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

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HMS Ness

   HMS Ness was a Royal Navy River Class Frigate.


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

Those known to have sailed in

HMS Ness

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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Stoker First Class Raymond Boulton Moss HMS Ness

Raymond Boulton Moss was a Stoker First Class during the final months of the European War joining his ship when it was on training exercises at Tober Moray when the establishment was Commanded by Admiral Stevenson - he joined to replace a Stoker who was taken ill with appendicitis. He also sailed on HMS Ness to the former Dutch East Indies under Lt Commander Hubert C Fox.

He is now 82 and remembers his mess-mates by their nicknames only - Chalky White - Bogie Knights - Haggis and Lofty. Lt Commander Hubert Cornish Fox was captain of the ship from 20th October 1945 to end of March 1946 - he has written a book called 'Letters from Sea' - He lived at Langaford, Buckfast, Devon and died in 2000. Prior to Fox the skipper was Lt Commander Stevens

Richard Moss

Arnold "Fred" Weekes HMS Nelson

I don't know if anyone can help, but I have been working with a gentleman who served on HMS Nelson, Mr. Arnold Weekes (Age 92 known as Fred). I would like to know if there is any information anyone can give me on the ship or contacts who may remember Mr. Weekes. I would love to be able to pass on any information to this gentleman who fondly remembers his sea going days. Any info I could pass on to Mr. Weekes would be gratefully received.

Liane Burn

Raymond Boulton Moss HMS Ness

My father is Raymond Boulton Moss, he served as a Stoker on HMS Ness during the 1939-45 war. He is in his eighties now and the other day was recounting a few stories about his time on HMS Ness (something he rarely does) serving under Captain Fox, who, he remembers, was something to do with Fox's umbrella frames. He has tremendous respect for his old captain. He mentioned an incident (that I later found recounted on your website by Alan Gordon) about when the U Boats surrendered. His story had a slightly different ending to Alan’s. I should say that my father has an enormous sense of right and wrong and what sticks in his memory is one particular U-Boat surfacing - flying the black flag - and the officers of the Ness taking some umbrage at the flag’s colour. In my father’s tale the German officers were persuaded to find, very quickly, the largest white flag they had and change the colour of their flag to reflect the fact that they were surrendering. The Sub was soon flying what he took to be a pristine white bed-sheet.

My father still has little sympathy for his wartime enemies. He also mentioned his time 'mopping' up in the Philippines - searching for Australian Special Forces, who had been dropped into the area previously to set up radio stations. He was very matter of fact about the fact that none of them had survived. Ness was also involved in disarming Japanese prisoners and my father tells of a sword he ‘borrowed’ from one of them for a souvenir - and of an American pistol that he similarly relieved from them and subsequently used for personal protection against the local inhabitants who made strolling in the local towns an dangerous pastime. He sold the weapons to an Australian Merchant Seaman when the Ness left the area.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about his tales was his recounting of a story to describe how dangerous the area was for British troops. He told of a British nurse and an officer who had been murdered during a walk in the port. He said that the two had simply disappeared with stories reaching the port that they had been killed by locals. To try to find them the authorities posted a reward for anyone who could tell them where the bodies had been buried. Six men came forward to claim the reward and the six were accompanied to the site by a team of Ghurkhas - for whom my father has a great affection and an equally great respect!! The Ghurkhas were to dig up the bodies and return them to British lines – this they did and then went on to slit the throats of the men who had taken them to the site and refill the grave with their bodies. Even in today’s PC times my father sees that as being exactly the right thing to have happened.

On the Ghurkhas he also told a story of a fresh shipmate of his, who was showing a penchant for 'acquiring' things. My father wanted a Khukuri and had already asked one of the Ghurkhas if he could buy his – and could he take a look at it please – when the owner told him that to draw his Khukuri meant the must also draw blood, my father took the hint that that may be his own blood and went rapidly off the idea. In a conversation later, his mate had suggested that there may be a spare Khukuri or two in the nearby Ghurkha warehouse of supplies, and that the two of them should maybe visit it and chat-up the guard to see if he would let them in to see if there was anything in there that would be more at home aboard HMS Ness. My father shared his belief that, whilst the Ghurkhas were superb comrades, very polite and honourable – and while the guard on the door may well have let his shipmate into the warehouse – my father wasn’t so sure that he would be let out again!!

Father’s memory also stretches to disarming the Japanese troops and dropping the hoards of weapons overboard into the sea. He told of one trip to take captive some Japanese troops based inland. The Ness only had one Japanese officer on board to help with the language and to persuade the Japanese troops that Japan had indeed surrendered – so you may imagine this was quite a dangerous task and he spoke of Captain Fox sailing the Ness backwards down some of the rivers, to enable a swift escape if things went wrong. He also said that the guns were kept covered in the spirit of a friendly force, but the gun crews were always in place.

Richard Moss

Ord.Sea. Harold Eric Rose HMS. Ness

My father Harold Rose died recently. Searching through his possesions I came accross his navy record, service medals etc. He volunteered aged 18, in September 1942. He served on HMS Ness 22nd of December 1942 until 7th of March 1944. Among his possessions I found a certificate issued when crossing the equator dated 30th September 1943. I guess on one of the Freetown Convoy sailings.

In 1944 he joined HMS Loch Fyne after having trained as a Radar Artificer. He sailed with her to Karachi, then still part of India, but was hospitalized on the mainland after catching malaria. The ship sailed without him possibly to Columbo (I´m not certain). Eventually he rejoined her but in the meantime he had been posted AWOL. I have the disgusting letter that the war ministry had had delivered, by military police, to my grandmother telling her of his desertion in time of war and how difficult they would make her life. The shock ultimately killed her. Two months later they sent a woefully worded apology for their mistake.

Christopher Rose

Raymond Arthur Squires HMS Ness

Sumatran Incident

This short wartime anecdote -even sixty years after the event - I still see as a harebrained venture to say the least. Although at the time it was a very serious incident, especially to the villagers involved, I have treated it rather flippantly because I still think of it as an ill-conceived misadventure, bordering on ridiculous Once the war with Germany was over the frigate, HMS Ness, was ordered out to the Far East. Well, thankfully, and because the Americans dropped their atomic bomb on Hiroshima, we did not reach Singapore until after the Japanese had officially surrendered. Sadly this did not mean that the fighting had stopped. Japanese renegade snipers made Singapore dockyard a very hazardous place to be, as were the nearby islands that were still in Japanese hands. Hordes of Japanese servicemen still fought on in their sworn service to the Emperor and totally disregarded the ceasefire. On the islands of Java and Sumatra these fanatics just carried on destroying jungle villages and killing their occupants. Our job – we carried fifty members of the RAF regiment – was to seek out these extremists and neutralise them, destroy their ammunition dumps and try to bring a modicum of normality to the demoralised natives. During our rest periods, between these undertakings, we tied up alongside other Royal Navy warships at Emma Haven in Sumatra. It was during one of these seventy-two hour layovers that our captain received an order to send an armed party to a village that was under siege from a Japanese raiding party.

The event started one early afternoon. I was indulging in a bit of rum-induced dozing on the fire-step of the ship’s for’ard four inch gun when, through the rum fumes, I indistinctly heard my name being called over the ship’s tannoy … ‘Radar Plotter Squires, report to the First Lieutenant on the quarter deck immediately.’ Well despite being slightly ‘rummied’ I lit out very nimbly for the quarterdeck wondering what the hell I could have done wrong to warrant the senior executive officer’s attention. Once there, and to my utter disbelief, I saw that I was expected to join a line-up consisting of two of my Radar colleagues, three ‘hard-case’ seamen (hard case describes people who are always in some kind of trouble with naval authority; also known as Skates) a Leading Hand who always gave the impression that he was in an advanced stage of delirium tremens and finally, the ship’s Midshipman. I fell in line just as our First Lieutenant (also known in naval slang as Jimmy The One) clattered down the ladder from amidships. He then stood legs apart and asked for our close attention… without using any swear words! This in itself alarmed us. He was speaking as though, for once in his life, he actually liked us. He oozed bonhomie and goodwill as he went on to address us as gentlemen. This second dose of epithet-free and uncharacteristic politeness frightened us even more. He then began to do his Mountbatten bit. Hands clasped behind his back he began to pace the quarterdeck as he spoke to us again, ‘Gentlemen,’ he said again, ‘you have been chosen for a special mission.’ He paused for effect. The immediate effect was rampant fear. ‘Each of you will be armed with a rifle, a bayonet and twenty rounds of ammunition.’ Physical collapse drew closer. ‘Midshipman Archer will lead you.’ Nineteen years old, Midshipman Archer visibly swelled. Fourteen legs turned to jelly because we all knew that Midshipman Archer was still - to say the least - quite inexperienced. ‘Jimmy-the-One’ went on, ‘I have chosen Midshipman Archer for his unswerving devotion and bravery.’ Midshipman Archer glowed and swelled even further. We looked slack-jawed in his direction and, even without the gift of prophecy, knew we could be in deep, deep faecal matter.

Without breaking stride ‘Jimmy-the-One’ went on to say that he had borrowed a large motor launch and its crew from one of our bigger neighbours – a cruiser. He then revealed to us that in this launch we would proceed up a nearby river to a village he had marked on a map with an X. As he spoke he took from his pocket a map and emphasised his words by prodding the said map with a large, Australian, horny forefinger. He paused for moment to give us a strangely triumphant look that indicated to me that he classed us as expendable and if we weren’t successful he would not be heartbroken. We Radar bods knew that he preferred seamen lookouts up in the Crow’s Nest armed with binoculars, to the hit-and-miss experimental Radar equipment. The other four members of the party were seamen who constantly abused the articles of Naval Discipline. ‘Our latest information,’ he went on, ‘is that a party of marauding Japanese soldiers have captured a Junk that was delivering essential supplies to the village.’ He looked at us one by one and smiled. ‘The village chief managed to send a runner to headquarters for help. The junk is now in Japanese hands and is still moored alongside the village jetty.’ He smiled again to display his tombstones. ‘Your job,’ he twirled an emphatic forefinger at us, ‘YOUR job is to retake the junk, capture the Japanese if they are still there, leave some of the cargo of rice with the villagers then bring the junk and any prisoners back here so that the junk can be restored to its rightful owners and the Nips put in the ‘bag’. Got that? Any questions?’ A pregnant silence followed his question. Even the ‘hard-case’ seamen – who, when rum-driven, would willingly take on half of Liverpool’s football supporters - blanched and remained dumb. Sending just eight of us under the command of Midshipman Archer to take on an unknown number of desperate Japanese soldiers was, as far as we were concerned, far worse than Lord Cardigan’s decision to send the six hundred into the valley of death. Taking our silence to mean agreement he rubbed his hands together and told us that we should never forget that we had been chosen for this duty from the entire ship’s company. Before he dismissed us he ordered us to change into our best tropical uniforms, draw our weapons and always to remember that we were British and should be disciplined and smart even under fire. As he walked away I swear I could hear him whinnying with delight.

Once aboard the launch and revelling in his new responsibility, Midshipman Archer wanted us not only to stand to attention on the plunging deck of the launch but to even shoulder arms. He quickly changed his mind when one of the hard-case seamen muttered sinisterly, for all to hear, that if he overbalanced he would fall overboard alone.

It took five hours before we reached the mouth of the river and once there we did try to stand to attention as the village and junk came into view. We sent up a united sigh of relief when the seaman in the bows shouted, ‘I can’t f***ing-well see any Japs on the f***ing junk.’ He was right! But even so, with an overlying feeling of dread, we all prayed for an ambush free landing. When we drew up alongside we clawed our way up the side of the junk, ran across the deck screaming - with gut-clenching fear - before jumping down onto the rickety jetty. From here we ran towards the village waving our guns and bellowing whilst we fought the onset of stress-related diarrhoea When we reached the village outskirts we were brought to a skidding halt by the upraised hand of the village headman. ‘Where are the Japs?’ we all bellowed. Well…the hard-case seamen did most of the bellowing, we radar chappies tried to keep a low profile. ‘F***ing blimey! Is this you all?’ The headman shouted indignantly in Pidgin English. ‘I ask for many hundred bastard British soldier.’ Our fearless Midshipman drew himself up to his full height, saluted, then in haughty tones declared that we were the Royal Navy and didn’t need many hundred soldiers. (Proof, if proof were needed, that he was a complete idiot). He then demanded that the headman tell us where the Japanese had gone so that we could pursue them. I for one trembled with relief when the headman said, ‘When poxy Nips hear I send for many soldier,’ he banged his chest and then gestured towards the jungle, ‘they take this many bags of rice,’ he held up five fingers, ‘then pissing off. We also have rice now, so you take rest and that f***ing bleeder-Junk and go away.’ (From whom do isolated people learn such language?) By this time the entire village had assembled to giggle at our pathetic show of force as the headman shouted that at least – he held up his hands three times to indicate thirty – f***ing Japanee f***ing wankee soldier had raided his f***ing village. One of the seaman suggested to the Midshipman that we should take credit for putting the Japs to flight. Sadly, our brave leader didn’t wish to pursue this admirable suggestion. Then gathering up what dignity remained to him he ordered us back to the jetty where we helped to make fast the Junk to the launch before the ancient and badly leaking vessel was towed down the river and out to sea.

The trip back to Emma Haven took over twelve hours because of the rough sea and an unravelling tow rope that parted about every ten miles or so. To be fair, us radar men thanked providence over and over again for the presence of the ‘Skates’ who, despite being troublesome, were very knowledgeable seamen and every time the tow rope parted they managed to do a bit of effective knotting, splicing and binding to get us underway again, while we radar softies took shelter on what passed on the Junk for a bridge and tried to establish friendly relations with the vast population of giant rats that inhabited the vessel. We also prayed that the Junk would not fall apart before we reached Emma Haven, or that it would not half-fill with sea water and slowly wallow along for the next six or seven days, or even fill right up and sink, for I didn’t fancy the idea of resting on the seabed in my best tropical suit. Somehow despite suffering hunger, seasickness, exhaustion and extreme tetchiness, we returned unharmed although the Junk had wallowed and yawed alarmingly and had sprung many leaks and reduced the tow rope to a quarter of its original length. We made it solely due to the muscular efforts of the ever pragmatic, knowledgeable and lively seamen. The captain greeted us aboard and enthusiastically congratulated us on our achievement BUT… and I wasn’t alone in this, we couldn’t help feeling that ‘Jimmy the One’ seemed to be not only baffled by our survival but also deeply disappointed. Sailing the old wreck back to Emma Haven turned out to be a fruitless exercise anyway, because the next day it snapped its moorings as, inch by inch, plank by plank, it sank in about twenty fathoms of water. A diver from the nearby cruiser later discovered that because of our many mishaps - the heaving sea and the swelling-up of the sea-soaked bags of rice - the vessel’s planking had opened up and caused irreparable damage to the hull. His report added that we had been extremely lucky to keep her afloat long enough to return to Emma Haven. So the old Sumatran Junk, or what was left of it, its rice cargo and its community of super-rats, perished, while we nearly-but-not-quite warriors thankfully lived to tell the tale.

Ray Squires

Sam "Nobby" Clark HMS Volunteer

I am looking for anyone who might have served with Sam 'Nobby' Clark who served on HMS Volunteer, HMS Tanganyika or HMS Dungeness, any photographs or memories.

Sam Clark

Jack Pine HMS Ness

My wife's brother Jack Pine served on the Ness from about 1943 until the end of the war. Unfortunately, Jack has now died. Jack trained on Collingwood about 1942 and then was drafted to the Ness. I would be particularly interested to know where the Ness was on D-day. Another name I have is Harry Wilkinson who was also on the Ness any information about him would also be appreciated.


Harry Wilkinson HMS Ness

Harry Wilkinson served on HMS Ness during WWII.

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Letters from the Sea

Lt Commander Hubert Cornish Fox

More information on:

Letters from the Sea


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