Cromarty Archive

HMS Cromarty

HMS Cromarty

Date Added: 11 September 2004 Contributor: Andrew Bathie Year: 1942 Picture No: 932

Bangor Class Minesweeper lunched 1941. She was sunk on 23rd October 1943 in the Straits of Bonificio, (Sardinia) ironically having struck a mine.

She was involved in the capture of an Italian submarine 'Bronzo' off the coast of Sicily in July 1943.

Albums: The Sea


My Great Uncle served on the Cromarty, Leading Telegraphist William Jones, and went down with her on 23/10/43. I would appriciate it if anyone could give me more info, especially anyone who knew Bill. Comment left on 02 December 2004 at 23:31 by Mark Jones
Despite her short life, less than two years, HMS Cromarty, along with HMS Cromer, were described as the "outstanding ships of the gallant 14th Flotilla". She was sunk with the loss of 5 officers and 20 ratings. Her C/O was Commander C G Palmer, DSC & Bar, VRD, RNZNVR, MIS, a naval volunteer officer who was a company director from Auckland, NZ. He survived the sinking but spent a year in hospital. 61 other crew were believed to have survived. Comment left on 25 May 2005 at 21:26 by Campbell Ross
Whilst looking for details of HMS Cromarty, I came across a crew list for HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The list includes a Robert Shadd (22) of Cromarty. He is described as a "landsman", which apparently means he was on his first sea trip. Now there's a story, if anyone can find out who he was!
He seems to have survived unscathed!
Comment left on 25 May 2005 at 21:34 by Campbell Ross
My uncle also went down on the HMS Cromarty on 23.10.43. He was Melvin Edward O'Brien, age 22. He also served on HMS Drake and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 before the start of the second world war. The last contact the family had of Melvin was when his elder brother, Douglas, met him quite by accident in Tripoli a little while before his ship went down. I would be grateful for any information concerning his service in the Royal Navy. Comment left on 01 October 2006 at 23:36 by Melvin O'brien
My Brother Stanley Truelove also went down on 2 October 1943 aged 20. Any informtion would be appreciated Comment left on 27 June 2008 at 19:57 by Peyer Colin Truelove
My Father, Edmund (Ted) Povah was a Signalman aboard HMS Cromarty, fortunately he survived the mine that day. He subsequently went to New Zealand in the 90's and was reunited with his old skipper. He also provided information and photographs to the museum in Cromarty of the ship. Comment left on 15 March 2010 at 20:52 by John Edmund Povah
I came across this website while researching a presentation on my father's ship, HMS Seaham - a sister ship to the Cromarty and part of the 14th Minesweeping Flotilla.

My father, then Lieut. Commander Robert E. Brett, upon witnessing the mining of the Cromarty, navigated HMS Seaham into the minefield to pick up survivors. Leading Seaman, Paul Jasper who I interviewed in 1995, stated that mines were popping up during that sweeping operation like blackberries and only due to my father's superb navigating skills that they did not share the same fate as the Cromarty.Needless to say, Commander Palmer was picked up with the survivors, his legs badly mangled so that for the rest of his life he walked with a cane.My father being second in command of the flotilla then became senior officer of the group. For Captain Brett's efforts in this operation, he was awarded the DSC.

My father and Commander Palmer remained life long friends and frequently visited each other. I had the honor to correspond with him in 1996 when I was doing research on HMS Seaham.
Comment left on 14 July 2010 at 00:44 by William R. Brett
I came across this web-site whilst searching for information about the Cromarty & was interested to see particularly the name Ted Povah.
My Dad William Smith(Bill) now 92, was also a signalman aboard the Cromarty. He was one of 3 signalmen when the ship was commissioned in 1941, Ronie Surman & Ted Povah where the other 2. My Dad was suffering a from a burst eardrum & was transfered to a hospital ship in Madagascar in May 1942. We repeatedly hear tales of my Dad's experiences during the war & he has often wondered if any of the crew survived. Whilst on holiday in Cromarty a few years ago we saw the photographs & information about the ship in the museum, & were told about the skipper who survived & went to live in New-Zealand. We wrote to his son & had a lovely letter back.
Comment left on 01 August 2010 at 17:03 by Barbara McCormick
My Uncle was Ronald Surman. He died in Bolton Lancashire 1994 was married to my Aunt. They didnt have any children. He wouldn't talk much about his Naval History. All we know was that he was mentioned in dispatches in conection to HMS Cromarty and that he spent some time in hospital after the sinking. Comment left on 09 August 2010 at 14:57 by Frances Morgan
My Grandfather was Chief Stoker Harold Wyers. He was on HMS Cromarty when it sunk. He just happened to be on deck when the blast happened. He said he tossed off as many lifejackets out of the locker and the ship went down quickly. He and a group of survivors kept the Captain (who was injured) on a piece of debris. My Grandfather was mentioned in Despatch in the London Gazette 02MAY44 by order of the King for his actions that day. Comment left on 03 August 2014 at 20:24 by Rex Wyers
My father, Frank Lloyd, a "Tiffy" on board the sister ship, HMS Bangor, tells a somewhat different story in his memoirs to that of the son of Lieut. Commander Brett. My father states: We picked up survivors including the Captain who was badly injured. One difficult rescue was trying to get a lad away from a floating mine. In his shocked state he was clinging to anything that floated, so one of our lads swam over to him and had to punch him to get him away. On board, the seamans mess deck was cleared for the casualties and we all helped to clean up the survivors “ the ships doctor telling us to scrub their wounds. I was working on a fellow with a large gash from his hip half way down to his knee. And gingerly cleaning this wound when the Doc said “scrub man”. I thought he was a sadist but after realised the sense in it. Comment left on 31 October 2014 at 02:39 by Dr Colin R Lloyd
My uncle Bernard Upton survived the sinking on 23 Oct 43. He was decorated for his actions that day.
He is almost 96 years old and still as sharp as a pin. He is writing his memoirs about WW2 including much about Cromarty. I will post again when the book is published.
Comment left on 03 January 2015 at 16:38 by Richard James
My uncle James William Dickens was a ccok on the Cromarty and was killed on this sad day. Comment left on 31 August 2015 at 17:11 by Patricia Dickens
My uncle did not survive the sinking of the HMS Cromatry in 1943 his name was John Robert "Jackie" Moorfield from Orford, Warrington he was in his very early twenties and him never returning broke my grandparents hearts. Watching the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph today has made me curious as to whether any survivors still alive remember him? Comment left on 08 November 2015 at 12:48 by Penny Moorfield
Hi Penny,
I will ask my Uncle, Bernard Upton, who although he is 96 has a brilliant memory for names in World War 2. I will post when his book of memoirs is published.
Comment left on 10 November 2015 at 07:05 by Richard James
It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Lt Bernard Upton passed away yesterday, just short of his 97th birthday. He wrote a detailed report of the sinking of HMS CROMARTY a few days after the sinking. If anyone would like to see a copy of this, please let me know. Comment left on 23 April 2016 at 07:59 by Richard James
My Dad, (Norman J Hinchliffe) was a Chief Pretty Officer and served on the Cromarty. He corresponded with Captain Palmer for the rest of his life. Dad knew the captain as Bunty Palmer. Richard James, I also knew your uncle, I took my Mum to a reunion in Birmingham once and met him there. Mum wrote to him regularly. My Dad died in 1983.
If it's possible, I would be very interested in reading a copy of Bernard's report.
Comment left on 08 July 2016 at 17:55 by Glenis Brindley (née Hinchliffe)
Hello Richard,I served 24 years in the Navy,having first being brought up in Cromarty,I still have relatives in the Crom,and buried my mother there recently. I would be very interested and privileged to read the detailed report please. Comment left on 13 July 2016 at 10:38 by Tony Fraser
Bernard Upton's book about the sinking of HMS Cromarty and the rest of his war was published on the Anniversary last week. If you would like to buy a copy for just £9.99 including P&P, please email [email protected] with your postal address and payment details. Thank you. Comment left on 29 October 2017 at 06:53 by Richard James
Can I still get a copy of Bernard's memoirs.
My grandad Walter Kenneth Norton survived the sinking but would never discuss.
Comment left on 19 November 2017 at 21:19 by Mark Cummings
I can't claim to have close family on this ship, but a through genealogy, I discovered that a distant cousin, James John Cooper was amongst those lost. Comment left on 15 December 2017 at 11:21 by Paul Hyett
Dear Paul,
I can confirm that a "J Cooper" is listed as lost following the sinking on 23 Oct 1943. If you would like to read the book, please email me at [email protected]
Comment left on 19 December 2017 at 07:12 by Richard James
Bernard Upton's book about the sinking of HMS Cromarty is a great read, really helped understand & see what my dad William (Bill) Smith did during the war, saddened that he did not get the opportunity to read this himself as he was always talking about the Cromarty even though he was only on it a short time & was on numerous other ships throughout the war years. Comment left on 15 January 2018 at 11:11 by Barbara McCormick
Dear Barbara,
Thank you for your comments and delighted that you enjoyed the book.
Comment left on 15 January 2018 at 15:58 by Richard James
I've just finished reading the book too Richard. I have to say it was a pleasure, although bitter- sweet at the same time. I think Bernard would be very pleased with it, and I know my Dad, Norman Hinchliffe, would have been too. Thank you, Glenis Comment left on 18 January 2018 at 19:19 by Glenis Brindley
Dear Glenis,
Thank you for your comments.
Best wishes,
Comment left on 19 January 2018 at 06:08 by Richard James
You're most welcome Richard, I think you've done a sterling job. Regards Glenis Comment left on 19 January 2018 at 19:14 by Glenis Brindley
My father George Long was a gunner on HMS Seaham. He is still alive (aged 92) but his memories are fading fast. Comment left on 14 February 2018 at 00:34 by Derek Long
Dear Derek,

I have sent you a personal email. Your father must have been very young (17) at the time if he was on SEAHAM in Oct 1943.
Comment left on 23 February 2018 at 12:28 by Richard James
He was born on 22/12/25 but gave his birth date as 22/12/23 thus enabling him to enlist. As he still says they were grabbing volunteers with both arms. Comment left on 06 March 2018 at 22:15 by Derek Long
Hi, does anybody remember the chief engineer Reginald Cox who lost his life on the Cromarty 1943? Comment left on 29 July 2018 at 15:11 by Nick blackford
It's nice to see there are still people adding comments on this page. Richard James worked very hard to collate his uncle's memoirs and get all this info together, and his book is really good. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in Cromarty. Glenis Brindley. Comment left on 09 August 2018 at 22:29 by Glenis Brindley
Dear Nick,
The story of how Reginald Cox lost his life is covered in the book - "On the road to Normandy" by Bernard Upton and is available on ebay at just £9.99 inc P&P.
Comment left on 10 August 2018 at 06:35 by Richard
It was Warrant Engineer Richard Edward Cox, DSM, who was killed when the Cromarty went down, not Reginald. Here at Dartford Borough Museum I have been researching the deaths during the Second World War of local servicemen and I came across this site while looking for details of Richard Cox and how he died. Comment left on 30 November 2018 at 12:39 by Mike Still
interested in the survivors for this ship believe 61 survived with many wounded does Bernard Rollin Upton elaborate on this I believe he was the other surviving officer? Comment left on 27 October 2019 by Ian Mcleod
Hello Richard
Very nice book heartily recommend this book to anyone!
Kind regards Ian
Comment left on 20 December 2019 by Ian Mcleod
Hello Richard, I have only just started researching the life of Harold William Columbus age 19 of Tattingstone, Suffolk who died on HMS Cromarty when it went down so any info you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks and kind regards Jane Kirk, Tattingstone Comment left on 03 May 2020 by Jane Kirk
Will get my mother to post on here soon.She is one of three surviving children from Engineer R.E Cox who lost his life when HMS Cromarty sank. Comment left on 11 May 2020 by Russell Samson
Richard. How lovely it is to see that people are even now finding out about the Cromarty, and the wealth of knowledge to be found here. Well done on carrying on the work started by your Uncle Bernard. Regards, Glenis Brindley. Comment left on 17 May 2020 by Glenis Brindley
Hello Jane Kirk,
I can confirm that Uncle Bernard listed Harold William Columbus as "lost in action", in his book.
Search on ebay for second world war and Royal Navy and minesweeper.
HWC is also commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Further details in the book.
Comment left on 17 May 2020 by Richard James
Further to my earlier post, my father George Christopher Long who served as a gunner on HMS Seaham from 1942 died on 18th May age 94. I believe he was the last surviving member of the ship, but am happy to be corrected. Comment left on 22 May 2020 by Derek Long
Thank you Glenis. Another book went this week to a relative of a Sailor lost on 23 October 1943. Comment left on 23 May 2020 by Richard James
Thank you for the replies and info so far. I plan to research the story of H W Columbus for the 80th anniversary of his death so if anything else comes up I'd be very grateful. Comment left on 23 May 2020 by Jane Kirk
I'm researching my family history and have found that my great grandfather, Stoker Petty Officer Thomas Joseph Crisp, served on HMS Cromarty and was mentioned in despatches in the 25 August 1942 edition of the London Gazette. I can't find the reason or any citation relating to the MID and will be grateful if anyone has any information or can point me in the right direction please. Comment left on 25 July 2021 by Mark Crisp
Hello Mark, Your great grandfather served on HMS Cromarty with my Uncle - Bernard Upton. Please buy this book which will tell you all about 1942.
Comment left on 09 August 2021 by Richard James
Thank you very much Richard, I've just purchased a copy of the book and am looking forward to receiving and reading it. Comment left on 10 August 2021 by Mark Crisp
Just to add to the last comment. I have the book by Richard James and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in HMS Cromarty. It's extremely detailed and will answer any questions you might have. Comment left on 11 August 2021 by Glenis Brindley
Mark - Your book was posted to you yesterday.

Glenis - Thank you for your comments.
Comment left on 12 August 2021 by Richard James
If anyone else would like to read about HMS Cromarty, please buy this book: Comment left on 13 August 2021 by Richard James
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