also lives in New Hampshire.
Perhaps after all these years maybe one of the surviving crew may remember William, it's a small world.
But nontheless, at least you are aware of his existance.
Once again I thnk you for the updated pages/

Yours sincererly,
David Hughlock
Pomona, California.

Royal Oak in the background

Please find attached a photo of HMS Revenge with Royal Oak in the background.

Best wishes
Peter Mitchell

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in a new window


I thought you might like to know that there is a tampion from Royal Oak on display at Charlestown Museum in Cornwall.

Best wishes
Peter Mitchell

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in a new window

Vincent Marchant

I recently had a look at the Royal Oak website, and noticed the name of seaman Vincent Marchant, who managed to swim ashore after the shiphad been struck. I have been researching my family history, and have a Vincent Marchant, born 1886, in my tree. I have very little information about him, and wondered if this is the same person, or somehow related. Is there any way I can get further details about this seaman?
I would be grateful for any information.
Anna McKenzie

Lt. A.M. Seymour

Hi Peter,
I was wondering if any of the last survivors knew my Father, he was a survivor from HMS Royal OAK his name was Lt. A.M. Seymour. He passed away in 08/05/2003.

If anyone did and would like to contact me please pass on my e-mail address.

Thank you.
Regards .
Mr. T. A. Seymour

George MacGregor

I was moved by the recent documentary on the sinking of the Oak.
It's been some time since I contacted you regarding George MacGregor (My Great Uncle).
I just wanted to let you know that due to your site and the contacts I've managed to make through it, my known family has trebled in size.
George's medals went to his brother who was a Squadron Leader at RAF Dyce. George and William's medals ended up in a market in London and were bought in 1970 by a collector. He lives in Blyth, England.
This summer, 2 people got in touch through the email I left on the site. David MacGregor (2nd cousin) and Lisa Marie Shippen (2nd cousin). It turns out David has done alot of research about his family and can trace it back to the 1700's to Ross and Cromarty - the speculation is that we're ancestors of Rob Roy. David's father was George's brother Robert. Robert landed in Sicily and was shot in a heart ventrical and neck. He returned to his unit to serve out the rest of the war in Italy and served in the Mau Mau Campaign. He suffered several decades of pain and succumbed to his wounds in 1975 dying of a heart attack.
David has also made contact with George's brother Harry’s ancestors in Australia. Harry was a fitness instructor on a cruise ship that was docked in Australia at the outbreak of the war. He jumped ship and joined the Australian infantry and fought in Africa.
New Lisa Marie (Grandaughter of George's sister Jessie) lives in a place called Cramlington and!...... you'll never guess.... it's 2mins from her house to George and William's medals in Blyth!!!! Lisa has been round and taken photos of the well kept medals. I attach these for your reference.
It's been 4 years since I saw the message on your site - thank you very much for being in a position to help bring families together. Thanks to you, I’ll be flying out the Vienna Austria next spring to meet my many MacGregor relatives who live there now.
You can see our family heritage site here:

Mark Robinson

Click on images for larger versions

Drawing by Joe Instance

My mother nursed many of the survivors from HMS Royal Oak and I have a sketch of the ship given to her by HJ Instance with his signature on it.
I don't know if you are in contact with his family. I would be very pleased to pass it on.
I M Fender OBE

Click on image for a larger version

Cornelius Curtin

I came across your site while I was looking for some info on war memorials, Scapa Flow in particular, as my relative was killed there.
My uncle, my dad's brother, lost his young life on HMS Royal Oak. One of my earliest memories is of the kitchen, it would be called the living room today, in the house where we lived with my nan, and the huge photograph on the wall over the sideboard. A young handsome man in Royal Navy uniform, I knew this face so well, although he died nine years before I was born. Cornelius Curtin known as Con or Connie was my nan's eldest son. He had been just twenty three when he died.
I think your site is brilliant, I found Connie's name on the roll-call of those lost. Thank you, it's really good to see these WW11 sailors remembered.

Marie Davis


I have been led to believe there will be a Royal Oak Memorial service at Norham. If anyone has any details please forward them. I am oldest surviving relative of J.O.H.Derry who was probably the youngest to go down with the ship and first casualty from Berwick upon Tweed in WW2.

Ronald John McAngus Hart

I am trying to find out about my father's service record. His full name was Ronald John McAngus Hart (known as Ronnie) not Donald and was listed among the survivors after the sinking of the Royal Oak. His service number was p/jx 157014, having joined the Royal Oak from HMS. Caledonia three months before the sinking. Ronnie was sixteen at the time and one of the boy sailors. He came from the village of Hilton of Cadboll in Ross shire, there were other boys on that ship from the same area, at least one other from Hilton.
Sadly my Dad died in 1956 of complications after an operation for a stomach ulcer, on the night, like many other he had injested fuel oil and that left him with stomach problems. I was only seven years old when Dad died so my memories are few with the passage of time. The documentary on Scottish television on the anniversary of the sinking was laden with emotion and I was filled with a sense of deep sadness for the loss of so many young lives.
After my Dad passed away he was laid to rest in the graveyard in Conwy North Wales, sadly his grave has no marker and this I hope very soon to rectify by having a headstone with the inscription "A survivor of the the sinking of HMS.Royal Oak" placed above him, I was only a little girl when I lost him, now all these years later I am trying to piece together my father's life.
He was married in 1944 in St.Helens, and on the wedding certificate is listed the number above followed by the title Able Seaman. Following his passing, my mother married again a few years later and gradually his belongings and memories have all but disappeared. I would be so very touched if anyone visiting the site has any recollections of my Dad, be very grateful as I'm sure are so many other family members of the crew of that ill fated ship, for even the smallest detail.
Thank you for your industry and efforts in keeping the memory of the Royal Oak alive.

Patricia Roberts.


I've just visited your site and read the article about the sinking of HMS Royal Oak.
A truly thought-provoking and deeply moving story ! As a result of such bravery and selfless courage people of my generation (I'm 53) can now enjoy all the privileges and freedoms we experience today.
Having never served in the Armed Services nor lived under war-time conditions I can only acknowledge with heart-felt thanks the sacrifices made by these never to be forgotten heroes.

Best Wishes
John Gerrard

R. J. Western

I have this photo of my uncle that was taken on 21st March 1938 as you can see by his cap it say H.M.S St Vincent but I know he lost his life on board Royal Oak even though he died before I was born nearly 20 years after his death my mum and Granddad told me so much about him.
I would like to hear from anyone who knew him and could fill in some of the blanks about him if possible. The most that I know about what happened that night is what my grandad told me and that he was in bed and a knock came at the door and he said to nan that it was to inform them that their son was dead nan called him wicked but at the time that the ship was sinking granddad had a dream that his son was calling him to help him.
I am hoping to get to scaper flow to pay my respects to a uncle I never had the chance to know

B. J. Phillips

Cornelius McCabe

I have been reading your website regarding the Royal Oak.
My late Father-in-Law once served aboard the ship. His name is Cornelius McCabe. Belfast. Northern Ireland.
I am unsure if he was on board the ship when it was sunk or if he was transferred just prior to this to The Hood which also was sank.
I have a photo of him sitting relaxing on a chair in Gibraltar with I think a ship in the rear of the photo. I wonder could this be the Hood or Royal Oak. His wife is no longer with us to provide us with information. I believe he was a PE Instructor / Sergeant Gunnery section.
I have been told that he saved a crew members life by diving below the waves. This I'm unsure of.
Any information you may have would be gratefully received so that I may pass it to my wife who is one of his daughters still living.
My wife once told me she has seen a plaque somewhere in the UK with her
Father's name inscribed on it. Could you also provide information on this

Best Regards
William Larmour

Thank you for your kind reply.
AFTER I emailed my enquiry to you I looked up the survivors section on your site and there on the right hand column was my father in laws name. C B McCabe Cornelius Bernard McCabe
I asked my wife to look at it and she confirmed it is his name. I double checked it by sending your website to her sister who now lives in Dundee, Scotland and she too confirmed his name there.
They are over the moon and asked me to thank you very much for the wonderful site and for having their father's name there. I too would like to thank you also for a very informative site.
I had often heard him tell me bits and pieces, but I never really understood the full impact of the tragedy that took place.
I look forward to continuing to read the requests and as you suggest, someone might come forward with information.

Best regards
William Larmour

Royal Marines

My name is The Rev'd Stuart Hallam and I am a Royal Navy Commando Chaplain currently serving at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. I am very interested in HMS Royal Oak, particularly as it is the 70 anniversary of her sinking.
With Remembrance Sunday coming up I was hoping to make special mention of her and her crew this year, in particular of the number of Royal Marines abroad on that fateful night.
So far I have been unable to find any accurate records of the numbers and names of the Royal Marines that were killed aboard and wondered if anyone be able to help in any way?
I would sorely like to educate the new generation of recruits of their forebears legacy and mark the great ships passing on this special anniversary.
Many thanks in advance for your assistance, any information will be gratefully received.

The Rev'd Stuart Hallam RN
Chaplain CTCRM

Andrew Paterson

Stumbled upon your site after sitting down to watch the 70th anniversary documentary with my Grandfather on STV tonight. He is a survivor of the disaster and served on The Mighty Oak for many years prior to its sinking. He left the ship on the night of October 13th 1939 after being ordered to join a patrol vessel doing routine searches of the boom area. This was to prove fourtuitous as this was the first time he had left the ship for this duty. A true stroke of luck as all of his crewmates were killed just a few hours later...
His name is Andrew Paterson, not Patterson as indicated on this site and H.J.Weaver's "Nightmare at Scapa Flow". He'll be 94 on his next birthday and still talks fondly of his time in the Royal Navy.
He served as a Stoker 1st Class and has just recalled his number: P/KX 86701
Chris Paterson

Construction sketches

Today I came across the Royal Oak website for the first time via the BBC News item (and associated link) regarding today's visit of HRH The Princess Royal.
Anything 'Navy' tends to catch my eye as my Father's career from Boy to Captain was with the Royal Navy and something must have rubbed off although I spent my working life behind a succession of desks.
The construction sketches by Edward O'Gara at
are particularly fascinating and remind me of "Apprentices' Pieces" where they were required to make reproductions (miniatures, of course) of items that they were being trained to make or service in their later careers. These drawings seem to be of the same genre. However, the drawing of the anchor cable arrangement (two starboard, one port) appears to confirm my thoughts that one of your photos, second down on the left at may need to be reversed as the anchor arrangement in this photo is at odds with the drawing and other photos. If my observation is at fault please accept my apologies for troubling you.
I have found my visit to this website so interesting and I wish you well in uncovering more detail and in its ongoing maintenance. I shall return to it again from my list of 'bookmarks'.

Kind regards,
Robert Dibben

HMS Neptune Association

The Committee and Members of the HMS Neptune Association would like to associate themselves with the Memorial Service being held today, 14th October 2009, in Scapa Flow: to remember, with pride, the crew of HMS Royal Oak, recalling not just your ship's historic contribution to the war effort through historic naval engagements during the dark days of two World Wars, but also its contribution to the high morale of His Majesty's Royal Navy.
We, descendants of those who died in not identical but similar circumstances aboard HMS Neptune and HMS Kandahar in waters off Libya on the night of 19th/20th December 1941, salute and applaud the bravery of those men and boys who served aboard the Royal Oak and who gave their lives in defence of a Britain engaged in war.
We greet you and are with you on this, your important day of commemoration, when sadness prevails for you, many of whom are relations and descendants of her loyal crew; but also a just pride and joy in recalling the lives of those 833 men and boys who lost their lives at sea.
Please pass on the HMS Neptune Association's shared sympathy and good wishes to everyone concerned.

With kind regards,
Commander John McGregor OBE, Chairman, the Neptune Association

Mrs. Gillian Wadden, Vice-Chairman and Hon. Secretary of the Neptune Association

14 year olds aboard?

Dear Peter,
On the radio today they were discussing the sinking and it was stated that there were many 14 year olds aboard.
I understood from my Father in Law Peter Morris that the youngest were 15 years old.
Does anyone have any data on this subject.

Kind regards
Barry Hugo

Mr. Rowlands,

I've just spent a few minutes going through your HMS ROYAL OAK website.. very well done. It's only fitting that what happened to this fine ship is remembered. The one ship like that here in the US is the ARIZONA in Pearl Harbor. Not only do I think people should remember that ship, but also the men still entombed aboard her. My parents went to Hawaii back in 2000 and both told me the experience of seeing the oil from ARIZONA float up and being on the memorial as eerie. My father was 13 at the time of Pearl Harbor and told me that he was working on an airplane model when the news came over. My mother said she and her brother were trying to make root beer from root beer candy when the news came in.
When you next go to the ROYAL OAK, please thank the men on her for me.

Jim Mandelblatt

Dear Peter,
Today is a historic day.
Are you able to confirm a recurring memory from my childhood.
In 1939 as a 5 year old my mother went to collect me from Liverpool eye hospital after some pioneer surgery.
She always told me that she took me on the Royal Oak which was docked in Liverpool, probably only a few days before she went to Scapa Flow ( a guess on my part)
She recounted how a sailor picked me up and carried me onboard up the gangplank. I have a possible memory of this but in view of the many times I heard the story it may be a false memory.
Does anyone visiting this site have any more information?.

Reggie Dickinson
Now aged 75
Stanley Raymond Wood

I watched the History Channel programme on the Royal oak last night. I wondered if any of the remaining survivors remember my late father who died in 1999?
He was a Boy 1st Class on the Royal Oak. His experiences that night coloured the rest of his life and ours too. His name was Stanley Raymond Wood.

Jim Wood

Arthur George Ackerman

Arthur George Ackerman (known as George) sadly died in the Royal Oak on 14/10/1939 with many of his ship mates. He was my grandfather's cousin, but grew up with my grandfather's family, as his mother died when he was only 8 years old.
My grandfather was very fond of 'George' who was a couple of years younger than him. I have one photo of George as an 8 year old, but none of him as an adult. I wonder if any of your contacts have come across any more information?
My grandfather Ivor William Henry Stevens (known as 'Steve' to his chums) was also in the Navy on the Motor Gun Boats in the Channel and gained a DSM and bar for his war services. Sadly, he died in 1998 at the age of 95, so I am unable to ask for his help now that I am researching the family tree.
Many thanks for your fascinating web site and best wishes.


G Trewinnard

I came across your site following a link from the Defence News website, reporting on the Princess Royal's commemoration two days ago. I had heard a rumour from my grandfather that there was a Trewinnard on the
Royal Oak but had no idea where to find any information. Looking at your lists I see that a G Trewinnard is listed under the survivors and I was wondering if there is any further information out there that would help me find out more of his story? His rate, trade, service number etc would be of great interest, as I am a serving RN Officer.
I was born a Trewinnard and only doubled barrelled the surname on getting married. It is not exactly common, so I must be related somehow!
Thankyou for taking the time to do so much research and put together such an excellent website.

Best Regards,
Robin Trewinnard-Boyle
CSAV Engineering Support Services





Dear Peter,

Celebrating my 70th birthday led to some reminiscing.
I have no direct connection with the crew of the Royal Oak but am linked to it by my name.
I was born on the 3rd October 1939 and the registering of my birth coincided with the sinking of the Royal Oak. My parents chose the names Heather for luck and Royal in remembrance of the ship and all those who lost their lives.
My parents made sure I knew and understood the origins of my name and to this day I am still humbled and honoured to be associated with The Royal Oak and all those lost on that fateful day.

Beat Wishes
Heather Martin. (Mrs)

Royal Oak Survivors Association Limited Edition Print

In June 2009 Simon Brown was invited by the Royal Navy to photograph and document HMS Royal Oak. Simon has donated this image to the Royal Oak Survivors Association and a limited number of prints will be signed by some of the remaining survivors. All proceeds of the sale will be used by the Royal Oak Survivors Association to help fund the building of a permanent memorial to their comrades in Scapa Bay.
Only 10 signed prints will be offered to the general public. Each print is A1 in size and reproduced on archival paper, available from October 14th timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the sinking. If you are interested in purchasing a print please visit
Or call Simon on +44(0)1252 653 759

John Stroomer

My grandfather, John Stroomer, served on the Royal Oak at the Battle of Jutland. He was a baker.
He lived till he was almost 90 and carried on being a baker in Wallingford after his service.
He is in the middle of the bottom row of the second photo and the shot of HMS Royal Oak shows HMS Victory in background.

Glynis Kent

(Click photos for larger versions)

Cap tallies

I found your web site purely by accident, how interesting. As an ex Wren I collected cap tallies from the time I joined up and have a huge collection of about 350. I was given a tally of HMS Royal Oak by a relative who served on her.
I'm not sure if you know why, if you look at the lettering there is a full stop after 'Oak', this is the only ribbon I have with this, out of 375 tallies, and I have quite a few old ones. Does anyone have any ideas?

Irene Clarke

(Click on image to enlarge)

John Valentine Sawbridge 1898 - 1960

I found your website yesterday when I put Royal Oak into my search engine. What a wonderful site! Thank you so much for all your hard work.
My father was, according to his Naval record, which I obtained from the National Archives, on Royal Oak briefly in 1916 from 01 June 1916 to 05 August 1916. He was a signalman. He had been on Marlborough and from what I can gather transferred after Marlborough was damaged by torpedo in the Battle of Jutland and stayed on Royal Oak until about the time Marlborough was repaired.
He told me once that he had been in a wooden aeroplane with a hole in the floor chucking bombs onto enemy lines. Does anybody have any information to back this up? Although he was only briefly on Royal Oak, he was on several other ships of the same class, [Revenge and Resolution] so the aeroplane could have been launched from one of them rather than the Oak.
I read an account in our library [Gosport] the other day by a signalman who said that during 1915 and the start of 1916 signalmen were often sent out in fishing trawlers from Scapa on recce trips and that the trawlers were manned by RNR members except for the signalman.
If anybody can spread any further light I would be very grateful.

Penny Harris [nee Sawbridge]

R. A. Barnfather

I have been looking at your website of the Royal Oak that sank at Scapa Flow and wondered if anyone had information regarding RAYMOND ARTHUR BARNFATHER who along with many others went to his watery grave aged just 16. He was my Mother's cousin and as she has often spoken about him and as she is now aged 87 herself it would be wonderful for her to have closure.
The only information I have on Raymond is as follows: Boy 1st Class P/JX 158573
I hope someone is able to help and thankyou for producing an excellent website.
Angela Chapman

I wondered if you would be interested in putting this poem on your website of HMS Royal Oak. It was written by my wife who is the niece of one of the sailors who perished that night. She never knew her Uncle but has always been haunted by the manner of his death and wrote this poem during a creative writing degree course and found it somewhat cathartic.
David Oakley

In Memory of
Stoker 1st class John William (Jack) Blackborough

Uncle Jack

They were at Scapa Flow,
Nearby was a beautiful,
flat green landscape.
A safe harbour they had said.

Then the first torpedo hit,
there was an internal explosion.
The U Boat fired again,
did what it had come to do.

Plunged into the waves below,
with thick orange flames,
swirling through doors and hatches
they rushed from their hammocks.

The ship turned over:
15 minutes,
15 fathoms deep,
Friday 13th October 1939.

She became a 29,000 ton tomb.
whose place is marked by a buoy.
Eight hundred and thirty three,
mute monuments.

To the men who died that day.
It took three torpedos
to kill them,
with an orange blast of flame.

Leading Seaman Instance said.
She went up like a torch
He was the only survivor from
His mess to live.

He went back to sea again.
As the Royal Oak lay
deep down in Scapa Flow,
with her dead.

Special Operations P.
The Germans gave it that name
as their silent U boat,
went out that night to kill.

Eight hundred and thirty three men
had died that day.
Fifteen fathoms deep they still lay;
One of them is my Uncle Jack.

Kathleen E. Oakley.
June 2005

E H MILES photo?

hi peter
a couple of weeks ago my work mate took his wife and his mother in law to scapa flow to see the royal oak wreck on which her father died,
what i am lead to believe is his mother in law was only 2 and a half years old when he died and really at that age she has no memories of him.
what she is looking for is a photo of her father [ if any one has one ] as she has not got a single photo to remember him by and wants to know what he looked like.
a couple of years after her fathers death her mother passed away and she was put in a home without many possesions
so if there where any photos they are long gone.
all i can tell you peter his name was E H MILES and i am sure he was in the marines.
if you can help in any way it would be most appreciated.

regards graham leary

George Williams

Hello Peter, I have been doing the family tree and only found out in the last couple of days that George was my Grand mothers uncle, her mothers Brother.
My nana has only found out in the last few years after her mother had died that she was a Williams and would like any information we can get for her before its to late as she is now 92 .
If any one has a photo of George or information this would be great. He was born 1915 ,able seaman P/SSX16334 died on The Royal oak 14/10/1939

Kind regards
Shane and Leonie Broadbent


Click on image for a larger version

As French my english is not perfect but y will try to give you a small anecdote about Royal Oak.

Few months ago, I succeed to open a small case (the key was lost.) coming from my grandmother's house. She lived in Cannes (south of France) since 1905. In this case I have found two marine ribbons, one with "HMS Royal Oak" and the second with "HMS Wivern".
With Internet I discovered the tragic story of the first. But I don't know why this ribbons were in this place. I only know that before the WW2, a Scottish military came very often to visit my grandmother (she had an hotel) and especially her daughter. His name was Birchall (like your diving friend). It's now impossible to obtain more details, grandmother, daughters and son (my father) are all dead.


Edwin Cox

(Click on image to enlarge)

Well done on your site which i think is a good idea, I happened to find it when looking for some info on the "Oak"
My Uncle "Ted" (Edwin Cox) was a Boy-Seaman aboard this ship, his details were P/JX 156605, unfortunately he had gone down with the Royal Oak and didn't survive.
I think he had joined the RN in 1937 at an early age as a Boy-SM, any information or photo's with him on would be most appreciated, especially from any survivors who happened to know him.
Here is the only one we have which had been enlarged from a smaller picture, apparantly it was taken at a wedding in 1938 i think when my Uncle was 17yrs.
PS: I have added some other pics for your site as well,
my e-mail code is for any one who wishes to contact me.)
Lawrence Cox.

Kenneth R. Laslett

Dear Peter & Mr. French,

What a surprise I got the other day on opening up Peters' Royal Oak website to see your photo of some Royal Oak crew members. Although, I was really looking for anybody recognising the name of my cousin Ernest Brymer [who died on the Royal Oak ] I think I recognise my Dad in your photo! He is the one standing with his hands behind his back on the right hand side and is Kenneth R. Laslett.
I sent your picture and one of my Dad off to friends and relations for comparison. All, but one has said that it certainly looks like Dad and I will attach the pictures for your interest.
I have checked Dad's certificate of service and he was on the Royal Oak from July 1927 to May 1929 in all. However, I can't see Ramillies mentioned at all, so unfortunately I can't help you.
Dad survived the war, marrying a South African girl and they lived in first Durban then Cape Town for the rest of his life. He died on the 31st January, 1989 and his stone is in St. Margaret's Church garden of remembrance, Fish Hoek, Cape Town . My Mom died in 1993 and she too is there.
That was so kind of you to send that photo into the website and I for one, most certainly appreciate it. It was wonderful to see Dad out of the blue like that!
Thank you -
Best wishes,
Leonie & Milton Runcie.

Previous posting:
I run a site dedicated to the memory of those who served on Ramillies and came across a photo album with some Royal Oak crew photos and thought you would like to put them on your site.
If any visitors have Ramillies photos or stories I would love to hear from them.
Best wishes
Mick French

Royal Oak photos

Hi Peter, I came across your web site when I was trying to find out some info about the Royal Oak. My Grandfather served on the Royal Oak During the first world war so was curious to find out a wee bit more about her.
When my Grandfather passed away, I found these photos of the battleship in among his possessions. I don't know if they are any use to you but its a few more photos that you might not have.
Keep up the good work with the web site

Best regards

Alan Inglis

(Click on images for a larger version) Please note the right hand image of the rear guns is particularly interesting as it shows the seaplane launcher above them

Hi Peter, here are some more photos. My Grandfather is in the front row , bottom right of the football team photos.

Alan Inglis

Ignacio Guisti

I have recently gone into search of our family tree and have come across a cousin of my grandmother by the name of I.Guisti (believe his name is Ignacio) from Malta who died in 1939 on the HMS Royal Oak.
My grandmother (who has recently passed away) believes there was 2 of them travelling together (possibly brothers or cousins) but only one is listed.
How can I find any more information relating to this or any information on Ignacio Guisti? If anyone has any information or pictures relating to this please email me on And thankyou for what is a tremendous website you have created.

Thank you,

Mark Ellul


I have looked at your site with great interest as a great-uncle of mine, Cecil Boylett Davey, lost his life on HMS Royal Oak.
I am attaching a memorial image kept by the immediate family.
Patricia Duke-Cox

Click on image for a larger version

Samuel Blood

Just wished to pass along this information about Samuel Blood who was only 16 when he lost his life on the Royal Oak.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission (UK)
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Boy 1st Class
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Royal Oak
Age: 16
Death: 14/10/1939
Service No: P/JX 160587
Son of Emily Elizabeth Blood, of Stubbington, Hampshire
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 34, Column 1
Memorial: PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL, Portsmouth, England

Wonderful information on the H.M.S. Royal Oak web site.

David Fleming
St. Paul, Minnesota USA
Blood Family Researcher

Petty officer Puddy

Hello Peter
I am writing to you regarding Petty officer Puddy who in fact was my uncle on my mothers side .
I never knew him but my older brothers often used to speak of him how he used to visit when they were little and he always used to sit in the same chair by the window and he would always give each of them a shilling.
He was maried I know that he had a daughter who later married and became mrs Dawn Wooldridge and I believe her Husband was Geoff Wooldridge.
Do you know of or have these people been in touch with you as I am trying to obtain any information and photos that I can possibly of he and mum together .

Regards John Legg

George Alexander Langlands

I was very interested in the Royal Oak website. I found the website whilst researching my family tree.
My grandmother's brother-in law, George Alexander Langlands born 1904 in Newcastle-Upon Tyne, Northumberland, was a Leading Stoker on board.
George who was known by the nickname "sailor" survived the sinking of the Royal Oak and lived to the ripe old age of 91 years.
He died in North Shields, Northumberland in 1993
Just another bit of info for your website that I hope will be of interest.
Tina Weinling.


I searched the list of Sailors who went down with the Royal Oak in Scapa Flow in Orkney Scotland. My uncles last name was Tough, their is no such name and I checked the survivors and he is not on there. He had a son Tony Tough that was born just before Oct 14 1939 and his wife's name was Kathleen (Kit). If you could give me any information I would greatly appreciate it. I am researching my Family Tree. Kit was my fathers sister.
Jean (Rivett) Gregory


(Click on images for larger versions)

Dear Peter,

Congratulations on an excellent website. What better way to commemorate the lives of all those who served on 'Royal Oak' and particularly those who lost their lives in the tragic events of 1939! It would be appreciated if you could add this message and photographs to your site, if that is possible.

Unlike many of the Boys and Seamen who are already featured on the website, my father, Ronald Abbess, sadly contracted TB during his service in the Royal Navy and was discharged on medical grounds in September, 1938. After a long illness, he eventually died in 1945 when I was still a young child.

Following his initial training at HMS 'Ganges' at Shotley, my father served on the 'Royal Oak' from 22nd. June, 1932 to 25th. April, 1934. I believe that most of this time was spent in the Mediterranean. A photograph of my father in his tropical kit, taken at the 'Black and White Studios' at Malta in 1933 is attached. I see that Roger Myers has already posted on the site a photograph of his father, taken in Malta in 1933. Presumably, our respective fathers must have been on the RO at the same time

After a few months back at Chatham (the Port where he was based), he joined HMS 'Emerald' on 31st. August, 1934. I believe it was this voyage that took him 'across the line' to Mombasa in East Africa; and to Ceylon and other parts of the Indian Continent - returning to Chatham on 23rd. February, 1937.

I have a lovely album which contains lots of photographs of the many places which my father visited in his travels during his service in the Royal Navy. In fact, one of the photographs is identical to the one already posted on the site by John Gorton, showing the Royal Oak Marathon Team in 1934. Although my father doesn’t appear to be included in the team, I do recognise someone who must have been a good mate of my Dad. He is the one in the back row, fourth from the left. I believe his name is Dick. I also have a portrait photograph of Dick in Dad’s album and a copy of this is attached. At least I think it is the same person. The portrait photograph bears the date 29th. June, 1934 on the reverse. Does anyone have any information about Dick or know what happened to him?

Also attached is a photograph of a group of seamen, dressed in what I think is described as 'tropical kit', in the hope that someone may be able to shed some light on it (ie. when and where it was taken). My father is fifth from the right (with a x over his head) - and who else should be in the photograph but the Dick who I have mentioned earlier! He is third from the left in the back row.

Thank you once again for providing such an interesting website. I should be pleased to hear from anyone with information about Dick; about the group photograph; or indeed about anyone who may have served with my father.


Jean Peters (nee Abbess)

(PS. Does anyone know if the incidence of TB was very high in the Royal Navy at that time?)

John Furlong and the Cumberland Class

Dear Peter
I am sending you a picture of the Cumberland class from the Royal Oak. John Furlong is first on the left on the bottom row. It may be of some interest to the families of the other people in this photograph.

Lydia O'Grady

Click on the image to see a larger version

Able seaman Joseph Thomson

Dear Peter,
Looking at old family photographs I recently found this one of Able seaman Joseph Thomson who lost his life on the Royal Oak in 1939 just prior to his transfer from HMS Cadet training ship Caledonia who was burnt by accident the same year. He was my father's cousin.
After a quick search I was able to find your site. I would be happy if you could honour this (very) young man's memory by adding his photograph to the ones of his comrades.
Working myself for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Normandy I would like to thank and congratulate you for your devotion in honouring these men's memory.
Anthony Willcox (France)

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Norman Victor Pead

Hello there, my grandfather was on the Royal Oak, Norman Victor Pead. I am his grandson, Norman.
For many years I have tried to find out the history of his service in the Royal Navy. The older members of my family unfortunately died before I could find out many details about my grandfather's service life and if anyone who contacts your website can give me any information about my grandfather I would be so grateful.
Norman Pead

Donald (Dan) MacAngus

Dear Peter: here i am ,old and sick, and lo and behold ,Irene smyth puts up a letter about her grandfather Hugh Vass , lost on the Royal Oak.
I pulled up the newspaper story she included in her post ,and there was the first picture I have ever seen of my mom's first cousin , Donald (Dan) MacAngus in uniform. I have one of he and his mom in the garden. What a sweet looking young man of 19 he was.
here I am 66 and ill and I was in tears to see such a photo of one of my life's great heroes. It most assuredly warmed my heart and I wish to thank Irene Smyth ,
sincerely ,
Tom Brunton ,
Aylmer, Ontario Canada
( my grandmother was Dan's mother's sister , my mother was a MacAngus)

Hugh Vass

Please find attached a photo of Hugh Vass, Seaman, Royal Naval Reserve O.N.X. 7361C who perished on the Royal Oak.
Son of William and Isabella Vass, of Shandwick, Ross and Cromarty; husband of Jessie Ross, of Shore Street, Shandwick and they had one son, my late father, William Vass.
Kind regards,
Irene Smyth

Click on images for larger versions (The newspaper cuttings are large files so may be slow to load)

Hello Peter,
Here is the original news cuttings from the People's Journal Saturday, October 21st 1939.
Perhaps there are some names and photos here for others who are
undertaking family research. As I said, my grandfather was Hugh Vass O.N.X. 7361C and is the second Hugh Vass mentioned in this article.
The 10 month old baby was my late father.
Best regards,
Irene Smyth

There is also a clip on YouTube about U47 returning to Germany at

John Stanley Crockett

Hello Peter,
Would it be convenient for you to post the following on behalf of a friend of mine on the Royal Oak site?
The person in question is his grandson, who has no details of him other than the fact that he died on HMS Royal Oak. Any information or photos would be greatfully received.
The person is P/K 60176 John Stanley Crockett, Leading Stoker.
Thank you kin anticipation of your help. Best wishes.
George Compton

Thomas Fredrick Britton

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My cousin Betty Britton,daughter of Able Seaman Thomas Fredrick Britton who was lost with the Royal Oak has sent me 2 photographs etc. for you to post on your site if you think they are of interest.
I think the account of the sinking came from "The Royal Naval Philatelic Society"[RNPS} HMS Naval Base,Portsmouth.
Regards Barbara Green.

Royal Oak painting and geranium

Perhaps the Royal Oak Associaton members would like to know that in the Royal Oak pub at Chilgrove, West Sussex there is an oil painting, one of only 50 copies of HMS Royal Oak. The picture was done from the stern of the ship in line afront so it views the Royal Oak bow on taking a heavy sea and dipping her bow in. I haven't seen it myself but my son has and says that it is very impressive. Does anyone else know of this picture and have a copy?
Members may also like to know that it is possible to purchase a geranium called Royal Oak from the Vernon Geranium Nursery at Cuddington Way, Cheam, Surrey SM2 7JB Tel. 020 8393 7616 or email
I have one myself and feel it is something that is appropriate with my naval connections and helps me think of my Dad and his shipmates.
Sheila West (nee Benney)

William Edward Chesman

Please find attached photographs on my Grandfather who perished on the Royal Oak. His name was William Edward Chesman and he was born June 1912. He was a Leading Stoker in Royal Navy.
His wife's name was Barbara Joan Chesman nee Adams and they lived in East Meon, Hampshire. They had two sons together Peter William and Edward John Charles. Barbara was pregnant with John when William died.
It would be great to include this information on your website.
Kind regards
Rachel Chesman

Able Seaman Thomas Fredrick Britton

Click on images for larger versions

I would like to add to my cousin Joan's message about my Uncle Tom.Able Seaman Thomas Fredrick Britton.
My mother Ethel May was the youngest of the family and she and Tom had a very close relationship as "Older brother -youngest sister" and corresponded frequently throughout his service in the Navy.
I am attaching his last letter to her, written only days before the sinking of the Royal Oak, also a photograph she treasured until the day she passed away. The letter is very "frail" now but I do hope it can be reproduced on your site as readable, as it shows that such a disaster was never in his mind.
I had another look through the items my mother left to me and came across this pin badge- rather grubby but dare not clean it in case I do the wrong thing. The writing at the bottom says " British Fleet 1924". I think he must have sent or given it to her when serving out in the Mediterranean as she also gave me many hand painted postcard from there and a particularly nice book of cards from Trieste.
Keep up the good work
Barbara Green


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Dear Peter
I have visited your web site about the royal oak, my father who served on that ship ,and was a survivor.He is still alive and is now 92 and lives in Havant.He still remembers that fatal morning when the ship went down.His name H.Pither

Yours sincerely
Patricia Smith

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Hit by U47?

My great grandfather was the skipper of a trawler commandeered during the war and he was based in Scapa Flow during the time the Royal Oak was sunk. My granddad has told me that it was believed that his father's boat came into contact with the U-boat as it was leaving the area. His trawler (named the John Herd) was arriving back into the harbour after the incident and therefore was not expressly involved with rescuing survivors.
As they were coming back into port the crew heard and felt a loud scraping noise under the boat. When they took the boat back to Fraserburgh for an overhaul they noticed a large mark on the underside of the boat.
They believed that it was possible that they had sailed over the top of the u-boat as it was leaving the flow.
I just thought this was an interesting story for you as you obviously take a great interest in the history of this event.

Neil Mackenzie

John Welch

i have just visited your site and found it very interesting, i am the grandson of one of the survivors, JOHN WELCH. i believe he was either a chief petty officer or petty officer i am very keen to get hold of a photo of him in uniform as part of a christmas present for my grandmother. as nobody in the family has any photos of him, and as he died 31 years ago i was only 5 years old and never had the opportunity to see any pictures of him when he was in the navy i would be very gratefull if you could help me and maybe point me in the right direction to get the info i need
i look forward to your reply
kind regards
john campbell

Loses from the seaboard villages

I am currently researching the servicemen/women lost in the Parish of Nigg & Shandwick during WW2. Four of these men lost their lives serving on the Royal Oak. Here is the information that I have at the moment.

Seaman Hugh Vass
P/X 6771C,
Royal Naval Reserve
Died aged 32

Seaman Hugh Vass
P/X 7361C,
Royal Naval Reserve
Died aged 31

Seaman David Vass
P/X 20058A,
Royal Naval Reserve
Died aged 18

Seaman Bertie Vass
P/X 20051A,
Royal Naval Reserve
Died aged 23

If anyone has anything else I would be very grateful.
Karen Oliver

John Welch

i have just visited your site and found it very interesting, i am the grandson of one of the survivors, JOHN WELCH. i believe he was either a chief petty officer or petty officer i am very keen to get hold of a photo of him in uniform as part of a christmas present for my grandmother. as nobody in the family has any photos of him, and as he died 31 years ago i was only 5 years old and never had the opportunity to see any pictures of him when he was in the navy i would be very gratefull if you could help me and maybe point me in the right direction to get the info i need
i look forward to your reply
kind regards
john campbell

James Colbourne

My grandfather would dearly like to find out as much information as possible about his cousin James Colbourne who perished on the Royal Oak. I wondered if anyone remembers him, has photos
Many thanks
Carl Maddock

Eric Charles Leach

My late uncle Eric was a 19 year old stoker on the Royal Oak and perished along with his shipmates at Scapa. His home town was Portsmouth and I'd be interested in any information that any of the other relatives might have regarding Eric and his mates.
His mother and my elder brother stood on the beach at Sallyport and waved the ship out of sight when she left Pompey for the last time on her way to Scapa Flow.
Derek Leach

Albert Reginald Turvey

Hi Peter,
It is with deep regret that I write to inform you that ALBERT REGINALD TURVEY, one of the Royal Oak survivors died on Saturday 27th September 2008 after a small Illness aged 86. He was cremated on Monday 6th October 2008 at Porchester Crematorium.

Mark Turvey.

PS - Please find attached a copy of his Service Record also.

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HMS Royal Oak watercolour

Dear Peter,
I thought that you'd like to see a depiction of the final watercolour painting (35.2 x 45.5 cm) of HMS Royal Oak. It was a huge challenge painting it in transparent watercolour and took me just over 200 hours! The work is entitled "The Royal Navy commemorating all those who went down with HMS Royal Oak on 14th October 1939"
The painting was very difficult to photograph because of the numbers of paint glazes and thus hasn't come out frightfully well--a bit flat and has also lost the nuances of blues etc of the water, but you should get an idea of how it looks. I entered the painting for this year's Royal Society of Marine Artists RSMA)Annual exhibition and I have just heard that it has been accepted for hanging! So in October it will be on show in the RSMA exhibition at the Mall Galleries in Pall Mall in London. There is a label on the back of the picture acknowledging your kind help and permission to use your photograph and images.
Thank you again for your time and trouble in sending me the resource photo.

With best wishes,
Wendy D. Borello
By the way, the painting is for sale in the RSMA exhibition for 1,300 pounds.
I'm going to be able to attend the opening of the exhibition in London on 14th October! Both my submissions to RSMA were accepted, the other one is also an underwater scene--of the Revenge after she sank in the Azores is 1591 entitled "And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags/To be lost evermore in the main" Tennyson. The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet.

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Harry Beswick

I am researching the royal oak for a school project, my great uncle harry beswick sadly was one of those lost on the royal oak....he was only 19 according to my great nanny, the navy records have age unknown, He had a unhappy home life and ran off to join the navy (very strict father) my great nanny never forgave him, very sad.
I thought i would let you know im finding your site very useful,

Michaela... age 10 yrs
ps; if you have anything that would be helpful for me to add to my project i would be gratefull, thankyou.

Hello peter, thankyou for getting back to me so soon, i have spoken to my great nanny today and found out that my great great uncle Harry william james Beswick, born and lived in frankly, birmingham, was a stoker in the soak room and he wouldnt have known a thing about what had happened' my great nanny ( florence' and sister 'Alice' remember a friend of his called 'Billy' who had survived visited them and told the family this. apparently Billy was sweet on Alice!
Harry Beswick was born july 1919 and joined the navy in 1938 they think. he was previous a gardener.
My great nanny has always had his navy picture up on her wall..... my great great nan had cut of his friend billy who had been in the picture with him! i suppose she only wanted her son in the frame, maybe billy had the same photo? still with both of them.
I would like very much for you to put these on your site thankyou,
michaela age 10

Ken Conway and A. Craven

hi Peter.
having a clear out. found what must be the only photo I had taken on the Royal Oak.
Ken Conway

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Able Seaman Thomas Fredrick Britton

This is probably the last photograph taken of my uncle Able Seaman Thomas Fredrick Britton. I think it was also the last leave he had before the fatal day. It is taken in his garden in Portsmouth with his sister Irene (my mother). He left behind a wife Norah and three children Betty, John and Allan.
Originally from Yorkshire, he had been due to leave the navy in 1939 when war broke out. I wasn't born till the end of the following year so unfortunately never knew him.
I hope this will be helpful to you I think you are doing a great job.
Regards. Joan White. Perth, Western Australia.

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The passing of George White

I am glad to have found your excellent web site. A very good friend of mine George White who was fortunate to survive the Royal Oak disaster swam for his life just a month before his seventeenth birthday. Sadly,George passed away in the early hours of August 21st having been admitted to hospital just a few days earlier.
George leaves a wife Phylis,always Phyl, and a daughter who has lived in the USA for many years.
After the events of November 1939 George served through the war and subsequently had a second career with the Foreign Office working in many embassies around the World. Amongst Georges effects I know there is much information about his careers which I am sure Phyl would be happy to share.
It is over ten years ago that George and Phyl settled in Cheshire and it is here that we met,mainly through the Bowls Club at Richmond Village in Nantwich where they lived in an apartment overlooking the bowling green.
George was a lovely chap,devoted to Phyl,and a very cheerful companion; right to the end he was noted for his "typical sailor's chat-up line with the ladies" - as one of them said to me only yesterday.
It is sad to report the going of another survivor from Royal Oak - how many remain?
If there is anyone out there who remembers George R.White from any time in his working life it would be interesting to hear from you.
John McWhan
27th August 2008

Royal Oak photo

Dear Peter, I am in my late sixty's. As a young boy my parents had a photograph of the Royal Oak on our wall. This was not a photo that had been taken by a rating or anybody not important.This was a professional large photo, with a gold line around it and gold lettering under it "H.M.S. ROYAL OAK"
On asking my father about it he answered that that was the ship my Uncle Joe (his brother) had served on. Now I dont know if he was on the ship when she was sunk or before. I do however have photo's of uncle Joe in naval uniform, But, tropical uniform and some photos or card that look like Africa.
Uncle Joe at sometime received injury that he was committed to Rainhill mental institute. Unless I miss-understood because I was young took it that this injury was as a result of the sinking of the Royal Oak. But having found you site he was not on the survivors list. The injury I believe was due to a blow on the head from loose rigging. All persons I knew, who may have the answers have passed on. And after my father past away in 1975, I never saw the photograph again. My older brother ( also past on ) had my fathers house emptied. So it would seem that Joseph Dunn's time in the navy will remain a puzzle unsolved.
Joseph Dunn was released from the mental institute in the late fifties or early sixties, and was last listed as living in Widnes Lancs. I last saw him in early 70's. But given his age I do not think he will still be alive.
Many thanks for listening

Contact details for Sean Smith re George C Pollard

On visiting your 'Royal Oak' site I noticed that a Sean Smith asked if anyone could help with information concerning his great-uncle, George C Pollard.
I have information for him including a photograph of his great-uncle but have tried emailing him on the email address given on your site; but without success.
I have tried on two occasions but get a 'mail return' stating that my email could not be delivered.
If anyone has up to date contact details could they please contact me.

George Macgregor

John Sidney Hall

It is with regret that we have to announce that another Royal Oak survivor has passed away.
John Sidney Hall passed away on Saturday August 2nd 2008 at 06:20.
His family have asked that a message be put on the website so that they can let people who knew him, but for whom they have no e-mail addresses, know that he has passed away.
The picture shows from left to right John Hall, Bert Pocock, Arthur Smith & Kenneth Toop.
According to Kenneth's list, survivors now number 15, because we have now lost 2 this year. The ashes of the other survivor Fernleigh Judge is being put in the Royal Oak in October by the NDG.
John was 85 years of age. His date of birth was 28.04.1923.

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School trip

Dear Peter,
Not helpful to you I'm afraid. Just a reminisce!
At the outbreak of the 2nd World War I was a 7 year old living in North London. My school took us away to Weymouth in the summer of 39. One of our outings there, apart from a tannery and the gas works, was a trip out to Portland Bill, where we boarded the Royal Oak. We youngsters I recall were royally treated, with huge chunks of bread and jam in the messes and "rides" on the torpedo tubes as they were traversed. Being so young I'm afraid a camera was a no-no!
I shall always treasure the memory -- particularly as I am now in my 76th year!
With every good wish in your endeavours.
Rev. Dennis Barratt

Mystery Royal Oak badge

I have recentley cleared my late mothers house and have found a badge from H.M.S Royal Oak
I know that my late father and grandfather both served on minesweepers in ww2 but as far as i know they had no connection with H.M.S Royal Oak unless a later minesweeper carried this name
If this is not the case i am pleased to send this badge to you if it helps you to complete your history
My late grandfather was George W Squirell and my late father was John Squirell
Margaret Sheard nee Squirell

My wife Margaret is very pleased the badge is useful and in good hands.
I wondered if when you put the photo on the web site if you could make a
dedication of some kind to my wife Margaret's late father John (Jack)

Attatched a photo of my personally built 1/500 scale HMS Royal Oak. Its a Russian produced model kit, sadly now out of production! I had to scoured the internet to find it and was lucky. I dedicated the model to the fallen of HMS Royal Oak.
Ronald Hanes

My late grandfather, Ronald Hanes was a survivor of Black Friday but is not listed in the book of the same name.
His parents originally received a telegram stating him as missing then soon received another one stating he was found
I have a copy of the newspaper cutting about it
Don't know if this is the sort of thing you want to know about but we are obviously very proud of him
Thanks for listening
Katie Clinton

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Cyril Sibley

Hi, Thanks for a brilliant site. It has helped an elderly lady ( Eileen Tasker) to know the facts of the sinking, she was engaged to Cyril Sibley a stoker on the Royal Oak ( formally on HMS Albatross), She would be grateful if anyone knew Cyril also known as Nick or any relations who may still be alive.

S. Terry

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Grandfather, Survivor Henry Balch

I liked to draw as a child and as a young teen. I drew this ship in honour of my Grandfathers Ship HMS Royal Oak. I wrote to CinC Portsmouth and several letters pass between us and he found time to see me and my drawings and gave me a most splendid day.
I've been reading Last Dawn it's a splendid book of such a tragic event with information I did not know about, I recommend it to all interest in HMS Royal Oak.
Michael Nottage

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William Ernest Rowland DCM

My great grandfather William Ernest Rowland DCM served aboard the HMS Royal Oak from 30/04/1916 till 30/12/18 and was present aboard her at the Battle of Jutland
he joined the navy in 1912 according to my grandfather he lied about hes age and was only 12 at the time. he was aboard HMS Vanguard for a few months and then HMS Lord Nelson for 3 years in which he was present escorting the British Expedianary Force across to France in 1914, in 1915 he fought in the Dardanelles campaign from beginng to end, participating in the naval operations leading up the invasion and the battle of March 18th, he was shot in the leg on April 25th at the landings at Cape Helles, he was awarded a DCM in November of 1915 for actions unknown to me, also at the same time Lord Kitchener was aboard hes ship, after the war he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy until 1935 then Royal Australian Fleet reserve until 1940, he served on the HMAS Kanimbla as MAA from 1939 till 1942 he took part in the invasion of Persia in 1941 and saw both theatres of war he retired in 1945 after the war ended.
I also read that Drake's Drum was heard aboard the Royal Oak during the German Navies surrender
If anyone has any other information, crew lists, crew photos ect on the Royal Oak from 1916 to 1919 please get in touch.

Aaron Rowland

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Hi i sent an email to you a couple of weeks ago about my great grandfather William Ernest Rowland, i've recently discovered more photos of him and i thought would be great for your site.

Sutherland, H.J.

My husbands uncle, Sutherland, H.J. lost his life on the Royal Oak. we have never known much about him as my mother-in-law passed away when we had only been married a few years. Any information would be appreciated.

Lynne & Peter Cuthill

'Last Dawn'

I am attaching information about a book of ours out on 1st May.
Last Dawn is a reassessment of the HMS Royal Oak sinking. It is of interest for history especially maritime and military. It is a very readable and richly illustrated paperback.
I hope you can put information about this on your site.

Derek Rodger

Any further info try and go to Maritime.
Or phone 01369 820229.
ISBN 9781906134136

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Henry James Sadler

I was sorting out some old photos and came across many including this one of a ships crew which includes someone I knew as Uncle Henry as my father grew up with him. Henry James Sadler is sitting crossed leg in the front row fourth from the signage on the right.
This sign says, I think, "The Royal Marine Detachment, HMS Royal Oak from May 1st 19??" but the date is obliterated by the bugle and nothing has been written on the reverse. I was hoping that if you could kindly place this on your website, someone out there might know the year and make contact with me with other information.
I always understood that Uncle Henry served in the Merchant Navy - I do not know when and his name doesn't appear in any list other than on HMS Hood where he (if it is him) is listed as an Able Seaman during 1923-24. I'd also be very pleased to know more about his rank/uniform from the second photo attached. I believe he was born between 1900-1910. Sorry I have no other information.
I look forward to hearing more in due course and thank you for your time.

Best regards
Pat Cox (Ms)

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I run a site dedicated to the memory of those who served on Ramillies and came across a photo album with some Royal Oak crew photos and thought you would like to put them on your site.
If any visitors have Ramillies photos or stories I would love to hear from them.
Best wishes
Mick French

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Aubry John Priestley and Ronald Thomas Parker

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I have been tracing my family tree and have found that a great uncle of mine (Aubrey John Priestley (known as 'John')) and his cousin both went down with HMS Royal Oak. As a part of my research a distant relative that I didn't even know has found some photos for me that I thought may interest you. These may also be of interest to Peter Kingfisher who has put a request on the 'requests' page about 'Mountford, H.C.L' - the photo of the two Boys stood together, the one on the left is Aubrey John Priestley, the one on the right is more than likely HCL Mountford. I have emailed Peter but got no reply even after correcting his misspelled email address.

Feel free to include these photos, clippings and my full email (including email address) on your website. If you do this, can you also give credit to Susan Winfield who supplied me with them - I am very thankful that she passed these on to me.


David Priestley

Denis Roy Woolgar

Just a note to say thank you for the website about HMS Royal Oak and her tragic end. I had a cousin on board who lost his life in the Sinking. Marine Denis Roy Woolgar was 18 years old.
Thanks again,
Lloyd Penfold.

Raymond Geoffrey HULL - radio operator

My uncle Raymond Geoffrey HULL was lost when the Royal Oak sank. He was, I understand, a radio operator. His records are easily found on your website and the CWGC website but I haven't any photographs of him. My grandmother proudly displayed a formal photograph of him in her home in Andover, Hampshire, but I do not know what happened to it. I would like to know if you have any advice to offer. Maybe visitors to your website can help, and I also wonder if Royal Naval records of his service might also still exist. Perhaps his personnel file, if it has survived him, might be available for inspection, and might also contain a photograph of him when he enlisted?
You assistance would be appreciated.
Mrs. Marie Gregory (nee Hull)

Albert Eaton looking for Hank McCarthy

I have just visited your wonderful site at the request of my father, Albert Eaton, who is 87 years of age, he actually served for a while on H.M.S Hood before being transferred to just prior to it being sunk, to submarines he tells me that the reason the Hood sunk was because they removed some of its Armour plating to accommodate his radio room just above the magazine room .
He informed me that a mate of his was a survivor on the Oak and asked me to see if I could find out if he was still alive and expressing his wish to see him once again, I think that they were both radio operators, (Morse code ) at some point in their naval careers, I know it is a long shot, but I think it is worth a try. I would be grateful of any information you might have.
His pals name was Hank Mc Carthy, not sure if you can help, but it would be great if he was still alive and we could bring the two together for old times.

Regards ,
David Eaton.

R. H. Gardiner

I've just found your site, my dad was a survivor RH Gardiner, he was an able seaman then but retired as a Lt Commander.
I've attached a few scans and cuttings from the newspaper.

Thanks for the website, its good to show his Great Grandchildren
Nigel Gardiner (Son)

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Henry (Harry) Murrell

I recently came into possession of several photos that belonged to my Grandfather, Henry (Harry) Murrell M23585. AR.GR.RN. My Grandfather is seated in the photo with the seaman in the boiler suit standing to his left. the rear of the photo is signed and dated 14/5/1918. I have no information or the other trio, although the rear of the photo is dated '19/8/18 with G Deacons compliments'
I have also copied a leave ticket dated 28/29 July but unfortunately no year!
The 'fancy dress' type picture is one of 16 similar depicting various comedy sketches, presumably to keep the crew of the 'ROYAL OAK' amused?
From other documents, I have worked out that my Grandfather would have been about 19yrs old when the photo was taken.
I can remember my Grandmother telling me how distraught he was (in a cinema I think) upon hearing the terrible news of the sinking of 'His Ship'
Hope you find this of interest,

Best Wishes,
Steve Rouse
Tel. 0208-524-5178

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Les Jelley

My grandfather (who served on the British Aircraft Carrier Indefatigable from 42 onwards) who recently passed away had a brother Les Jelley who lost his life when the Royal Oak was sunk. I would be extremely grateful if anyone that had any information on my great uncle Less could pass it on.

Paul Morris

Hal Branch

Thank you for putting together this site. I am looking for information about Hal Branch, Supply Petty Officer who was my husband's father and who died on board HMS Royal Oak in October 1939.
My husband was only 2 months old when his father died and we would like any information anyone might have about him. I gather he was commonly known as Mick.

Thank you for your assistance.
Jane Branch

Royal Oak prints

I thought visitors to your web site might like to know that they can purchase prints of HMS Royal Oak by the artists Anthony Saunders, Ivan Berryman and Randall Wilson at

Best wishes
Michael Nottage.

Ships badge

I have just been looking at your website, and what a stunning tribute to the Officers and Men who served in her.
My old Sea Cadet Commanding Officer was a stoker on her when she was sank, Lt Cdr Douggie Newton SCC, sadly he passed away some years ago, he was one of my boyhood heroes, and also my inspration for joining The Royal Navy, I can vivdly remember him telling us the story, of her sinking and him having to slide down the keel after she turned over, his back being ripped to shreds by the barnacles, for a 13 year old boy this was real adventure stuff.
I went on to join The Royal Navy in 1977 at the age of 16, and served for 14 years before being invalided out, I served with 846 Naval Air Squadron during the Falklands and served in HMS Edinburgh during the Patrols escorting tankers through the Straights of Hormuz prior to the first Gulf War.
I served in the following ships Sirius, Hermes, Fearless, Intrepid, Brilliant, Brazen, and Edinburgh Shore bases Raleigh, Heron, Osprey, Warrior, Caledonia, and Cochrane. I also trained as a Ships Diver and did this for 10 years and would have loved the chance to have dived on her.
I have my own website with a Naval theme as I now make and collect badges for HM Ships. I have over 500 in my collection and a very understanding wife.
I thought you may be interested in this photo of the Badge for HMS Royal Oak which hangs on the wall at home. Please feel free to use this on your website

yours aye
William 'Robbie' Burns
Ex Royal Navy 1977 - 1991

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R. A. Barnfather

My name is Ray Barnfather my uncle, also called Raymond, was a casualty on the Royal Oak I was browsing through the list of casualties and I noticed a minor discrepancy with his initials It is Raymond Arthur Barnfather not R.N. he was a Boy 1st Class aged 16 and his official number was P/JX 158573 I enclose a photo of him for your excellent website and hope maybe one of the few survivors may remember him.
I myself was in the R.N. and served on HMS Intrepid and on Polaris submarines mainly HMS Renown and left after 10 years service as a Leading Stoker, I hope you find this information useful and if I can supply you with any other information please feel free to get in touch.

Yours Sincerely
Ray Barnfather

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HMS Royal Oak's motto

You have an email from simon cassidy titled 'questions can you help'. I have an answer, HMS Royal Oak's motto was 'Old but Firm'. I will at sometime display the pictures of HMS Royal Oak Ships Badge on my website.

Michael Nottage

Edward Williams

Queen Maud's Funeral

My father Edward Williams was a serving member of the Royal Navy until 1941 - when he was invalided out. He served on HMS Royal Oak as a Leading Seaman from Sept 1938 to January 1939. In November 1938 he formed part of  a guard of honour - standing guard by the coffin of Queen Maud who had died in the UK and was being taken back to Norway. There was a photgraph of him in the family home when I was a child. He is shown presumably on board the ship standing at the corner of the draped coffin  with his head bowed over his upturned rifle.When my father died in 1964 my mother in her grief destroyed many things which should have been retained. Have tried UK military establishments in case they have a copy of this picture-no luck. Have written to Archives office in Oslo - they can't help. I would love to trace this to show to my own children and grandchildren
I wondered whether you or any ex-members of the ship may have any information or photographs pertaining to this occasion plse ? Your help would be much appreciated.

Val Dixon

V. R. Thompson - A survivors story

V. R. Thompson will be 85 shortly and his son, Don Thompson, contacted me to say that he would be happy to talk of his experience. I phoned him on the 12th October 2007 and the following is a transcript of our conversation:

I was just 14 days away from my 17th birthday and was a Boy Seaman 1st Class, Messenger to the Navigating Officer. I was on watch from midnight to 1am and was in communication with the Transmission Station. I looked at my watch and saw it was 3 minutes past one so I went to get my relief watch and suddenly there was a loud bang and the sound of anchor chain running out.

About 10 minutes later there was a series of very loud explosions amidships and the ship rose in the water and started to roll at a fast rate. Several men were getting into a small picket boat but it had no power and as more men piled in, it capsized, throwing Thompson into the water.

He estimates he was in the water for about an hour and was lucky to avoid any oil but he soon got cramp and lay on his back. Fortunately he still had his service jumper on and he stuffed floats up it to help keep him afloat.

It was a dark night and the sounds of other survivors gradually faded away into silence but suddenly an oar flashed over his head and he heard a voice say "There's one over here and he's still alive".

He was taken to the Pegasus and down into the engine room to warm up. The following day he was transferred to Thurso and after 2 days was put on a train to Portsmouth and allowed 17 days leave before being posted to HMS Frobisher and eventually on 13th December 1939 to HMS Manchester where he was involved in the Norwegian Campaign.

At no time was he consulted about how he felt following the sinking and, as events and movements transpired so quickly he was unable to ascertain who had been lost or survived.

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John S. Simmons

Here is a photo of my late Brother and his schoolboy friend both from brighton, who joined the Royal Oak from St Vincent at the age of 17 and a half years, in total over 30 from the Sussex area went down in the Royal Oak. If there are any survivers from the Sussex area i would love to hear from them.

William Simmons (Bill)
President Javea Branch The Royal British legion.
Manuel Bordes Valls 4
Block 1 Apto 4
03730 Javea

Tel. 00 34 96 579 5687.

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hi peter, attached pic of a pine "diddy box" w.tickner r.a. marine hms erin,

royal oak, crossed anchors in the other corners. any suggestions. no dates

so could pre pre war ! no trace in yr index. cheers brian
J. J. Rutherford

Hello Peter,I have visited your website and found it very interesting,I am attaching a photograph of J.J.Rutherford who I understand from records was a 1st class stoker he was my Great Uncle and was known as Jack.
My late mother Margaret told me a story about the time she had a beautiful pair of black patent leather shoes and she was always admiring them but she was told that she could only wear them when Uncle Jack came home and got married, he never came home and that stuck in her memory she was only six years old.I would be grateful for any information.My email address is _robertiredale@aol.com_
( Thanks Alison Dixon

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68th Anniversary

With the 68th Royal Oak Memorial service coming up in a few days, my thoughts returned to my fathers papers on the Royal Oak.

In the back of his copy of Alexander McKee's, 1960 Corgi Edition of "Black Saturday" my father had penned the following words:

"When the waves over
Scapa Pier Break,
And the winds Easterly blow
The Boys of Royal Oak
Peacefully sleep
In the waters below"

In the front of the book Herbert Herrmann had penned

"Herbert Herrmann
one from U47
Sorry old boy.

My thoughts will be with all on the 14 Oct.

Mike Pattison

Dear Peter,

I must commend you for your wonderful internet site honoring HMS Royal Oak. Its fortunate that we have a gentlemen like yourself who has become involved and dedicated to preserving the history of this fine ship and the memory of its gallant crew who were lost that fateful night these many years ago.

We have been to Orkney many times and never fail to remember the events of her sinking. Only a few weeks ago we were lunching in the Commodore restaurant which as you know overlooks the path that the submarine used to penetrate the Flow and have driven many times over the years across No1 Barrier which of course spans Holm Sound.

Again, this year we visited the memorial at Scapa Bay and looked at the names of those who paid the supreme sacrifice. Many times we had visited the Cathedral in Kirkwall and have seen the memorial to HMS Royal Oak.

Many years ago on my first visit to Orkney I had the great honor of being introduced to Skipper John Gatt, DSO, RNR (ret), former Skipper of the Admiralty Drifter Daisy. I can tell you Peter I felt humbled to be in this man's presence. His unassuming character and humanity are something I will never forget. What Skipper Gatt did for the survivors you have equaled for all of the Ship's Company and this famous vessel. You deserve and I hope you get some official recognition.

Again, thank you.


Noel Howard Hall, CD
Master Warrant Officer (ret)
Canadian Armed Forces
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

C F Cornish

On the website i see that you have pictures and writing about certain people who were on the Royal Oak,
On behalf of my Auntie, this is her Father in law CHARLES FREDERICK CORNISH who lost his life on the Royal Oak,
I hope that you could put this on the web site,

my email adress is

Kind Regards

Daniel Turner

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Royal Oak poem

Thought you might be interested in a poem I found among dad's papers, it is
unnamed. I am writing it as it appears on the page.


The evening sun declining low, had kissed the azure sea,
The Royal Oak's clear bugle call salutes the passing day.
The silver moons soft kindly light, replaced the fiery glow,
The myriad stars blue twinkling gems lit up Scapa Flow.

The quiet isles and heather hills around the peaceful shore,
They breathed of peace and solitude, no part they had with war.
Twelve hundred souls a sacred charge, bestowed to Royal Oak,
Twelve hundred boys in peaceful sleep, how few alas awoke.

The prowling sub with fiendish art had crept below her keel,
And leashed sorrow and destruction in a tube of gleaming steel.
Where was life and virile manhood, in a moment, gone before,
Now was changed to anguished creatures, Oh the tragedy of war.

Sailor boys, some called for mother, or their children, or to god,
As they closed their eyes forever in the decks so bravely trod.
And upon the moonlight waters, tossed upon the foaming wave,
Where they sailed on might and glory, there they found a restless grave.

So the morning sun arising, shone upon an empty sea,
They had passed to greater honour, in the glory yet to be.
And the weeping wives and mothers may remember with a sigh,
How the Royal Oak of Britain proved how Britishers can die.

Still their deathless deeds are living, their spirits sailing on,
For the glorious might of Britain, will survive when we are gone.
No greater gift can God bestow, or honour can he give than this.
To let us bravely Die, That other men may Live.

Marathon team?

Hello Peter

I have found a photo of the HMS ROYAL OAK marathon team and I was wondering if it was the same ROYAL OAK. I have been interested in stories about the ROYAL OAK for many years .

thank you

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George Edward Myers

This is a photo of my father (on the left), George Edward Myers, who perished aboard HMS Royal Oak in 1939. The photo was taken in June 1933 in Malta. The oppo with him is unknown to me, and I wonder if anyone can identify him? I have at least one other photo showing my father with the same oppo, so they must have been good friends, I presume. It would be really nice to know who it is, and whether or not he served on HMS Royal Oak.
Thanks for your excellent web site,
Roger Edward Myers

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Fleet signal

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Digging into the more obscure corners of my family tree, I discover my grandfather Frank William Skepper was aboard the HMS Pegasus when the Royal Oak was sunk on 14th October 1939.

I have a Fleet signal from Cpt Benn of the HMS Voltaire sent to the Pegasus thanking her, dated 14th October 1939.

Steve Skepper

Plaque ceremony 1948

My father Rev G Arthur Fryer was the officiating minister at the unveiling of the plaque in St Magnus Cathedral in Oct 1948.

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Rear-Admiral W G Benn was the officiating naval man. According to my fathers notes visitors "included survivors, near relatives etc some who travelled the full length of Britain to be here." These pictures must have been copies or taken by a local photographer. The only person I can identify is my father Rev Fryer. The provost is the man in the robes but I do not know his name.

This photo has the name of the photographers and copyright stamped on the back. "J Abrahams & Sons, Naval, military and press photographers, 57 Union Street, Plymouth. Institute of British photographers." You may have heard of them. As I said I do not know where this plaque is and I also would like to know. If you get more information please let me know.


Anne Evans, New Zealand


I saw your interesting note on the Royal Oak web site about the unveiling of the plaque in 1948 at St Magnus. You may be interested to know that the Abrahams were an old established Jewish family from Plymouth (the 2nd oldest synagogue in the UK ) and all saw distinguished service in WW1 and WW2 as naval pilots and crew as well as naval photographers. One of the brothers was ship's photographer on the Repulse, sunk by the Japanese in 1942, but happily survived and was shipped with some lucky others to Australia. We have in our Jewish Military Museum in Hendon, London, a huge photo album which belonged to the family, discovered at a car boot sale, and shows their history and includes many military photos of members of the family. We had several Jewish sailors on the Royal Oak.

Martin Sugarman, Archivist, Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women of the UK - AJEX

James Arthur Smith

My wife Carol Hopcroft nee Smith had an uncle JAMES ARTHUR SMITH who died on the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow. He died before she was born and we have no living relatives who remember him. I believe he was a Boy First Class and as the attached photo shows he trained on HMS Caledonia which is the only photo we have of him, he was approx 17 years old when he died and came from Tholthorpe in Yorkshire. Had a brother Samuel Smith (Carol father) who died some years ago and was close to James but couldn't talk about him. I hope the attached photo comes out all right and hope you can post this on your website to see if any survivors knew of him.
Great website find it very useful, much appreciated.

yours sincerely
Lewis Hopcroft

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John Furlong

I found your web site very informitive. I would appreicate if anyone had Photos or information on John Furlong lost at Scapa Flow 13/10/39. He was son of William and Margeret Furlong Wexford Ireland. He would have been 19 years old at the time.

Lydia O' Grady

Oil painting

Hi saw your website and thought you might be interested in this picture i purchased at a boot sale in Portsmouth. its in oils on a board backed canvas you cant see the complete word oak but I'm sure that's what it is
any ideas?????

Martin Ford.

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HMS Pegasus

Dear Peter,
Have just read your excellent website.
My grandfather John [ Jack] Prince [ 1898- 1965] was a mechanic on H.M.S Pegasus and was on duty the night of the sinking. He was a veteran of the WW1 and had served in China in the 20s and would serve onto 1946,
He never spoke of his experiences, but when I was reading an article on the sinking in the early 60s he commented that he was there that night and that he and others on the Pegasus had got the boats out and tried to rescue those in the water. Many were drowning in oil and the rescuers went in the water to get them to the boats.
After his death my grandmother gave me a crucifix which she said had been given to him by a survivor he pulled from the water.

Chris Prince.

Robert (Bob) Wyatt

Dear Peter,
What an interesting website you've created! All the anecdotes and remembrances of contributors are fascinating to read too.
In the course of exploring my family history, I find that my Great-Uncle served on the HMS Royal Oak. He was Robert (Bob) Wyatt, born c.1901 in Bethnal Green, London.
It is believed that he was luckily on shore leave when the ship was sunk at Scapa Flow. He married a woman named Louisa (Lou) but had no children.
Here is a picture of him. I don't know when it was taken, but he looks fairly young in it. I'd love to find more about his service history, especially related to this ship.
Sue Thomas

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AWJ Diable

Reading your articles on the Royal Oak, I was wondering if you could assist me in resolving the following:
My late Father in Law, Albert William John Diable served as MAA on boardfrom 2nd Apr 37 until 7th Jun 39. During this time he received a commemorative medal from the King of Norway Haakon VII also a letter from the Steward to her Late Majesty The Queen of Norway Mr A E Searle dated May 5th 1939.
I am trying to discover why this medal was issued and if it was issued to the ships crew etc. I believe it was something to do with the evacuation of the King from Norway to Britain. Can anyone confirm this?
Many thanks in anticipation
Alan Hook


Thanks for putting the above message on the website.
I have uncovered some more info on the Royal Oak you might be interested in. This picture shows a coffin being taken on board the Royal Oak. This might be Her Royal Majesty The Queen of Norway being taken back from London, where she died, to Norway in 1938.
Attached are copies of letters received from The Royal Palace by my Late Father in Law regarding the commemorative medals I mentioned in my previous e-mail.

Best Wishes
Alan Hook

Royal Palace

Dec 3/38

Dear Mr Diable
Please find enclosed 3 yards of Household Red ribbon to go with your Medals. His Majesty was pleased to give extra ribbon with compliments from His Majesty no charge. I appreciate your thoughts of His Majesty courage in his sad bereavement and am sure you and the ships company feelings were with him. I myself can understand my feelings after being 42 years in Her Majesty service.
Well if I am still about at the above address I shall always welcome His Majestys Fleet Officers as Her Late Majesty wish me to do when paying their visits to Norway.
Yours Very Truly
A E Searle
Steward to Her Late Majesty
The Queen of Norway

May 5/39

Dear Mr Diable
Thank you so much for the photos it is very kind of you please let me know if any cost. Now respecting the commemorative Medal you have received from His Majesty the King of Norway I think there must be as you say some mistake you being restricted wearing them on with your other orders. Write a letter to Mr George Ponsonby Buckingham Palace and explain to him and letter he can forward to His Majesty here. If nothing comes of this write me a letter that I can show to His Majesty personally. It will be a pleasure to help you for all your kindness received on board The Royal Oak. I shall always remember it.
Thanking you for your Loyal wishes to the Royal Family. Please accept same to yourself and crew of the Royal Oak.
Yours Very Truly
A E Searle
Steward to His Majesty
The King of Norway

Rear Admiral Blagrove

Rear Admiral Blagrove who was lost in HMS Royal Oak is featured in the above website.

Michael Nottage.
(Grandson of Henry Balch 'HMS Royal Oak Survivor').

E Clements

I have recently lost my Great Grandmother and just before she passed away she was showing me some old photo's that she had recently found in the box was a photo of her brother E Clements and on the back of the photo were the words HMS Royal Oak. I have just been looking at your web site and noticed that one of the people that died was in fact a E Clements.
My family come from the West Sussex area and at my Grandmothers funeral the Vicor spoke about our strong family connection with the Navy. I would be most grateful if you could tell me any information about any of the people that died on board this ship.
I would be most interedted to find out if this Clements is in fact one of my family. My Grandmothers name was Hilda May Streeter - also known as Maisie. If you could contact me I would love to hear from you.

Emma Crew.

Reg Birch, survivor

I recently located the above photos both noted on the back as HMS Royal Oak.

I wrote to you some time ago (my note is still on your family request page). Reg survived the sinking - he is on the right in both photos but the other sailors are un-named.

Regards, Malcolm Birch

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Royal Oak Survivor Henry Balch

This is a photo of my Grandfather, HMS Royal Oak Survivor Henry Balch. My Grandfather is seen here 'Standing' the fellow seated is either a relation or close oppo. They are seen here in their No2 fore and arf and was probably taken in 1940-41.

Michael Nottage.

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Joseph Cutler

I have attached a photo of Joseph Arthur Cutler from Hull in East Yorkshire who went down with the Oak. He was my Grandma's brother.

The date on the back of the photo is 16/5/39. We believe he died shortly before his 20th birthday. His death record said he was a blacksmith 5th Class.


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Peter John Tawin Morris 1918 - 2007

Dear Peter,

I am sad to inform you that Peter Morris, survivor of the Oak passed away in Portsmouth on 8th February 2007 after a short illness.

He was 88 years old but still able to vividly recount his memories of that tragic day to his Grandhildren and Great Grandhilden, plus anyone else who would listen! He will be greatly missed by all his family and large circle of friends.


Barry & Ann Hugo (Nee Morris)

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John Atter

My father, John Atter, was a survivor of the Royal Oak and, as was the habit of many stories from the war, he told us very little about it. I only know that he managed to survive because he was on a watch boat at the time. He was only 21 and went on to serve on many other ships including HMS Glasgow and HMS Vanguard.

Unfortunately, my father died in 1986 and we gleaned very little more about the Royal Oak. He was a regular attendee at the reunions in Portsmouth until, I think, 1985.

I was speaking to a serving naval officer recently and I was very moved to hear that, when they are in Scapa Flow, the ship's flag is lowered to half-mast and the entire crew observe a minute's silence. This apparently applies to every Royal Navy ship that passes over the wreck of the Royal Oak.

Not much information, I know, but Dad would have liked me to contribute.

Lorraine Lunn (nee Atter)



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For many a long year now I have had a piece of naval history sitting outside my dining room which I purchased for £25 from a local follies shop and I have always wondered about its origin, the stewards who would have banged it and the officers who would have responded to its call.
Since the last Royal Oak was sunk at Scapa Flow and is a war grave, one assumes that no artefact has ever been removed from her hull. Therefore did it belong to the 1892 Royal Oak which was scrapped in 1914?
The shell casing has the following markings. There is a WD Arrow underneath which is the letter N and below it a figure 2 and below that the date 8 12 03 [well spaced out]. Then on the other side of the shell cashing there is CFRRF where the letter C is larger than the FRRF: KN where K is larger than N: the letter A inside a circle: a strange letter N followed by a figure 8 and a strange E without its top [or an upside down and back to front F] followed by a 3. I assume that this shell comes from the turn of the century and was never fired in anger.
I would love to know whether or not my observation is correct!

Godfrey Dykes


E. D. Densham

I remember my late mother telling me about her parents stopping their neighbour of theirs from listing to the radio all day so she did not her about the sinking of the Royal Oak until she was told that he was safe It was the mother of E D Densham, who was one of the survivor.



Ernest Brymer

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My husband and I have just returned from a holiday in South Africa. We thought you might be interested to learn that my cousin Myrna Lumley, sister to ERNEST BRYMER, who died on the Royal Oak, was able to show me a cutting that was published at the time of the disaster. We photographed it and so I am able to attach it for your interest.
We have today also emailed the Natal Witness Newspaper, asking them for more details from their paper [Assuming it was their paper!]. As you can see the relevant page was torn. I do hope they can help, as it would make interesting reading.
I also found out that ERNEST went first to SIMONSTOWN, because this was the location of the recruiting office for the Royal Navy.
Naturally I shall advise you if any further information is forthcoming.

Leonie and Milton Runcie.


George Olive

I have just discovered your website whilst looking for crew information on Sailors who served on the Royal Oak.
I am a keen diver and have visited Scapa Flow pretty much every year since 1988 to dive the German Fleet and block ships. I have only been over the Royal Oak and seen the trace on an echo sounder on one of the many dive charter boats.
My renewed interest in the Royal Oak came about yesterday when I learned from an distant relative that my Uncle, George Olive, (well actually my mum's uncle!) was a member of the crew whilst it was stationed at Scapa Flow, but was home on leave at the time of the sinking. George came from Bury Lancashire. I have lost touch with his family as I live in Southampton and he would now be in his 90's so I am assuming he has passed away.
I would like to hear from anyone who would have complete crew listings and able to confirm if and in what position George was a member of the crew.
I see that you have a Family Requests page and I would be grateful if you could post this please.
Many thanks

John Williams


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I have attached a couple if pictures and a copy of the telegram from my own collection. Please feel free to use them on your web site. The pictures may be pre WW2, I'm not too sure of the date, but the medals may be a clue. If anyone does contact you in the future with information on J.T.Pearce, please let me know. I believe he later went on to serve on the HMS Shropshire.


Up to date e mail address for Rob Knight?

Hello Peter, Its Brian Godwin as you may remember my uncle Thomas was lost on the royal oak in 1939 and we have e-mailed each other many times over the last year.
On the family requests page there is a piece about a Ellis Willcock who was a telegraphist on the Oak as was my uncle. There is a e-mail address on the page of I have tried it a couple of times with no reply do you have any further information on them?

Kind Regards
Brian Godwin


Charles S. L. Millar B.E.M

It is with great sadness that I contact you all with the news that my father Mr Charles S. L. Millar B.E.M passed away at 10:15am on friday 29th December 2006 at the age of 71. My family and I feel very lost at this time, but be aware he knew his Royal Oak families were always in touch during the last 6 months.

Thank you for all your help and e-mails in the past,
Agnes McBarron

Letter from John Gatt to a survivor

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Please find attached the scan of John Gatt's Letter. I have also included a couple of photographs, one is of my father (Corporal H Pattison RM) with the inevitable cigarette, the other is of four of his shipmates I think they were taken onboard Royal Oak, but can't be certain.

Have you seen the January 2007 issue No. 630 of Navy News. They have an article (Page 20) on the pumping out of the oil from Royal Oak with some excellent side scan sonar pictures of Royal Oak taken in 2006. They also have some of the article and more pictures on their website I believe the Royal Oak ships crest the Navy News show on page 20 to be incorrect and have emailed the Navy New editor suggesting it is incorrect.

Regards Mike Pattison

George Arthur East

Could anyone help me in my search for my Great Gandfather George Arthur East (known as Digger), he served on Hms Royal Oak & I know he joined the Navy in time for WW1, other than that I have very little information. There is also a family story that he was one of the first divers for the Navy to use a diving suit, but trying to investigate that i would understand that he should of perhaps been on Hms Excellent although I am beginning to think it maybe a myth!

I would really appreciate any info & congratulations on such a great site.

many thanks

Clare Chapman

R. W. Huscroft

I am looking for information on R.W Huscroft who died on the HMS Royal Oak. He may be my great uncle or my dads cousin, i would like to know his full name and what he did in his private life as my family want to know more about our relatives and we think we could know more with your help.

Thank you very much, Carol Huscroft

We are a seafaring family from the Hull area, our tradition is of merchant navy, local tugs on the river Humber and north sea and the Royal Navy

Recently after the death of my father who was ex Ark Royal I found in some effects a "Royal Oak" cap marker

My fathers brother, whom I am named after died on the Oak although he was a champion swimmer, that ia the extent of my knowledge!

This contact to you simply as a result of entering the ships name as a search but I am just interested to know more about my uncle and how he actually died or speak to a survivor who knew him maybe

best Wishes

Clive Edward Jones

George Davidson McGregor - Update

I sent a letter to the Managing Director of the and they forwarded a letter to Wilson Lee for me. Wilson Lee has since been in touch via letter saying he purchased the medals at a market in 1970.

Although the 3 medals say they are George Douglas McGregor and not Davidson, I'm sure there can't be any mistake... there was only 1 George McGregor who lost his life on the Oak.

I'll let you know of the outcome in due course. I need to reply to his letter which is hand written.

My thanks again for your help.


P.S. I mentioned to Pipex that I would keep them informed and if their PR department would like to publicise it in local or natioinal press or alike etc.

Douglas William Victor Sheldrick

Peter, It might be of interest? My father was on the Royal Oak the night she went down.

He was Stoker KX 95686 - Douglas William Victor Sheldrick. Fortunately, he survived, thanks to the gallant rescuers that prevailed that fatefull night.

Dad served on many warships later on after The Oak, one of which was the King George V and was serving on that ship when the Bismark was sunk. War was a terrible thing Dad used to say nevertheless he was proudly keen to serve his country.

Dad pasted away 31/10/2002, in hospital - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He was 83.

I had his ashes committed to sea via Royal Australian Navy and they were scattered in South Pacific Ocean off Nth.Queensland - a bit warmer than Scapa Flow. He is sailing again. God bless him and rest in peace.

Kindest Regards,

Mike Sheldrick.


Contact made through the website

Royal Marine Kenneth Joseph John Wood

One of my father's former comrades in the Royal Marines and, like him, a survivor of the sinking of the Royal Oak was able to contact my family recently thanks to your website. This would probably never have happened but for your enterprise!

With sincere thanks,

Yours faithfully,

John R Wood

(Father was Royal Marine Kenneth Joseph John Wood. He died on 27 April 1963 at Acton in Suffolk).

Able Seaman Harold Brown

My Mother's older brother, Able Seaman Harold Brown aged 21 was one of the 800+ who lost his life at Scapa Flow.

I have attached a photo of him sent to his late Mother showing the signet ring he had purchased with money sent for his 'coming of age' birthday. This was the last correspondence his family ever received from him. I hope you can make use of the photograph on your site.

If I may request from other families out there with any photographs of the original memorial service held in Kirkwall, I would really appreciate the chance to have some photographs of this. My late Father got some for my late Grandmother but they don't seem to have survived her lifetime which is rather sad for me.

Eileen Charnley


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Cyril. J. Stanley

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Attached is a copy photograph of my Dads brother Cyril. J. Stanley, his name sadly is amongst those lost on that tragic night in 1939

Cyril joined the Navy as a recruit at the age of fifteen years old, he completed his training as part of the crew of the HMS Ganges and was then posted to the Royal Oak.

He was aged only seventeen when he was lost

Myself and Dad are travelling to Scapa Flow for this years memorial service (14th October 06) and would like to kindly request that you post Cyril's picture onto your 'Family Notices' section of your web site in the hope that somebody might have any further details of his time in the Navy, either whilst training or on board the Royal Oak

Again many thanks for your work with the web site - excellent

Best Regards

Andy & Richard Stanley or

Albert Edward Hicks

I am writing in the hope that you can help me with finding some photos.

My grandfather, Albert Edward Hicks, went down with the Royal Oak. I am suprising my father and bringing him to visit the war grave in early January (18 -21). As well as that I'd like to make him a book with photos and information in as this is something he has always talked about and is very emotional about.

I noticed on your site a section named 'new crew photos', on this there is a picture of torpedomen on their lunchbreak on the Royal Oak. I would very much like to buy or copy this photograph if possible as the man in the centre of the picture, I am certain is my grandfather.

Can you help. I have emailed the contact name of the person who supplied them but have had no reply.

It would mean the world to me if I could obtain some of these photographs.

Many thanks

Claire Hicks

Last photo of Royal Oak?

Please find attached photograph of the Royal Oak which was taken by a relation of mine.

I had Kenneth Toop have a look at it last year, and although its not too clear as the original was so small he identified it as the Royal Oak.

I wonder if this could be only only picture ever taken as she lay at anchor below the cliffs at Gaitnip, as I am sure that photography would have been extremely restricted during the war.

I though you may want to add it to your website.

I wonder how long before the sinking this may have been taken, maybe you know how long she was at anchor in that position before the sinking?

My relation worked in Scapa Flow before the war on the tugs which were used during the salvage of the German Fleet, but I must find out hat his job was during the war.

This was one of only around 12 photographs which I have in my possession from him, the others show tugs and the upturned hulls of some of the salvaged wrecks as well as a couple of other bits and pieces.

With the anniversary coming round again, it came back into my mind.

All the best

Craig Taylor

Harold William Gill

i have just done some research trying to find one of my great grandfathers, his name was Harold william Gill, Service no:P/KX76025 (Leading Stoker) on board the H.M.S Royal Oak.

survivors list shows that he wasn't one of them and the lost list shows him on it. but there is some confusion with his date of death. the ship sank on 13/10/1939 and my grandfather died on 14/10/1939 and he is not at the lyoness naval cemetry. i dont know where he is buried and until my family find out then we cant grieve or finally lay him to rest properly.

i would like to know if there are any survivors who knew him or could give me some advice about where to start looking.



James Verdun Hearn

Good morning, I have just found your website about the Royal Oak.

My father, James Verdun Hearn was one of the survivors and I think that when he passed away 20 years ago we found his naval papers. I believe my elder brother gave them to someone in Chester le Street, Co. Durham (where we were born) who was doing some research on the ship.

My father always said that he was on deck having a cigarette when the ship was hit, he ended up in the water (unable to swim) and was eventually picked up by a rescue ship. He spent his 21st birthday (dob 5.11.1918) in the burns unit of (I believe) Aberdeen hospital. I know that when he went into the water he was on fire but amazingly the only evidence of this was a slight scar under his left arm where his vest had melted into his skin. This he said was due to the excellent treatment at the hospital. He would often tell me of his travels - I know he spent some time in Malta - on a holiday some 20 years ago I met a man who was also on the Oak while sitting in a bar in Valetta (it is a small world). If you have come across mention of my father in any of your research I would be grateful if you could let me know as I am sure my sister and 2 brothers would also be interested in any information you may have. Unfortunately, our mother also passed away 11 years ago so we cannot ask her for any information.

I also have the book Black Saturday and my father is mentioned in it.


Beatrice Mason

George C Pollard

I have discovered that the name of my great uncle was George C Pollard not George E Pollard, it just goes to show how very little information I have avalaible on this member of my family. I hope now someone who visits your web site will be able to forward some information to me regarding George and maybe even a photo of what he looked like as none exsists within my family.


Sean Smith

Thomas George Godwin


H.M.S. St Vincent, H.M.S. Aberdeen, H.M.S. Malaya, H.M.S. Royal Oak

The picture shows Tommy (left) with a shipmate from H.M.S. Malaya. (Click on picture for a larger image)

This is the piece that was in the Portsmouth Evening news, Oct 1939:

Mr and Mrs Godwin of Westbourne are still puzzled over the fate of their son, Leading Telegraphist, Thomas George Godwin.

Not many weeks ago they received a letter from him written in his usual cheerful manner. He was at that time attached to an escort ship.

When news of the loss of the Royal Oak became known, his mother was on a visit to Portchester and while there tendered sympathy to the families of the bereaved. She was about to purchase a birthday card and send it to her son for his 26th birthday. After arriving home, she decided to send him a greetings telegram.

Husband or Son

When his birthday arrived however, she was sadly surprised to receive a letter from the Admiralty indicating that he had been lost. But the letter included the word husband', so she felt that a mistake had been made. However, later that day the news was confirmed that in fact it was her son that had died on the Royal Oak.

Obvious Mistake

"I had no idea that he was on that ill fated ship, even when the first letter arrived I knew it must be a mistake, it was addressed to 'the wife of' not 'the mother'. When the second letter came showing the confusion had arisen over the names Goodwin and Godwin, it was clear that my son was one of the victims."

First Westbourne Casualty

"I received the first letter on his 26th birthday. It felt strange that Dad and I thought that our boy was safe on an escort ship. He is the first casualty from the village and we hope the last, everyone spoke very highly of him".

Brian Godwin

Official report of the sinking

A number of people have asked for details on the availability of copies of the official report including interviews with survivors. If you or any readers can inform me how I can obtain a copy I will be grateful of the information.

My father L/S L G Squires did not survive the sinking.


Robert F Squires

You can buy copies of the official HMS Royal Oak Sinking Records at
Michael Nottage.
(Grandson of Lead Cook 'Henry C Balch')
Survivor HMS Royal Oak.

Royal Oak ID

A friend of mine asked me if I could identify the ship in a photograph which he had been given, because he knew I was interested in maritime history he thought I may be able to help.

I realized the ship in question was from the 'R' class battleships, and in fact, after referring to my collection of books I identified the ship as HMS Royal Oak. What made the ID positive was the cutaways on both port and starboard bow just forward of 'A' turret, I have been unable to find any reference to these features and I was wondering if you could through some light on this matter.

I think the 'R' class ships have had a bad press over the years mainly because Churchill considered them 3rd rate ships mainly due to their low speed.

Great website.

J E Todd

Thomas Moylan

I have just found your HMS Royal Oak website and would be interested to trace anyone who has any further information on my great great uncle, Able Seaman Thomas Moylan (P/J 9494) who sadly went down with the ship in 1939. He was the son of James and Florence Moylan and married to Matilda Moylan and they lived in West Norwood, Surrey. Any photos would be appreciated.

Many thanks for a wonderful website.

Kind regards

Nina Spencer-Holmes

U47 rescue?

I have a small corollary story to the sinking of the Royal Oak.
I was told this a couple of days ago while staying with an old friend of mine in the UK who was an RN officer in the 1950s.
He accompanied to Scapa Flow an international group of NATO people, including a couple of Germans; all of them in civilian clothes.
Near the site of the sinking, somebody asked what a red buoy in the water signified. The vehicle driver explained it was over the wreck of the Royal Oak, and spat out a load of invective about the bloody Germans, etc.
Later, one of the Germans in the group told my friend that at about the time of the sinking, he was flying a reconnaisance mission over the North Sea when the plane was shot down.
He was able to land in the sea with a rubber dinghy, and hoped for rescue.
Rescue came from a submarie - it was the U47 on its return from the Royal Oak mission.
He reported that the crew was in celebratory mood after such a bold action.

I don't suppose this story will add anything to your work, but I thought it worth passing on.
I'm sure that my friend will be pleased to supply more details if you like.

With best regards,
Peter Ferrill

1919 photo

Not sure if this will be of any interest to you as it is almost a decade before this wonderful ship was sunk.

I have taken a photo of my photograph to try to show the ingenuity of photography way back in 1919.

The photograph shows the entire crew of the Royal Oak positioned in a huge semi circle underneath one of her guns, the camera is clockwork operated and take one continual shot from one side to the other that results in a flat end result.

My grandfather is in the middle quite close to the Captain, he had the picture rolled up in a cupboard for seventy years so I had it mounted under glass to protect it, that's his original hat band as well.

If I can find somewhere able to copy the photo without damaging it then I might consider making replicas to pass on to descendants that have relatives in the photo.

When looking at the photo almost all the faces are clearly visible and I find it very haunting to look at the vast array of men that served onboard her at this time.

Hope this is of interest


John Jacobs

Leslie William Wiggins

As the proud great nephew of Leslie William Wiggins who lost his life on the Royal Oak, I would be very thankful if either yourself or anyone else would have any information with regard to my great uncle.

My Grandfather recently passed away and losing his brother at a young age was clearly a very sore topic of conversation with him so I did not ask many questions on the subject. However my Grandfather did give me Leslie's toolbox and I am very proud to have this in my possession. It is believed that there was a photograph of Leslie in uniform but after his death this disappeared. My Grandfather did not have any photographs of him.

Below is some information which I have gathered


Ordnance Artificer 4th Class, P/MX 55597, H.M.S. Royal Oak, Royal Navy Who died on Saturday 14 October 1939. Age 23

Son of William Edward and Ada Millicent Wiggins, of Dartford, Kent.


I am now approaching my 21st Birthday and it saddens me greatly to think my great uncle did not see much past that age.

Any information would be greatly appreciated by my family


Louis Wiggins

G D McGregor - Wilson Lee please make contact

About halfway down this page there is an entry from a Wilson Lee at email address this is what he wrote:

"G D McGregor - Help wanted
I have a set of medals to Sto 1 G D McGregor who was killed when the ship went down, I also have his brothers RAF medals.
I am trying to find any information on both of them especially the Royal Oak brother.
Can you help? I need to know if he has a grave anywhere or is his only memorial the Navy one at Portsmouth?
Did he go down with the ship and is he part of the war grave?
Any information you can help with would be greatly appreciated.
Wilson Lee"

I am proud to say that I am the Great Nephew of Goerge Davidson McGregor who died on the Royal Oak. As far as I know there is no memorial or grave for George other than the official war grave at Scapa Flow. I've never been told about a brother in the RAF... perhaps Aunt Nel (George's sister now dead) and Uncle Fred from Dunfermline neglected to tell me that. I know there were 5 brothers (including George.) and 3 sisters; George, Harry, Fred, Bobby, ?(1 brother's name is not known)?, Jessie, Nel and Jemima. I don't know the brother's whereabouts but Harry went to Australia and came over to Britain a long time ago and one brother may have gone to Canada. Jessie still lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne with her husband Dennis Shippen. Can you be a relative of one of these? My Father is very keen to meet anyone from his mother's side of the family as we've had his father's genealogy done some time ago.

I've tried emailing Lee but it was undeliverable ( Lee, If you come back to this site can you please get in touch? I have a feeling you must be related if you have George's medals. My family and I would like very much to talk to you and perhaps meet.

Thank you

Mark Robinson

Jim Bentley

This is probably a long shot but thought I would throw out a hook.
My Grandfather JIM BENTLEY was from Stockport and served in the navy though I'm sure not on HMS Royal Oak. He had a ships clock that he claimed to be from HMS Royal Oak. He was quite secretive about this clock and worried right up to his death that he would be court-marshalled. You see, he said he won it in a card game. The loser could not pay up so he went back to the ship and brought my Grandfather the clock. Shortly after, the ship met her fate!

I'm sure he is looking down right now and cursing me for sending this email, but I'd like to lay his mind to rest and return it to it's home in some way.

How can I best achieve this? I am a qualified diver and I'd also like to dive the wreck. I'm particulary intersted in the card game story and would like to hear from anyone who knew my Grandfather.


Carl Bentley

Ellis Willcock

Dear Peter, thank you for a really good webpage. I've been doing some research into the above Telegraphist, who was my wife's uncle, and who sadly perished on the "Oak" when she was torpedoed. We visited Orkney last September, and it was heartening to see that the ship and men are respectfully remembered. In St. Magnus' Cathedral the Oak's bell is hung with a book of Remembrance below in a glass case. Every week a page is turned to display another set of names of those who died, and these are remembered in prayers. The Museum in Kirkwall also has a number of research documents and a copy of the book extant in the Cathedral. we were able to purchase a video there which we had viewed in the centre, and which was a story of the battleship and its demise.

The day that we went to see the site of the sinking was fair, and the sun and sea combined to portray a very beautiful and serene setting of its resting place. We are again off to Orkney this weekend, and will be revisiting the site, along with the other sites of historical and archeological interest. I am sure that your other users may find the page of some use in finding out a bit more about their families.

We'll probably be revisiting Orkney again later in the year, so if your readers have any requests that someone on the ground can help with ,then send me an email. We also intend to go to the Memorial at Southsea during the Summer to see Ellis' name, but I understand that the Navy have cocked up in spelling his name incorrectly as Willcox (nothing new there then!)

Rob Knight

I'm currently restoring my ship badges which are hung on the walls of my Aunt and Uncles Pub in Pompey and have just restored their HMS Royal Oak Badge this weekend. Its made of Plaster of Paris and these badges would of been given out to VIPs and Organisations that visited the ships.
Michael Nottage.

R. D. James

News of Old Boys


Extract from County Express 21st October 1939

It was with the deepest regret that the boys and staff of Old Swinford Hospital, Stourbridge, learned that among those lost in the sinking of H M S Royal Oak was R D James, Clifton-on-Teme, an old boy of the school.  He entered the school in September 1928 and left in December 1936. By that time he was a prefect, and had been captain of the School Rugby, Association Football and Cricket teams. As a prefect he led the school in its corporate life, and set an inspiring example to the younger boys, but it was on the playing field that he was at his best. He was not merely captain in name but proved himself a real leader-encouraging the others, never sparing himself and always in the thick of it. Coupled with this was his very cheerful disposition. He was a true Scout who smiled and whistled under difficulties. The Headmaster awards a medal each year to the boy who the school thinks has done most for the school during the year and it was no surprise that 'Jaker' as everyone called him, received his before he left.

Some time after leaving, James decided to join the Royal Navy. He was stationed at Portsmouth, where he was trained to become a gunner. During his leaves he invariably paid visits to the school. It was on his last visit in May that it was learned that he was to join H M S Royal Oak. Now comes the news that before reaching the age of 19 he has given his life for his country.

Eric Whitmore

I am Martin and am sending this e-mail from Malta. A few weeks ago i came across and subsequently bought an old book. When opening this book i found (to my surprise!!) that it was signed. The writing goes as follows 'To seargent's mess Ghajn Tuffieha from Seargent E. Whitmore Royal Oak 1939. Investigations later revealed to me that Sgt.Whitmore died when HMS Royal Oak was sunk. I was just wondering if you would be able to give me information about Sgt. Whitmore's family.

Thanks and keep up the good work,

Martin Micallef

Eric Whitmore

Please find attached a photograph (right) of my Great great Uncle, Eric Whitmore, who died on the HMS Royal Oak, we believe he was 21 when he died and that his date of birth was the 21st October. Could you please forward his photograph to anyone who requires shipmates photographs.

Many Thanks,

Georgina Wilkinson

Click on image for a larger version

Invergordon library

Hi, I live in North Scotland (married to an Orcadian) and I lived in Kirkwall for many years. My late father in law was a Legion man, so we knew much about the history of the Royal Oak.  I was surfing a local site about the history of Invergordon, the site is, and from there you can access a photo library of Invergordon. My point is that they have a photo of the Royal Oak Band marching in Invergordon, and according to the site, the ship then set sail for Scapa Flow.  I don't know if it is a well known photo or not, just thought I would pass it on. Any problems accessing the site, give me a shout. Linda

Kenneth Clayton

My father, Lt.Cdr Kenneth Bernard Clayton, was a survivor of the Royal Oak disaster, and often told me of his experiences that night.

He knew from very early on that it was a torpedo attack, as not only was he in the dynamo room well below the armored deck and heard the three torpedos strike in turn (he felt that two were one side of the room where he was and the other on the other side, but it appears from your site that the three strikes were quite close together), but he also saw the pieces of the German torpedos that were recovered (he was a Torpedo Officer aboard; he later ran MX department (the experimental mine department) at HMS Vernon.

Fortunately the room where he was had access out through the armoured deck, and so he was able to climb out onto a mess deck.

He got out of a porthole while the ship was on its side, and found himself on the side of the ship before it turned turtle and flung him into the water.  He always was a strong swimmer, but he did suffer problems resulting from the ingestion of fuel, and had skin problems for many years.

He died about ten years ago.  Not long before I met a Colonel Ward whose father had survived, he was the First Lieutenant - and my father remembered him well

RegardsTony Clayton

Henry Balch

My Late Grandfather 'Lead Cook Henry Balch P/MX48390 was serving in HMS Royal Oak the night she was torpedo and survivied her sinking. He was 27 years old and managed to squeeze himself out through a scuttle in a Wardroom Pantry and into the cold oilcovered waters of the Flow, he came across an oilsoaked baulk of timber which he said was part of the waterline rubbing strake and was joined by a Ordinance Artificer and the pair paddle about until eventually being picked up by boat. Henry Lost his brother 'Percy' in HMS Hood in 1941 and went on to serve for 26 years.

Michael Nottage.


Henry Balch

Funnel caps?

I still look at your video periodically and I recently discovered a book which, although primarily about HMS Royal Sovereign/Archangelsk does mention Royal Oak. The book refers to the distinctive (to me unsightly) funnel caps - or clinker screens as they were sometimes called - fitted to the R class battleships. Apparently Resolution received hers in 1922 but Royal Sovereign and Ramillies (not clear about Revenge) did not get theirs until some time in World War Two. Do you happen to know if Royal Oak had one? Or was she sunk too early in the War? I have seen photographs of her pre-1939 without a funnel cap.

Trevor Tremethick

Ernest Brymer

Dear Peter, I have been working for two years on family research for my father, Claude Athol Kroon, who served in the last world war. His war tales have only recently been told to me and that set me off on trails to see what I could find out about his family for him. All this has led to me finding many new relatives some of whom I have met. I have come to you via Leonie Runcie another cousin. My father had a cousin he particularly valued called Ernest Brymer. Ernest was the child of Jessie Bester, a sister of my grandmother. Jessie was married to David Brymer. Ernest is listed on the memorial at Southsea as having died on the Royal oak. He still has a sister alive in South Africa. I was wondering as none of us have a photo of Ernie, if any one remembers him and can recognise him in the pictures on your site. We would all apreciate anything in the way of information about Ernie. I believe he was born in Cape Town, trained on the General Botha and came to the Royal Oak from the S.A. Navy. He certainly left home very young and did not return. Thank you for anything you can add. Any one is welcome to contact me on my email address. Or write to me E.M.Audigier, at Mole Hill House, Molesworth, Huntingdon, CAMBS.PE280QD

Ernest Brymer

Dear Peter,
Your interesting website has just come to my attention. My cousin Ernest Brymer died in the sinking of the Royal Oak in 1939
It would be really interesting if any of the survivors remaining (or their families) knew, or were associated with Ernest. His sister (Myrna) is still living (in South Africa) and we would all be be delighted to have any information.
Many thanks,

(Mrs. L. Runcie, nee Laslett)


George Hamblin

I found your site on Sunday after watching the documentary on Ark Royal and wondering if anything had been done on Royal Oak. I did see some on Coast in Orkney that talked of the wreck and showed the coastline. It does look a beautiful, peaceful place and so was very comforting to think that it is my uncle's final resting place.

I didn't know him as my parents didn't meet until after the war, but he was a great favourite with all of my mother's family. He seems to have been very popular with everyone he met. I don't know very much about his service career, except that he was a Royal Marine; or why he chose to go to sea. The Hamblin's lived in Oxford City centre so the sea would not be an obvious choice, or perhaps it is?

A colleague of his visited the family afterwards (I'm sorry, I don't know his name) and seemed to vaguely hint that George might have escaped but then perished helping others. I don’t know if this is likely to be true but does seem a little unlikely in the confusion.

I wonder also, at the other Hamblin (HJ) on the lost page? Do you know if they were related? Hamblin is a fairly unusual name, so I would be very grateful if you could shed any light on this.

I'm sorry I'm not being helpful in furthering your quest to develop the site, but rather asking questions of you. I would like to thank you, though, for producing such a respectful and dignified site and know that George's family would have been pleased and honoured that their son and brother had been remembered in this way.

Best wishes

Pauline Graham

David West


My father's brother, David West lost his life on the Royal Oak. I've never known much about him.

Any information would be appreciated.

Joyce McGlone

Edward Cox

Hi Peter, My name is Sally Cooke (nee Cox),

I have just recently started my family tree and i asked my grandad (Herbert Cox) about any of his brothers/sisters & he told me that his younger brother Edward Cox was one of the brave men who perished on The Royal Oak at Scapa Flow in 1939, He was born in Bilston with all the rest of his brothers/sisters. I would be very grateful of any information you have on my grandads brother or even if anyone who reads this message that know of Edward Cox, Family, Friends or even survivors that are still alive today.

Thank You

Mrs Sally Cooke

Email Address:

hi peter,
attatched is a photo of a some brass ware which is apparently from the hms royal oak ,it was bought from a car boot sale in morecamb lancs and was owned by mrs hilton whom ran the royal oak pub in pickford st macclesfield for many years she tells me , apparently the pub was full of items from the royal oak she and said this was the last item she had left after selling the pub in the late eighties , i cannot confirm this but you may know if it is a genuine item , if it is a genuine item and you would like better images for your web site please contact me and i will do all I can , i came across your website surfing the net as i have a small dinghy 17 footer and like anything to do with ships
cheers denis

My uncle who died a few years ago left some items one of which i believe has some connection with the Royal oak or a Captain of the Royal Oak. I am told this item may be from a boat or a Yacht possible owned or used by the Captain. I do not know if the Captain in question is your relative but i do have some paper work in Orkney that may help. Can you shed any light on the object? Sorry about the poor quality of the Jpeg.


Stan Harris

Construction drawings on CD

You remember the construction drawings made by my Grandfather which are on your site - well as a result of nagging by Mark Loughlin who is a salvage officer who works on Royal Oak occasionally, I have now made a high resolution scan of each and put them on a CD - a total of 108 files.

Perhaps you could put the fact that this is available on your web site. I was thinking of suggesting a contribution of 5 pounds each to cover the costs of materials and postage if anyone wants one. If this is OK with you perhaps you could suggest people email me if they want one and I will sort it out from there.

Steve Dooley

Mark Stephens

Hello Peter, have just found your website on the sinking of the Royal Oak, brilliant well done, I lost my uncle Mark W Stephens, I did not have any info at all about the sinking, I didn't even know his name was on the memorial at Southsea.

I am now 70 years old, and Marks sister, (my Mother is still going strong) a grand child of my Mother found the website, and it was very emotional, thank you.

James Ross

Hello my name is Andrew Johnson and I come from a small fishing village in the north of Scotland called Balintore where there was a number of men who were on the Royal Oak I too have a interest in the royal oak and was very privileged as a child to spend many a afternoon talking with one of the survivors James Ross or jimmy as we knew him im delighted to have found your site and may I say it is an excellent monument to those who survived and also those who did not keep up the good work

Yours sincerely Andrew Johnson

John Brown

Just found your web page, and it was so sad to read the letters, as my uncle John Brown, of Byker, Newcastle - On - Tyne. was one who lost his life, he was a brother of my mother who passed away when i was only 18 yrs old, but remember her talking about John, if there is any-one out there who can give me any info, or copies of photo's i would be more than grateful.

Yours Sincerely,
Pam Barker.

George E Pollard

Having found your web site I would be very greatful if you could possibly help me, I am trying to gather information on my great uncle George E Pollard, he was from Eastbourne in East Sussex and was lost on the Royal Oak. I believe at the time of the sinking he was recovering from an operation in the medical centre. I would be very greatful if yourself or any other members of the crew or their families that have any information or even better pictures of George as I cannot find any would be able to contact me so I would be able to learn a bit more about a very brave relative. Thank you again for a very informative site.

Sean Smith

My name is Sheila West (nee Benney). I am the only child of Charles Benney.

His widow Vera Kathleen Benney has just died at the age of 98 years. I wonder if anyone from the remaining survivors remembers my Dad? He was nicknamed 'smiler' because he was always happy. He was duty electrical artificer at the time of the sinking and was at the main switchboard when the lights failed. I enclose an attachment file containing my Father’s picture.After this tragedy, my mother met a survivor who told her that my father tried to get on to the Daisy but there was no room and he was sent to another boat at the back of the ship. He got into this with others and then they found that there was no way to release it from the Royal Oak and they all had to swim for it of go down with the ship. My father’s body was later recovered and he has been buried at Lyness cemetery with full naval honours.  My son and I hope to go to the Orkneys next year to see his grave as no member of his family apart from a younger brother who was also in the Navy has been able to visit it. This I wish to do on behalf of my late mother who thankfully after 66 years is now reunited with him. I am using my daughter’s email address and she will pass any messages on to me.

While typing this I am also enquiring about Petty Officer George Pope who went back down into the Royal Oak to try and save his young crewmen and therefore lost his life too. I am in contact with his son and daughter and can also pass information back to her if anyone remembers him. We feel sure that our Dads must have known each other.

Sheila West


Cyril Phelps

I've always been intrigued by the Royal Oak disaster as my maternal grandmother's first husband - Leading Telegraphist, Cyril PHELPS was killed on this ship (from TREHERBERT, Rhondda Valley). I can see that he is named on your roll-call. Unfortunately he was never really spoken about by my grandmother (now deceased) and it is as though she must have completely removed all material traces of his existence out of her life after he was killed. By the end of the war she had re-married and had a child (my mother).
When I was a child I was always very curious why many of the books in my grandparents bureau included books with the name of the owner partly erased - unfortunately they had not been erased particularly well and I could easily see the handwritten signature of 'C. Phelps'. My grandmother also had 2 lovely silk kimono's in her wardrobe - I knew they had come from China/Japan but my enquiries into who had brought them were never really answered - obviously now I know they were brought back from Cyril's travels.
Anyway, I wondered if there was anyone who many have any photographs which include Cyril Phelps of if are there any survivors that many remember him and what he was like. Unfortunately I know that he was an only child and any family that he may now have would be quite distant and probably not even know of his existence.
I also know that my grandmother Leticia, lived in Portsmouth at the time of the disaster but came back home to live, and then for a short while, went back to London to work 'in service' but couldn't stand the bombings so eventually came home to the Rhondda Valley, South Wales to live.

Carys Hutchings

I found your site while researching my grandfarther's naval career which ran from 1916 - 1945. He was on Royal Oak from 21 June 1932 until 25 April 1934 and the following postcards were amongst my grandmother's papers. The first is marked "in the launch 1932" - my grandfather, Able Seaman Jack Cullingford, is second from the left; I don't know who the others in the launch were or where it was taken. The other was sent to my mother, probably early in 1933 as it thanks her for her christmas card.
I have been unable to find out much about where Royal Oak was during the early 1930s so far - do you have any information ?

Emma Maitland

William and Douglas Manwaring

(Click on the image for a larger version)

Two of my Wife's three Uncles, William and Douglas Manwaring, were amongst the crew who perished. This occurred before she was born.
I have attached a scan of the only photograph we have of them, and it has William on the left, Cyril Centre and Douglas on the right. Douglas' hat band is of HMS Wildfire, the Sheerness shore training establishment. He was 18 at the time of the sinking, and so this photo (17th Aug 193?) was probably taken in the year or so previous. We have no information about the brothers other than their dates of birth & ancestors etc., plus the fact that William left a widow, Rose Felton Manwaring.
Should anyone viewing this site have any information, however minor, about the brothers, or Williams' Widow, would they please contact us.

Best Wishes,
Alan & Elaine (nee Wilkins) Holloway.

Captain W. G. Benn

Dear Peter,

Your email today with an update on the site has prompted me to send you three photographs I managed to track down within the family.
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These pictures are of my Grandfather, W. G. Benn who was the Captain of HMS Royal Oak.
I am unsure exactly when two of the pictures were taken but will find this out and let you know.

The third picture (above) shows my grandfather saying goodbye to his rescuers, following the sinking. He is shown here in borrowed civilian clothes.
I do have an account of the sinking which I understand are his own words and will also get this to you as soon as I can.
Hope you find some of this to be useful.

Best wishes,
Andrew Niekirk

H. H. Spicer

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My uncle - whom I never knew - died on the HMS "Royal Oak". His name was Hugh Hunter Spicer and I attach a watercolour painting which - I understand - was painted by a fellow crew member shortly before the ship was lost.
I was named after Hugh Hunter Spicer ( and I'd be interested to know if anyone has any further info on my lost uncle and on the (unknown) artist who painted this work....

Hugh Spicer

Thomas Chadick

Dear Peter
i have today visited my dear father in law Thomas Chadick in hospital who is now 80 years on and detiorating fast and i remember all the stories he would tell me about his dad T. Chadwick who served on the Royal Oak and perished on that dreadfull day when the sea was on fire from the fuel oil. Tom was always very proud about his dad and this always showed when i could get him talking about him and the Royal Oak. Tom never really got to say godbye to his Dad because of the secrecy, he must have only been about 11 or 12 years old at the time. I will miss having that beer with Tom and the stories that he would tell me about when in the army and landing in a glider in Greece, he was a cook and would tell me how the army would march after eating his hearty porridge breakfast, the history of the Royal Oak will go on forever to those who have been touched by them and some history from family of the lost souls may perish.

best wishes always

Dear Peter.
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Looking through some old photo's in my fathers 'Ditty Box,' I come across one which you may be interested in. It was taken at HMS Cunningham, a training establishment at Douglas, in the Isle of Man. Previously a holiday camp (Cunningham's camp) taken over by the RN during the war.
The picture is of an 'Intake' having completed training and prior to their first posting HMS Royal Oak. My father is in the centre LH side. CPO P Sloane and who wrote the comments on top of the photo.
Yours Sincerely
Bernard Sloane

A. Vallance

My Uncle, Alexander Vallance was on this ship but I can not find his name in any of the memorials. He has left us now but I would like to have a photo if any are available of him on the ship

David Llewellyn Griffiths Morse

I have just returned from a holiday in Malta and a friend (Paul Mallia) I see there says he has been in contact with you. I realise that you told him you do not have anything specific on the person I am researching on behalf of the Wincanton Royal British Legion but I would be very grateful if you have any tips etc that may help me get information on him.
We in Wincanton are erecting a new war memorial and togther with this there is an initiative from the RBL nationally to attempt to find more details on the war dead. I am writing a small booklet the proceeds of which will all go towards funding for the new memorial.
The person I am interested in who was on HMS Royal Oak at the time of the sinking and subsequently lost his life is Boy First Class David Llewellyn Griffiths Morse, P/JX 154996. Aged 17 years.
He was an orphan from the Wincanton Orphanage and it is very difficult tracing any information on him. I am aware you told Paul you have nothing specific on him but is it possible that perhaps there is a survivor who may be able to help or somehow you may be able to think of anything further.

I am most grateful,
Tony Goddard.
Wincanton (Somerset) Royal British Legion.

Albert Jewell

My great uncle Albert Jewell and his best friend since childhood Jennings were both killed on the Royal Oak. Before her death in the early 70's Jenning's mother gave me a ship's bell which she had kept next to her son's photo since his death telling everyone that it was from the ship. For the last 30 odd years it has travelled around the world with me from one Army installation to another but I now think that I should return it to England if it is, in fact , from the ship. But how do I know if it is just a family story or really from the ship? Please let me know how I go about this if you can.
The bell is small only 7 inches but the clapper which is also brass extends it to 17 inches. There was engraving on it at one time but that had been obliterated even before I received it. I wonder, was this given to families as a token of rememberence ? The only reason I have it is my Mum and Mrs Jennings remained close as she and Les Jennings as he was known to the family were friends.

Nicola Holland

I have typed out the following, which are the exact notes from an interview with my father Barry Hawes, now aged 87. The interview took place on 29th November 1958 for the book Black Saturday by Alexander McKee.

I joined the Royal Marines in 1936 and The Oak in 1939. A day or so before, after our return from sea, I was drunk ashore. I was brought back and laid on the quarterdeck. I woke up in the cells and got 1 & 1 (which was 1 days pay and 1 days leave stopped).

13th October
There was a Marine in the cells that day, don't remember his name though I knew him well. He was a bad lad, well-in with the chap who ran the Fraz School in the canteen. The Royal Oak was a gambling ship: The Fraz School, a Shoot School, a Pontoon School and a Crown and Anchor School, a choice of card games. These took place in the canteen, commonly known as Monte Carlo. It was very well organised with a proper system of look-outs, I remember one chap had over £50 and kept it in a specially made belt. Anyway, the bad lad who helped organise this had got into trouble and was in the cells. He usually slept in the boathouse flat with Slug Sandforth. If he had been there and not in the cells, he would have been killed. Being a bad boy saved his life!
I slept on the Marines messdeck, on the starboard side, the mess next to the bulkhead forward.

14th October
First Explosion
I thought it sounded like a hatch falling on the deck above. We all jumped out of our hammocks. Someone came in and said 'Come on, get back in your hammocks'. I did so, and lay there feeling dozy but not asleep.

Second Explosion
This was a big one, as if someone had taken hold of the ship and rattled it. Flames seemed to appear and there was a lot of yelling. Then the foot of my hammock was on fire. It didn't take me long to get out of it. Most of the hammocks were on fire. The flames were coming up from below and chaps were disappearing before me as if the deck was collapsing. I thought the explosion was below the messdeck, perhaps the X Mag. The starboard side of the messdeck seemed to melt and cave in, I was near the barbette.
I think I was the first out of the messdeck, going aft to the officers quarters the door was slightly ajar, the door was armoured - operated by a wormwheel and rack. I was clad in a singlet (chain breaker) and I made a dash for it, not seeing what happened on the messdeck behind me.

The Admiral's Pantry
The lights went out when I went through the door. I groped my way aft. Saw Lt. Benton running in front of me. The door to the Admiral's Pantry was open and I followed Lt Benton in there. He crawled on top of something and opened the light excluding vent. I felt the slight unevenness of the deck and realised it was broken crockery. Although I had bare feet, I was not cut by it. I wished Benton would hurry up and get out, but instead of diving into the sea as I expected he turned and crawled up on top. When I followed, I realised why, the ship was right over to starboard and you couldn't drop into the sea, you would roll down slope of port side.
When the last explosion happened, I was out on the quarterdeck. The drifter was away from the ship, there was a lot of yelling. I thought that this would be my last chance so I made a big jump into the sea, outwards away from the guardrails.

In the Water
I automatically swam away as fast as I could. A lot of chaps were swimming like mad and singing Run Rabbit Run so pleased to be away from the ship and involuntarily boosting morale.
I saw her going down, with men sitting on props and the bottom, yelling and screaming grab here, help etc etc. Couldn't distinguish the words much. Then the ship went completely, slowly like a big whale. Not completely turning turtle but it looked like it. It was very cold. I found a piece of wood and hung onto it. A chap about 20 yards away (an AB, I think) had a lifebelt and I asked if I could share it. He said yes and we both got one arm in and swam towards the drifter.

When we eventually reached it, a chap threw a heaving line over. I remember when I grabbed it, I expected him to pull me in, but he paid out more line instead and I went under.
When we got into their engine room I pulled off my chain breaker and wiped off the oil. Not too much, face and eyes only, I hadn't swallowed any. We sat closely around the furnace to keep warm. A dark chap, a Marine was there, a Londoner with one badge, I knew him well though I did not recognise him at first. Daisy took us to:

The Pegasus
The chaps on The Pegasus offered us their hammocks after a bath. The first they knew about the sinking of the Oak were swimmers at their gangway. There were no northern lights, but it wasn't pitch black. They saw lads in the water and took them aboard.

So that's how my Dad remembers his terrifying ordeal that day.
All I can say is that I am glad he was such a good swimmer. I would not have been here today (I was born in 1952) and my older brother named Barry (after my Dad) would not have had an annoying little sister to put up with all his life.

Julie Jenner

Ernie Newnham
My grandfather joined the army in 1924, and his best frined Ernie Newnham joined the Navy at the same time. Unfortunately, he died on the Royal Oak that terrible night, and my grandad (Harry Cooper) often talked to me about his friend and how awful the whole business was.
After hearing from a friend that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had a website, I thought I would check to see if Ernie's details were there out of interest. I was surprised to find that they were. His full name was Ernest Edgar Newnham and he was a Leading Seaman, aged 29 when the ship sank. I'm sure my grandad never realised that the day the ship sank was also his wedding anniversary. How odd.
Nevertheless, I still have his photograph of Ernie dated 1926. I want to keep it, as he meant a lot to my grandad, but I will send a copy if it is of any use. I looked at the website and there is no mention of Ernie, nor anything from his family members.
My grandad died in October 2000, aged ninety (he was born the same year as Ernie). However, I don't think that he kept contact with Ernie's family after the war. Therefore, I don't know if any of his family survive, nor whether they would want me to give you his photograph. However, I can't see any reason why they would mind.
There was another man, I noticed, called K.G. Newnham. I don't know if he was any relation to Ernie, but I would think not.
Anyhow, if I can be of any help, I be only too glad. My grandad always said what a lovely chap Ernie was, and today, I found out that he left a wife, Nora, behind. The CWWGC site did not say that he had any children, therefore I feel somehow responsible for telling the information I know about him, and making sure that his sacrifice should not be forgotten.
Best Regards,
Colin Barnard

J. P. Wilkins
Peter, I have only recently been made aware of your web site and I would be grateful if my Fathers service record could be added.
I started to research my Family History in 1990. I was a 13 month old baby born in Portsmouth when my Father was killed and I wanted to know his service history.
I applied to RN records office as you see by the above address on his record list and gratefully they sent it to me and maybe others my need to do the same.
Also I noted the entry on the two boy buglers :- Mountford H.C.L. and PRIESTLY A.J. My good friend Jim Sholl served with these two lads who lost there lives on the Oak. He passed out also as a Royal Marine boy bugler but was sent for duty elsewhere.
I have tried to contact the E Mail address attached to that entry but with no avail, Jim would be more than willing to write or speak to any relatives who would be interested.
We are going to Kirkwall in May this year to visit the wreck site and pay our respects to those who lost their lives and my thanks to Christine Spratt my old school friend who gave me the information regarding the Royal Oak web site anyone who wishes to contact me may do so via my E mail address.
Thank you sincerely


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Edward Stewart

Please can you help me. I'm trying to trace back my family tree but not getting very far.
My grandad, Edward Stewart was apparently part of the ships crew, I don’t know a lot about him. Can anyone help me?
He was married to Jane Ann Robertson, and I think they came from the Arbroath area in Scotland, any info will be greatly appreciated.
Please contact me at

Kind regards
Audrey Brewer ( nee Thomson Stewart )

C F Hemsley

Hi Peter, Please find attached a photograph of C F Hemsley (Frank) with permission from Kathryn Trower to publish it on your website, unfortunately Kath knows very little about her uncle, but would love to anything you may know.

Regards, Pete Trower

Uncle E. Cox

hi peter my name is gary cox i’m looking for information on my uncle e cox a boy sailor from bilston west mids my father and uncles who are all aged over 70 now would like as much information as possible on him any old sailors who remember him ect would be a great help thanks g cox my email add is

Just came accross your site found it very good,i have in my possesion the enclosed photograph of Percy Prestons wedding day taken on new years day 1920.Somehow although i havnt found out how he is related to me.What i was wondering is could you tell me by looking at his uniform what his rank/role was on Royal Oak ive had a look on the web and think he may of been petty officer under 4 yrs,gunlayer 2nd class am i right? what would his duties of been also i would like to find out when he joined Royal Oak, did he see combat and where he went from there any help you may have would be much appreciated.

kind regards

Ian Hayes

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My Name is Irene Thomas (nee Solley). I have recently been given my grandfathers old photo album, which dates back to the early 1920. According to his photo album he served on HMS Royal Oak and I have attached a couple of photos which may be of interest to your site. On the reverse of the Crew photo were the names of the crew attending the beach party, which I have also scanned for you.
I would love to learn more about the Royal Oak and really enjoyed looking at your web-site.
G D McGregor - Help wanted

I have a set of medals to Sto 1 G D McGregor who was killed when the ship went down, I also have his brothers RAF medals.
I am trying to find any information on both of them especially the Royal Oak brother.
Can you help? I need to know if he has a grave anywhere or is his only memorial the Navy one at Portsmouth?
Did he go down with the ship and is he part of the war grave?
Any information you can help with would be greatly appreciated.
Wilson Lee

David Edward Smith

Hi Peter.Many thanks for your email,attached is a photo of my Uncle David Edward Smith, he was from Nottingham and aged 19 when he died,if any surviving members recognize him they can email me at or anyone has any photos of him in a group.I would be very grateful indeed.Thank you Patricia Dodge

James William Fairbrother

Peter hope this might be of interest.

Photo is my uncle:

James William Fairbrother
Boy 1st Class
P/JX 159190
Age 17 when lost on the Royal Oak


jim walker

Rolf Hilse - U47 survivor

I’m a GP in the Lake District and have just visited your website, having this morning spoken with one of my most interesting patients; the only surviving U-boat sailor living in the UK. His name is Rolf Hilse and he was a sailor on U47 in Sept 1939 when the Royal Oak was sunk. I wondered if you knew about him? He loves to talk and is an intelligent, articulate man who has become something of a celebrity over the past few years. He describes the raid on Scarpa Flow with great interest, but his account differs somewhat from yours. For example, he says that only one torpedo was fired at Royal Oak and that this was from a stern tube, two torpedos already having been fired at and reportedly damaging HMS Repulse. The account of the hull-damage interested me, as you suggest that it is assumed Royal Oak was sunk by three torpedoes. The difficulty you described in making out holes caught my attention. U47 apparently used impact torpedos that blasted their way through the hull but you probably know this technical detail already. Rolf subsequently met and was decorated by Hitler and Gunther Prien refused Hitler’s order to return to Scapa Flow on the basis that it would most probably have been a suicidal mission after the loss of Royal Oak. Gunther Prien was apparently disposed of by Hitler shortly afterwards. If you’d like to meet Mr Hilse please get in touch with me. Rolf is 82 and not in the most robust health but am sure that he would be interested to contribute perhaps in the form of an interview for your web-page??
Yours sincerely
Chris Stokes

Hi Peter, I am trying to find out what kind of portholes the Royal Oak had,
do you know where i could find a detailed drawing of them as well as the maker.
hoping you may be able to hep. Kind regards to you.
Phil Crennell

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I have just found your web page. I never knew my father but have had this photo of him for many years sent to me by my mother. I would really love to know more about him. I am now in my 60s and live in Australia . I understand that he died in 1976
Ann Fletcher
Kenneth Hall

Dear Peter

hello again and hope you are well. As long ago promised some photos of crew. The first one is of my uncle Royal Marine Kenneth Hall who was 19 when he died, the second is of my uncle and a group of shipmates at Portsmouth in 1939 and the last is aboard the ship, on the back it says L to R LS Lawrence, AG Hollinsworth, ken, and STO i cannot make out the last one.

regards Shirley bird

Royal Oak model

Just visited the ‘Royal Oak’ site, excellent tribute to a fine ship and her crew.
My father was on the ‘Resolution’ in 1938, (RNVR Tyne) called up during the ‘38’ crisis. I have always wanted to have a model of the old ‘Reso’ and remembered that years ago, FROG, part of the Triang - Hornby group, made a plastic construction kit of HMS Revenge, a sister ship of Reso and Royal Oak. I had searched in vain for years but had never had any luck. Bored senseless the other night, I done a web search of model shops in this country but to no avail, I eventually made contact with a chap in the Ukraine, he knew the original Frog kit and that a firm called Novo had taken over production of it, but it had vanished from the scene,so to speak.
I mentioned to him that the Royal Sovereign had been lent to Russia during the last war and re-named ‘Arkhangelsk’, Eureka! he said that the Royal Sovereign was made by a Ukrainian company called ‘Eastern Express’ and is the original FROG kit! in a scale of 1/500 it should be possible to alter the bits that matter, to make a reasonably passable model of Royal Oak. I have ordered two kits at a total cost of £23-93p including postage etc.One to be Royal Oak, and the other to be Resolution.
Hope this is of interest to you. The website click on ‘Eastern Express’ in the top list of manufacturers.
Kind regards
John Gordon ex Marine engineer officer, RNXS.

Alfred Redman

I've just visited your very informed site. To our immense pleasure we found my wife's late father, Alfred Redman, named on the list of survivors. Here at home we have eight photos taken by him, taken whilst on board the"Oak". He told us on more than one occasion that he owed his survival to the fact that he was on the "Mail Run " that night. Hope that this is of some interest.
Brian and Sue (nee Redman) Sykes.

Jewish crew

I am archivist of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women of the UK (AJEX) and am researching for our Military Museum Archives, details of Jewish crew who were killed or survived the terrible sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa. The web site is really wonderful - congratulations; there is a similar one for the Hood. I was recently at Scapa on a visit and my wife and I were very moved and laid a Star of David peg at the memorial at Scapa Village for ALL the lost crew, and at the splendid Lyness museum.

We know that Steward B. Lenz (killed) was Jewish but are looking for other names. Severe restrictions were placed on Jews entering the navy as their parents HAD to be born in the UK and in the 1930's most were the children of immigrants or even came themselves as refugees in the 1920's or earlier to the UK as babies - so only about 2,500 Jews were able to serve in the Navy but some of them very distinguished including Submariner Tommy Gould, VC and many who received high decorations. Later in the war, this restriction was apparently relaxed - 2 of my uncles served and quite a few German speaking Jews and Palestinian Jews too.

If any of you know of Jewish members of the Royal Oak crew, please let me know.

Martin Sugarman

W. Cheesley

It was with great interest I came across your site, whilst searching for something completely different and I found it to be highly informative and interesting.
Indeed I had grown up with tales of HMS Royal Oak, as my Grandfather was W. Cheesley, who was lost with the ship and appears on your roll of honour, thank you. Probably my father talking of him in my youth, was one of the reasons I found my self joining the RN on a short career commission leaving in 1990.
Sadly full knowledge of my grandfather remains a little elusive, my father only being a babe in arms when he was lost and I would very much like to hear from anyone who knows him or remembers him in anyway. After his death my grandmother re-married, her second husband, a submariner, was subsequently lost during the war, her third husband lost a leg and she ended up living in Jersey and as such lost all contact with my grandfather’s friends or family.. My grandmother, the only source of my fathers memories of his father passed away in the 1970’s .
I am aware that he was a boxer, having come across an inter-services boxing medal he had won, also I believe he was either a PO or CPO in the engineering branch. My father has only one or two photos of him and none of him onboard.
I know it would mean a great deal to my father to hear from anyone who knew him, or anyone who has photos or memories. Likewise I would be grateful if anyone could supply me with information on where I could purchses memorabilia from HMS Royal Oak, such as paintings, photos and the like, I will be ordering your video in due course and would love to put together a package for my father as he nears his retirement next year. He has long said he would like to spend his retirement learning more about HMS Royal Oak,.
Thank you for your website and in advance to anyone who can further enlighten me about my grandfather.
Simon Cheesley

S.D Daisy II FR270

Whilst sorting through some family archives with my father I came across a letter that had been written to my Grandfather by the skipper of the S.D Daisy II (FR270). My uncle, Gerald Ellis, was a Royal Marine aboard the Royal Oak when she was torpedoed and capsized. He is alive and well and living in Florida. The letter seems to suggest that my uncle was rescued by the Daisy II and that my grandfather had written to the skipper thanking him and the letter in my possession is the reply. It reads:

S.D Daisy II FR270, c/o Royal Fleet Mail, Lyness, Orkney

Nov 2nd 1939

Dear Sir

I must thank you very much for your encouraging letter which I received today, as we only arrived here today after getting the ship refitted. We had a few days at home so we are feeling better after our big encounter, but I trust that your boy is keeping well and fit again, and that you are all enjoying the blessing of good health.
Well I trust we will never see a sight again, like what we saw on Oct 14th, but one never knows what is before them, but should is come God will give us the needed strength.
Well I trust this finds you all in good health, as we are are well here from (?)

Yours truly
John Gatt (or Gate)

Can anyone provide me with some information as to what the S.D Daisy II FR270 was?

Yours faithfully
Christopher V Ellis

J. F. Davis

My uncle Joseph Frank Davis lost his life with the sinking of the Royal Oak and I wondered if anyone would have any memories. I realise that it is some years on but there may be someone alive who remembers him. He came from Southsea and was well known at the Locks and Milton area.

Frank Davis

Fred Senior

I have just discovered your web site about the Royal Oak, my uncle Fred Senior a 20 year old marine was killed on the ship. Family memories tell of him been the loveable rogue, who could always charm way out of trouble. If there are any other ex-marines who survived the disaster still alive to day who may
remember him I would love to hear from them.

Many thanks Lynn

A. Kearey

We know someone who's brother died on the HMS royal oak, he is the brother of Arthur kearey. He hasn't got a single picture of him. We were wondering if you had a picture of him by any chance.

Many thanx for your time and effort
Gordon Dowdey

Attached is a photo of F.W. King (Frederick William King, page 2 on your list) who was killed on HMS Royal Oak. He was my mothers 1st cousin and came from West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. He was born in 1920, so was 19 when he died. My mother was born the same year and fondly remembers him. I presume the photo was taken on board.

We were both pleased to see his name on your wonderful webpage which is also a great tribute to those who died.

Keep it going
Derek Collier
I wonder if you can help me find out any information about my uncle ( - whom I was named after (Hugh Hunter Spicer) who was a marine on Royal Oak ? I have just returned from a visit to the Orkney Islands and paid a visit to Kirkwall where I saw my uncle's name in a book of remembrance. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Hugh Spicer
e -
w3 -

phone - 0141 422 1630
moby - 07788 178 439
work tel - 0141 636 8100

63 Calder Street
Flat 2/2
G42 7RR
letter given to Christine Spratt by her uncle
This letter was sent to Christine by Robert Edmunds in February 2004
I was in Spain on board the Repulse then transferred to Royal Oak.
When the first explosion took place I was in my hammock not far from the bang. I slipped on some clothes and walked to the area and could tell it was flooding up, but this was only a small compartment and would not cause any serious trouble. The lift of the ship caused the anchor cable to break and it ran back into the cable locker with a lot of noise. I walked back to the mess and woke up a few heavy sleepers, got dressed and went toward the workshop to get some flooding keys, etc. The ship was going over fast after three or four more torpedo explosions and I went up to walk down the side of the ship and got into a small boat. This boat turned over and took my clothes off and (I) kept my shirt on! Within 20 mins the ship had sunk and I swam back over the ship to get some thick oil over me to keep me warm. I them swam slowly toward the shore and kept on until I reached the coast (2hrs?) on my back of course.
I had visions of finding a farm house and getting some sleep but the cliffs were far too high and I sat on a cliff and rubbed myself down. About six in the morning a small boat arrived and picked me up and took me to the Pegasus. I went down the engine room to get warm and got cleaned up and got dressed. Nobody was with me during the swim.
Like Reg, my brother in law, I managed to be given nice accommodation in Thurso with 3 of my friends, by a gentleman named Budge. He owned a clothes shop and drapers in the High Street.
On our way home (by train) some kind ladies brought us a cup of tea in Inverness about 1 o’clock in the morning and just as we were about to leave a train doing shunting knocked my coach off the line. There was a lot of broken glass but nobody killed. And we finally arrived at Pompey. I went to sleep on a settee but my brother in law, Reg, shook me and told me my mother was waiting for me.

Dear Peter,
The Royal Oak has always held particular interest for our family because both my step father Arthur Edwards and my wife's father Peter John Morris were survivors of that terrible night. Peter, a seaman at the time, recalls the event thus;

My daytime action station was deep in the bowels of the ship at the lower switchboard, but fortunately at night I was posted at the Search Lights. Off duty and asleep I was awakened not by the first explosion but by the anchor cable running through the housing, to which my hammock was attached. It was clear that something was amiss and I dressed as quickly as possible in my long sea boots and my heavy watch coat. I heard explosions and made my way on deck, I remember that the awnings were hanging to dry and I had to fight my way through to get to the ship's side. A tannoy command rang out 'gunner party check magazine temperatures', that is my only clear memory until I was in the water, looking up I saw the funnel and upper structure and remember worrying that if it came down I would be a gonner, so I stripped of my sea boots, coat and everything else, except my money belt, (it had been pay-day and it was pretty full)! I was joined by marine Lt. Keen and a leading stoker whos name I cannot recall and we encouraged each other to keep swimming towards the shore. I remember the sounds of others giving up the struggle and worrying that I could do nothing to help them, then I was at the rocks at Kirkwall. It was a cold night and without any clothes I was very glad to be picked up by a small boat and taken to the boiler room where I was given a cup of strong tea, laced with something much stronger! The crew cut sacks for makeshift clothes and transported me to the Pegasus Seaplane carrier.
The rest is well recounted by others except to relate that the train transporting the survivors to Portsmouth was involved in a collision, luckily with no injuries, how ironic that would have been, and a short while after, in order to upgrade to leading seaman, I was required to pass a swimming test to prove that I could survive if ever my ship went down, even my instructor laughed at that.

That is Peter's story and it was many years later that he and my stepfather Arthur met up, started discussing their war memories only to discover that they had both been aboard the Oak that fateful night and both are alive today to recount the tale.

Please use any of Peter's story on your site if you feel it appropriate, and thank you for providing we, the families, with such an informative and interesting vision of that event.


Barry Hugo & Ann Morris

Hi Peter,

I took some pictures of some framed plaques that my uncle had.

I thought you might like to put them on your site.

Darryn Higgs
Alfred George Marlow

It is with great sadness that i would like to pass on that my father in law
Alfred George Marlow passed away today (5/4/03) at the age of 82, at the Royal Gwent
Hospital, South Wales after a short illness.
George is listed as lost when the Oak was sunk, but was on leave at the time.
He later went on to serve on the Ramillies.
His old stories were a delight to listen to, i often said he should write a
He shall be sorely missed.

Ian Davies

H.H. Higgs

Hi there name is Diane Higgs. My grandfather, H H Higgs was aboard the Royal Oak when it sank. I wonder if you or anyone could tell me how to go about getting a memorial plaque concerning my grandfather and maybe a picture of him in uniform.......i never met my grandfather and i would love to get something for my own father who is currently suffering with cancer and it would mean the world to him if i could show him something about his father.........he is very interested in history and i would also love to know if anyone could tell me where i could get a video maybe on the history of the ship.................i would appreciate that greatly

if anyone has any information please email me at

Thanx Diane Higgs

L. Soal

I was browsing through your website as my husband’s great uncle Leonard Soal was a survivor. But looking through the list there is only a L. Seal. I think this is Leonard’s entry. I checked with his sister and the correct spelling is Soal and this appears in the Commonwealth War graves and on the cenotaph in Southsea, Portsmouth . Would it be possible for you to amend this.

Leonard though surviving the sinking of the Royal Oak unfortunately went down 11 months later on HMS Dunedin and was lost at the tender age of 21. He was haunted by memories of the sinking of Royal Oak and helping to recover his dead comrades.  My husband is a Chief petty officer in the Royal Navy now and has visited Scapa flow and attended a memorial service there.  We must never forget these brave men and their families.

Jennie Collins


I have corrected the list which was taken from "The Royal Oak Disaster" by Gerald S. Snyder

A. Brierley

What a fascinating website - I wish we'd had the internet when Dad was alive. For your information, my father Arthur Brierley, a survivor of the Royal Oak, passed away on February 16, 1998, this may seem like some time ago, but I only just found your website and I thought there might still be some survivors out there who would like this information.

Kind regards

Janet Fletcher (nee Brierley)

Ronald Clackson

Click photo for larger version

My uncle, Ordinary Seaman Ronald George Clackson (P/SSX26095), was one of those who lost their lives when HMS Royal Oak went down. He would have had his 20th birthday only the previous week on the 6th October. He came from New Barnet in Hertfordshire and had joined HMS Royal Oak on the 7th June 1939 from the shore establishment HMS Victory.

I am writing to try and find out if there is any survivor who might have known him.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Clackson

West Manse, Sanday

Orkney KW17 2BN


Dear Peter,

My Grandfather who died in 1993 survived the sinking of HMS Royal Oak having joined the Navy a year or so before the war. As far as I understand like most of the crew he was below deck when U-47’s attack began.
Norman eventually slid into Scapa Flow down the side of the sinking ship injuring his backside on the hulls barnacles along the way. Norman’s strong swimming abilities aided his survival especially when he had to abandon an overcrowded boat that had initially rescued him. He eventually found safety and recovered from his injuries in hospitals in Kirkwall and Portsmouth.
Norman was posted back to active duty in early 1940 aboard the anti-aircraft sloop HMS Fleetwood. He would remain on this ship through the Norwegian campaign that saw the ship’s captain receive a DSO for his actions during attacks by the Luftwaffe, this encounter that saw the ship expend all of its ammunition in 14 hours and culminated in the evacuation of 340 troops back to Scapa. For the remainder of the war Norman’s duties would include convoy duties to Africa and Russia
I that hope these paragraphs and the acommpanying photo’s will be another small but useful contribution to your unique website.

Craig Simpson

My Father was a PO on the Royal Oak. I have in my collection his photographic log book of the 1927 commission. The photos include Malta/Suez ship's crew in Valleta/Burial of shipmate. Father was on the train coming down from Scotland on leave when the Oak was hit, he was then transferred to HMS Anson. He died shortly after the war when he was leaving Hong Kong on board HMS Sussex and was buried at sea with full Naval honours. When my Mother passed away a few years ago, the Royal Navy were kind enough to stop HMS Starling over the exact position where my Father's ashes were scattered and scatter hers there, also conducting a service for them both.
My thanks to the Royal Navy, it was the only thing they did for a widow and her three children.
Brian Francis

Kenneth JJ Wood

A very interesting collection of details on your site!

My father was Kenneth JJ Wood (Royal Marines) who was one of the survivors of the sinking of the Royal Oak. His photograph is in the book 'Black Saturday'.

Like many other wartime servicemen, he made only the briefest mention to his children of this episode of his life. The experience of seeing so many comrades die miserably must have made an agonisingly painful impression on a man not even twenty years old.

I have never visited Scapa Flow, but your website provides some very interesting information.

With best wishes,
John R Wood

John Henry Lee

My grandfather John Henry Lee served on the royal oak when she was torpedoed he did survive, but unfortunatly 2 weeks ago he passed away aged 83. He used to tell me many tales of his life at sea some funny some quite scary.One funny moment was when it was his job to dish the rum out and very nearly turned into an alcoholic so had to ask to be taken off that particular job.

If any remaining survivors remember him it would be nice to know. After leaving the Navy he went on to become a police officer serving in Croft, Radcliffe and Bury on retiring from the police he then went on to work in the local magistrates court in Bury. We used to joke with him that the local criminals could never escape him. I loved my grandad and he will be very sadly missed by every one who knew him. If possible we (his family) would like infomation on having his ashes scattered where the Royal Oak sank.

Mrs Yvette Whelan

K.G. Laban
With regard to the story from a survivor of the Royal Oak do you have any contact numbers or address. My wife is doing her family tree and it seems that one of the lost sailors a K,G,Laban may be a relative, and she was wondering whether he might have known him and where he came from.
Many thanks in anticipation
Mr T Barker
R.W. Milnes

I was really interested to find your website. My uncle, Ronald William Milnes, (not Milness, as on the roll call of those lost) was lost aboard the Royal Oak aged 16. he was my grandmother's youngest child and my mothers youngest brother. Throughout my childhood, his photograph was displayed and he was talked about and remembered.

I attach a photograph of him.

Pam Sanchez, Stockport

Roland Arno photos?

I am pleased to see you are commemorating the lost members of the Royal Oak. I was looking at your roll call and my uncle's name should read Roland Arno not R.Arnd. I wonder if you have any pictures of him. I think my Mum said he was a radio operator. My Mum, Margaret Rose, his sister died this year.
Thank you,
Doris Leek.

Mountford, H.C.L., Bugler

My brother was a Royal Marine Bugler, he was one of two aboard the HMS Royal Oak when it went down, the other Bugler's name was Priestley A J they were both 16 years of age when they died. I am enclosing a picture of the Southsea War memorial bronze with both their names on it for your information.

Many thanks again for your assistance in this matter.

Yours Pete.

Donald Sabin

I am helping my friend research the history of her late father, Donald Sabin.
He joined the Royal Navy for training on 24 May 1938 & spent the first year in the Signal School at RN Barracks, Portsmouth. Several of his classmates were drafted onto HMS Royal Oak. I wonder whether there are any surviving, or if any relatives have any memorabilia that includes reference to Donald? He mentions his classmates in some detail in his diaries & there is a photo of them all- very poignant when you see his notes added when he heard of the sinking of Royal Oak and the loss of some of his comrades. The names are as follows:
Craven, Arthur
Devlyn, James Charles
Furlong, John Joseph
Ing, Ronald
Jackson, Thomas
Littlejohn, James Barnes Maxwell
MacTaggart, Duncan
Todd, Gilbert

If any relatives of the above are in touch with the Association I should be
very pleased to hear from them.
Angela Russell-Taylor

George Baigent


My Uncle, George Baigent was the first serviceman in Fleet, Hampshire to be killed inthe war, going down with the HMS Royal Oak.

l never knew him, but l wonder whether there is anyone out there who does remember him, l know its a very slim chance, but l would like to hear if there is.

The sad thing is no one from my family has ever visited Scapa Flow, although l would like to go and put that right. He was I understand a very thoughtful and kind young man being only 21 years old when he was killed.

Please contact me on 07808001014 mobile or

Bryan Sheppard







William Tuckwood

My Father was William Samual Tuckwood a Royal Marine who sadly went down on the Royal and would like any information about him,my Mother died a while back but wouldn’t talk about him to me so I do not know any thing about him I was only 5 months at the time so did not know him. Now Mum has sadly passed on I would welcome any details anyone knows

P. Joyce

Earnest Lidgett

Very interesting web-site.My father Ernest E. Lidgett (now passed away) survived the sinking, although he didnt say v. much about it, he did say he went over the side & was picked up by a fishing boat..Attached photo (right) of some survivors, my Dad bald third right, and official telegram. Hope this is of interest.I also have a press cutting of the first five survivor lists issued. Would be interested in info on other survivors in photo or anyone who knew my father, he passed away some years back.



Joe Instance's family

Regretfully I only discovered your site today in an effort to trace Joe Instance who was a good friend of my father and mother. This was during my father's posting to Simonstown, South Africa during the period 1949/1950.
Although quite young I remember Joe very well as does my sister. I should like, if possible, to contact his family. I do not think that he was married at the time; at least I do not recall seeing a wife at any stage.
At the time Joe was a lieutenent on (I think) the destroyer HMS Kempenfelt.
Any information would be gratefully received and I only wish I had started my search earlier.
Bev Coleman

Verdun Pierpoint

I read your website on the Royal Oak with interest since I am researching the men from my home town of Wantage, Oxon (then Berks) who died in WW1 and WW2. One of the WW2 men sadly died in the sinking of the Royal Oak. His name was P0/X 1421 Marine Verdun Loos James Pierpoint and was aged 22. The son of Mr and Mrs William Pierpoint 22 Garston Lane Wantage, he was as you can see named after two battles of WW1 and served as Marine Verdun Loos James (for personal reasons) in the Royal Marines.Verdun had been in the service according to a newspaper cutting of the time for seven years and had only joined the Royal Oak in June 1939. Prior to this he had been on HMS Nelson and in Egypt for a year. Would it be possible please to put an appeal for further information on him through your website as I feel due to his unusual names something may turn up.

Keep up the good work I particularly liked the photos

Trevor Hancock


My Dad was “the last one out alive” being trapped in the sick bay. One of the few places with opening portholes.
We are looking for information on the book “BLACK SATURDAY” which our Dad was mentioned in one chapter.
Also he featured in a Daily Telegraph cartoon depicted inside a “Bubble” at the bottom of the sea.
Can you help?

Jim Bendell

A. Camenzuli
I have come across the website of the Royal Oak and I was impressed with the amount of work that went into it.
Among the list of survivors was my father's name A. Camenzuli. He was a steward on the ship from 1st June 1939 to 14th October 1939 the day the ship went down. I have his official no if required as proof.
I am enclosing a photo of my father taken round about that time. My brother in Australia I believe has some photos of our father on ships . Father died on the 3rd July 1988 in Sydney Australia.
If any of the survivors who knew my father have any photos or memories , they wish to contact me I would appreciate it, if at all possible. Can you post the photo on your site please.
Was a model in kit form ever made of the Royal Oak. and sold in shops. I can’t seem to find it. I live in the London area.
Best Regards
Charles Camenzuli
Tel/Fax: 020 8552 5195
Mobile: 07712 049 927
Xuereb in Malta

My name is Sophie Nash and i have been looking at your web site on the Royal Oak.My partner asked me to do this as his great uncle was on board when she sunk. His mothers maiden name before she married was Xuereb,and the young man on board was her fathers brother.
The family have been fighting for 40 years for the medals that he won and
the mod said they had sent,but the family say was never recived. Happily last
year they got the young mans medals and they have been sent back home to

My partners family over in Malta found on of the last surviors in
there own back yard when walking down by the sea a few years ago (i do not
know his name but can find out) and unfortunatly he died last month.but my
partners uncles saw him nearly every day and were there at his funeral.

My partners mother does have a photo of Mr Xuereb and can get hold of his seral number if you want proof.

I must thank you for a wonderfull tribute to this ship it really made his mums day when i told of it.,she had never seen a picture of the ship that her uncle sailed on now she has.

Sophie Nash

JWJ Clayton

Dear Peter,
My fathers cousin JWJ Clayton was one of the very fortunate survivors of the Royal Oak disaster and I am trying to find out more information about where he was sent after.

I know he got killed later on in the war. Can you help?

I am currently looking into my family history.

Regards Sandra Hobbs.

Survivors info

Dear Peter,

Don't know if you remember me, but i wrote to you a few months ago about my Gran's brothers. Haven't yet solved that problem but have found out a few items that may be of interest to you. In the Seaboard Villages of Shandwick, Balintore and Hilton in Ross & Cromarty there were Eight men on the Royal Oak, 2 from Hilton, 2 from Balintore and 4 from Shandwick. Three of those eight survived, names of 2 survivors that i have found but only 1 confirmed are Jimmy Ross (Kenna) and Tommy Merrick. Three of those who perished but not confirmed are Hugh Vass, Gen Vass (Gen is byname but they couldn't remember his Christian name) both Shandwick, and Biddy from Hilton. Hope this is of some help for your site and if I find anything more or confirm any of this I will let you know.

Karen Fraser

Robert Victor Geden

Hello Peter

I was told by my aunt that my grandad served on the Royal Oak. This was pre 1939. Can you give me any help on finding out if this was true.

His name was Robert Victor Geden and he was described as at sea on his marriage certificate in 1928, although I don't know what ship at that time.

Any help or advice you can give would be most gratefully received

Regards Diane Davies (nee Geden)

Court of Enquiry

Congratulations on the website, it makes a significant difference. Now that it is up and running I've a suggestion to make: would it not be possible to place the record of the court of enquiry into the sinking of the Royal Oak be placed on the website?

As it is now in the public domain it would be helpful for people reside outside the UK. Many persons with whom I've been in correspondence with have wanted access to the official report. My only information came from my mother and survivors who were friends of my father. Before official notification my mother read about the sinking in the local newspaper.

Trevor J. Tee

Charlie Palmer

My wife & I were looking around Hornby with the possibility of buying property there. We popped into The Royal Oak for a drink and saw the memorabilia there. Imagine my surprise to find that my uncle C.(Charlie) J. Palmer's name was in the little Lancashire village pub. My uncle was killed on the ship. Two of his brothers were also killed in the Royal Navy, Bert on HMS Kelly in 1940 & Eddy on HMS Fleur de Lys in 1941. I am an honary member of HMS Kelly reunion association and am wondering if there is anything similar for HMS Royal Oak.

I was a diver from 1971 until 1984 when a burst lung put paid to any more diving. I would have loved to have gone down with you to pay my respects to my uncle and his shipmates on The Royal Oak, but sadly his cannot happen now.

Mike Merrison

Survivors statements

My wife found your web site after a visit by my elder brother prompted a conversation about my father's recollections of his time on the Royal Oak. Firstly our thanks for your work putting together the web site.

I know little of my father's time in the Navy, but my elder brother recalls Dad lying about his age in order to join the Navy and be placed on active service. My father was just 17 at the time of the sinking. The only other tit bit I have to offer is that my father attributed his survival to being on deck at the time of sinking - he was having a crafty cigarette !

I'm sure that my father would have been enthralled with your website - he passed away over 15 years ago now.

My brother mentioned that statements were taken from all survivors and that these are now available for public inspection. Does anyone know if this is the case and where they can be found ?

Martin Askham

Help finding William Clark

I wonder if you could possibly help me...I am helping a friend research her family tree and her dad has told her that his Uncle Billy - William Clarke - died on the Royal Oak in 1939. We have done our research about the sinking of the Royal Oak and I was very impressed with your website.

On numerous occasions we have searched the CWGC site for a William Clarke who would fit Uncle Billy. He would have been about 40 years old, but her dad seems to think he wasn't in the Navy, but a civilian working on the ship.

Last night I found your site and the list of survivors - we always thought that there were NO survivors until we found your list. On that list was a W H Clarke - could this be who we were looking for??? - have you any more details of the survivors? Where they lived, age etc? He was probably from Sunderland as this is where the family lived.

I found another site belonging to Jim Bryce who has an account from the night that the ship was torpedoed - an ancestor was on the ship. They were from Sunderland and he also listed many more from Sunderland some from the same area as Uncle Billy.

If you have no more info how did you get the list of survivors and how could we find out? If he was a civilian would he have been listed as dead or was there another list for civilians? It isn't confirmed if he was Navy or civilian so you can see our dilemma - just clutching at straws really.


Royal Oak spoon?

We have had a mystery in our family for a long time

My wife has in her possession a spoon and pusher Christening set with the Royal Oak crest on (see insert). Now here is the mystery

She wasn't born and Christened until 1941 The ship was sank in 1939. Have you any ideas?

Yours Carl Leckey

Stanley Saltmarsh

I have just found your web site on the Royal Oak. My father marine Stanley Saltmarsh survived the sinking in 1939, and later contributed his account to the book Black Saturday.

My father died in 1965 but i still have some information about his experience. He was also sunk on the Figi and the Frobisher .

Kind Regards

Nick Saltmarsh



ps I noticed that his name does not appear on the survivors list. My mother told me that she stood at the gates of the barracks at Eastney waiting and that his name was not on the fist list, and that she heard later.  

My girlfriend typed out the list of survivors printed in Gerald Snyder's book "The Royal Oak Disaster". I have rechecked the book and you are quite right. She must have missed it so I have amended the survivors page and added Stanley's name

Best wishes

Peter Rowlands

Joseph Furlong

Dear Peter,

A year ago you promptly sent me a copy of your video which I presented to my father Joseph Furlong for Christmas. His brother John was lost aboard the Ship.

That video meant the world to my father and became a prized possession as illness had kept him from visiting the wreck site. Many times he had asked me to get him your address so he could write and thank you personally for the work you were doing.

Sadly my Dad passed away recently and never got to write you that letter so I am writting on his behalf.

Your video and items relating to my Uncle John were left to me by my Dad and I'm hoping to get to Scapa next October for the service. I will scan what I have and send them to you for your web site.

Once more many thanks, it does mean alot to the families of those lost to know they have not been forgotten.

Yours sincerely,

Lydia Furlong, Dublin

HMS Pegasus medals?

Dear Peter,

My Grandfather Served on the HMS Pegasus at the time of the sinking of the Royal Oak. He was awarded a medal, which is inscribed with his name and an inscription to commemerate HMS Royal Oak. Peter do you know if anyone else recieved this medal for services to the Royal Oak. I have tried looking on Medal sites and cannot find any records. The medal was awarded by the ships crew.

yours Kindly

John Unsworth

ON WATCH 14/10/39

Over the years I have read several books on the sinking. My father was on watch on the fateful night and survived. He kept close counsel throughout his life and what came out is different to the various official accounts.

Several of my mothers friends/family also perished that night. Just another piece to the jigsaw.

Barry Davidson, 17 Woburn Ave, Farnborough Hants, GU14 7EQ


Hi there,

My grandfather died on the Royal Oak a few months before my father(his son) was born, so he never got to meet him. My Grandfathers name was Harold Henry Higgs. My father is very interested in anything to do about how his father died and I am trying to find out if there are any models of the frigate that can be purchased for a gift for him or where any other details regarding my grandfather could be found.

If you know of anything please let me know as I would really like to surprise him with a gift or some more information. I have searched all there is to search on the internet and have given him all that I have seen. (Other than your video)

Any info would be greatly appreciated.


Darryn Higgs


Dear Peter,

I have just been reading your letters page and have noticed that one or two people have requested where they may be able to obtain historic photographs & ship plans. These can be obtained from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF. e-mail:

tel:020 8855 1647 fax:020 8317 0263

all the best,

Troy Edwarsds.


Hi My name is David Arbuckle, My uncle is also diver like yourself and he was assigned to the task of the repairing the oil leak on the HMS Royal Oak, My Grandfather was also on the ship during his naval career and since seeing a collection of photographs from both of them I have taken great interest in naval ships, I was wondering if you possessed any pictures of the boat U47 which sunk the HMS Royal Oak and any pictures of the HMS Royal Oak herself I would sincerely grateful if you could e-mail them to me. I hope to hear from you soon.

David Arbuckle


Having just been connected to the internet, I've discovered your very interesting site.

My late grandfather Arthur Maynard served on board HMS Royal Oak as a Stoker First Class between June 1932 - April 1934. He died when I was young so I was unable to speak with him about his career in the navy. Although a long time ago, maybe someone reading this may of known him? I would be interested to hear.

Your site shows a photo of the ship's company, of which I have a copy, but it is in poor condition. Would it be possible to obtain a new copy from the owner?

I look forward to any replies,


Kevin Elliott


As far as I am aware, the photo is available from the Library in Kirkwall, Orkney. I intend to build up a list of places where photos can be bought and hopefully include their reference numbers

Best wishes



Hi Peter

I don't know if you'd be interested, but I have a photo of the Royal Oak, taken at anchor in Marseilles. It was taken some time in the 30's I think, by Marius Barr. It was brought home by my uncle, James Grant, who served on her until March 1939, when he contracted TB and unfortunately died.

I'd be happy for you to make a copy for your web site if possible, please feel free to email me to discuss this.


Geoff Adams


Dear Peter,

I write to let you know that my Great Grandfather, Arthur George Coote, who was a survivor of the HMS Royal Oak, unfortunately died last week. He was aged 81. He was just 18 when the ship was sunk. I believe there are very few remaining survivors still alive and I thought it might be of value to you to know.

Although we have only just come across your website, I think it will be of interest to me and my family over the next few months.

Best regards,

Michelle Purse



Dear Peter

I am writing on behalf of my grandfather Mr Eddie Elliot, who served on-board The Royal Oak from 24th October 1936 to the 22nd April 1938.

He has often talked to me about the times he served aboard many of Her majesties vessels, and has recently asked if i would search the web for any information regarding this particular vessel. He has various photographs and other documentation that you may be interested in seeing, and / or publishing on the web site. He also has his original diary, with many of the events and happenings of his time on-board, all of which may be of interest to you.

Mr Elliott is now 92 years old, and in very good health considering his years, and would love to talk to anyone connected with this vessel. He may be able to offer information, stories etc.

I will leave it like that for now, please feel free to reply to this email, or you may contact me at the following telephone number - 07831 841 025.

He was wondering whether anyone else from his years on-board were still alive, or in contact with yourself. I look forward to hearing from you in the not too distant future.

Yours sincerely and respectfully

Edward J French



I learnt yesterday that Mr Instance who appears in your video passed away last week.



Dear ken

Thanks for the sad news. I can let you and all the other readers of this site that Joe was cremated and his casket was placed inside the wreck of HMS Royal Oak in 2001

Best wishes

Peter Rowlands











I have just found your web site, but was dissmayed to find that my grandfather Mr F W Skepper (Chief Petty Officer/stoker) was not listed amongst the survivors. Is this an oversite ? or is there no record of him ? he died around 1984. He lived in West Parade, Lincoln at the time he served on the Royal Oak right up to the time he died.

Both myself & my mother would be gratefull for any info.

Linda Ashman

Hi Linda

I got the list of survivors from the book "The Royal Oak disaster" by Gerald Snyder published in 1976 but I am not sure where he obtained his information.

I am considering a letters page on the Royal Oak web site.

Best wishes



Dear Mr Peter Rowlands

I have located your website while surfing the Internet for update on HMS Royal Oak of which I am a great student. Thanks a lot for the article and excellent photos.

I am not sure if you are available for a personal quest but hope it won't bother you a lot. Here in Siberia there is no much opportunity of getting original info on the ship. I know that the official report on the results of the Royal Navy investigation on HMS Royal Oak sinking has long been declassified in the UK. Do you think you could afford any your assistance in me obtaining the text of the report? Also do you a have a good drawing of the ship as she was in 1939? Please forget my guest should it bother you in the slightest. Thanks again for your effort in publicizing the story of the ship which in my view deserves deep respect and everlasting memory.

Very kind regards

Serge Zavyalov


Dear Peter.

I wonder if it is possible to include the following details of a former member HMS Royal Oak in the web page.

His name was R H Splaine Seaman Gunner J103565 who served on Royal Oak from 15th November 1926 to 1st April 1927. I obtained the information regarding the late R H Splaine from his son Dave who has asked me to forward it to your web site.

I hope this of help to you in building up this web page.

Regards Haydn Grove.


Can you kindly tell me when the Royal Oak was built. I have in an old autograph album a drawing dated 3.5.20 "HMS Royal Oak" I can't read the signature on it. There is a second drawing dated 3 - 3.20 called "back from the wars" And another dated May 2nd 1920 signed by Frederick W Jones, HMS Royal Oak.

Can you kindly tell me if this is the same Royal Oak or would the drawings be from sailors on an earlier version.There is an old press cutting featuring just a picture of the royal oak but no date.

 I notice from your site that it was some considerable time later when the Royal Oak was sunk and I just wondered if it was the same one.

 I am moving house and had forgotten about the autograph book and found it when packing. I'll look at your website when we have settled in our new place and the information I am seeking might be there, but haven't got time to read it so hope you will forgive me.

There is also a hand painted picture of an aircraft over Galliipoli town 7/3/20, I don't know if the sailors in the Royal Oak would have visited there.

J. Tublin


hi Peter;

It's great to be able to go to a site and see my cousin,Dan MacAngus,named along with his shipmates,all of them my great heroes. Wish there was a site where I could see the name of my uncle,seaman Alexander MacAngus,lost at sea through enemy action, June 24,1940. I visit your website often,as it gives me comfort, thinking of their sacrifice and knowing they are not forgotten !




Dear Peter,

I don't know if you would be able to help me but i am trying to trace my family tree. In the process of doing this i have discovered that my Grandmother had two/three brothers serving on the Royal Oak. I say two or three as on reading your site i discovered only two men with the surname of Morrison, although my father has said that Gran told him that it was three. To further complicate matters i don't know their first names only that they came from the Seaboard village of Shandwick in Ross-shire, i don't even have dates of birth as yet. If there is any way you could help me i would be very grateful. Thanking you in anticipation.

Karen Fraser


Dear Peter.

I have a very keen interest in "The Oak" as my uncle was lost aboard her: Ordinary Seaman P/SSX 26184 Robert Wilson Age 20.

In all the web pages devoted to her sinking..... of which there are not many, nobody seems to have what I have.

 I have a copy of a painting that was commissioned in Germany after the sinking, showing U47 attacking the Oak. Also, and maybe more importantly, I have my Grandmothers 1939 copy of "The London Illustrated News" which covers the sinking. What is very ironic... and little known, is that the Oak starred in a film in which she was torpedoed at anchor. There are some great pic's of her, including her film sinking (leaning heavenly to port) in the magazine.

If you are interested in these for your site, I'd be more than happy to get them scanned (when I've got some spare cash.... I'm un-employed at present), and send/mail them to you.

If on the other hand you have all this.... sorry to have troubled you.

All the best and keep up the good work.

Chris Wilson.


After reading your website on the Royal Oak. I would like to point out that my farther in law who is 85 years old at the moment. Was a young Royal Marine who surrived the attack.

His name is A.G Chatfield. He is currently living in Chichester and any information about the Royal Oak society would be greatful recieved.

James Linter



I am one of two (Alan Harris & Rex Harris) nephews of Ordinary Seaman George Joseph Harris, killed age 18 on the Royal Oak. Visiting your site and, Has given me a small understanding, as to the sacrifices, made by my grandparents, made during times of war. I can hardly start to imagine the terror that must have been for an 18 year old when the first torpedo went off, and the subsequent events, I understand from my father John William Harris (also a seaman) that George had just come off watch and would have been in the mess at the time of the attack.

I am very saddened by the fact that my grandmother who died a few years ago, was unaware of the many memorials to her eldest son.

Thank you for your articles, I have forwarded them to my father, and brother.

 Best Regards

Rex Harris, New Zealand



I stumbled across your site whilst looking into my late father's RN History. I grew up listening to his WWII stories although he never spoke very much about the sinking of the Royal Oak - other than the bitterly cold water, the smell of fuel and the loss of so many lives.

He is on the "Survivors List" - R.G (Reg Birch) and the Royal Oak was his first ship after joining the R.N in early 1939 as a 18 year old.

I guess he must of been one of the lucky few - He survived two more sinkings in the Med. later during the war. HMS Kashmir (Destroyer) off Crete I understand and HMS Hebe (Minesweeper) sunk of Bari-Italy. Like a cork he kept bobbing up in the water.

He joined the R.A.N after the War and moved to Australia. Not content with that, he served in the Vietnam conflict in 1969 and the ripe old age of (49) on HMAS Perth II.

He remained very much a navy person like so many of his friends.

He would have loved your site - I will be sending an order form for your video as I am most interested.

Malcolm Birch.


Dear Peter

Just a short note to congratulate you on your excellent site devoted to the "Royal Oak" &endash; a fitting tribute to the men who perished and the bravery of Gunther Prien.

Do you know where I might find the German transcript of Prien's log? I have the translated copy (which I bought from Lyness Museum on a recent visit but I suspect it has lost a little in translation.

Best wishes from Skipton

Wendy Robinson Archaeological Shipwreck Fanatic


Just a quick reminder to colleagues or former colleagues from the armed forces and anyone trying to trace ex forces personnel, regarding our forces reunion site: We have been running for over 6 months now and during this time we have raised over £300.00 for UK forces charities, as well as reuniting thousands of current and ex-service personnel. Please take a minute to have a look at the site which is run by ex Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm tech', Mike Hosking. There are no adverts, gimmicks or rip-offs on board, just a quality armed forces comrades site.

Thanks and best regards

Mike Hosking

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