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Able Seaman. Elijah Cheetham HMS PenelopeMy brother Elijah Cheetham, served on HMS Penelope and was onboard when she was sunk on the 18th of February 1944. I was 8 years old at that time. Recent documentarion has come to light confirming his service record. He volunteered for the Navy on the 28th of July 1943, his service is listed as comencing on 17th of December 1943, his 18th birthday. However he began his training at HMS Raleigh on the 28th of July 1943, transferring to HMS Victory on the 5th of October.
He joined HMS Penelope on the 12th of November 1943 and served onboard until she was lost in Feb 1944. He survived the sinking and sent a letter to his mother two weeks later. Here are some extracts from that letter:
From Mess 1, Ferdola Barracks, Malta.
I'm terribly sorry I haven't written to you for the last fortnight, I have been rather ill in hospital. I am a survuivor of HMS Penelope. As you know we have been doing a lot of work on the 5th Army front and our rewards was as follows:
It was Friday morning Feb 18th and we were well on our way to Anzio to give Jerry another suprise packet, but it was us that received the suprise. All of a sudden there was a terrific explosion and everyone dived for the gangway to get on the upper deck to see what was happening. We had been torpedoed but the ship was not sinking, although it had listed badly to starboard. No one was in a panic because there were too many lads injured to start worrying about ourselves, so we did the best we could to get the injured lads to sickbay. Shortly afterwards there came two more explosions (torpedoes) and the ship split in two so it was everyman for himself. I didn't hesitate because before I knew where I was I hit the water fully dressed, including sea boots, stockings and overalls.
I tried to swim for it but couldn't because my sea boots seemed to be dragging me under. I kicked these off and my overalls. Much to my relief I was able to keep my head up even though the sea was rough. I swam about for a bit but I soon got fatigued and felt myself slipping. Family came to mind and I struck out with renewed strength. After three hours I was finally picked up and dragged aboard absolutley naked apart from my waist belt and ring. Three tots of rum sent me to sleep.
We were taken to a hospital in Naples and there I have been for the last fortnight. We were then drafted to this camp once more and I was told that I should be going home. The big nobs think otherwise. I haven't done enough time out here yet, so I must stay. That's how you get treated as a survivor. All we have been issued with is toilet gear and battle dress, so it looks as if I shall have to buy new kit myself.
There were 750 in the ships company and only 200 were saved. Terrible isn't it. I am pleased to say that Stan Lake survived. I couldn't write to you seperatley. I have had to smuggle this into the country, the ship hasn't been announced as sunk yet. We are not allowed to mention that we survived. Paddy is going home so I have asked him to post this for me in England. It doesn't get sensored there, but he insists on bringing this personally. I do hope he makes it becasue I know he will get a great welcome. Please try not to worry too much about me I'm ok now and believe me I'm willing to go back and give Jerry exactly what I received and more. Even though I'm not coming home I still have that consolation of squaring things up.
Cherrio and God bless you all. Your loving son Lidge xxxx.
Elijah joined the Black Prince in July 1944 and served onboard for the remainer of the war, he was discharged on the 8th of December 1946 as having served with very good character.Roy Cheetham.
Able.Sea. Frank Lomax MID. HMS SleuthFrank Lomax served on:
- HMS Raleigh, 3rd July 1940 as an ordinary seaman.
- HMS Drake 10th September 1940.
- HMS Defiance 2nd October 1940.
- HMS Dolphin 6th February 1941.
- HMS Maidstone 26th April 1941; 27th June 1941 as Able Seaman; 3rd July 1941 Able Seaman.
- HMS St Angelo (SC) 18th July 1941; (HM Sub Urge) 16th September 1941. (Sub lost 28th April 1942); (SC) 16th November 1941.
- HMS Talbot (HMS Sub Una) 28th February 1943.
- HMS Dolphin (S/M's) 2nd March 1943.
- HMS Ambrose (S/M's) 14th May 1943.
- HMS Ambrose (HM Sub Sea Dog) 12th October 1943.
- HMS Forth (HM Sea Dog) 15th August 1944; (S/M's) 29th November 1944; (HM Sub Sleuth) 10th January 1945.
- HMS Maidstone (HM Sub Sleuth) 12 January 1945.
- HMS Dolphin (HM Sub Sleuth) 1st October 194; (S/M's) 22nd February 1946 Released Class A.
He was Mentioned in Dispatches: for Distinguished Service (HM Sub Unseen) No. 1 1st June 1943 - Parchment. and for Distinguished Service (HM Sub Sleuth) No. 2 18th December 1945 - Parchment.Frank William Lomax
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