HMS Walker and the Normandy Landings
Reminiscences of Lieutenant Commander James J Glossop RN
Lt James J Glossop RNhad 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 was 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 right was taken on the centennary of the sinking of the Emden by HMAS Sydney.
had been in dock for refurbishment on the Clyde before being deployed
for the D Day landings in Normandy. Part of the refurbishment had
included a new UHF RDF radio for detecting the location of enemy
transmitters. The outside addition to the ship for this device was a
mast positioned just forward of the aft gun. The mast was held in place
by four stays. The device came with its own boffin to see how it worked.
During the Work Up an anti E-Boat
mission was included. The Captain had the forward gun firing HE
ammunition and the aft gun tasked to fire illumination. On one
engagement the aft turret was traversing and firing when the recoil
enabled the barrel to pass inside one the stays holding the new mast.
In order for the gun to continue firing on the traverse, a quick
thinking gunner took an axe and cut the stay.
The Boffin on the ship was
mortified. At the end of the work up a new stay was erected but the
device had to be recalibrated. The boffin was not amused, nor was the
Captain when told that HMS Walker could not move to the Assembly Area
at Milford Haven until the recalibration was completed the next day.
Even so the ship made it to Milford Haven just in time to join the 32 ship Convoy E2B2Z to Normandy.
Navigating too precisely
After the D Day landing HMS Walker
was traversing a lane cleared through a local minefield. The lane was
marked by floating illuminated buoys about every 5-10 miles. As evening
approached so did the mist and it became more difficult to see the
illuminated marker buoys. Finally when after running the correct
distance and no illumination was in sight, the bridge became tense.
Bearings were checked, distance travelled, tidal drift and wind
direction were all rechecked. Still no illuminated buoy was in sight.
The Navigation Officer, The OOW,
The No 1 and the Captain all had their views but just as the ship was
about to be stopped a “clang” was heard from the bow. The Navigation
Officer was vindicated when it became clear that the buoy had lost its
illumination but that the ship had actually run into the buoy.
Pom Pom Gun’s “Fixit Mallet”
Earlier as HMS Walker
was due to leave the Clyde after anti E-Boat training, the departure
was held up when a signal arrived noting that an important piece of
equipment had just arrived at the dock for the Gunnery Officer on
A large packing case was duly
delivered and the ship got under way. The size of the packing case and
the care with which it had been prepared got everyone’s attention. The
more so as more and more wrapping paper and padding were removed.
Eventually the object was uncovered. It was large wooden carpenter’s
With it came instructions that it
would come in handy for relieving stoppages on the newly fitted QF 2
Pdr Pom Pom gun. It seems that the most common cause of stoppage was
when the recoil of the barrel was not completed. This was normally
because of the build-up of soot, dust and grit in the recuperator. It
had been found that a swift bang with the mallet cleared away the
problem and allowed the barrel to recoil fully.
may be the only officer who served in HMS Walker alive today and we hope to give a full account of his wartime service including his memories of the part HMS Walker played in the Normandy landings.
He left HMS Walker on 23 November 1944 to join the destroyer HMS Penn
with the 10DF at Trincomalee for deployment with the East Indies Fleet
and stayed on in the Navy after the war and retired with the rank of Lt
Cdr in 1969. He is in his mid nineties and lives at a retirement home