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

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HMS Janus

   HMS Janus was a British Royal Navy Destroyer Type Class J built in 1937 by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd of Wallsend on Tyne. The ships badge can still be seen proudly displayed on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall. On the 23rd January 1944 she was hit by a torpedo from a German Hwe-111 aircraft and sunk.


23rd Jan 1944 HMS Janus lost  On the 23rd of January 1944, HMS Janus was involved in the landings of Anzio when she was was hit by a flying bomb (HS293) from a Do217 of 5.Wing KG100. The ship sank in about twenty minutes with heavy loss of life in position 4126'N, 1238'E. More than 80 survivors were rescued by HMS Laforey, HMS Jervis and some smaller craft. The loss of this destroyer was a sad blow. She and Jervis had fired over 500 rounds of 4.7", of the first two days of Anzio, a figure typical of many destroyers which indicated the enormous amount of help given by these ships during those critical days in Italy.

23rd Jan 1944 HMS Janus lost

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

Those known to have sailed in

HMS Janus

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Conville Patrick. Ord.Sea. (d.23rd Jan 1944)
  • Everley Thomas. Able Sea. (d.23rd Jan 1944)
  • Gregg William. L/Stkr. (d.23rd January 1944 )
  • Hall Thomas. Able Sea.
  • Hall Thomas. Able Sea.
  • Ramshaw William. Ord. Sea. (d.23rd Jan 1944)

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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Ord.Sea. Patrick Conville HMS Janus (d.23rd Jan 1944)

Patrick Conville died aged 21 when HMS Janus was sunk. He was the son of Arthur and Mary Conville. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Vin Mullen

Ord. Sea. William Ramshaw HMS Janus (d.23rd Jan 1944)

William Ramshaw served on board HMS Janus and died, age 19, on the 23rd January 1944 when his ship was bombed and sunk at Anzio. William was born in Jarrow 1929, the son of Thomas and Catherine Ramshaw (nee Gibson) of Jarrow. He is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall and on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Vin Mullen

Able Sea. Thomas "Ron" Hall Gunner HMS Manchester

Thomas (Ron) Hall was born in South Shields, Co. Durham on 11 April 1917, the family home being in Hebburn-on-Tyne. Although christened Thomas, he was always known as Ron by his RN friends and his wife's family - no-one knows why! At the age of 16 he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Sailor. After training at the shore base HMS Ganges, he was sent for gunnery training at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth.

At the outbreak of war, he was serving on HMS Glasgow, but was transferred to HMS Barham, where he was wounded in May 1941. Barham had been assisting with the withdrawal of Allied forces from Crete, during which time she was subjected to almost constant German attacks. The gun turret in which Thomas was serving was hit, and he was the only one to emerge from the wreckage.

Posted ashore in Alexandria on 2nd July for rehabilitation, his next ship would be the Cruiser HMS Carlisle. On 9th April 1942, Thomas joined HMS Manchester, which had been assigned the role of escort to convoy WS-21S - better known as Operation Pedestal - the convoy which would save Malta from starvation and surrender. On 13th August, whilst rounding Cape Bon, Manchester was crippled by Italian torpedoes and was later scuttled off Kelibia Roads, Tunisia. Thomas survived and was taken prisoner and interned by the Vichy French at Laghouat in Algeria.

With the landing of British and American troops in Morocco and Algeria as part of Operation Torch on 8th November 1942, Thomas and his shipmates were able to return to England in December. After 8 months ashore, Thomas was assigned to the Destroyer HMS Janus, which provided artillery support for the Allied landings at Anzio on 22nd January 1944 under Operation Shingle. Janus was sunk the next day by a German air attack. Thomas was again saved, but the experience of being sunk for a third time would have a lasting effect on his nerves. He was invalided out of the Royal Navy in November 1945, and died in 1973, aged 55.


Able Sea. Thomas "Ron" Hall HMS Janus

Thomas Hall, always known as Ron, was my father, and he joined the RN in 1933, aged 16. He trained as a gunner at HMS Excellent Gunnery School, and served on HMS Revenge, HMS Boreas and HMS Wild Swan before the war. He became an Able Seaman in 1936, and in 1937 joined the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

In January 1941, he was drafted to HMS Barham, and was in the gun turret when a Stuka bomb exploded there in July. He was the only survivor of the gun crew. He was sent to HMS Sphinx Naval Camp, Alexandria, Egypt for rehabilitation, and at the end of July went to HMS Carlisle. There then followed a period of leave in Portsmouth before joining HMS Manchester in April 1942.

On 13th August, Manchester was hit amidships by two torpedoes fired by Italian torpedo boats, and was subsequently scuttled, being too damaged to save. 312 of the crew were rescued, but after being in the water for several hours, Dad and several others got ashore in Tunisia, where they were interned by the Vichy French in Laghouat, Algeria, where conditions were horrendous and without compassion. They were liberated by Allied forces on 19th October during Operation Torch.

After a period of shore time, Dad was sent to HMS Janus in July 1943. As part of Operation Shingle, Janus provided artillery support for the Allied landings at Anzio. On 23 June 1944, she was hit and sunk by a torpedo from a German He111 aircraft. Thomas again survived, but after spending time on shore at Portsmouth, and 3 months at HMS Merganser, Aberdeen, he was invalided out of the Navy on 9 November 1945.

His nerves were in a bad way, not surprisingly, but after a few other jobs, he joined the Merchant Navy in 1954, and served as a steward on the Cunard ships Queen Mary and Samaria. Stomach ulcers forced him to leave after a couple of years, and he became a painter, decorator and signwriter.

He died on 31st January 1973, aged 55, after suffering stomach operations, and the removal of one lung. His medals - the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Italy Star and War Medal - plus a short history, can be found at Eden Camp Modern History Museum, Malton in N. Yorkshire.

Carol Milburn

L/Stkr. William Gregg HMS Janus (d.23rd January 1944 )

William Gregg is my uncle, my mother's brother. My mum lost contact with William in 1942 or 1943. He had previously served on HMS Queen Elizabeth which had been attacked by Italian frogman Commandos of the Decima MAS in Alexandria Harbour. My mother told me that she must have last seen William after this attack as he was home on leave in England and was still wearing his tropical white uniform. He had married a girl named Peggy. We later learnt that they had son, Robert, who died of cancer in the 1970s. In the early 2000s my mother, who was starting to suffer from Alzheimer's, asked me to 'find William'. I live in the US. My mother had an idea that he had emigrated to Canada after the war. With the help of the Salvation Army my father was able to provide me with more information, and I was able to ascertain that, by looking at the crew records of HMS Queen Elizabeth and by assuming that William had served on her solely, I was barking up the wrong tree.

I subsequently discovered that William had served on HMS Janus and, sadly, discovered that he is commemorated on the Royal Navy memorial on Southsea Common. I then had the somewhat bizarre experience of actually taking part in World War Two, at least as our family is concerned, by having to tell my father (himself an RAF pilot veteran of WW2) that I had discovered what happened to our young sailor. We both wept, howling in anguish and regret that the RAF, in particular, was unable to stop William's death, and that William had died about a month after my mum had met my dad.

Advanced Alzheimer's has one merciful aspect: that the sufferer loses all sense of the passage of time and of the order of events. Thus, when on one of our visits to the nursing home, when Mum asked 'Did you find William?' I was able to truthfully reply 'Yes Mum, he's in the Navy, he's with his mates on patrol in Italy'. Mum died a few months later, Dad died eighteen months after that. God bless them, the sailor, the airman and the land girl.

Gregg Salter

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