HMS Duke of York
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Messages 1 through 24

Jan. 9, 2012

My grandad, Francis Boyne, was a chief petty officer on HMS Duke of York at the time of the sinking of the Scharnhorst. It was only this weekend that I was looking over his old photographs. He had previously sailed on the Laurentic until it was sunk and he was lucky enough to be rescued by the Duke. I'm extremely proud of my Grandad's naval past and would love to find out more.

All the best

Jean-Pierre Labadie

Dec. 11, 2011

I am trying to find some information on my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer James Fletcher, who served on HMS Duke of York during the Battle of North Cape. I believe he worked in the ships hospital he later, I believe served on a shore station in India. Please could you point me in the right direction.

David Surman
Club Chief, Fulham Football Club

Nov. 17, 2011

My dad Lewis Lomas was Chief Petty Officer I believe on the Duke Of York at the time of the Scharnhorst. If anybody can remember him it would mean a lot to hear any stories. I still have his uniform and medals. Sadly he died in 2002, but I know he loved being on that ship and if he had not been married would have stayed in the navy.

Many thanks,
Martin Lomas
-A proud son

Oct. 15, 2011

My brother referred me to your site and a photograph of crewmen from the Duke of York, submitted by Elizabeth Burrows (page 2). Our father was Cyril White, a stoker, from Burton Upon Trent. He is in the third photo down (third from left, bottom row), not with the stokers in the second photo.

He was on the ship when the Scharnhorst was sunk. We watched the sinking together in a TV series called World At War, years later. He said he was on the side of his ship watching it actually happen at the time. He also told me many of his crew had a signed photo of the 36 survivors but my mum destroyed it (possibly in anger) when he died. Sadly he died very young at 41 in September 1963 from lung cancer. We now think it may have been due to asbestos. I did not realize that so many died on the Scharnhorst, approximately 1900. Why is this? Are they expected to stick to their post or is it that they just cannot get off?

Alan White

Sept. 28, 2011

I'm researching a person's background and memories. This chap remembers being in the sea-scouts and being taken aboard HMS Duke of York in the late 1940's, this ship and a submarine chased each other around the Isle of Wight giving the sea-scouts some idea what goes on at sea with the navy. The time line of the Duke seems to back up our mans memories. Can you possibly confirm that the Duke was used in this way?

Thank you,
Jim Fitzpatrick

Reply 1
July 9, 2015

I cannot comment about the sub chasing, but I can verify that The HMS Duke of York was used for training purposes for Sea Cadets in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I was a Sea Cadet who had the benefit of a General Seamanship course on the Duke at Easter 1951. I emigrated down under just three years after my big adventure and about ten years ago I wrote my own memoirs of my life as a boy in Yorkshire during the war etc. I will copy and past a couple of paragraphs for you which will clearly illustrate how we Sea Cadets had some wonderful times. I hope that these recollections are not too late for your correspondent.


Aug. 1, 2011

I am writing on behalf of my uncle Fred Edmunson who was engine room chief during the war years on board HMS Duke of York, promoted, busted, promoted, busted, in short he enjoyed every minute of shipboard service. My uncle is alive and living in Southport, wiry and very much his own man, but he is getting older and frailer as we all do. He had at one time a photograph of the ship´s crew, the one under forward under the guns, sadly this was lost and I would like to present him a new one, also if there are any living crew members who would like to get in touch with Fred I would be glad to help set up a contact.
Thank you for your time.

Raymond Heap

Apr. 21, 2011

What a find this site has proved to be. My father Arthur Ernest White [Knocker] served aboard HMS Duke of York as an hostilities only teenager [lied about his age] during the second world war. He was trained and posted as a stoker and also served on one of the pompom mountings. He was briefly transferred to HMS Furious for one convoy to replace casualties, returned to the Duke and then finished out his service aboard the River class frigate HMS Avon as part of the British Pacific Fleet which took part in the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.

He fell in love with Australia and in 1963 emigrated with his wife and 3 sons to Melbourne, Victoria. He's now aged 86 still active as is Ruth [his wife] and lives in Mornington close to two of his sons and their families and is visited frequently by his other son and daughter in law. So you see we are all still together and so proud of dad.

If any former crew or relatives remember him or have stories relating to his service we would love to hear from them. Please keep up your efforts with the website, it's not only a credit to yourself and the others who produce it, but more importantly a lasting memorial to those men and women who are Heroes to us all.

David White

Oct. 1, 2013

I am very happy to report that my father stoker Arthur Ernest White has received His Arctic Star for service in Atlantic convoys 1942-43. He has also been contacted by the Soviet embassy in
London to apply for the Medal of Ushakov for similar service.

Yours sincerely,
David White

Jan. 2, 2011

My father, William (Bill) Thomas Harold Salt, (RNVR) served on the Duke of York and was in the Crow's Nest with another man at the time of the Scharnhorst sinking. I believe it was sunk either on Christmas Eve or the Boxing Day? If anyone can tell me if they knew my father I would love to hear from them. Sadly, my father died in 1994 and said very little of his wartime experiences but I understand that his ability to speak German fluently was “useful”. (He did say that as the Scharnhorst went down, he and the other man had to have a “pee” over the side!!)

The only other story he related was when they were trying to pick up British crewmen whose ship (unknown) had been sunk in the freezing North Russian waters.  My father had hold of a man who had managed to climb up the rope net/ladder and he reached down and grabbed his hand .... only to be left with his glove as the man succumbed to the cold and fell to his death in the icy waters and disappeared under my father's ship.

Many thanks and kind regards,
Jackie Hall
(Daughter to Bill Salt)

Nov. 14, 2010

My late father, Lewis Herbert Watson Oliver, served on the HMS Duke of York during the Second World War. He was out in the Pacific from about 1945 as a P.O. coder and served right up until the surrender of the Japanese at the end of the war. My father never lost his passion for war ships and anything to do with the sea and during his life built numerous small models of war ships but also a true to life detailed model of the HMS Duke of York, approximately 1 meter and 20 in length, which sat proudly in our lounge for years!

Unfortunately, my father passed away in 2005 and recently my mother too, in August of 2010. As a result, we are now facing the arduous task of clearing out the house. As my father was so proud of his models, we would like to give them a good home and therefore, we were  wondering if you had any idea of who we could contact in order to donate the models to a naval organization or similar?

I'm not aware if there is actually an association which would accept, in particular, the model of the HMS Duke of York, as it doesn't appear that is a Duke of York Association…….but maybe I'm wrong. Anyhow, any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Stephanie Oliver  
(youngest daughter)

Nov. 14, 2010

Mr Ken Rudd (message #5) whose father was aboard Duke of York at the same time as my brother electrical  artificer P.O. Alan Clements. He served on the ship for three years, he is still alive and lives in Adelaide, Australia.

R. A. Clements

Oct. 5, 2010

Able seaman Norman Simpson of Bradford, Yorkshire served as a stoker between 1945 and 1945, any information would be appreciated he was injured aboard but I have no date.

Many thanks,
Brian Simpson (son)

June 27, 2010

I am interested in PQ 17 where she was in the task force which was protecting the convoy. My Father would have been a commander I think at the time. He told me shortly before he died (Rear Admiral Derrick Hall-Thompson) it was the saddest duty he ever had to perform was to give the order to his escorts to retreat and tell the convoy to scatter. " Michael " he said to me "I wasn't brave enough to stand up to their lordships when I knew they were making a mistake, like a Nelson, and only was promoted in the end by simply obeying orders. I think really my life has been a bit of a failure." I should add he was unwell at the time and died a few months afterwards. I can't find any further history with him mentioned but wonder if anyone knew him at the time and what sort of person he was during the war and afterwards when he was appointed as Captain of the Vanguard his last sea going command.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Hall-Thompson

Nov. 17, 2009

I would be grateful if you could help me with some information or advice. My Grandfather Eric Frederick Martyn Whibley (NZ), served on the Duke of York during WW II and I would like to trace him to a crew list. Apparently he served as a 'trainee officer' and spent time down in the magazines loading shells. He was not on the battleship when she was in action against the Scharnhorst. Eric was a volunteer from New Zealand, he also said he spent time as a Dispatch Rider in the Army before joining the Navy after an accident that nearly killed him. That's about all the information I have and if you could point me in the right direction I would be very grateful also to anyone else that may read this.

Thank you for your site,
Wayne Hughes-Sparrow

June 5, 2009

My grandfather, Chief Petty Officer James Fletcher served on the Duke of York during the Scharnhorst action, he worked in the sick bay. Is there any surviving crew members who would remember him? He sadly passed away in 1982.

David Surman

Jan. 16, 2009

Thank you for all the information, enjoyed every read. I did notice that a Rosemary Cawley had stated that her father had served on the Duke of York and I thought that may be she would be interested in the following photos. My father was Ronald Burrows and he was a stoker. King George is with officers and 2 other photos I'm guessing are stokers.

Elizabeth Burrows

Dec. 24, 2008

My name is James D. Parnell, I was aboard the Duke during the Scharnhorst sinking, I was a Leading Telegraphist. I was also aboard her for the ill-fated PQ-17 convoy disaster. In total I was on board her for two and a half years. I lost the sight of my right eye in the Pacific, went hospitalized in Australia, then home to Devonport and finally to Ireland to install transmitters at Nutts Corner for RN. Discharged medically in 1945, worked at the Foreign Office and then to the Diplomatic Service. Finally came to Canada in 1952.

Best Regards,
Jim Parnell

Jan. 1, 2008

My father served on the Duke from 1941 to 1945, including when Scharnhorst was sunk. He was on the Pom-Pom guns but would not talk about the war. I still have all his photos of the Duke, as well as a very sad one showing the signatures of the Schanhorst survivors-only 36.

Richard Coe

Dec. 24, 2008

I was aboard the Duke during the Scharnhorst sinking, I was a Leading Telegraphist. I was also aboard her for the ill-fated PQ-17 convoy disaster. In total I was on board her for two and a half years. I lost the sight of my right eye in the Pacific, went hospitalized in Australia, then home to Devonport and finally to Ireland to install transmitters at Nutts Corner for RN. Discharged medically in 1945, worked at the Foreign Office and then to the Diplomatic Service. Finally came to Canada in 1952.

Best Regards,
Jim D. Parnell

Nov. 30, 2008

My father David Rough was a Wireless Operator on HMS Duke of York during the sinking of the Scharnhorst. I recall him saying how sad it was listening to the final desperate messages being sent from the Scharnhorst's Radio room.

Susan Carron

Oct. 9, 2008



Feb. 22, 2008

This is a box my late father, Able Seaman John Knowles, carved out during his time spent on the HMS Duke of
York during the war and the letter on how the box was made.

John Knowles

The box from HMS Duke of York during World War 2

It came into my hands after a being discarded as of no further use during a refit. Originally it housed the alders lamp on the signal deck. The refit took place after the sea battle in which the German Battleship Scharnhorst was sunk and many lives lost. Immediately after the action we put into the Russian port of Murmansk for temporary repaired until we got back to England for the big refit.

It was then I acquired the box and set about cutting it down to the size it now is. I kept it in my locker for ages, taking it out now and then during my spare time, to first of all draw the pattern and then to chip away. I had no proper chisel in those days but an old file which I had ground down. Whenever I had time to spare, and felt in the mood, out would come the box and a little more carving done until the next time.                                                               
It was my prize possession for many long hours at sea from Scapa Flow on the Russian convoys in Force H round Iceland back home then to Gibraltar on to Malta Suey, Aden, Ceylon, Australia, Tokyo. Mind you I had it finished long before we went to some of these places. But until I could bring it home it traveled forthwith, tucked away in my locker.                                                              

I left HMS Duke of York in Sydney, Australia after the ending of hostilities, I spent about a month or so on the "Golden Hind" waiting for a ship home and demobilization. Eventually I was demobed and arrived back home along with my "sea bag" and my box. How I carried all my gear that night I don't know I had to walk from Stretford to Timperley but I felt on top of the world. No more war, and no more having to leave home, and no more "sea time" but a box as a souvenir to remind me of my life at as an Able Seaman.                                                                                                                                               
John Knowles DJX 284663

(Able Seaman John Knowles RN Photo Collection)

Front view.

Top view.

May 15, 2007

My father also served upon HMS Duke of York. His name was Thomas O'Toole and was aboard ship when the Scharnhorst was sunk.

Maureen Gardiner

May 7, 2007

I have inherited a scale model of the HMS Duke Of York battleship and would like to know where one can obtain blueprints or plans for this vessel. There are some repairs to be made to the model.

Gregory Lange

Jan. 18, 2007

Does anybody know what the ships motto was for the Duke Of York?

Paul Sherlock


Honi soit qui mal y pense: "Shame to him who thinks evil of it"

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Page published Aug. 24, 2007