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

Reg Panton's Photograph Album: Part Two

These photographs may have been taken on HMS Vansittart or HMS Wivern since the CO of Vansittart and most of his officers transferred from Vansittart to Wivern on 17 January 1940.
The first owner of the album is believed to have been Midshipman Briggs who was killed when Wivern was bombed off the Dutch coast on 14 May 1940. Part one of the album is on the HMS Vansittart website.

There are 17 pages in the album and each page measures 6 x 4.5 inches and has one photograph per page with a hand written caption beneath as shown below. I scanned each double facing page in the album  at 1200 dpi so that they could be enlarged. If details were obscured at the corners I removed them from the album and scanned them again.

I decided to link to each photograph from the caption beneath each photograph and add further details obtained by Googling the web since libraries and archives are closed during the Cornona pandemic. You can view cleaned up enlarged images with the results of our research below or return to the thumb nail scans on the index page.  If you can add further details of the individuals and the events shown please contact me by e-mail.

Bill Forster


Pages fourteen and fifteen in Reg Panton's photograph album

On the bridge
"Mid Briggs and Capt. servant"

On the Bridge2
"Taking sights for navigation purpose"

Pages sixteen and seventeen in Reg Panton's photograph album

"Mid Briggs Navigator Killed in Action 14th May"
 "Mid Briggs Navigator Killed in Action 14th May"

"Captain William Charles Bushell, Lt Cdr in Command of Wivern Dutch Coast"
 "Captain William Charles Bushell, Lt Cdr in Command of Wivern Dutch Coast"

Naval List, December 1939
Naval List December 1939
Naval List, May 1940
Naval List May 1940

Lt Cdr William Charles Bushell RN (1899-1940) was CO of HMS
Vansittart before taking over from Lt.Cdr. Walter Evershed, RN as CO of HMS Wivern on 17 January 1940. Most of the officers joined Wivern on the same day as their CO. The other officer in this photograph has not been identified but may be Lt Harbottle. Nineteen year old Midshipman Kenneth T Briggs RNR and Sub Lt Richard S. Brown RNVR were killed when HMS Wivern was bombed on 14 May.

30 May to 2 June, while Wivern was under repair, Lt Cdr Bushell relieved Lt Cdr Alers-Hankey CO of HMS Vanquisher who collapsed through mental and physical exhaustion during Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. His First Lt John Wychard Harbottle accompanied him. Harbottle was to die two years later on 1 May 1942 when his ship, the Tribal Class destroyer HMS Punjabi, was cut in two by the Battleship, HMS King George V, while escorting Arctic Convoy PQ.15.

After leaving Vanquisher Bushell assisted MV Tynwald, one of eight
ferries of Isle of Man Steam Packet Company which brought troops back from Dunkirk. The  civilian crew of the Tynwald were demoralised by the loss of their sister ship, MV Fenella. The SPC lost three ships in twenty hours and Bushell had to persuade them to make two final trips to Dunkirk on the nights of  the 2nd and 3rd  June. Tynwald returned with five thousand French troops from the East Mole on 4 June. Bushell returned to HMS Wivern later that day and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in August 1940.

Commander William Charles Bushell died  9 November 1940 from illness aged 41. He was the son of William George and Caroline Bushell and the husband of Florence May Bushell, of Catisfield in East Sussex, north of Bexhill. A tablet in the Memorial Hall at Catisfield records the names of men who died in the war. He is buried in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport, Portsmouth.
William Bushell came from a large family but had only one son, Richard Bushell born in 1931, and I am hoping his family will contact me with further details of Cdr William. C. Bushell's wartime service. Family historians can view his family tree on Ancestry.

Pages eighteen and nineteen in Reg Panton's photograph album
"HMS Vansittart at Harwich"

Midshipman Briggs
"Mid Briggs"

Pages twenty and twenty one in Reg Panton's photograph album
Sub Lt Keyes
"Sub Lt Keys Sir Roger Keys Grandson" - sic
 "Slewing to avoid subs"

"Sir Roger Keyes Grandson"

The photograph on the left is of Sir Roger Keyes son, Sub Lt R.G.B. Keyes, not his grandson.  He served in Wivern,  from January to June 1940, changed to Coastal Services and commanded three MTB in the Mediterranean. He was only a Lieutenant when he left the Navy but succeeded to his father's title as  Baron of Zeebrugge and Dover.

Pages twenty two and twenty three in Reg Panton's photograph album
Officers on the bridge of HMS Wiovern
"On the Lookout Trooping"

French liner on her side a Le Havre 1939?
"French vessel bombed at Le Havre"

There are three photographs of this "French Liner" lying on her side in the harbour at Le Havre. Her name was not given but they must have been taken while escorting troop carriers taking the BEF to ports in Northern France. According to the caption she had been bombed and if I could determine the date on which she was sunk I would at least know the photographs were taken after that date.

The Le Havre Municipal Archive identified the liner as the Paris, a 35,000 ton luxury liner built at Saint-Nazaire for the CGT French Line, the Compagnie générale transatlantique. Construction began in 1913 but she was not completed until after the war and she made her first voyage to New York in April 1921. She was 234 metres in length and carried 3,240 passengers. Postcards of the period show what a splendid ship she was but she was also an exceptionally unlucky ship. In August 1929 she was badly damaged by fire while in harbour at Le Havre. She was repaired and remained in service until April 1939 when she was to take a large number of works of art from museums in Paris to the International exhibition at New York. On the 18 April a devastating fire swept the ship. Fire engines flooded the ship with water from their hoses while fighting to save her and she became so unstable that she capsised and fell on her side. The passengers had not yet boarded but the bronze and marble statues and paintings were already in the ship's holds. She remained sunk in the harbour at Le Havre alongside the Joannès Couvert Quay until after the war when the cutting up of the wreck made it possible to access the holds and recover artworks that have been in the water for several years. It took until 1947 for her remains to be broken up and  scrapped.

Pages twenty four and twenty five in Reg Panton's photograph album
The French liner lying on her side in Lew Havre harbour, view from bow
"Another view of Liner"

Le havre from the air showing sunken French liner
 "French Liner at Le Havre"

This aerial photograph could not hve been taken from HMS Vansittart or HMS Wivern but would probably have been easily obtainable at Le Havre.

The last page in Reg Panton's photograph album is an anomoly!
Can you explain it?

The last page in Reg Panton's Photogrph album is a mystery!
The caption is -
"Waiting to bring troops back from France"

This photograph of young sea cadets, elderly veterans and middle aged men wearing false beards and straw hats suggests
that the war would drag on for many more years before our troops would return home aboard the ships of the Royal Navy!

Go to Part One of Reg Panton's Photograph Album
Return to thumbnail index of the photographs in Reg Panton's Photograph Album

Return to the Home Page for HMS Wivern

Return to the Home Page of the V & W Destroyer Association
Return to the Index Page for the 69 V & W Class Destroyers