Service Most Silent - remembering those who died in Falmouth 6th March 1941

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by CornwallPhil, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    On Saturday 22nd February 1941 in an air raid that killed 3 civilians a parachute mine was dropped. An AA gun crew fired and punctured the parachute so it fell in the water rather than on the town. A team from HMS Vernon located the mine in 15 feet of water using their new depth finding detection gear on their "Mouse". A team of divers was called in from HMS Vernon & positively identified it as a mine with parachute attached. A minesweeper with Kango hammers made several runs at varying distances. It was now assumed the mine was magnetic as acoustic means had failed.

    On Thursday 6th March Sutherland dived on the mine and after half an hour reported that the clock and detonator were lying on the underside in thick mud making it impossible to work on as it lay. He had therefore made a line fast to the parachute ring & suggested the mine could be turned over by towing it. The mouse & a more powerful launch took the strain on a long line. After 10 minutes they concluded nothing had moved. Sutherland dived again. the depth was now 18 feet on a rising tide. Sutherland reported he was "ok on the bottom".

    At 1735 the mine exploded sending a column of water 200 feet into the air. The diving barge was blown to pieces. The Mouse & a nearby lighter belonging to Falmouth Docks Co "Queen Wasp" were sunk & two other vessels damaged.

    The body of Temp Sub Lt Reginald Bruce SUTHERLAND RNVR, HMS Vernon, aged 27 was never found. He was Mentioned in Dispatches. He is commemorated on Panel 60 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

    On the diving barge:
    Able Seamen Robert George TAWN, DSM, HMS Vernon, age 24 - his body was recovered the same day. He was buried in the World War One plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 31st March 1941.
    Leading Seamen Ivan Vincent WHARTON, OBE, HMS Vernon, age 31 - his body was recovered on the 14th April. He was buried in the World War Two plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 17th April 1941.
    AB Deck Hand "BHC 9" William ROTH, age 44 - his body was recovered the same day. He was buried in the World War Two plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 11th March 1941.
    Deck Hand "MV Novio Magnum" Jan SCHOT, age 39 (a Dutch national) - his body was recovered the same day. He was buried in the World War Two plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 11th March 1941.
    "BHC 9" Herbert Harry SELF, age 35 - his body was recovered a day later. He was buried in the World War Two plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 10th March 1941.

    On The Mouse:
    Mate "MV Novio Magnum" Alfred George MARJORAM, age 37 - died in Falmouth Naval Hospital of his injuries on 14th March 1941. He was buried in the World War Two plot in Falmouth Cemetery on 18th March 1941.

    The three others on the "Mouse" survived:
    Stephen R.S. BUTLER, the base diver at Falmouth, had severe back injury.
    Lt J.F. NICHOLSON, HMS Vernon, had fractures and shock.
    PO BENHAM, HMS Vernon, had fractures and shock.

    The National Maritime Museum now stands very close to the spot where these men died that we might live. Sadly there is no memorial and the thousands who visit the water's edge are unaware of their sacrifice. However the story emerges every now and again and the people of Falmouth do not forget.

    Attached Files:

  2. sandwichery

    sandwichery Junior Member

    Kudos for remembering these heroes and their all but forgotten acts.
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Very poignant story, thank you for reminding us all.
  4. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Hi Phil,

    I assume that BHC 9 was one of the barges that was damaged?

  5. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    A heroic story - there should be a memorial.
  6. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    My understanding is it was a small craft belonging to the Harbour Commissioners. The non-HMS Vernon men killed were all detailed for the job from Falmouth.
  7. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member


    Thanks, my reason for asking was that Risdon Beazley operated a BHC No9 during the war, the B was for Blyth.

  8. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    That's interesting, as in the press report for the joint funeral on 11th March (the only one that seems to have made it into the local press), Risdon Beazley Ltd are listed as sending a floral tribute as are B.H.C.Q., & also the Admiralty Salvage Dept.
  9. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    service most silent-remembering those who died in falmouth 6th march 1941,may they rest in peace.regards bernard85 :poppy: :poppy:
  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member


    Thanks, that ties in.

  11. suffolkcookie

    suffolkcookie Member

    How great to see this story and that these brave men are still remembered in falmouth.
    Ivan vincent wharton was my great uncle(my grandads younger brother by 4 years)
    i have only discovered uncle ivans story in the last few years,and only in the last couple of years that
    he was awarded the OBE just before he was killed and did not get to recieve it,my other great uncle and ivans wife
    went to get it,my grandad was himself away at war,how srange we never knew!
    I have a few photos of ivan all in navy uniform which i treasure.
  12. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Mines and unexploded bombs were dealt with by a very brave set of Service People and the risk was always present of them exploding.

    It is easily forgotten just how brave these People were, and still are, who have to deal with these devices.

    It is refreshing to see these brave souls remembered.

  13. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Hi SuffolkCookie,
    Thanks for your post. I have edited my original post to include the award of the OBE by your great uncle's name. It is humbling to think the family/descendants of those one writes about read the posts. Was the OBE awarded for a specific act or for his dangerous work overall?
    I would love to see a photo of I.V. Wharton as I have never seen pictures of any of the men that died, only headstones and memorials.
  14. suffolkcookie

    suffolkcookie Member

    Hi cornwall phil thanks for the reply,im so grateful for people like you who keep my great uncles memory and the event alive.I have no idea what the OBE was awarded for i cannot seem to find anything out,i only found it from an old newspaper article online,if anyone has any info? i would love to know.I do hate to contradict your info but i have ivans death cert, and his body wasnt found until the 14th april 1941, in falmouth inner harbour some 5 weeks later and registered on th 18th april,
    I hope this info is useful! Also his age is put down as 35 but he was actually 31, i would love to know anything else you may know.
    I will post some photos asap, a wonderful one of him at about 15-16 hangs on my wall,he joined the navy very young,im extremely proud of my brave great uncle!
  15. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    My mistake. Please accept my apologies. You are quite correct. I have checked again with the Falmouth Cemetery records and he was buried on the 17th April 1941, not March as I've stated in my first post above. That means one of my sources, the book "Falmouth Wartime Memories" (Pub 1994), is also incorrect as that says his body was recovered immediately. I have amended my first post accordingly.
    The only other things I know about him are that he arrived in Falmouth on Tuesday 3rd March 1941 as part of a 3 man recovery team sent down from HMS Vernon. He was an experienced diver. Despite continual air raid warnings the team set to work as soon as they arrived. My understanding is that his job on the diving barge was to look after Sutherland's lines. Finally I believe his home town was Chatham where he left a widow Violet. I love her choice of a quote from Isaiah 26 for the headstone.
    I didn't give his age as I couldn't find any details on that from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry.
    You are right to be proud of your great uncle. He was a very brave man.
  16. suffolkcookie

    suffolkcookie Member

    thanks so very much for the additional info its invaluable to me,none of us ever knew violet his wife and my mum cant ever remember meeting ivan,as i said he joined the navy very young,chatham was indeed his home town in 1941 because of the navy, but he was raised in colchester along with my grandad and their siblings,i have a photo of him at his sisters wedding in colchester in 1925 when he was 15 and he was in uniform then!
    The war got in the way of meeting people when my mum was a young girl, my grandad was himself at dunkirk and el alemein but thankfully he returned!
    Strange also that ivans grandad my g g grandfather died just under 3 weeks before ivan,and his youngest sister was married on 8th march 2 days after he was killed.
    I will now post 2 photos of him, one is with 2 other seamen could they possibly be the other 2 he was sent down with to falmouth? will prob never know but could anybody help?
  17. suffolkcookie

    suffolkcookie Member

    [attachment=137209:ivan2 (2).JPG
    ivan vincent wharton

    Attached Files:

  18. suffolkcookie

    suffolkcookie Member

    ivan3 (2).JPG
    ivan vincent wharton on the right
    can anyone help identify the other two?
    or any other info?
  19. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Thanks for sharing the pictures.
    Interesting to see him in the ribbon of HMS Ganges, the boys training facility at Shotley which in the 19th century had been aboard ship moored at Mylor near Falmouth.
    They look a bit young in the second photo for it to be his diving team in 1941. However mates often did volunteer for special duties together so it could be an early photo of the same group. Have to wait and see if anyone can do the detective work.

    I have attached the entry in the Falmouth Burial Records for your great uncle.

    Attached Files:

  20. robferris

    robferris New Member

    Thought i would add this image of the origonal name plate from the Mouse that I have. This was recovered from the floating debris after the acident.

    Attached Files:

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