Saturday, November 03, 2007

A wartime tragedy at H.M.S. Fernieness Range, East Lothian, Scotland


The headstone of A.B. (Royal Navy) Alexander Rudd of Frizington, Cumberland (now Cumbria)
Alexander Rudd is buried in St Paul's Churchyard (C of E) in his home village of Frizington.

The inscription on Alexander's headstone reads:
"Resting where no shadows fall
In perfect peace He awaits us all".

(Photograph by J. Ritson)
One of the casualties whose name has been put forward for inclusion on the 'Roll of Honour' for the Cleator Moor area of Cumbria is Able Seaman (Royal Navy) Alexander Rudd whose home at the time of his accidental death in 1943 was in the village of Frizington, approximately two miles from Cleator Moor. Alexander Rudd, who was 20 years old at the time of his death was the son of Alexander Rudd and Hannah Rudd of Mill Street, Frizington.

Alexander's service number was P/JX 334136 and he was attached to H.M.S President III O/P. He was one of several victims accidentally killed at H.M.S Fernieness Range in East Lothian on 27 April 1943: as the result of a terrible tragedy.

For details about the accident at Ferny Ness on 27 April 1943 click on 'Comments' below.

7 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The following details were compiled from information obtained by personal research in the Cumbria County Archives, Mr Arthur Baxter, Chairman of Cleator Moor Town Council (2007), Mr Craig Statham, Local History Officer for East Lothian Council and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Alexander Rudd's death was reported in 'The Whitehaven News', a local weekly newspaper covering West Cumberland, on Thursday 6 May 1943. At that time the exact details of Alexander's death were not reported, no doubt for security reasons.

During WW2 Ferny Ness, East Lothian was used as a dive bombing range (Fleet Air Arm) and a Naval Gunnery Practice Range. The spellings 'Fernie Ness' or 'Fernieness' were used as a ploy to confuse the Germans as to its location.

A report about the accident at H.M.S. Fernieness on 27 April 1943:

"On 27/04/43 a Fleet Air Arm aircraft was practising dive bombing at the range. It had successfully completed one pass. On the second it lost control and crashed in front of an SMT bus, bounced and hit the bus.

In the ensuing fire 14 lost their lives".


Details of the air crash:

Fleet Air Arm, 770 Squadron, H.M.S. Jackdaw, air crash


HARTLEY, Robert, Acting Leading Airman (Aged 20) H.M.S. Jackdaw
Fleet Air Arm / FX 86655, killed
Additional details - Son of Robert and Margaret Ann Hartley, of Gipsyville, Hull
(Remembered with honour HULL NORTHERN CEMETERY, Compt. 157. Grave 32.)

JOLL, Kenneth R., Temporary Sub Lieutenant (A) (Aged 20) H.M.S. Jackdaw
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, killed
Additional details - Son of Eustace Sanders Joll and Winifred Joll. of Northampton.
(Remembered with honour ABINGTON (SS. PETER AND PAUL) CHURCHYARD, Grave 1538)


Details of some of the others killed as a result of the accident:

BESWICK, Ernest, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), C/JX 223520 (Age unknown)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Next of kin details not listed on CWGC records
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Coll. grave 803).

BROOKES, David, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), D/JX 338095 (Age 20)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of David and Maria Brookes, of Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Coll. grave 803)

CARR, Ernest G., Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), P/JX 201363 (Age 23)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of Ernest Lawrence Carr and Marion Garbutt Carr, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.
Mentioned in Despatches
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Coll. grave 803)

CURRAN, Patrick, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), D/JX 337908 (Age unknown)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Next of kin details not listed on CWGC details
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Coll. Grave 806)

DODSON, Leslie J., Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), P/JX 289242 (Age 23)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of John Henry and Ethel May Dodson, husband of Ivy Joan Dodson, of Gosport.
(Remembered with honour GOSPORT (ANN'S HILL) CEMETERY Plot 188. Grave 71).

KENNAN, Patrick, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), P/JX 2230 (Age 28)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of Patrick and Catherine Keenan, of Glasgow.
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Grave 718).

LAVERACK, Walter, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), C/JX 262492 (Age unknown)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of Walter and Sissey Laverack; husband of C. Laverack, of Drax.
(Remembered with honour RAWCLIFFE CEMETERY, Row C. Unconsecrated Grave 42).

MACLEOD, John, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), C/JX 289681 (Age 30)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of Mr and Mrs. John MacLeod; husband of Margaret MacLeod, of Leith, Edinburgh.
(Remembered with honour EDINBURGH (SEAFIELD) CEMETERY Sec. P. Grave 686).

RUDD, Alexander, Acting Able Seaman (DEMS), P/JX 334136 (Age 20)
(HMS President III, O/P), killed
Additional details - Son of Alexander and Hannah Rudd, of Frizington.
(Remembered with honour FRIZINGTON (ST. PAUL) CHURCHYARD, Grave C.3)

Let their sacrifice always be remembered.

[Unfortunately at the time of writing this article (November 2007) the other 3 casualty names were not known to the writer].

Saturday, 03 November, 2007  
Blogger Boabbie said...

Hi if you would like to have photos of the seafield cemetery graves I would be pleased to photograph and post them for you.
Bob.H.

Sunday, 04 November, 2007  
Blogger Boabbie said...

Ritsonvaljos
A couple of things
1. Only Beswick and Brookes share a grave as you will see from the stones Ernest Carr is two places along from them.
2.Kennan Patrick should read Keenan.

Tuesday, 06 November, 2007  
Blogger Boabbie said...

Ritsonvaljos
Hi I have been having a look at the records and it looks as if they were all on a gunnery course
training to sail as gunners on armed merchant ships.
HMS President 111 comes up as the accountancy office for defensively armed merchant ships.

Thursday, 08 November, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Hello Boabbie,
Thanks for the additional information. There are still many things about WW2 that are little known.

Saturday, 10 November, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

HMS Fernieness tragedy
Civilian casualties (update)
[January 2012]

With the assistance of Mr Andrew Walker (University of Glasgow), a WW2 researcher of wartime civilian deaths, the following are believed to be the three previously 'missing' civilian casualties of the HMS Fernieness:

Mr David Mathieson
(coach driver);

Mr Stephen Thacker
(Merchant Seaman);

George Alan Osborne
(Merchant Seaman).

The CWGC has confirmed that Mr Mathieson died in the Fernieness accident. Unfortuntely the Commission was unable to confirm from their records that Stephen Thacker and George A. Osborne were the other two details. These two died in an Edinburgh hosptal of the injuries sustained in the accident: Stephen Thacker on the day of the accident and George A. Osborne on the following day. As civilian casualties the CWGC does not have the details of the burial location - just the local government reporting authority of their place of death.
+++++++++++++++++++++

These are the CWGC citations for these three civilian casualties:

1. Mr David Mathieson
(Coach driver)

Name: MATHIESON, DAVID
Initials: D
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Civilian
Regiment/Service: Civilian War Dead
Age: 43
Date of Death: 27/04/1943
Additional information:
Son of the late Andrew and Mary Mathieson, of 9 New Winton, Tranent;
Husband of Helen W. K. Mathieson, of 19 Dean Park Street, Edinburgh. Died at Fernieness.
Casualty Type: Civilian War Dead
Reporting Authority: EAST LOTHIAN COUNTY, SCOTLAND
-----------------

2. Stephen Thacker
(Merchant Seaman)

Name: THACKER, STEPHEN
Initials: S
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Civilian
Regiment/Service: Civilian War Dead
Age: 23
Date of Death: 27/04/1943
Additional information: Seaman, Merchant Navy. Son of John and Sarah Ann Thacker, of 40 Dalestorth Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
Injured at Edinburgh;
Died same day at Astley Ainslie Institution.
Casualty Type: Civilian War Dead
Reporting Authority:
EDINBURGH CITY, SCOTLAND
-----------------------

3. George Alan Osborne
(Merchant Seaman)

Name: OSBORNE, GEORGE ALAN
Initials: G A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Civilian
Regiment/Service: Civilian War Dead
Age: 37
Date of Death: 28/04/1943
Additional information: Seaman, Merchant Navy; of 9 Hook Road, Goole, Yorkshire.
Died at Astley Ainslie Institution.
Casualty Type: Civilian War Dead
Reporting Authority: EDINBURGH CITY, SCOTLAND
+++++++++++++++

Thursday, 19 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Merchant Navy casualties

As stated above, the CWGC is unable to confirm the place of interment for the two Merchant Seamen, Stephen Thacker and George Alan Osborne. Yet, there are two other WW2 casualty listings that should be noted at this stage in the narrative.

1. The CWGC website also lists the citation of 'another' Stephen Thacker from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. This casualty was also a Merchant Seaman. This Stephen Thacker also lost his life on 27 April 1943, and his parents were a Mr and Mrs John Thacker.

2. The CWGC website also lists the citation of a George Alan Osburn from Goole. This George Osburn was again serving in the Merchant Navy at the time of his death on 28 April 1943. George Osburn's parents are listed as George Arthur Osburn and Beatrice Osburn of Hull.
-------------

Is there a link between these Merchant Navy casualties?

Based on the available information, one could put forward the following hypotheses:

1. That Stephen Thacker who died in a hospital at Edinburgh on 27 April is the same Stephen Thacker who is buried at Sutton-in-Ashfield.

2. That George Alan Osborne who died in a hospital on 28 April is actually the same person (although with a differently spelt surname) as the George Alan Osburn who was interred at Goole cemetery.

I have been in contact with the CWGC about the likelihood that these Merchant Navy caualties are linked by the HMS Fernieness tragedy. The Commission states they require some further documentary evidence for the casualties to accept the two Stephen Thackers is actually one casualty and that George Alan Osborne / George Alan Osburn is another casualty. A hypothesis based mainly on deduction will not be enough for the CWGC to amend the citations on their website.
----------------

These are the CWGC citations the 'other' Stephen Thacker and George A. Osburn (Merchant Seamen):

(a) Stephen Thacker

Casualty Details
Name: THACKER, STEPHEN
Initials: S
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Greaser
Regiment/Service: Merchant Navy
Unit Text: S.S. Rother (Goole)
Age: 23
Date of Death: 27/04/1943
Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Thacker, of Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. A. Grave 11555.
Cemetery: SUTTON-IN-ASHFIELD, Nottinghamshire (U.K)
------------------------

(b) George Alan Osburn

Casualty Details
Name: OSBURN, GEORGE ALAN
Initials: G A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Able Seaman
Regiment/Service: Merchant Navy
Unit Text: S.S. Rother (Goole).
Age: 36
Date of Death: 28/04/1943
Additional information: Son of George Arthur Osburn, and of Beatrice Osburn, of Hull.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. C. West Plot. Grave 1135.
Cemetery: GOOLE CEMETERY, Yorkshire (U.K.)
+++++++++++++

Friday, 20 January, 2012  

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