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




HMS Walker and the Normandy Landings
Reminiscences of Lieutenant Commander James J Glossop RN
and AB J.W. Somers, Anti-Aircraft Gunnery Rating


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

James Glossop told these short anecdotes about events during the Normandy landings to his friend, Lt Col Gerald McCormack who emailed them to me from Australia. James Glossop was promoted to full Lieutenant on 16 May and both men served under Lt. Cdr. Antony Francis Trew, SANF(V) escorting Arctic Convoys JW61 and JW63 to the Kola Inlet in North Russia.

A W Somers and his brother Les had served together on the cruiser HMS Sheffield as anti-aircraft gunnery ratings supporting the Operation Torch landings in North Africa, escorting convoys to North Russia and at the landings at Salerno in Italy before separating when JW joined HMS Walker at Dumbarton on the Clyde and Les joined HMS Woolston at Rosyth escorting east coast convoys. HMS Walker did not take part in the landings on D-Day but two days later on 8 June escorted Military Convoy E2B2Z from Milford Haven in South Wales to reinforce the  American forces on Utah and Omaha Beaches. Somers described the part played by Walker in a 64 page unpublished typescript ms in the Imperial War Museum, London.

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Work Up to D-Day


HMS Walkerhad been in dock for refurbishment on the Clyde before being deployed for the D Day landings in Normandy. A bow mounted single barrel pom pom was installed which John Somers was to operate. The refurbishment 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.

An anti e-boat mission was included in the "Work Up". 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 described by J W Somers.

Pom Pom Gun’s “Fixit Mallet”

HMS Walker was due to leave the Clyde after anti E-Boat training but their 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 board. 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 mallet.

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.

Convoys from Milford Haven to Normandy

There were 32 ships in Convoy
E2B2Z with Walker in the van, two trawlers on either flank and a Corvette bringing up the rear. They escorted six Landing Ship Tanks (LST) back to the Isle of Wight (the first Somers had seen) before returning to the Bristol Channel and Milford Haven. After a second convoy to the the Normandy beaches and a convoy back to the Bristol Channel they returned to Milford Haven to store and bunker. A request for a boiler clean which would allow time for a week's leave for half the crew was refused. It took a week for the round trip to Normandy and escorting a return convoy to the Bristol Channel and after their next return trip they were given permission to have the boiler cleaned and the "starboard watch took a week's leave". They went on three more trips to "the second front" before returning to Dumbarton on the Clyde. At this point Somers found himself given the unexpected and altogether unfamiliar job of "Captain’s Batman and Steward.

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 although the buoy had lost its illumination the ship had actually run into it.


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Joseph Glossop may be the only officer 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 in Australia.

A. W. Somers remained with HMS Walker on escort work in the Irish Sea (May 1944 - (?) May 1945) until she was decommissioned and sent to the ship breakers at Barrow on Furness and was then based ashore in Glasgow until his demobilisation in November 1945.




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 Bill Forster



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