Did the former marine know drowned men?

The funeral procession and ceremony for the servicemen who drowned off the coast of Boulogne in October 1944

The funeral procession and ceremony for the servicemen who drowned off the coast of Boulogne in October 1944

First published in Memory Lane

READER Matthew Smaldon has shed light on the mystery of a group of British servicemen who drowned in the Second World War.

Pictures of a funeral procession, funeral ceremony and graves were found in the attic of former Marine Walter George Clifton in George Street, Bicester.

His family discovered some information about the victims, but were mystified why Mr Clifton should have had the photographs.

Mr Smaldon, who lives in Abingdon, tells me that eight men perished off the coast of Boulogne during stormy weather on October 13, 1944.

Five of them were crew members of HMS Scott, a fleet minesweeping sloop, which surveyed liberated harbours in Europe as well as the route for Pluto (Pipeline under the Ocean), which carried fuel from the UK to Europe.

The men, Charles Dansie, 23, of Ilford, Essex, Walter Whitmore, 25, from Norfolk, Thomas Peckitt, 26, of Scarborough, Leslie Richards, 18, of West Kensington, and John Flynn, 19, address unknown, were the volunteer crew of one of the ship’s motorboats.

They put to sea during a gale to try to rescue Lieutenant Commander John Booth, of Great Yarmouth, and Marines Ronald Edwards, 22, from West Ham, and John Nicholson, 32, address unknown, who were adrift in a dory.

Both boats were lost. All bodies were recovered, except those of Booth and Peckitt. The official cause of death was given as drowning.

The six bodies recovered were buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery Pas de Calais on October 17.

Lieutenant Commander Booth, who was Officer in Command of HMBY Minesweeper 2155, is remembered at the Calais Canadian War Cemetery, Leubringhen, and Peckitt’s name is recorded on Chatham Naval Memorial.

Mr Clifton’s son-in-law, Chris Bowers, of Welland Croft, Bicester, asked (Memory Lane, June 16) if anyone knew why the pictures were in his father-in-law’s possession.

Mr Smaldon writes: “I would assume that Mr Clifton, being a Royal Marine, may have served on HMS Scott alongside the men who were killed. If his son-in-law can obtain his service record, it should confirm this."

 

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
  • Memory Lane this week

Silence was golden

Oxford Mail:

5:20pm Monday 24th November 2014

THERE were as many chatterboxes among the children at Crowmarsh School, near Wallingford, as any other group of youngsters, but even they fell silent when money was at stake. Their silence was sponsored by the minute, to raise money to send the British team to the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. Sixty juniors kept quiet for an hour and raised £184 to support the medal-chasing athletes.

Knees up for the winners

Oxford Mail:

5:20pm Monday 24th November 2014

THE Mrs Mopps at the Horton General Hospital, Banbury, were in upbeat mood after beating off private competition to win a contract to carry on cleaning.

Knees up for the winners

Oxford Mail:

5:20pm Monday 24th November 2014

THE Mrs Mopps at the Horton General Hospital, Banbury, were in upbeat mood after beating off private competition to win a contract to carry on cleaning.

A very appealing cast at Wolvercote church

Oxford Mail:

5:20pm Monday 24th November 2014

THERE were celebrations at Wolvercote when the church bells rang out after six months of silence.

A half-penny, and a basin of dripping

Oxford Mail:

5:10pm Monday 24th November 2014

LORD Nuffield died owing his former office boy Ron Hiorns a halfpenny – and the debt has never been paid.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree