Two family members lost at sea, help required.

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by lmc2489, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. lmc2489

    lmc2489 Member

    Good morning

    I am a serving soldier in the Royal Artillery and currently researching my family history, in particular the military aspect. Would anyone have any information on the following 2 incidents?

    My mothers cousin was 3531701 Private Wilfred Gregory 2/9 Bn Manchester Regiment,lost at sea on 6 June 1940, they always thought he was KIA at Dunkirk, due to the fact he is on the Dunkirk Memorial, however he was lost on the MV Capable, off Portsmouth. He was a Gunner on the Capable as i believe it was a DEMS vessel, although that is the only information o have on the incident.

    My fathers Uncle C/JX253557 Ordinary Seaman Michael Morrisey was lost at sea when the Flower Class Corvette HMS Zinnia was torpedoed by U564 on 23 Aug 1941, as part of Convoy OG71. Would anyone have any information on the convoy, dates of when it set sail etc?

    I am not aware of the whereabouts of any of their medals, or if they were issued,i have written to the SPVA to see which medals they would of been awarded, if they have already been awarded and lost i am looking at replacing them for my family,would any forum members be able to help with any of the above?


  2. spitsortie

    spitsortie Member

    Hello Liam,

    HMS Zinnia was sunk on 23 August 1941 by U-564 just west of Portugal.
  3. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    To expand a little
    While escorting convoy OG-71 HMS Zinnia (Lt.Cdr. Charles George Cuthbertson, DSC, RNR) was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-564 west of Portugal in position 40º25'N, 10º40'W. Hit by U-boat. Sunk on 23 Aug 1941 by U-564 (Suhren).
    She was built at Smiths Dock Company, South Bank-on-Tees, launched on 28 November 1940 and commissioned on 30 March 1941.
    At 05.25 hours on 23 Aug, 1941, U-564 fired three single torpedoes at ships in the convoy OG-71 west of Portugal and claimed the sinking of two steamers and a corvette. However, only the loss of HMS Zinnia (K 98) (LtCdr C.G. Cuthbertson, DSC, RNR) can be confirmed from Allied sources.
    The Names of 51 crew who died are detailed here:- Note: CWGC shows 50 UK as died. There should have been survivors as Wiki shows ships complement was 85, so there may be some personal recollections "out there" on the internet that a search engine might trave for you.
    Or to save you the trouble:

    Wilfred actually died on 5th June not 6th June as you show:-

    GREGORY, WILFRED. Rank: Private. Service No: 3531701. Date of Death: 05/06/1940. Age: 19.
    Regiment/Service: Manchester Regiment. 2/9th Bn.
    Panel Reference: Column 119. Memorial: DUNKIRK MEMORIAL
    Additional Information: Son of Joseph Gregory, and of Doris Gregory, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.

    LANGRIDGE, FREDERICK. Rank: Lance Corporal. Service No: 3531708. Date of Death: 05/06/1940. Age: 23.
    Regiment/Service: Manchester Regiment. D.E.M.S. Personnel
    Panel Reference: Panel 44, Column 2. Memorial: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
    Additional Information: Son of Frederick Ernest and Maggie Langridge, of Audenshaw, Lancashire.
    Geoffs Search Engine turns up 5 of the crew.

    Reportedly hit a mine whilst carrying stone from Alderney.

    No doubt more expert Pals can clarify the 2/9th Manchesters role in supplying DEMS gunners...
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery


    GREGORY, WILFRED Rank: Private Service No: 3531701 Date of Death: 05/06/1940 Age: 19 Regiment/Service: Manchester Regiment 2/9th Bn. Panel Reference Column 119. Memorial DUNKIRK MEMORIAL Additional Information:
    Son of Joseph Gregory, and of Doris Gregory, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.,%20WILFRED;topic=2028.0
  5. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    The following is taken from 'U-Boat Attack Logs' - D. Morgan / B. Taylor

    The loss of HMS Zinnia sunk by U 564 23 August 1941 80 nm WNW Cabo (Portugal)

    The sinking.

    Though extra lookouts had been posted following two recent attacks on the convoy, U564's attack from 3,000 metres came without warning. Her torpedo struck Zinnia at 0421 (the hour's difference aside, British timekeeping differed from the German by a few minutes) while she was under ten degrees of helm as part of a routine alteration to her broad and irregular zigzagging pattern. As Zinnia's commanding officer Lt Cdr Cuthbertson reported to the Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches, Admiral Sir Martin Dunbar-Nasmith VC, the detonation had a devastating effect on his ship:

    I was stepping out of the Bridge Asdic House and facing the funnel and about 25 feet from the explosion. The Asdic House collapsed and parts of the ship were thrown into the air. She immediately heeled over on to her starboard beam ends, and in five seconds had capsized through 120 degrees.

    Cuthbertson was one of a number of men pitched into the sea as Zinnia turned over. His next recollection, having surfaced after what he estimated to have been within twelve seconds of the detonation, was of the bows rising vertically out of the water before subsiding into the ocean. With the passage of another twelve seconds HMS Zinnia had disappeared leaving a number of survivors bobbing in a patch of oil.

    Fate of the crew

    Rapid though her sinking was, rather more of Zinnia's men managed to get clear of the wreck than might have been expected in the circumstances. All of these had been above deck when the torpedo struck, either on the bridge, in the crow's nest, in the wheelhouse or on the porn-porn platform. Writhing in oil-covered water, they had to endure a series of underwater explosions after Zinnia went down which were later attributed to boiler explosions, further torpedoes or depth charges. The survivors were left clinging to any flotsam they could find to escape the worst of the oil, Lt Cdr Cuthbertson resorting to a corpse:

    “I heard many cries for help in the water, and estimated there were about 40 men floating. I could do nothing to help them. The water was thick with fuel oil, and it was all I could do to keep my balance in the swell, and my nose and mouth above the oil. I remained afloat 40 minutes before finding the trunk of a body which had been blasted and was buoyant, this kept me afloat for the remaining 30 minutes”.

    A number of ships were on hand but the would-be rescuers had only the briefest opportunity to identify Zinnia's position before she disappeared and survivors proved hard to locate in the darkness. For over two hours HM corvettes Wallflower, Campion and Campanula searched a broad area, rescuing seventeen men including Lt Cdr Cuthbertson:

    “One corvette passed close without sighting me. Eventually at 0530 I was picked up by a boat from another corvette, HMS Campion. I had to be hoisted inboard, could only crawl along the deck and was completely blinded. I was still fully clothed.”

    They were landed at Gibraltar that evening on the heels of the badly mauled 0G71. Aside from treating injuries the main task on board the rescue ships was the removal of oil from the men's bodies, effected with paraffin for the body and petrol for the eyes. Two of those rescued died later, the first in Campion shortly after being picked up, the other in Gibraltar after two unsuccessful blood transfusions, thereby bringing the death toll from HMS Zinnia to fifty.

    Cuthbertson's report contained a number of suggestions to improve the prospects of survivors in the water, including the supply of lights and whistles for them to indicate their position and the need for escorts to drop rafts whenever possible. A number of these suggestions were forwarded to the Committee on Life-Saving at Sea which as a result included 'the provision of a short-range buoyant automatically operated light for attachment to rafts which are likely to float off or be got overboard most readily' as well as 'the attachment of ordinary service torches to every lifesaving raft, etc. carried on board' among its recommendations.
  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    5 August 1940

    The cargo ship Capable 216 tons (J D. Sullivan) Alderney to Portsmouth was sunk by a mine at Spithead.

    Source - Britain's Sea War - J M. Young
  7. lmc2489

    lmc2489 Member


    Thank you for your help with this, much appreciated.


  8. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    Cargo ship Capable, 216grt, (J.D. Sullivan) loaded with a cargo of stone at Alderney for Portsmouth. On the 5th June 1940 within sight of the Horse Sand Fort on the Solent off Portsmouth Harbour the ship struck a mine and foundered with the loss of her five-man crew and two territorial gunners.
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  10. lmc2489

    lmc2489 Member


    Apologies for late reply, basically fogot my password. i will have a look at that medal supplier, i use one in Bournemouth, great service and really nice people.

    i am still waiting for a reply from SPVA, when they gave me the reference number they said it may take up to 9 month.

    Thank you for all your help.


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