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HMS Dasher in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMS Dasher

   HMS Dasher was an Avenger Class Escot Carrier. She was built at Sun Shipbuilding, Chester. Pennsylvania. USA, as mercantile Rio de Janeiro. She was converted to an aircraft carrier and re-named BAVG-5, being transferred to the Royal Navy on completion and commissioned on the 1st of July 1942.

HMS Dasher saw action in the North African landings, Operation Torch in November 1942, carrying the Sea Hurricanes of 835 squadron. She also saw action in the Russian covoys to Murmansk

On March 27th 1943 HMS Dasher, mysteriously exploded in the Clyde. She sank within eight minutes with the loss of 379 lives, only 149 of those on board survived. Two small coastal vessels Gragsman and Lithium, and the radar training ship, Isle of Sark, along with the French La Capricieuse managed to rescue survivors from the blazing oil covered sea.

In 1993 memorial to the men who lost their lives was dedicated at Ardrossan.

Fleet Air Arm Squadrons based on HMS Dasher:
  • 804 Sqd. Oct-Nov 1942 Sea Hurricane IIc
  • 837 Sqd. Jan-Feb 1943 Swordfish I
  • 891 Sqd. Jan-Feb 1943 Sea Hurricane IIc
  • 816 Sqd. Feb-March 1943 Swordfish II


If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have sailed in

HMS Dasher

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Sub Lt. John Ferrier HMS Dasher

After HMS Dasher sank, the survivors were billetted with local families. One was my maternal grandparents, and I am told that two sailors stayed with them. My mother had Mr Ferrier sign her autograph book. My mother only told the story of HMS Dasher after she was given a copy of John Steele's book. Her father had told her NEVER to talk about it again, and she didn't. She had told us of the existence of the autograph book, but it was only after her death that it turned up.

Hazel Evans

Arthur Allen HMS Dasher (d.27th March 1943)

My husbands' uncle was one of the crew on board the HMS Dasher, his name was Arthur Allen, and he was a telegrapher. He was lost when the HMS Dasher exploded mysteriously on 27th March 1943. A very sad note to his death is that his wife, my husband's Aunt Catherine, was so devastated by his death, going into such a deep depression during her then pregnancy, that she did not want to live. She just gave up and she and her baby died during childbirth. Two more victims of that terrible war. I am very curious, did they ever find out what really happened, about this mysterious explosion?. When my mother-in-law was alive, she said they were told it was sunk by a German U-Boat. Can anyone give me any information?

Catherine Christie

Fredrick Nunn HMS Dasher

My grandad, Frederick Nunn who was in the Navy, was a survivor of the HMS Dasher 1943.

Rachel Nunn

PO. Robert Munro HMS Dasher

My late father Robert Munro was on HMS Dasher and lost all his kit when it sank but he survived the war.

J Birch

Able.Sea. William Stephen Lloyd Linfield HMS Dasher (d.27th Mar 1943)

Able Seaman William Stephen Lloyd Linfield was my grandfather's 1st cousin. He lost his life in the explosion and sinking of the HMS Dasher, March 27, 1943. He was the son of Albert Stanley Harbin and Flora(Masters)Harbin. His mother died shortly after his birth and his father's sister Hannah and her husband, Edward John Linfield, agreed to care for him since they had no son of their own. Eventually, Lloyd's father remarried to Susan Payne and they had three sons, Ernest, Roy and Doug. Lloyd remained with Hannah ("Nan")and Edward ("Ned"). Edward became a prominent businessman and hoped Lloyd would one day inherit his business but that was not to be. With the outbreak of WWII Lloyd decided to join up and was formally adopted at that time. He was a likeable and very popular young man and his death was a terrible blow to his family and friends. Edward never got over it and seemed to lose interest in his business as a result.

D. Vaughn Harbin

Telegraphist. Robert "Sandy" Powell HMS London

Robert Powell is a survivor of the terrible tragedy that occured on 27th of March 1943. As of today's date (30 January, 2015) is very much alive and well - living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

HMS Dasher was built in the USA as a merchant ship, but converted to an escort aircraft carrier and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 2 July 1942. Dasher had a complement of 555 men and carried 15 Sea-Hurricane aircraft. After doing some aircraft ferry operations in the Mediterranean, Dasher sailed to the Clyde in March 1943 and, having had her flight-deck lengthened by 42 feet, she embarked Fairey Swordfish aircraft. She escorted one convoy successfully, but shortly after leaving with the second, Dasher suffered engine trouble and turned back. Shortly after getting to the Firth of Clyde on 27 March 1943, she suffered a major internal explosion and sank.

Dad survived the sinking by leaping into the sea when the Dasher was almost upright. He found a cannister amongst debris which kept him afloat in the cold, rough waters until he was eventually picked up. The most terrible memories for him are the moments he spent under the water, trying to surface; the horror when the fuel on the water ignited - killing so many of his colleagues; and the task of trying to identify bodies in the days that followed. He was just 19 at the time.

Dad did as he was told and never really spoke of the Dasher however, for his 80th birthday, I gave him a journal. As a result we learned so much about my father that he had not spoken of. What became very clear was that he wanted to go home; and he wanted very much to visit the site of the sinking of the Dasher. Dad had until then, never returned to the UK since leaving in 1960.

In 2009 at almost 86, we sent him by himself, to the UK. He joined one other survivor in Ardrossan for the annual commemorative service, hosted by the HMS Dasher Association and he would dearly love to go back one last time. We are hopeful for next year. In April 2013, Dad very proudly attended my son's Passing Out Ceremony in Auckland, New Zealand. He was asked to sit with the VIPs that day - I think that only fitting.

Rose Powell

Lt. Philip Culmer HMS Dasher

My father's cousin, Lt. Philip Culmer, served aboard HMS Dasher between 17th March 1942 and 27th March 1943. Lt. Culmer was Navigating Officer.

HMS Dasher (escort carrier) was destroyed through internal explosion. She sank within eight minutes in the Firth of Clyde, off the Isle of Arran. Out of the 528 crew, 379 died. In the year 2000, divers placed a plaque on board the Dasher in memory of those who died there, in the deep, cold waters of the Clyde. Each year roses are strewn on the water above where HMS Dasher lies.

I know Lt. Culmer did not die in the explosion, as he went on to finish his naval career as Captain.

Veronica Bliss

Lt. Ralph Carnac Stallard-Penoyre Squadron Commander HMS Dasher (d.27th March 1943)

I wanted to pay my respects to the memory of my brother-in-law, Lt. Ralph Carnac Baker-Stallard-Penoyre RN Fleet Air Arm, who perished in the sinking of the escort carrier HMS Dasher on 27 March, 1943. Very sadly, he had married my sister, Section Officer (Marjorie) Jean Thornton WAAF only some ten days before he was killed. I well remember, as a five year old, being in awe of him and "helping" him in a child's 'sailor-suit' to cut their wedding cake at one of my parent's favourite haunts, the Goose and Gander club, in London.

David Anthony Thornton

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

The Secrets of HMS Dasher

John & Noreen Steele

March 27th 1943 saw one of the biggest catastrophes in British naval history as the converted aircraft carrier HMS Dasher blew up and sank in the River Clyde. The loss of 379 lives was second only in home waters to the Royal Oak. Yet mystery surrounded the circumstances of this tragedy and until this book appeared, many of the survivors and the bereaved relatives of casualties had no idea what had happened. Shrouded in wartime secrecy, the most basic facts about trauma, injury and death were not known. Local authors John and Noreen Steele have gleaned further testimonies and facts since first publication and in this fourth new edition Dasher has given up more of her secrets. Seabed surveys and contacts from friends and survivors have yielded both the horror of war and information about the circumstances of the explosion and sinking of a strategically important vessel. An amazing connection has been established also with The Man Who Never Was - the Allied ruse to trick the Germans about
More information on:

The Secrets of HMS Dasher


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