Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationHMS WALKER





Lt Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN

CO of HMS Walker,  April 1943 - 28 September 1944

The men in HMS Walker tell their stories of Arctic Convoys 1943-4

Lt Cdr Arthur N. Rowell, RN (below, left) succeeded  Cdr. James Marjoribanks Rowland, RN as CO of HMS Walker in April 1943 and was followed by Lt. Cdr. Antony Francis Trew, SANF(V) - below right - on 29 Sep 1944. Rowell took command after her conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE) and was CO of HMS Walker when she escorted Arctic Convoys JW and RW.57 and 58 and RW.59 in 1944. He also commanded Walker during Operation Neptune escorting supply convoys to US forces on Utah and Omaha Beaches.

He was born in 1909 and educated between 1922-5 at the Nautical College Pangbourne which trained boys to become Merchant Navy officers. He must have decided on a career in the Royal Navy at Pangbourne as he entered service as a Naval Cadet in 1925 and was a Lieutenant by 1932. He has a brief entry in "Obituaries and Death Notices 1917-2016" in The Old Pangbournian Record:

"Rowell, A.N. (22-25) was a much-decorated officer in the Royal Navy who retired as a Commander and died in the 1990s. Serving in HMS Walker during the Second World War he was Mentioned in Despatches twice in two months for his part in Operation Neptune (the Normandy Landings) in December, 1944, and New Year 45 in January, 1945. For his role in Operation Neptune he was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the post-war French government. Subsequently he was awarded two DSCs while serving in HMS Whitesand Bay in the Korean war – the first in June, 1951 and the second in October, 1952."

Officers
Navy Lists, June 1943 - June 1944


Lt Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN
Lt R W D  Bray RN
Lt P D Sturdee RN
Tp Surg Lt J C Macauley RNVR
Lt J J Glossop RN
Lt Frederick V Robinson RCNVR
Lt A.D. Powell RNVR
Lt (E) E.C.Y. Hughes SANF(V)
Surg Lt J.C. Macauley RNVR
Sub Lt (E) R.R. Brooks RCNVR
Tp Sub Lt R B Mann RNR
Tp Sub Lt A H B McClatchley RNVR
Tp Sub Lt E R Lawson RNVR
Tp Sub Lt D Payne RNVR
Cd Eng G F Osborne RN       
Tp Gnr (T) A W Norish RN
Mid A.W. Dodd RNVR
21 April 1943 - 28 September 1944
14 Jan 1941 - Feb 1945
9 March 1943 - August 1944
20 June 1943 - Sept 1944
20 May 1943 - 22 Nov 1944
13 October 1943 - 27 February 1944
20 March 1944 - April 1945
18 March 1944 - Jan 1945
20 June 1943 - Sept 1944
14 Oct 1943 - March 1945
17 April 1941 - Feb  1945
25 June 1942 - Feb 1945
May 1943 - May 1945
21 June 1943 - March 1944
9 March 1939 - Oct 1943
15 February 1943 -  March 1945
31 Jan 1944 - April 1945


Lt Cdr Rowell RN


JW.57
RA.57

JW.58
RA.58
RA.59



JW.61
RA.61

JW.63
RA.63
Departed Liverpool 20 February and arrived Kola Inlet on 28 February 1944.
Departed Kola Inlet on 2 March and arrived Loch Ewe on 10 March 1944

Departed Liverpool 27 March and arrived Kola Inlet on 4 April 1944.
Departed Kola Inlet on 7 April and arrived Loch Ewe on 14 April 1944
Departed Kola Inlet on 28 April and arrived Loch Ewe on 6 May 1944

Operation Neptune - June 1944

Departed Liverpool 20 October 1944 and arrived Kola Inlet on 28th October 1944
Departed Kola Inlet on 2 November and arrived Loch Ewe on 9 November 1944

Departed Liverpool 20 December and arrived Kola Inlet on 8 January 1945
Departed Kola Inlet on 11 January and arrived Loch Ewe on 21 January 1945

Lt Cdr A. Trew SANF

Ship's Company of HMS Walker
Lt.Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN and the ship's company of HMS Walker at the start of her new Commission in April 1943
 “Albert Foulser, 4th from right in row behind the shield (ship’s crest)” and “Bill Perks is in row in front of shield, 5th from left.”
Courtesy of Albert Foulser



These officers have been identified by Lt James J. Glossop RN
double click to view full size for downloading or printing
Cd Eng G.F. Osborne RN
Cd Eng G.F. Osborne RN
First Lt Peter Sturdee RN
1st Lt Peter D. Sturdee RN
Lt Cdr A.N. Rowell RN
Lt Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN
Lt J.J. Glossop RN
Lt James J. Glossop RN
Mid A.W. Dodd RNVR
Mid A.W. Dodd RNVR
Surg Lt J.C. Macaulay RNVR
Surg Lt J.C. Macauley RNVR

These officers have not been identified - get in touch if you know who they are
names will be added when they are "recognised"
not identified
unidentified
unidentified
Lt A.D. "Sandy" Powell RNVR


Stories and photographs of the
Arctic Convoys escorted by HMS Walker

Lt James Glossop RN (Ret)Lt J.J. Glossop RNLt James J Glossop RN had joined HMS Walker as a Sub on 20 May 1943 when Lt.Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN was the CO and was promoted to Lieutenant on 16 May 1944. He took part on Arctic Convoys JW.57 and JW.58 and the return convoys described by ABs Albert Foulser and Bill Perks.

After the Normandy landings and his promotion to Lt he served under
Lt. Cdr. Antony Francis Trew, SANF(V) escorting Arctic Convoys JW61 and JW63 to the Kola Inlet in North Russia.
He left HMS Walker on the 22 November 1944 to join HM Destroyer Penn on 23 November 1944 in refit at Chatham and spent the rest of the war operating with the East Indies Fleet based at Trincomallew in Ceylon. He stayed in the Royal Navy after the war until retirement at the age of 45 in 1969/70.

James Glossop is the son of an Australian naval hero of the Great War, Capt John C.T. Glossop RAN  (1871-1934), who commanded the light cruiser HMAS Sydney when she sank the Emden, a commerce raider which had created havoc in the Indian Ocean until outgunned by Sydney, set on fire and driven ashore she was  forced to surrender in November 1914.  The portrait of James Glossop on the left was cropped from the ship's compant below and the one on the right was taken on the centennary of the sinking of the Emden by HMAS Sydney.

He is now in his mid-nineties and lives in a nursing home in Bathurst, a large rural town 200 km west of Sydney. My contact with him is via Colonel Gerry McCormack (Ret) who lives in Perth but visits him occasionally and forwards queries by phone and letter. He is thought to be the only officer who served in HMS Walker alive today.


AB Frank Donald Wright RDF Operator, HMS WalkerDonald Frank Wright (left) was born at Norwich on 8 August 1925. He was living at home with his father and working as  an "errand lad" when he volunteered to join the Royal Navy on 15 February 1943 "for the period of the present emergency".

After ten weeks basic training at HMS Ganges at Shotley Gate, on the north bank of the River Stour opposite Harwich,  Ordinary Seaman Donald F Wright JX 407954 was sent to HMS Valkyrie at Douglas on the Isle of Man. This was the Navy's main shore base for training RDF operators.

The technology was top secret and the five week training course was too short to teach men fully: "Commanding Officers must appreciate that Ordinary Seamen (RDF) newly drafted to sea cannot be considered fully trained either in practical operating or in sea sense. The training must be continued afloat and every help and encouragement must be given to operators to learn" (Churchill's Navy; by Brian Lavery).

OD Donald F Wright was posted to HMS Walker at Chatham on 18 June 1943 and remained aboard her until the end of the war. Throughout most of this period HMS Walker was escorting Arctic Convoys but she also played her part in the Normandy landings. Donald Wright was rated as an Able Bodied Seaman (RDF) on 15 February 1944 when the Navy created a separate Branch for Radar Control Ratings. AB Wright was initially rated as RC3 but promoted to RC2 in December 1945. Throughout most of his time in HMS Walker she was based at HMS Ferret in Londonderry.

He was discharged 10 September 1946. His Grandson, Stephen Wright, briefly described his life after the war:
"I believe he worked or completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter and later on started his own construction company. He actually built his own and our family home in Taverham Norfolk. He basically remained in the building trade until retirement.  He passed away in early 2001."

The view from the lower deck

Albert Foulser and Bill Perks met for the first time when they joined HMS
Walker at Chatham after her conversion to a Long Range Escort in April 1943. They were shipmates and close friends on Atlantic Convoys to Gibraltar and Arctic Convoys to Murmansk until Walker was paid off at Barrow in Furness at the end the war. They next met at the Cenotaph in 2005 when they were awarded the Arctic Emblem and heard their names called out. Read the brief outlines of what they told me below and click on the links near the bottom of this page to hear them tell their own stories.

They remained aboard HMS Walker until the end of the war so served under both Lt Cdr A.N. Rowell and Lt Cdr A.F. Trew, SANF(V) but are unlikely to have had much contact with either and no distinction is made in their brief description of events below. The photographs were taken by Albert Foulser whose parents bought him a Box Brownie camera in 1932 for 5/-. He was the only man with a camera on the lower deck and he gave copies of the photographs he took to his shipmates including Bill Perks. I interviewed Bill Perks at the V & W reunion at Eastbourne in 2014 and Albert Foulser at St Ives near Cambridge in 2016

Albert Foulser

Bill Perks
Albert George Foulser (left) was born in Walthamstow, North East London, on 11 August 1924, the son of a green-grocer. He was the second of five sons and had four sisters. He left school at 14 and trained as a cabinet maker in a furniture factory but they were all made redundant when the factory changed to making aircraft. By the time he was eighteen and received his call-up papers he was "filling in" working for the father of a friend as a "bottle washer'! He did his four months basic training at HMS Glendower at Pwllheli, a former Butlins holiday camp in North Wales. He returned to Chatham and was posted to HMS Walker which had just been converted to a Long Range Escort (LRE). He is 95 still in good health living with his wife in Loughton, Essex.

Leslie William Perks (right) was born on 31 March 1925 at Leamington Spa and iived there all his life. He left school at 14 and became a despatch rider with the National Fire Service. He was a a few months short of  his eighteenth birthday when he decided to join the RAF but was told to come back when he was older so he joined the Navy instead. He did ten weeks basic training at HMS Ganges and going up the mast in the early morning was "a frightening experience".  He had to prove he could swim by putting on a big "duck suit" and floating in the pool for three minutes before he was allowed to go on the ferry to Harwich. If you couldn't swim you had to go to Ipswich for an evening out. He was sent from the depot at Chatham to Tobemory for an Asdic course but they were all "ping happy" so he deliberately failed the course. On returning to Chatham he joined HMS Walker as an OD at the start of her new Commission after conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE). He died on Bank Holiday Monday in May 2016.


***************

Bill Perks best friend on HMS Walker was Albert Foulser. They were part of the new Commission; very few of the ship's company, if any, had served with Donald Macintyre, the renowned "U-Boat Killer" who commanded HMS Walker from March 1941 to February 1942.  Albert took all the photographs on this page apart from the photographs of the ships company which were taken by a Royal Navy photographer. Albert Foulser is standing alongside Bill Perks in both these photographs.

Their first CO, Lt Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, was Royal Navy, the second "wavy navy", a South African, Lt Cdr A.F. Trew SANF(V). HMS Walker "worked up" in Scotland and was then sent to Londonderry, her base for escort duties to Gibraltar. By April 1943 the shore base at Londonderry, HMS Ferret, was responsible for 149 escort and anti-submarine patrol vessels, two thousand shore-based personnel and twenty thousand British and Canadian seamen. Derry provided much needed rest and relaxation to Allied sailors following convoy duty. On one occasion while escorting a convoy to Gib Walker ran out of fuel and had to go into Azores, a neutral country, to refuel.

In January 1944 they went to Gairloch on the Clyde to be fitted out with cold weather gear for escorting Arctic Convoys. From now on their base was Greenock (HMS Orlando) on the Clyde. HMS Walker with HMS Keppell, Beagle and Boadicea formed the 8th Escort Group, part of the Close Escort for convoys to the Kola inlet in north Russia. In overall command was Vice-Admiral F Dalrymple-Hamilton RN, the Flag Officer of the 10th Cruiser Squadron in HMS DIadem. The convoys of merchant ships formed up in Loch Ewe, a deep enclosed sea loch on the west coast of Scotland. HMS Walker would escort ships from Liverpool and the Clyde to the assembly point at Loch Ewe. Bill Perks and Albert Foulser were on five Arctic Convoys (JW57.JW58, JW59, JW61 and JW63 plus the return convoys with the prefix RA) to Polyarnoe, the Russian naval base near Murmansk on the Kola inlet from 1944 to early 1945. Click on the links in the table at the top of this page to see the names of the merchant ships and the escorts in each convoy.

Arctic Convoy JW.57

In January 1944, Walker was transferred to the Home Fleet to escort Arctic convoys to and from the Soviet Union. In February 1944, she was part of the close escort group for Convoy JW.57 during its voyage from the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union along with Keppel, the destroyers Beagle and Boadicea, and four Flower-class corvettes. The convoy left Liverpool on 20 February and  although it endured German air and submarine attacks during its passage, it suffered no losses and arrived at the Kola Inlet on 28 February 1944.

Arctic Convoy JW57 to Kola InletArctic Convoy JW57 to Kola Inlet
Arctic Convoy JW57Arctic Convoy JW57
Photographs taken on Arctic Convoy JW.57 by Sub Lt Dennis W Foster RN from HMS Wanderer

Water froze on the superstructure, guns, guard rails and focsle and had to be chipped away to prevent the ship becoming unstable and capsising. A safety line with a sling was slung the length of the ship to make it easier and safer for officers and men going on watch to move along the icy deck without slipping and being washed overboard. On 27 Februaery, the day before they arrived  at the Kola Inlet at the end of their first convoy to Arctic Russia the Canadian Gunnery Officer failed to turn up for the middle watch (0000 - 0400) and was found to have left the wardroom at the stern, slipped and been washed overboard on his way to the bridge. Lt James Glossop RN remembers the night well. He was due to go on watch at 0800 and went to bed at midnight expecting to sleep the whole night through but was woken at 0400 and asked to relieve the First Lt who had conducted an unsuccessful search for the missing officer.

Neither Bill Perks or Albert Foulser could remember the name of the Canadian officer but a search on naval-history.net identified him as Lieutenant Frederick Victor Robinson RCNVR who was lost, Missing Presumed Killed (MPK), on 27 February 1944, the day before HMS Walker arrived at the Kola Inlet. He was a 28 years old former school teacher from London, Ontario, a city north of Lake Eyrie near the US border. He had volunteered for the Navy in August 1940 and trained at HMCS Stadacona at Halifax, Nova Scotia, before being sent to Britain for officer training at HMS King Alfred. In June 1941 he was sent on a two months course at HMS Quebec, the No 1 Combined (Operations) Training Centre (No 1 CTC) at Inverary on the remote shores of Loch Fyne in Scotland before being posted to HMS Ferrett, the shore base for Atlantic escorts at Londonderry where he may have met his future wife, Elizabeth Wilson from Belfast. She was two years younger than him, the daughter of a deceased Captain in the Black Watch. He joined his first real ship, an elderly Town Class destroyer, HMS Clare, on 5 November 1941 and married Elizabeth at the Registry Office in Islington on 23 February 1942.

During his two years in  HMS Clare in 1941-3 she was intially based at Liverpool with the 41st Escort Group for defence of West African convoys but after a refit escorted convoys to Gibraltar and was sent to the Mediterranean and took part in Operation Torch, the landings near Syracuse in Sicily. Lt Frederick V. Robinson RCNVR joined HMS Walker on 13 October 1943 with Sub Lt (E) R.R. Brooks RCNVR when she was part of the 4th Escort Group based at at Londonderry. Frederick Robinson's death was confirmed in a letter from the Canadian Navy Board to his father on 13 April 1944. By the time of his death Elizabeth had a daughter, Patricia Robinson. They were repatriated by the Canadian Navy aboard an elderly liner the SS Letitia in September 1946 and joined her father-in-law, Ernest Walter Robinson, a schoolmaster in London, Ontario.

Arctic Convoy JW 58

HMS Walker in Kola Inlet, Murmansk
HMS Beagle (H30), a member of the 8th Escort Group, in the Kola inlet near the Russian naval base of Polyanoe
HMS Beagle (H30) and HMS Boadicea (H65) were B-Class destroyers built around 1930 which together with the V & W Class Leader HMS Keppell and HMS Walker made up the 8th Escort Group in 1944
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

Daily News from HMS Walker 4 April 1944

Waker Daily News (2)

Walker Daily News
Arctic Convoy JW.58 arrived at the Kola Inlet on 4 April 1944
These messages were retained by AB Donald Frank Wright, RDF operator in HMS Walker, June 1943 - Jan 1945
They were probably posted on the ship's notice board
Courtesy of Stephen Wright, his Grandson

Return Convoy RA.59

On the 30 April 1944, two days after return convoy RA.59  left Polyanoe the American  Liberty Ship, William S Thayer, was torpedoed. Click on the link to read Lt Cdr A.N. Rowell's Report of Proceedings describing what happened. According to Albert Foulser and Bill Parkes  Walker managed to go bow to bow and saved 22 men with 21 being rescued by HMS Whitehall. The Report of Proceedings by the CO of HMS Whitehall can also be read as a PDF by clicking on this link. The figures for survivors and some other details need checking and explaining but Albert Foulser's photographs of the survivors bring this story to life. They were mostly Russian seamen being taken to Scotland to crew the Royal Sovereign which was on loan to the Soviet Navy.  Walker already had some American sailors onboard, in addition to her own crew so was quite crowded.

Survivors from the William S Thayer
Russian seamen on HMS Walker after being rescued from the William S Thayer
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

Lt James Glossop had an amusing memory of the Russians rescued when the William S Thayer was torpedoed. One of them, a large, overbearing fellow with a big boozer’s nose, was never in uniform. He was less well educated than the others and not at all comfortable at sea but was rumoured to be a master chess player. The Ward Room arranged for six of its chess players to play against him. The agreement was that he would be blindfolded and the six players from HMS Walker would have their moves described and translated to the blindfolded Russian. Within 12-15 moves he had demolished four of the Walker team. The other two, including James Glossop, were saved when the rattles sounded an anti-sub alarm.

On another convoy the stanchions above the focastle were washed away and mess deck badly damaged and they went into Iceland where the Mess Deck was shored up with timber instead of being repaired.

HMS Walker 1944
Albert Foulser is on the left in this photograph of his shipmates in HMS Walker with USN sailors taking passage to Britain and Russians rescued from the William S Thayer
This photograph was taken on Kodak 620 film in Albert Foulser's box Brownie camera and the image has been scanned from the negative carefully kept by Albert

HMS Walker, looking forard

Bill Pers in 1944 anbd 2014 and the Kola Inlet, Arctic Russia
Bill Perks, as a young rating in 1944 and wearing his Arctic Star in 2014, and a photograph of the Kola Inlet near Murmansk in Arctic Russia taken from HMS Walke
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

They escorted a convoy of troops from Milford Haven to the D-Day beaches in June but returned to escorting Arctic Convoys from October 1944 until January 1945 under a new CO, Lt Cdr A.F. Trew SANF(V).

HMS Walker spent the last few months of the war as local escort, Stranraer to Larne, until being paid off at Barrow in Furness.  Bill Perks was sent to Malta to join a small minesweeper, L76, with a crew of 17 and they swept the North African coast, the Aegean and the Adriatic before being drafted back to Chatham and demobbed in 1946. Albert Foulser reveals in an amusing article how his war ended with a spell in prison.



See more of the photographs taken by Albert Foulser aboard HMS Walker on his 5/- box Brownie camera
and at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005

Bill Forster recorded an interview with Bill Perks at Eastbourne in 2014 and Albert Foulser (Reel 2) at St Ives in 2016
They cover similar ground but Bill Perks gives a clearer account than Albert

You can click on the links to hear them describe their wartime service on HMS Walker
be patient - it takes a couple of minutes before the file opens and they start speaking


Arctic Convoys 2: Lt Cdr Tony Trew SANF(V) as CO
and his officers describe conditions on Arctic Convoys in 1944




If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Walker you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


If you have stories or photographs of HMS Walker you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Frank Donald



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