- HMS Manhratta during the Second World War -
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- Keogh Frank. Stkr. (d.20th Mar 1945)
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Stkr. Frank Keogh HMS Lapwing (d.20th Mar 1945)Frank Keogh enlisted in the Royal Navy at Great Malvern, Worcestershire on 25 January 1943 aged 17. He followed his elder brother Richard into the Navy. He started out as a Stoker 2nd Class initially on HMS Duke Anson Division (the Royal Naval shore establishment based in Great Malvern). His brother was also a stoker.
During May 1943 he was on convoy support services in the Atlantic onboard the destroyers HMS Milne and HMS Onslought. July 1943 saw Frank off of the Norwegian Coast onboard HMS Manhratta (Destroyer), where he was involved in diversionary offensive sweeps (this was the same time as invasion of Scicily was ongoing). In August 1943 Frank was onboard HMS Oribi (Destroyer) and was present at the Royal visit by HM King George VI to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and he also took part in demonstrations with ships of Flotilla on the following day.
Following further training in Scapa and Plymouth, Frank was promoted to Stoker 1st Class in January 1944. He subsequently joined the newly commissioned HMS Lapwing (a Black Swan Sloop in March 1944 and was deployed in the Western Approaches for convoy escort. In May - HMS Lapwing was nominated for service with the 111th Escort Group in support of the allied landings in Normandy, based at Plymouth, but joined the Group at Milford Haven in June for escort of Convoy EBP1. Although the operation was delayed by 24 hours until the 5th, whne they joined Convoy EBP1 with Group in the Bristol Channel.
Frank and the Lapwing arrived on the beach head on 7th June with EBP1 after passage through the swept channel. They then returned to Plymouth with Group in order to continue escort of follow-up convoys. After termination of Opeation Neptune, the ship remained in the Channel area for convoy escort and anti-submarine operations. Before transferring to 8th Escort to Group for convoy defence in the North West Approaches. In October 1944 - HMS Lapwing was detached for Russian convoy escort duty with the Home Fleet and was deployed for Convoy JW61 during passage to Kola Inlet. In November she took part in anti-submarine operations against U-Boats assembled off Kola Inlet before returning with Convoy RA 61. Although she suffered severe weather damage during the return and had to go into Clyde shipyard for repairs.
At the end of November she joined the Russian bound convoy JW62 arriving in Kola Inlet on 7th, starting the return on the 10th with convoy RA62 follow more UBoat sweeps The next convoy for Russia was Convoy JW63 arriving safely and starting her return on the 11th with Convoy RA63 although it was an exceptionally stormy passage which forced the convoy to take shelter when North East of the Faeroes, and again causing more weather damage repair work in the Clyde shipyard. The 3rd February 1945 Saw HMS Lapwing joining Russian Convoy JW64 arriving in Kola Inlet on the 15th, but only after HMS Denbigh Castle had been torpedoed by U993 and sustained major damage from which she eventually sank. Following heavy and sustained air attacks during the passage with one escort. The ship was deployed with other escorts to carry out anti-submarine hunts assisted by Russian aircraft to attack U-Boats assembled outside Kola Inlet and during these operations U425 was sunk by HMS Lark/HM Alnwick Castle. Although HMS LARK was subseuently hit by a homing torpedo from U968 and abandoned and HM Corvette was also sunk by U711 using the same type of weapon, with only 12 survivors. They commended their return convoy on the 19th February after dispersal by very heavy weather and sustained air attacks which were driven off by AA fire from escorts and aircraft from HM Escort Aircraft Carrier Nairana. On the 23rd Hurricane force winds again dispersed the convoy which was reassembled, but eventually RA64 arrived back in the UK.
On the 11th March Frank and HMS Lapwing commenced their final trip to Russia, joining Russian Convoy JW65 to Kola Inlet. On the 20th she was hit amidships by a T5 homing torpedo fired from U968 off Kola Inlet in position 69 26N 33.44E. The ship broke in two but the stern section remained afloat for 20 minutes which enabled some survivors to be rescued, but unfortuanately Frank was not amongst the few. There were 61 survivors and 158 men died. Upon his return from this trip, Frank was due to be best man at his elder brothers wedding.
Last year my mother applied for the Atlantic Medal on behalf of her brother Frank, it took a long time to arrive, but was finally delivered the day after she had passed away.John Orchard
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