destroyers of the Rosyth Escort Force escorting convoys from Rosyth to
Southend on the Thames estuary were subject to attack by German
aircraft and E-boats and also at risk of detonating mines in the narrow
channels behind the east coast minefield. The convoys of up fifty ships
in two columns took about three days to reach Southend and turned round
immediately to escort a north bound convoy to Methyl on the Firth of
Forth before returning to their base at Rosyth upstream from Edinburgh.
often joined a convoy escort and their photographs appeared in the
local papers of East Coast ports as well as in the national Press.
Little is known about the photographers but their photographs are
mostly in the collection at the Imperial War Museum. They are Crown
Copyright which expires fifty years after they were taken and the IWM
has made many of them available for use without charge under the terms
of the IWM Non-Commercial Licence. They can be located by ship name and subject via Collections Search on the IWM web site.
photograph below (IWM Ref A 6484) was taken by Lt J.H. Smith RN, a
Royal Navy official photographer and is unusual because we also have a
press cutting from one of the newspapers which used it and the story of
how the photograph was staged (several weeks before Christmas) written by
the CO of HMS Westminster, Lt.Cdr.
Aymé Arthur Carrington Ouvry, RN, and the names of the officers in the
photograph (with links to their service histories on Unithistories.com).
The press cutting is from the Evening Dispatch for Wednesday 24 December 1941
Click on the pictures to zoom in - for the story behind the press cutting read below IWM Non-Commercial
This photograph was taken for the benefit of the "Great British Public" and I hope they like it
It was taken one forenoon early in December - the photographer arriving
with all the "properties" in a suitcase (crackers, streamers, hats,
etc!). The turkey "Number One" was carving was the scrag end of a joint
Reference caption underneath, the privilige does not include drinking
HM's health in the manner shown or in the paper hats! The vacant place
is more "hooey"! There are about five vacant, only about half our
people were onboard that morning.
Champagne (?) rescued from Dunkirk was consumed many moons ago - it was
only six and I think chiefly celebrated our safe return to Pompey in
There are other photos which were not published that I may be able to send you to laugh at sometime.
The whole thing was done with Admiralty approval though not altogether mine!
Lt Michael Cashman RN joined his next ship, HMS Venomous, "A Hard Fought Ship",
in April 1942 in time to escort Arctic Convoy PQ.15 to Murmansk.
Escorting a convoy off the coast of occupied Norway was very different
from escorting East Coast Convoys between Rosyth on the Firth of Forth
and Southend on Sea on the Thames estuary though both had their
dangers. Sub Lt Alfred R.H. Tedford RNVR joined HMS Urania in April 1945 and was 26 when he fell overboard in
Sydney harbour on 17 April 1946 and was drowned. Midshipman Janion
stayed on in the Navy and retired as Rear Admiral Sir Hugh Penderel
Janion in 1981.
"Number One", Lt John A. Hamer RN
There are many stories told about this popular but eccentric First
Lieutenant with the bushy beard who had been known to crunch up
fragments of an empty wine glass when drinking. Derek Tolfree recalled
that he gave his fellow officers nick names: “Crackers”, “Brickwork”,
“Teddy”, “Rough Tough”, “Pull Through” (me), “Dizzy”, “Titus”,
“Guff” and “The Gooner”. He was popular with the men and wagered a
bottle of whisky on them winning football matches against other ships
(Herbert Dyer, Asdic Operator) and Jeremy Ouvry, the five year old son
of the CO, remembered him as "as great fun who had no less than 2 small
monkeys as mascots not included in the crew lists". He succeeded
Jeremy's father as CO of Westminster and went on to command HMS Worcester.