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Porpoise (N14)

Built By: Vickers (Barrow)
Build Group: G2
Fate: Bombed by Japanese aircraft in the Malacca Strait 19 Jan 1945.

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By Dr Peter Schofield

Adoption Plaque presented by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to Workington to Commemorate the Adoption of HMS Porpoise during Warship Week Feb 28th 1942
Adoption Plaque presented by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to Workington to Commemorate the Adoption of HMS Porpoise during Warship Week Feb 28th 1942

The adoption plaque is held at the Helena Thompson Museum, Workington. With an adoption target of £300,000 the town fell short raising £252,355 in war savings. The diamond shaped crest differed from the crest of the post war HMS Porpoise. Today's shapes date from 1940 when it was decided to give new ships a round frame. HMS Porpoise helped save Malta as Britain's first submarine tanker carrying supplies of aviation fuel and ammunition during the Luftwaffe attacks on convoys. Operating in the Far East, HMS Porpoise was sunk (with all hands) by Japanese aircraft in the Malacca Strait on 19 January 1945.

Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday 3 March 1943 reported that Lt.-Cdr Leslie Bennington, Commander of the submarine HMS Porpoise is visiting Workington soon to accept the boroughs plaque recording that the Porpoise is the towns adopted vessel.

If Leslie Bennington accepted the presentation plaque from Workington and it was kept onboard Porpoise, then it would have been lost along with the submarine.

Workington Warship Week was held 21-28 February 1942

Roll of Honour

Name Rank Number Hons Age
Adams, Albert Edney  Warrant Engineer  (Ex.M38365)  DSC  36
Ansell, Leonard Basil Albert  Able Seaman  C/SSX 17588    27
Bolden, Jack  Able Seaman  P/JX 275768    24
Brennan, James  Petty Officer  D/JX 140144    27
Brockbank, Arthur Parker  Steward  C/LX 24620    27
Bullen, Herbert  Stoker 1st Class  C/KX 166023    20
Bullen, Herbert C/KX 166023 DoB 03/06/1924 Age 20. CWGC has Age 23
Carter, Jack  Leading Signalman  C/SSX 22808    24
Chitty, Clement Arthur Charles  Able Seaman  P/JX 217497    27
Clark, William Mason  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  D/MX 101709    37
Clarke, Kenneth Ezekiel  Able Seaman  C/JX 544372    19
Cooper, Arthur  Able Seaman  D/JX 365441    21
Coupe, Trevor  Leading Seaman  D/JX 202891    25
Cowton, Alan Dodsworth  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  C/MX 97715    22
Crouchman, Victor Pax Thomas  Able Seaman  P/JX 179071    25
Crouchman, Victor Pax Thomas P/JX 179071. At birth Crouchman, Victor Thomas
Draper, Arthur Douglas  Stoker Petty Officer  P/KX 89439  DSM* MID  26
Drew, Victor Henry Frank  Lieutenant (RNVR)      25
Dyall, Walter Frank  Able Seaman  D/JX 421908    20
Edwards, Walter Gordon  Leading Telegraphist  D/JX 141920    26
Fraser, James Norris McKay  Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class  P/MX 63827    25
Gascoigne, William  Able Seaman  P/JX 384495    21
Gibson, Adam  Able Seaman  C/SSX 19866    26
Griffiths, Arthur Edward  Able Seaman  D/JX 399217    20
Healey, Alfred  Petty Officer Stoker  D/KX 82866    35
Henderson, Arthur  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  D/MX 75673    22
Henson, Leslie  Leading Stoker  P/KX 156695    20
Hiscock, Wilfred Jack  Chief Engine Room Artificer  P/MX 47948  DSM*  30
Hood, Alfred Gerald  Able Seaman  P/JX 177782    25
Hughes, Charles William Thomas  Stoker 1st Class  C/KX 123998    20
Julian, Richard Ernest Bartholomew  Able Seaman  C/JX 543451    19
Also as C/JX 543541 in CWGC/FWR
Kennedy, Mungo Hamilton McLeod  Lieutenant      22
Lee, Arthur  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  P/MX 78168    24
Livingston, Alexander  Able Seaman  P/KX 145231    22
Lucking, Cecil Jeffrey  Leading Stoker  P/KX 86421    29
Malliband, Guy Gordon  Able Seaman  P/KX 150619    20
Martin, Basil Hedley  Petty Officer  D/JX 145032    24
Nash, John Raymond  Able Seaman  D/JX 550070    19
Oliffe, John  Able Seaman  D/J 101353    39
Oliver, Terance  Stoker 1st Class  P/MX 163832    20
Palliaser, Harry  Leading Stoker  C/KX 135113  MID  22
Passmore, Jack  Petty Officer Telegraphist  D/KX 149398    24
Proudfoot, Abraham Patterson  Leading Seaman (RNVR)  P/UD/X 1324  BEM  25
Ranken, Terence Alexander  Leading Telegraphist  D/JX 162760    20
Richardson, Thomas Stanley  Able Seaman  P/JX 163327    21
Roberts, Douglas David George  Lieutenant    MID  24
Rogers, Phillip  Able Seaman  P/JX 322506    25
Rogers, Richard  Petty Officer  C/J 114288    36
Rowlands, George  Able Seaman  C/SSX 28164    25
Sant, Albert William James  Leading Stoker  D/KX 155271    20
Sherrif, John  Telegraphist  P/JX 232707    22
Simpkins, George Alexander  Petty Officer  P/JX 128626    34
Skeoch, James McKay  Able Seaman  P/JX 407094    19
Smith, Albert George  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 140733    21
Smith, Frank  Petty Officer Cook  C/MX 50326    31
Smith, John  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  D/MX 510996    31
Smith, John D/MX 510996. At birth Smith, Jack (Father John Smith)
Smith, Leslie John  Able Seaman  P/JX 377637    20
Smith, Philip Roy  Stoker 2nd Class  P/KX 524286    19
Spencer, Edward Ronald  Leading Stoker  P/KX 137051    22
Taylor, Edward Owen Malvern  Lieutenant (RNVR)    MID  28
Thomas, Ralph  Leading Seaman  C/SSX 25692    25
Trier, Colin Ernest  Sub Lieutenant (RNVR)      21
Turner, Hugh Bentley  Lieutenant Commander    DSC  29
Tyler, Walter John  Able Seaman  C/JX 188978    25
Vaughan, Frederick John  Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class  C/MX 55223    22
Webb, John Herbert Thomas  Leading Stoker  P/KX 140877    20
Webber, Grahame Mark  Telegraphist  P/JX 300198    22
Weeden, William Henry  Stoker 1st Class  C/KX 141642    20
Weston, James  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 162600    20
Whittaker, Robert  Able Seaman  P/JX 385870    21
Wilkins, Arthur Francis  Stoker 1st Class  P/KX 162377    20
Williams, Arthur Frederick Charles  Petty Officer  D/JX 156792    22
Williams, Frederick Sidney  Stoker 1st Class  C/JX 193551    25
Wimble, Will  Stoker 1st Class  C/KX 141189    20
Woodward, Stanley  Leading Stoker  P/KX 147579    32
Wright, James  Stoker 1st Class  C/KX 140927    21


22-09-1931 : Laid Down
30-07-1932 : Launched
10-02-1937 : Completed
16-04-1940 : HMS Porpoise fires 6 torpedoes against the German submarine U-3 about 10 nautical miles south-west of Egersund, Norway. All torpedoes miss.
16-05-1940 : HMS Porpoise lays minefield FD 11 (48 mines) off Kalvag, Norway.
14-06-1940 : HMS Porpoise lays minefield FD 18 (50 mines) off the Ramsoyfjord, Norway.
29-07-1940 : HMS Porpoise lays minefield FD 23 (50 mines) off southern Norway.
13-09-1940 : HMS Porpoise lays minefield FD 26 (48 mines) in the Bay of Biscay north-west of La Rochelle, France.
07-03-1941 : While enroute to Halifax, Canada, HMS Porpoise makes an unsuccessful torpedo attack on a submarine in the North Atlantic.
09-12-1941 : HMS Porpoise torpedoes and heavy damages the Italian passenger/cargo ship Sebastiano Venier about 5 nautical miles south of Navarino. The Sebastiano Venier is transporting more then 1800 Allied POW's. Despite the bad weather almost 1700 of these are rescued.
11-01-1942 : HMS Porpoise lays 50 mines off Suda Bay, Crete.
18-01-1942 : HMS Porpoise torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Citta di Livorno about 15 nautical miles north-east of Cape Maleka, Crete.
12-08-1942 : HMS Porpoise lays a minefield (46 mines) off Ras el Tin, Libya and torpedoes and sinks the Italian transport Ogaden 9 nautical miles from Ras el Tin, Libya.
15-08-1942 : HMS Porpoise torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Lerici about 120 nautical miles north of Ras Amir, Libya.
19-08-1942 : HMS Porpoise attacks the Italian merchant Iseo off Derna, Libya. All torpedoes miss. During the counter attack by the Italian escorts, Porpoise was damaged by depth charges from the torpedo boat Lince.
03-10-1942 : HMS Porpoise lays a minefield (46 mines) west of Tobruk, Libya.
18-11-1942 : HMS Porpoise torpedoes and sinks the Italian tanker Giulio Giordani about 45 nautical miles north-east of Misurata, Libya.
19-11-1942 : HMS Porpoise fires a torpedo against the Italian auxiliary patrol vessel F 39/Fertilia off the Libyan coast. The torpedo missed.
23-11-1942 : HMS Porpoise sinks the Italian auxiliary patrol vessel F 39/Fertilia with gunfire off Kerkennah, Tunisia.
06-07-1944 : HMS Porpoise sinks a Japanese sailing vessel with gunfire in the Strait of Malacca. Also on this day she lays 30 mines off the mouth of the Deli river, Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies.
08-07-1944 : HMS Porpoise lays 16 more mines of the mouth of the Deli river and 10 mines in the Strait of Malacca.
09-12-1944 : HMS Porpoise lays minefield ML 019 with 50 mines off Penang.
10-12-1944 : HMS Porpoise sinks a small Japanese sailing vessel in the Strait of Malacca.
09-01-1945 : On or around this date HMS Porpoise lays mines off Penang.
19-01-1945 : Last British submarine to be lost during WW2

On 2nd January 1945 HMS Porpoise left Trincomalee to lay mines in the vicinity of Penang. The signal received from the submarine confirming that this had been successfully carried out was the last contact made. Japanese records show that a submarine was spotted and bombed by aircraft in the vicinity of Penang. Although not destroyed in this attack, the submarine was wounded and leaking oil that left a trail for the Japanese anti-submarine forces to follow as they closed in for the kill.

1 comment

My Uncle was Leading Seaman Ralph Thomas. He was from Machen and Rudry in South Wales. His name is listed on the Cenotaph at St James Church, Rudry Nr. Caerphilly.

He had joined up in 1938 and had served at the battle of Narvik on HMS Foxhound. He was one of the crew manning the launch from Foxhound with Capt Holland to Admiral Gensoult at Oran when some of the French fleet were sunk. I have some letters he wrote home days before his last mission with Porpoise in Jan 1945. Current records indicate Porpoise was bombed by Japanese bomber aircraft at least three times on 11th January 1945.

He was a keen sportsman, a good boxer and by all accounts a popular chap. I have nearly finished putting together quite a thorough account of his life, for the family, the Thomas clan. Well done for helping to keep their important legacy alive too.

Diolch yn Fawr.
   Hywel Thomas Sun, 6 Sep 2020

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Seal (N37)