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

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- HMS York during the Second World War -

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HMS York

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

Those known to have sailed in

HMS York

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Beddingfield William. CSM. (d.16th Jan 1944)
  • Clarke Firth. Pte.
  • Dixon Robert Noel. PO.(Tel)
  • Rogavin Dick J.. RMN2
  • Salter Edwin. Stwd.
  • Schmidt Lester John. CPO.
  • Sleet George William. CPO
  • Wallace Herbert Noel. Mjr. (d.6th Jun 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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RMN2 Dick J. Rogavin U.S.S. Moose

I was 16 years old when I had my first contact with a British Navy Man. We lived in Sunnyside, Queens, Long Island, NY during the war years. My step Dad worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when the HMS Penelope came in for major repairs, the year was 1942. Folks at the Navy Yard were asked to invite members of the HMS Penelope's crew to stay at their homes during her stay at the "Yard". I believe the young man who stayed with us was a CPO but I have been unable to find his name, much to my sorrow. Needless to say I was a very impressed young lad with this young British Navy Man. I am certain he influenced my decision to join the U.S.N. which I did when I was 17. This British Navy man stayed with us for a couple of months while the repairs were being carried out on his ship, it was a fantastic event for a young impressionable 16 year old lad.

I served in the USN and was a radioman on the USS Moose in the Pacific area during World War 11

Dick J. Rogavin

Pte. Firth Clarke West Yorkshire Regiment

Pte. Firth Clarke was captured early in the war and held prisoner through to the end. He was held in Stalag XXB. He rarely spoke of his time there, but on occasions told of stealing sugar hidden in a drum after a concert and getting German guards to help lift it as it was too heavy, of having shrapnel removed from his leg/ankle by German doctors, of walking home through Poland and refusing to remove his boots in case he was never able to get them back on. He was fond of boxing and gambling.

This second picture is of Firth at Stalag XXb (he did spend a short while in XXA before being moved to XXB)

Firth after the war (sadly he died in 1960) – he had had time to recover from the weight loss caused by walking home through Poland, so I guess the picture is about 1947/8?

If anyone recognises him, I would love to get in touch and find out more.

Steve Clarke

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

Mjr. Herbert Noel Wallace MC. 5th Btn. East Yorkshire Regiment (d.6th Jun 1945)

I know little of my Great Uncle's war and am keen to find out more. Herbert Wallace won his Military Cross for action in North Africa on March 23rd whilst commanding C Company.

His citation reads: "During March 23rd, 1943, Major Wallace was in command of a battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment which was holding a forward sector of the capture enemy locality of Ksiba Quest. During the day the locality was attacked twice by infantry and several times by tanks and was subjected to repeated and heavy shelling. Major Wallace displayed great courage and resource in dealing with several difficult situations. On one occasion a party of infantry penetrated the trench system of the defences; he immediately organised a counter-attack which successfully threw the enemy out. On another occasion, when orders were received to withdraw the garrison, Major Wallace was ordered to lead and direct the withdrawal through enemy positions. This he did with great skill and coolness, leading the force through an enemy minefield containing anti-personnel mines and through fierce artillery and machine-gun fire with but slight casualties. Throughout the entire operation Major Wallace was a splendid example and inspiration to his men. He remained cool and cheerful when the situation was most serious, and it was to a great extent due to his effort that the defence remained unbroken and the withdrawal was successfully carried out."

This is all I know of the man - a single day in his life of 28 years. He died on April 6th, two weeks later.

Giles Hill

CPO. Lester John Schmidt USS New York

At the age of 17 Lester Schmidt took to the sea via the U.S. Navy, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres aboard the battleship New York, cruisers Quincy and Miami, as well as the Snatch, Laysan Island and Talladega warships. He rose through the ranks to Chief Petty Officer and earned multiple decorations.

S. Flynn

PO.(Tel) Robert Noel Dixon MiD HMS York

Robert Dixon was a member of the crew when HMS York was sunk.

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