Crest of the V&W Destroyer Association“We were there”

The last of the many

My father, William Redvers Forster (1900-75), was commissioned in the RAF in World War 1 and in the Royal Navy in World War 2. His youngest brother, Alan Forster, was born in 1917 and served in the Army. He was captured near Dunkirk in 1940 and spent five years in Fort Rauch, a German POW Camp at Posen in Poland, before joining the “death treck” from Klimontow in Silesia away from advancing Russian forces in 1945. I told Alan’s story on the BBC Peoples War website which recorded 47,000 stories told by veterans and their families
between June 2003 and January 2006. The BBC have now launched a new initiative to record the stories of the few remaining veterans alive today named "We were there".

Veterans who served in V & W Class Destroyers

Lt Cdr John Errol Manners
was born on 25 September 1914 and was 105 when he died on 7 March 2020. He was the last surviving CO of a wartime destroyer, HMS Viceroy. The veterans who served in V & W Class destroyers are in their late 90s or more than a hundred.  They told me their stories for publication on the website of the V & W Destroyer Association and, in some cases were recorded, and tell their own stories online.  They are listed below in order of birth. I hope to add more and send their details to the BBC.

Lt. Stuart Murray William Farquharson-Roberts – HMS Westcott
Stuart was 100 on 3 June 2022 - click on his name to read about his life

Frank Witton - HMS Woolston
Frank Witton was born in St Albans and went to Holywell House School on Holywell Hill, fifty yards from where I live.
Frank was 100 on 16 December 2022 and received cards from the King and the First Sea Lord on his Birthday.

Telegraphist Ken Holmes
HMS Warwick (dob 1 November 1923)

Thomas Holden - HMS Vanessa (dob 19 March 1924)
Thomas Holden was a naval cook rating (HX 110067) on the mess deck for only four months from 24 September 1943 until 21 January 1944 escorting Atlantic Convoys to Halifax until:

"a tug manoeuvring in the Basin managed to draw its stern along the side of Vanessa leaving a gash about 4 feet above the waterline and about on third the length of the ship. We were condemned to the breakers yard in Charleston and as we left ship the breakers were already cutting into the upper deck".

He wrote a vivid account of his brief period which ended with the scrapping of HMS Vanessa which I shall publish in full with his photographs when I am fully recovered from COVID. This has been typed for me by my wife.

Barrie Wright – HMS Vesper (dob 27 April 1925)

RDF Operator Edwin Philip "Ted" Cross – HMS Westcott  (dob 11 July 1925)

Telegraphist Ken Foster – HMS Viceroy (dob 18 December 1925)

On Remembrance Day 2022 the BBC announced a new website
“We were there”
to “Capture war-time memories before it is too late.”

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