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

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

HMS Havock




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



Those known to have sailed in

HMS Havock

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Bennett Alfred. Ldg.Sea.
  • Bennett Alfred. L.Sea.
  • Burns Douglas Campbell. Able Seaman
  • Greenhouse Norman. Ldg.Sea.
  • Hartley Edgar.
  • Knowles Harry. Gnr.
  • Mosley Gerald Edward Percy. Shipmate 2nd Cl.
  • Sleet George William. CPO
  • Wood Bertram. Ldg.Stoker (d.25th Apr 1942)
  • Wood Bertram. Stoker 1/Cl. (d.1942)

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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Able Seaman Douglas Campbell Burns HMS Havock

My father was the only New Zealand seaman on the HMS Havock when it was wrecked off the Coast of Northern Africa and he was taken to Laghouat POW. He was reported missing presumed dead to his parents in New Zealand. They did not know of his fate for 7 months. After being freed from Laghouat he joined the HMNZ Achilles and HMNZ Gambia and fought for New Zealand for the rest of WWII.

He is still alive and lives in Foxton Beach New Zealand and is 88 years of age and in good health physically and mentally. I am in the process of typing the story of his life and most of it is taken up with serving on board English Merchant ships during the early part of WWII.

Yvonne Baylis



Ldg.Sea. Alfred "Wiggy" Bennett HMS Acasta

My father, Alfred Bennett, was in the Royal Navy during WW II having served aboard a number of ships. He was just 19 years old. His job was "higher submarine detector" and his first ship was the "Acasta" then the "Coventry" and many more. He was aboard the "Coventry" when it was bombed on New Year's Day, 1940. The Germans dropped bombs alongside the ship and it sprung a leak. From there they went to the south of England for repairs.

He told me of being on board the HMS Havock when it was shelled by a battleship two miles off the coast of Gibraltar. He said he swam to shore and was taken by the Vichy French to a POW camp. They were taken to Tunis across the Atlas mountans to Algeria. He said that they were taken by train over very steep mountains. "You could look right over the edge of the tracks straight down". His Royal Navy papers record him as "missing presumed interred - H.M.S. Havock." Then there's a little note that reads "now safe in the U.K." He also told me of a game that they played during free time called "Tom Bowler". I wish that I had paid more attention or had asked more questions so that I could pass this part of our family history on to future generations.

If your veteran is still alive, I hope that you can take the opportunity to talk to them about their experience in the war(s).

Jackie Bennett Short



L.Sea. Alfred "Wiggy" Bennett HMS Havock

My Dad, Alfred Bennett was a lead submarine detector. He served upon many ships during the War. He told me of the time he was aboard the Havock when it was torpedoed off the coast of Africa. He swam to shore and was taken prisoner by the Vichy French. He was taken by train to a prison camp, over some very steep mountains. He said you could look straight down from the train, it was so steep. I have a copy of some of his service records that show that he was reported missing, now found and safe in the U.K. He didn't tell me much about the camp. I wish now that I had asked him more questions.

Jackie Bennett Short



CPO George William Sleet MID HMS Havoc

Following is a synopsis of my uncle's wartime experiences in the Royal Navy up to and during his capture and internment in the POW camp in Laghouat in Algeria. George William Sleet was a career sailor; eventually rising through the ranks to become Chief Petty Officer.

Everyone in the family was having narrow escapes. The radio news bulletins had mentioned that Uncle George’s ship, H.M.S. York, had been torpedoed and run aground in Suda Bay, Crete, where the crew had scuttled it and got ashore to hide in the caves. His ship and sister ship, H.M.S. Exeter, had chased the German pocket battleship Graf Spee to the River Plate and had seen it scuttled before joining the Mediterranean fleet. Now they were holed up and waiting for rescue. The Germans had invaded Crete and were trying to find the source of the radio messages Uncle George was sending to Alexandria. As they were deep in caves, bombing was useless, and eventually the crew was rescued by the destroyer H.M.S. Hero and taken to Alexandria where he was put on the battleship H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth. He was Mentioned in Dispatches for his part in the rescue so my grandparents were very proud of him.

Later, Uncle George sent a letter from Alexandria to say he was now serving on H.M.S. Havoc and protecting the Mediterranean convoys. Then there was word that H.M.S. Havoc had been sunk and the survivors had managed to get ashore at Tunisia, where the Arabs had turned them over to the Vichy-French army who sided with the Nazis. Grandma was to get a censored postcard later from a POW camp in Laghouat in Algeria, so the news was confirmed.

As the North Africa campaign wore on, Uncle George was freed from the POW camp by the invading English and American troops and made his way home. When he did finally arrive, the family was shocked at how thin he was. His shin bones stuck out on his legs, and he had lost a lot of teeth through bad food and lack of it. He said everything was soaked in olive oil and solid food was rare, hence the bad teeth. He also had sand sores where they had to sleep and sit on the desert sand as no chairs or beds were available. The POWs were treated abominably, but he did say that they all felt a lot better after they had gone down to the Arab villages and given the inhabitants a beating up for their part in the treatment they received. Apparently any escape from the camp was doomed, because the Arabs caught the escapees and returned them to the Germans.

He was home for sometime and the family did its best to make it enjoyable for him. He wouldn’t go into the shelters at night, though, but the air raids had lessened considerably anyway.

Barry J. Page



Ldg.Sea. Norman Greenhouse HMS Nigeria

Norman Greenhouse served on HMS Havock at Narvik and then in the Mediterranean and took part in the Battles of Cape Spada and Matapan. Later was on HMS Resource from 25 July 1941 to 16 April 1942. His record shows that he joined HMS Nigeria on 11 June 1944 until 21 May 1945; I believe it was during this time that he earned his Burma Star.

He was stationed back at HMS Pembroke on 22 May 1945 and spent the last months of his naval career on HMS Solebay, which, I believe made goodwill visits around Britain. He was transferred to Reserve service 7 December 1946 and remained on reserve until 1953.

Norman later served more than 20 years with the National Fire Service, and later was Chief Fire Officer at the Royal Festival Hall until his retirement.

Pat Whitter



Gnr. Harry Knowles HMS Havock

My father, Harry Knowles was a gunner but rarely spoke of his experiences. But, did say he was interned by the Vichey French, when the Havock run aground in 1942. He was slightly injured. I know food was bad and he lost several teeth, as a result. I may be confused but I believe his injury was caused during the scutteling of the Havock. A leg wound scar just above his ankle stayed with him. I wish I knew more and who was with him.

He was serving on the Havock during the convoys and the clash with an Italian battleship that caused a lot of damage, and its limping in to Valetta, damage caused defied the fact it was still afloat and listing but not turning completly over as the list angle was very acute, is a memory he did impart to me. I also seem to remember him saying when they were released by the British Forces, as they ran out the gate in excitement one of the guards lost it and fired in to the crowd of interns and I am told someone alongside my father was hit. I don't know anymore, died or wounded etc.

Sorry it is so sparce but if anyone (maybe the New Zealander who was on board at same event may know him). Anyone who has further information or photos of the crew it would be great to hear.

He was in the navy 27 years and finished his tour as chief gunner at Ganges then took over the Bowlin Alley until Ganges closed. He suffered ill health and died aged 67 in 1988. Buried at Shotley Church, close to Ganges and was a constant at all Remembrance Services at the naval war graves in the same cemetery.

Harry Knowles



Stoker 1/Cl. Bertram Wood DSM HMS Ark Royal (d.1942)

My grandfather, Bertram Wood DSM, served in the Royal Navy from 1924 until April 1942, when he was killed. He served in HMS Ark Royal, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Pembroke, HMS Chatham, HMS Repulse, HMS Renown, HMS Ramillies, HMS Valiant, HMS Pegasus, HMS Ajax and HMS Havock.

Carol Broomfield



Shipmate 2nd Cl. Gerald Edward Percy Mosley HMS Barham

Gerald Mosley

Gerald Mosley & Friend in Laghouat POW Camp

Gerald Mosley & Fellow Inmates At Laghouat POW Camp

Gerald Mosley & Fellow POW's In Laghouat POW Camp

Gerald Mosley served aboard HMS Barham as a Coader. He survived the sinking and later served on HMS Havock Until she was run aground after action against the Italians. He was interned in Laghouat POW Camp Algeria until released by the Americans.

Lee Lidbury



Edgar Hartley HMS Havock

My father, Edgar Hartley, died in 1987. Like many who fought in the war he rarely spoke of it. Only once did he open up to me and told me of the Battle of Narvik and the Mediterranean campaigns before the ship ran aground and he was interned in North Africa. He made light of his experiences and it was recently I realised the number of fights the ship had been involved in. I believe he was a gunner but am not certain.

Colin Hartley







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