HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall sunk

The cruiser HMS Dorsetshire had assisted with the evacuation of Singapore and of Rangoon and was on patrol in the Indian ocean with HMS Cornwall.

Although Ceylon had received a warning of the approaching Japanese task force, the Royal Navy ships in the Indian Ocean were once again disadvantaged without proper air cover. The cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall were on patrol together when they came under attack from the Japanese carrier based bombers. Walter Fudge was on board HMS Dorsetshire:

At 11 a.m. Sunday 5th April, a single Japanese plane was spotted astern and at 1.40 p.m. Cornwall and we were attacked by some 80 planes. In less than ten minutes Dorsetshire was sunk and within five minutes more Cornwall went down too.

Two shipmates went down in the mess and refused to leave the ship – they were non-swimmers. At a time like that it is every man for himself. I recall seeing our new Captain Agar VC giving a salute on the fo’c’sle intending to go down with the ship; but Cassier, another shipmate would not allow that!! He bundled him over the side.

A yell from the bridge to the 4 inch AA guns crews – “Why aren’t you firing?” Reply – “All dead except me!” The masthead lookout scrambled down a rope, which had been secured there, and I was right behind him. We both smiled at the water’s edge and we exchanged words “After you!” “No, after you!!” At that time, much of the ship had gone under and only the fo’c’sle was out of water.

There was no vortex – just ear-splitting noise from the bombs (these were responsible for deafness in my right ear). The water was warm. I felt happy to have had a tot of rum earlier. We swam away and a few low flying planes machine-gunned swimmers and I found a bullet in my ankle but only under the skin – the depth of water must have slowed down its velocity.

So there we were for over 30 hours – one man taken by a shark – 1,222 officers and men from the two ships – with a total loss of 425. Tropical sun and thirst were problems but the wounded obviously had the worst time. Only one whaler boat survived and this was filled with the wounded and those badly burnt. The remainder of us clung to floating objects like Denton rafts and Carley floats.

This account appears in the anthology War’s Long Shadow: 69 Months of the Second World War.

The Royal Navy heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall under heavy air attack by Japanese carrier aircraft on 5 April 1942. The photo was taken from a Japanese aircraft.

Other accounts can be read at HMS Dorsetshire, which also has a gallery of pictures of the ships service.

A few miles away HMS Cornwall had suffered a similar fate. Engineering Officer Lieutenant E. A. Drew only just managed to get out of the Engine Room before the order to abandon ship was given:

Once in the water I was covered in thick fuel oil (which has a consistency of black treacle) which meant that I could only open my eyelids a small amount – I had to stretch my head back and look along my cheeks to see what was happening and of course at the same time, keep myself afloat. I then realised that I had no lifebelt; why I do not know, for it was an offence to be at sea on duty without wearing one, and I had had one on in the Engine Room!

Anyway, I started to swim away from the ship when I found that I was being drawn back to the ship. I quickly realised why – the starboard outer propeller (14ft. diameter) was still rotating with the shaft at water level and as it churned the water it was drawing the sea and me to it! As I approached the propeller, I suddenly realised that I was in big trouble and that there was nothing that I could do about it. God was with me as He always is, for, as I approached the thrashing water, the ship lurched over to port, the propeller came out of the water and I sailed under it. I can see it all happening as I write.

I then came alongside Sub-Lieutenant (E) Dougall, a Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve who was with us for training, and he got a lifebelt off one of the corpses and helped me get it on – not an easy job with both of us covered in oil and swimming in an oil covered sea – I never saw him again. We were then subjected to machine gun fire from the large number of Japanese planes that hung around until the ship sank.

I remember watching the ship moving away from me. I saw the Walrus float off the catapult but it was then sunk by the ship’s wireless aerials coming down across the wings as she went over on to her side. The seaman in the lookout barrel at the top of the foremast had to remain there until he was able to jump into the sea from a height of 8ft, as the ship listed over to port.

One of the ship’s motorboats floated off and that remained afloat and was to become the ‘senior ship’ among several Carley floats. It was the one thing that I could see in the distance as the waves lifted me up. By this time, I was about half a mile astern of the ship. When shortly afterwards she went down by the head and her stern came right out of the water and she sank in a vertical position – about half of her length stood out of the water as she went straight down into the Indian Ocean which is about a mile deep at that point – it is hard to believe but I heard a faint cheer as the survivors, spread along a line about a mile long, watched it all happen.

I found myself alone and conscious of dead bodies, large fish and wreckage. I found a messdeck tabletop, about 3ft wide and 10ft long, and was thankful for a rest as I clung to it; it was not possible to get on it.

The full account can be read on HMS Cornwall’s page on World-War.

In 2015 I received a copy of John Clancy’s ‘The Most Dangerous Moment’ which covers the sinking of HMS Dorsetshire and Cornwall in some detail, placing it in the wider context of the Japanese strike into the Indian Ocean. An excerpt, describing the two sinkings can be read in my featured books from 2015.


In 1942 Japanese carriers attacked west into the Indian Ocean and nearly dealt a fatal blow to British sea power. This excerpt looks at the sinking of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall.

The Kent class Cruiser, HMS Cornwall

90 thoughts on “HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall sunk”

  1. My father Robert Weir was a Royal Marine from 1938 to 1950 , he was a survivor of HMS Dorsetshire , he passed away on August 2009 , he would have been 100 years old in November 2019, he suffered many nightmares about that fateful day in 1942.

  2. My uncle James Millar survived the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales, he was reassigned to HMS Cornwall on the evacuation of Singapore. He died when the ship was sunk, he was 17.

  3. My grandfather, John Bray, was a survivor of the Cornwall sinking . I was quite young when he died but have been told by my parents that he never spoke of the war.

  4. My late father Percy Bracegirdle, Seaman Gunner joined the Navy aged 16 in 1914.
    Served until Pensioned off in 1938, but re-enlisted for fifth ‘Five’. W.W.2 started, & at Easter 1942 he was in lower magazine of H.M.S.Dorsetshire when ‘Abandon Ship’ ordered by Capt.Agar after the onslaught by the Japanese attacking aircraft. He said the planes came in from all angles,out of the Sun, low over the water, & one even diving down one of the funnels.Arriving on deck just before possibly a torpedo hit the lower magazine, he was hit on the forehead by ‘shrapnel’ & next he knew he was in the water on a raft. Who put him there he didn’t know as he couldn’t swim.After 30 hrs.on the raft the survivors were picked up by 1 Canadian ship & 1 New Zealand ship & taken to Durban. After 6 weeks in hospital he came home for 7 days leave before going back on duty. He ended up in Minden Germany as part of ‘Army of Occupation’ still in Matelot’s uniform, & re-pensioned off October 1945. He never mentioned the machine-gunning in the water, or the sharks, but in his Eighties proudly wore his ten medals & carried the Legion Banner at local Parades. He died aged 84 in 1982, proud that I followed him into the Navy & did my 23 plus for Pension.
    One of my Dad’s proud possessions was a book which i now have,’The Lady in White’ signed by the Authoress Perla Siedle Gibson.She used to be on the North Pier at Durban daily singing to every ship that came in harbour.All Sailors will remember her.

  5. My uncle (one of my Dad’s three brothers), Clifford “Mont” Woods, was a survivor of the sinking of HMS Cornwall. After WW2 he became an electrician and lived in Broadstairs, Kent. He was real character, loved to play cards and entertain us on his “squeezebox”, which he played very proficiently. Remarkably all four brothers (two in the Army, one Navy, one, RAF) survived the war. Sadly they have all now passed on, gone but not forgotten, may they continue to Rest In Peace.

  6. My Father was a survivor of H.M.S. Cornwall. Henry Roy Martin (Pincher) He sadly died age 68. He was so proud to go to one of the reunions.

  7. Two of my father’s cousins, the Crosby twins (Haddy and Vin), from Port Elizabeth, survived the sinking of HMS Cornwall. Both died at comparatively young ages about fifty years ago. My father told me of their ordeal in the water.

  8. My father survived the sinking of HMS Cornwall. He never spoke about the war. I think he was a Chief Petty Officer (ERA). Does anybody have any information?

  9. Hi, my name is Irene my father was David (Dai) Thomas who was a stoker and survivor when HMS Dorseshire was sunk

  10. November 2018. My father is possibly the last survivor from HMS Dorsetshire and he is called Joseph Sydney Normington, known as Syd. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has knowledge of others so please feel free to email me. I also am interested in knowing if there is anyone who might be wishing to do a “living history” whilst dad is still relatively fit and mentally well. His knowledge will go with him and whilst I have audio recordings some body might wish to do visual recordings.

  11. My father, Gunner E. W. G. Smith, was a Dorsetshire survivor. He was very close friends of Raymond Lock and they remained so until their deaths. Please contact me if you knew my father or stories of men off this ship.

  12. I went to school in Hamilton ,ONT CDA .Hillfield College had a grounds keeper named Ron Kirby, He had a badly injured left eye. Is there a web /site that has a list of survivors DORSETSHIRE.Iwould very much like to find out myself .He made quite an impression on me ..So much so that i joined the NAVY. Thankyou

  13. I was named after Petty Officer Walter Betts Chave who perished on the HMS Cornwall. He had 3 sisters, one of whom was my mother, Barbara Sims (Chave). I know he was married to Lily Agnes, I can only assume she re-married later? Any information about her or her family would be most welcome as they are part of our family history story, a project in the making. As the only son of that era and living in Australia, information can be hard to come by. Thankyou.

  14. I am the daughter of Ted Bodman signal man survivor Hms Dorsetshire, i lost my lovely Dad 4 years ago but he kept in contact with so many survivors and always attended the yearly reunion which after the passing of my mum kept him going . We owe so much to these young men who served their country and gave us all our freedom , i thank them all with the bottom of my heart and will toast my dad and all the men lost on 5th April 1942 .

  15. My dad Ernst Dudley Orsmond known as Geoffrey was on either one of these boats. He never spoke about his experiences as was badly injured and deaf. Anyone know which ship he was on?
    He was 23

  16. Bruce Robinson March 12,2018 5:45 pm

    My late father Wilfred Lionel Robinson was a survivor on the Dorsetshire. He had just sailed from Durban after marrying my mother when they got sunk.

  17. I knew Ray Lock (RIP) well. Told me many stories about The Dorsetshire. I would like to get hold of his son in NewZealand- i think.

  18. I have on my mantlepiece two small epns very old trumpet shaped ornaments both have a badge with the inscription HMS Cornwall.
    These came from my Grandfathers house, he was in the army but I know he served in India and China.
    If anyone is interested I can send pictures
    Mike Suggitt

  19. Hi, Just thought I would mention that my two stepbrothers and my stepsister were the children of Petty Officer William Eades who was on the Dorsetshire when she sank, my Mother Alice Eades managed to bring up my 2 Brothers and sister on her own after the loss of her Husband.

  20. When I was a young boy, I went with my mother to our near neighbour, Captain Agar’s house in Hampshire. He was a very kindly gentleman and I remember it was a lovely summers day and I was told he was a VC holder and WW1 war hero which greatly impressed me. I have always reflected on the loss of HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire and their brave crew.

  21. My late Grandfather, Frederick (Fred) Jenkin was a young Stoker on HMS Dorsetshire when she sank. I was told the .Chief Stoker knew what was going to happen and sent my Grandad up top, telling him he had many years ahead of him yet. My Mother was aged nearly 6, her brother aged 3 and my Aunty would have been due any time soon! So glad that lovely PO took that decision or things might have been very different!
    Grandad suffered nightmares all his life but got on with things.

  22. My Father F.Redgment was midshipman on the HMS Cornwall .
    The Russian diplomats are interested in publicising articles in Russia, on why and how South African naval men helped Russia.
    As my father served on the artic convoys after the sinking of the Cornwall.
    His account has been documented by the General Botha old boys.

  23. My uncle Arthur White served on HMS Dorsetshire. He was one of the survivors in the sea for 30 hours and told us how they swam in circles around corpses, linking and holding on to each other, kicking their legs to ward off sharks. He had terrible memories of the Japanese planes circling above machine-gunning those in the water. He returned to Plymouth (our home town) but later moved to Leicester. He used to attend the Dorsetshire reunions until he died.

  24. My cousin, Sub Lieut Robert Millet RNR was lost when HMS Cornwall was sunk. His name is on the WW2 memorial in the grounds of St George’s Church in Beckington, Somerset.

  25. My uncle, Fred Neville was an Engine Room Articifer. He was on the Cornwall, but he didn’t survive. He went down with his ship. I remember him coming home on leave. He was my hero, and as soon as I was able, I joined the Royal Navy.

  26. thank you so for the photos of my late dad david mcdowell his grandchildren are over the moon as they had never had the chance to meet my dad as he past away in nov 1978 we have a beautiful album now and its something we will cherish thanks again john

  27. My Grandfathers brother WILLIAM (WILLIE) MITCHELL, born on Adelaide Road, Redruth, Cornwall in February 1890, perished in the sinking of HMS Cornwall. I believe he was a stoker.

  28. My dad Peter Edgar Wheeler RM survived the sinking of HMS Cornwall on 5th April 1942. I believe he climbed out of his action station a shell handling room via the shell hoist. He died aged 49 in the late 60’s

  29. My grandfather, Sidney Richard Doyle, served on the Dorsetshire. He was one of the last off the ship when she sank. He served with his best friend, Mike Brasler. They were both South Africans. Grandpa had served in World War 1, also in the Navy. If any former Dorsetshire sailor remembers Sid Doyle, also known as Paddy, I would love to hear from him. Paddy Doyle had flaming red hair, an Irish temper to match, and a well honed talent for breaking the Navy’s rules.

  30. A book called Bismarck, Dorsetshire and Memories by Ray Lock contains several photographs, as well as his account of the sinking of the Dorsetshire in which he served.

  31. My 17 year old uncle, Leonard George keeble, served on the HMS Cornwall and went down with the ship. If anyone can remember anything about him, I would appreciate a few words sent to me if possible, thank you

  32. My step dad Louie Spencer who is now 92 years old and ingood health was a survivor on HMS Cornwall. He was a seaman, a loader on S2 4 inch twin barrel anti-aircraft gun. A bomb fell about two yards from him, went through the deck, left the tail fin behind and exploded down below. He just had has Maewest on and survived. In 2002 he attend a reunion held in Cape Town of sirvivors. He was originally from Lusikisiki and joined the navy illegally at age 17 !

  33. Hi my granddad was a PO Stoker on the Dorsetshire and survived on the 5th April 1942 with two of his mates that were from Swansea as they all joined up together (Les Robinson Frederick Page and John Thomas .Sadly no longer with us however Mr G Blackburn has arranged for a post in the papers and also a wreath to be laid on the 4th at Plymouth and all the info is on the Hms Dorsetshire Association website if you sign in on the guest login .
    Helen Nelson

  34. We have a resident in our home in Coventry, Harry Brown who served on the HMS Dorsetshire when it was attacked in 1942. Harry will be 99 years old on the 26th April and we would love to hear from any other survivors.

  35. The following comment from Ray Pearce was retrieved from an overenthusiastic spam filter:

    My father was a Petty Officer on HMS Dorsetshire on this fateful day. My grandmother received news that her son was dead. However, on closer inspection she noticed a discrepancy with the staff number. In fact, there were two of the same name serving on this ship! The War Department had in fact made an error. Her son had survived, after swimming for 32 hours he was rescued by a South African ship and taken to Durban. We know how many survivors have experienced bad treatment from the Japanese in each and this own ways and never forgiven them, my father was one of the different ones. Despite his terrible ordeal and he is now long gone, he always took time out to pray on April 5th every year to pray for the lost souls. Also I remember him telling me two other things. Firstly, “Lord knows how much I have forgiven the Japanese and after WW2 of all the countries he had visited the Japanese people welcomed the most!” I would just like to end with this thought…….one day whilst sheltering from the rain this this shop doorway, a little old Japanese lady came out and handed my father a western style umbrella that once belong to her son….missing in action whilst fighting in China. How terrible a thought it could have been the other way round!
    Ray Pearce

  36. I didn’t get to learn much about my father’s war time, I just learned from pictures that he served WWII and the Korean War. But I do have a photo I just scanned of him standing with another gentleman Norman and a young child Bob while on Survivor’s Leave from the sinking of the H.M.S. Cornwall.
    My Father was Ralph Phillips “Phil” if anyone has heard any stories or read anything in your families diaries I would love to learn about it. He too was a Stoker. Seems he was based out of Bermuda.

  37. Is there a database containing the names of the survivors from the Cornwall and Dorsetshire ?

  38. My great, great auntie’s son died when HMS Cornwall was sunk in 1942. He was called William Kevan Mantle and at 17 years old, was a Boy 1st class. If anyone has any information at all or photos with him in them, I would very much appreciate hearing from you.
    Thank you.

  39. My dad William Reilly was a survivor of HMS Cornwall, He was in b shell room when the attack occurred. Never talked about the event but I have recently come upon his diary in which he describes in full detail the events of this day. I need to find a way to make this diary public. My father died in 1979 at the young age of 56.

  40. Father Bernard Sliney serve on HMS Cornwall as a gunner. After leaving the RN in 1953 lived most of his life in Durban, RSA and died in Newcastle, Australia in about 2007/8.

  41. My uncle, Edgar Morgan died on the Dorsetshire . He was a stoker on the ship when it went down. His name is on the war memorial in his home town of Penrhwcibier

  42. I received a photo of six medals from a granddaughter of Mike Lucas, who survived the sinking of HMS Cornwall on 5th April 1942. I am trying to identify each of six medals so can you please direct me to HMS Cornwall Association and get them identified. Thanks

  43. My Uncle John Redston from Manchester was a survivor on HMS Cornwall. also served in HMS Gurkha

  44. My uncle John Redston was a survivor from HMS Cornwall . Previously served on HMS Gurkha.

  45. Hi my dad survived the sinking in April 42. 36 hours in the sea.picked up by HMS Enterprise. Docked at may don’t wharf.survivors leave in mombasa. Anyone knew him please contact. RIP John george Malcolm

  46. My grandfather was in the Royal Marines Can’t find any info on him sure he was rescued from the water from one of these ships . He suffered many years from emphysema from swallowing the oil filled sea water ,although it never stopped him smoking his name was Joseph (joe) Emery if anyone has any info I would love to know thankyou

  47. My late father was Walter Holt (Jack) a Chief Petty Officer Stoker on the Cornwall when it was sunk. He spent 30 hours in the water before being picked up by a sea plane (I believe) and taken to Ceylon. My father was born and brought up in Cape Town and was one of may South Africans who served on both the Cornwall and Dorsetshire.
    He later served on HMS Hardy when it was sunk in January 1944 by a U Boat off Murmansk, Russia. He died in 1968 aged 58 years.

  48. My father William (Bill) Lawrence was a Royal Marine and survived the sinking of the Cornwall as did his brother John Lawrence who was also aboard ship. They were rescued and taken to Durban. Bill was engaged to my mother Edna who lived in Cape Town. They married a month later and returned to England.
    He did not speak much about the hours spent in the water, but it had a profound effect on him. Every Easter he would relive the events, he also had terrible nightmares. Nowadays we would know it as post traumatic stress
    He sadly passed away in 1986.

  49. I was recently, (as in last week) in Ypres paying my respects whilst on a motorcycle touring holiday, a gentleman stopped and commented on the motorcycle I was riding and a conversation commenced, I mentioned that my father William Peter Redhead was a writer on board HMS Dorsetshire at the time of the sinking, what a coincidence the man says, turns out that the person I spoke to was Walter Fudges, brothers son, and whilst born in Leeds, moved to Canada, small world!

  50. My Dad Francis ODELL served on the Cornwall and servived it’s sinking. I have tried to look his name up on the survivors list but couldn’t see it Any information would be appreciated so I can pass it on to my grandsons

  51. Many thanks for all the information my late father David Mcdowell survived the sinking of HMS Cornawall i received the photos had them restored and have all his naval papers from he joined until his release i have made contact with another survivor of the ship my father was a brave man and i was able to tell his story i knew some of it but its so sad to hear in detail what actually happened on that day my father was a hero as were all who served

  52. My Father, Colour Sergeant Ian Marsh, Royal Marines, was a gunner on the Cornwall when it went down. He died last year aged 92. He told me that he was locked below decks and would have gone down with the ship had not someone come back to open the water-tight doors. He recalled being on a table top for a day and a half. I think he was taken on the Panther to Cape town or Trincomalee. He was from Denton near Bungay in Norfolk so I’d be surprised if he didn’t know Tony Underwood’s Uncle Bertie.

  53. My father-in-law David McDowell was a survivor of the sinking HMS Cornwall. This was a subject he found hard to speak about and sadly he passed away in 1978 aged 56.
    I have been trying for the past few years to get some history on this and I would appreciate anyone who has any information or photographs they could share with my wife & myself.

  54. My father in law David mc Dowell was a survivor of the sinking which is something he never spoke about. Sadly he died at the age of 56 in 1978. I am trying to get any information about his war time history in the Royal Navy. This is something I believe should be passed down to his grandchildren . So if anyone has any photographs of the Cornwall or its ships company I would be very grateful if you would email to me.

  55. My Uncle Marine Bertie Noble was lost on H.M.S. Cornwall. Really pleased to have found all this information as have been finding very little during research on our family tree. Bertie, like me, was from Diss Norfolk

  56. After trying for some 10-12 years I have finally found a publisher who is interested in commissioning a book about this incident. I am the son of CPO ‘Charlie’ Clancy and it was only after I met a survivor from the Dorsetshire, former Marine Geoff Kitchen, that I was prompted to write my book. Hopefully it will be available later this year, 2015. Sadly both dad and Geoff have died so the book will be dedicated to their memory.

  57. Hi my husbands grandad was chief petty officer on the Cornwall he also servived after being sunk his name was cireal clancy better known as Charlie

  58. Although my father’s name does not appear among the survivors on the Cornwall, he did survive. He was a cook, Charles Newman. His best friend, Clarence Lovell, also a cook, sadly died. I believe he was manning the guns. He was my mother’s first husband. My father met my mother for the first time on his next leave, fulfilling a promise each man had made that, should one survive, they would visit the relatives of the other. My father never spoke in any detail of that time, though I understand that he spent hours in the water after the sinking. He died in 1992 at the age of 74

  59. My Father Allan Dougall was the “E” Dougall that E. (Teddy Drew referred to in his article above. My Dad was fortunate to survive April 1942 and ended the war as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy in charge of engineering for our North Atlantic fleet. While my Dad died in the 1995 and never reconnected with Mr. Drew, my mother has talked to him several times over the years.

  60. Hi , my father Horace Henry Swinerd was one of the survivors from theHMS Cornwall,he died in 1979 aged 61. I would like nothing more than if anybody out there had photos of the crew at that time.
    Kind Regards

  61. My late father’s brother…….. Horrie Baker was a stoker on HMS Cornwall when she went down. Does anyone have any photographs of him ……

  62. my uncle joseph dawson was on the cornwall when it was torpedoed, he didnt survive.

  63. My grandfather Thomas Mousley was a Leading Seaman Torpedo Man on the HMS Cornwall.
    He did survive and passed away in 2002 aged 84. Originally from Staffordshire but spending the last 60 years of his life in Wales.
    We believe he was the look out when he ship sank and was probably one of the last men to leave the ship. He told me that they were in the Water for hours and that he was surrounded by bodies. he was later picked up but we can’t remember what he said it was called.
    I would love to hear from anyone who might have known him or see any pictures.

  64. This was the only large Japanese naval attack in Indian waters;and as we know; both cruisers were avenged at Midway; when the 4 enemy carriers who took part in the Bay of Bengal episode were destroyed by American dive bombers; the Japs didn’t have radar at the time;and they never recovered from the loss. The Jap planes who shot up survivors in the water did the samet hing when they bombed Darwin 2 months earlier. Justice was done at Midway;and seen to be done! However; on a positive note; the Commander of the Japanese attack survived the war; by God’s grace;and afterwards became an Evangelist with the Billy Graham Organization. As Mr Lincoln would have said; Let us bind up the wounds that divide us. The Commander’s name was Mitsuo Fuchida;and he visited this countryas well; I remember seeing him address some school pupils in 1961!!! Here endeth the lesson!!The book”God’s Samurai” would be a helpful read; copies may be available through Amazon; much recommended.

  65. My uncle Albert Ronald Howell known as Ron was on the HMS Cornwall and is now 94 yrs he told me some funny stories when in his 80s as he never talked about what happened until I coaxed it out of him then he never shut up …lol it was good for him and for me to be able to hand those stories down to my grandchildren so we never forget what those brave men went through…one of his story was after they were picked up they had to put in for their loss of clothes etc…my uncle said everyone owned a watch that day and everyone that survived lost their watch that day so 50shillings was given to each of them…I am sure this light hearted story about the fact these men were given 50shillings for a watch when so many most who could not swim lost their lives …..was some compensation after what they had to go through to survive that day those 30 hours and a life of PSTD worth a lot more to me that my uncle was a hero and continues to be…..

  66. My father , Alfred Pope, a tactical communicator, ‘bunting tosser’ as they were called, was a survivor from HMS Cornwall. He was, I believe, in the water thick with oil for about 30 hours before being picked up.
    He had rest and recuperation in NSW Australia. He returned to service for the rest of the war.
    He never really got over the sinking, and suffered bad health, mostly from swallowing thick oily water.He died at the young age of 52 in 1976

  67. My dad tommy Jones was on the Cornwall.he is 94 yrs and stays in .pe south Africa.
    He manned the pom pom guns.spent 30 something hours in the sea before they were rescued
    Still can remember the terrible events of that fateful day.does not talk to much about it.think he is the only living survivor.

  68. an old friend Bert Cooch served aboard HMS cornwall and told me the stories of that day, he was one of the lucky ones who survived, he died a couple of years ago but i have full respect for the man and all the others that served on HMS cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire…. R.I.P.

  69. Father served on the Cornwall.Part of the South African RNVR(Springbok) Group.
    Passed away 34yrs ago in Port Elizabeth RSA. Does anybody have a Photo of the South Africans on board the Cornwall

  70. My Grandfather Robert (Ginger)Crick was a survivor from the Cornwall .

  71. My uncle William Feddon, Leading Telegraphist, went down on HMS Dorsetshire.

    He saw action in Narvik on HMS Hardy. Hardy and her flotilla mates Hunter Havock Hotspur and Hostile attacked Narvik harbour and sank 2 destroyers and 3 merchant ships. Withdrawing down the fjord ,the flotilla encountered 5 remaining German destroyers and sunk 3 more. A shell hit Hardy’s bridge killing everyone on it. Stanning the captains secretary the only person left alive on the bridge took charge of the ship she took more damage and began to lose speed so he decided to run her aground. The survivors waded ashore and were looked after by the Norwegians.

    My uncle made it home but lost his life on Dorsetshire in the Indian ocean

  72. Sir,
    Can anyone confirm that a royal marine name Wilfred story naylor, was on hms Cornwall was sunk. Regards mike

  73. Hi My father, CPO Thomas Kenneth Goodfellow served on the Cornwall and survived the sinking. He was brought into Cape Town (where I now live) and feted, along with his fellow survivors, as a hero. I went to sleep many a night hearing wonderful tales of AB Nuisance and his sterling service to the men of the Royal Navy during WW2.
    Nuisance has a statue in his honour in Simons Town – which I pat every time I’m there!

    My father passed away in 1977 but we do have several wartime photographs……

  74. My father John (Jack) Brown also survived the sinking of the HMS Cornwall, his rank I belive was Chief Petty Officer, he went on to serve on the HMS Mutine a mine sweeper till the end of the war. He died sadly in 1974

  75. My dad, (died 1998) in a letter to me dated 24/01/1993 talks about 3 trips he made in the Life Boat to help pick up some of 1,100 survivors form the Cornwall & Dorsetshire. I am now hunting back through his records to see what ship he was on at that time.

  76. Hello
    A few years ago my aunt, recently deceased, told me that my father, William Edward Cross was on the Dorsetshire when it was sunk. He never mentioned this and passed away some years ago. My father was not in the Royal Navy. He was in an East Anglian unit. Could there be any truth in this account.


    Tony Cross

  77. I have just discovered that my cousin Sub Lieut. John Sidebotham went down in Dorsetshire. Is there by any chance a survivor who remembers him?

  78. My father Samuel McKeown was a survivor of the sinking, he was in “A” turrett when the ship was hit. He said that as the ship went over on it’s side, he and another sailor walked down the side and into the water. He moved to Australia in 1954 and passed away in 2005. He was a member of the Dorsetshire association and the Royal Navy association in Melbourne. Many a night was spent recalling his time aboard this glorious ship.

  79. Very interesting account of the 2 British heavycruisers HMS Dorsetshire & the HMS Cornwall as they fought on hard and held their sea-worthy positions in a Pacific battle in the Indian Ocean during WW2. That was a tough battle in April 1942. Survival in the warm ocean waters meant you had to tread water, try to find something to hold onto,perhaps wood debri, and still make it past the scary jaws of big sharks! Our real heroes of WW2 gave so much of themselves,even so many lives! I proudly take my hat off and salute these brave men who stood & fought in harm’s way,even unto death! I offer my prayers of remembrance to them in my heart,especially for the cost of freedom!

  80. My Dad, Len (“Tim”) Cole, was among the survivors. He was a Chief Yeoman of Signals (at least I think that was his rank at the time). He went to Cornwall reunions for many years – in fact he died just a couple of weeks after the last one he attended. I know he was interviewed by his local paper (Essex Chronicle??) while on survivor’s leave and I plan to try to locate the article that appeared in their archives. I’ll post it on this site if I can find it.

  81. Hi, I believe my grandad Harry Hartill was a chief petty officer stoker on the Cornwall and survived the sinking and lived until 1987. I’m trying to find out a bit of information about him if anyone can help that would be great. I know my Nan donated his medals to the museum at Chatham dock yard soon after his death, I remember going to see them as a kid.

  82. My Father William Henry Preston was a survivor of the sinking but sadly died at the age of 52 in 1952.

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