Union Jack rh  FRANK  S. TAYLOR  FAMILY AND ROYAL NAVY HISTORY.NET  UK Naval Ensign White L

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. SCARAB

 

 

Ernest (Blondie) Thomas

 

17 April 1943 – 9 September 1944

 

 

Royal Navy 

Able Seaman

Service No JX 287130

 

 

Leading Seaman Ernest (Blondie) Thomas

 

 

                                                                                     This page is dedicated to the Memory of

  Leading Seaman Ernest (Blondie) Thomas. 

May his name live forever more

and be remembered with affection and honour.

 

 25 January 1922 to January 1973

 

 Author’s Note:

 

My Father and Ernest served on this magnificent little warship, (H.M.S. Scarab) for over 16 months

Ernest 17 April 1943 - 9 September 1944

Frank (my dad) 11 April 1943 to 15 September 1944

 

 

Blondie was part of the crew manning the 6" gun forward of the bridge and my father was on 3" gun just below the bridge.

Other duties were manning the 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns.

 

 

PHOTO ENLARGEMENTS

 

The photos below may be enlarged by clicking on them.

 

 

In January 2018 we received the following letter from the Grand-daughter of Ernest Thomas. For many years we have attempted to trace the family

but due to some confusion on our part between Chester (Wales) and Cheshire all our efforts failed – notwithstanding hiring a private researcher and extensive advertising.

 

Then out of the blue we received the following:

 

 

From: Haley Cassidy

Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 9:47 AM

Subject: HMS Scarab

 

Hi Russell,

 

We are the family of Ernest (Blondie) Thomas Service number JX287130. Just before Christmas we accidentally stumbled upon your website (http://www.frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/) and are absolutely thrilled and delighted to see all the information, especially the photos some of which we have never seen before. We were looking for a book which we know was published about HMS Scarab called ‘Insects with Stings’. We did have a copy years ago but this was unfortunately lost over time, we have tried many times since to get a copy but have been unsuccessful.

 

Ernest is survived by his wife Betty (96), his sons David (71) & Glyn (70), Grandchildren Richard & Haley (David’s) and David & Paul (Glyn’s) plus numerous Great Grandchildren and 2 Great-Great Grandchildren

 

Reading through the piece about Fred (Kiwi) Lemberg (Ern’s best mate) we remember fondly the visit he made to us back in 1980. Betty kept in touch with him, for a number of years afterwards but as time moved on, and a house move, contact was unfortunately lost.

 

 

Lofty Evans, Blondie, Kiwi and shipmate

 Netanya, Palestine 1944.

 

 

 

 

Blondie (at front)

Buck Taylor (back row on right)

Naples, Italy 1944

 

 

Betty remembers a tale where Ern & 2 others (possibly Kiwi) pinched an Egyptian flag and they were chased by the police. They either fell or hid in roadworks to get away from them. She seems to think it was about the time when the photo was taken of them sitting on camels in front of the pyramids. (Cairo 1943) She also remembers taking Kiwi during his 1980 visit, to Chester railway station so he could re-live his memories of arriving there on leave sometime during the war. Whilst on this visit Kiwi & Betty were at a nearby attraction on the River Dee, Kiwi climbed a fence and went for a walk around the grounds of Eaton hall, which is a place; we believe he was sent too for a ‘wartime rest camp.’

 

David (Ern’s Son) who was in the Merchant navy visited Kiwi and his family in their home in Palmerston North in 1966.

 

It has been interesting especially to us younger members of the family to read about the friendship between Ern (Blondie) & Kiwi that is included in Kiwi’s diary. (http://frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/HMSScarab/KiwiLemberg.html) Ern never discussed his time during the war other than an odd anecdote or two of the happier times.

 

Would it be possible for you to please pass on our details to Kiwi’s family in the hope that they would like to re-establish contact between our families?

If you feel that any of the above information is useful in any way for the website then please feel free to use it.

 

All the best

Haley, on behalf of the Thomas family

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. Scarab

Avola Bay, Sicily

Operation Husky 1943

The Allied Invasion of Sicily

 

 

 

Haley’s Account

 

 

Grandad (as I call him in the pieces below) was Ernest Thomas (also known as Blondie) Leading Seaman. Service number JX 287130

 

Nan is his wife, Betty Thomas, 96. Talking with her whilst trying to put this piece together we have all learned a lot about Grandad and their life together. Apparently once the war was over Grandad very rarely talked about the actual day to day life and things they had seen and experienced but his friendship with Fred Lemberg continued right the way through into the 1980’s when Nan unfortunately lost contact with him and his family

 

 

 

Background on Grandad

 

Nan lived & worked in her family run Pub in a village (Northop Hall) not far from where Grandad lived. He often frequented the pub after his rounds as a telegram boy with the local post office; this is where they met. The first time he went to the pub was to buy some cigarettes for himself as he was teaching his elder sister to drive and he needed something to steady his nerves.

 

 

Grandad wild fowling – Pre-war

 

This was taken pre-war on the River Dee marshes. Along with sailing this was one of his main hobbies.

Over the years he had 2 small sailing boats, he spent many hours on the river along with his brothers and his dog both sailing and hunting.

 

On one occasion during war R&R whilst out shooting he shot a duck and as the water (in Grandad’s opinion) was too cold for the dog, Grandad stripped off and went into the water to retrieve the duck himself, much to nan’s disgust when he got home dripping wet, minus the duck but, at least with a warm dog!

 

Grandad returned home from the war in October 1944 and was demobbed May 1946

 

 

Order for Release - 10 May 1946

 

 

 

He married Nan on Valentine’s Day 1945.

 

 

Grandad with his male relatives at his wedding.

Left to right: His brothers Eddy (a paratrooper), & William,

His father Sam, Grandad, & his brother Sam. (in the Army)

 

 

 

Nan & Grandad’s Wedding Photo 1945

 

 

In February 1946 David was born. (my Dad) At this time they were still living in the family pub in Northop hall but not long after, they moved to Connah’s Quay, back to where Grandad had grown up. In 1948 another son Glyn was born.

 

Grandad continued sailing with his sail boat on Bala Lake and also with a small boat with an out-board motor on the River Dee.

He started work as an overhead crane driver on the pickling lines in John Summers Steel Works in Shotton, the next town along from Connah’s Quay where he lived.

 

 

In 1959 Nan & Grandad bought some land and built their own bungalow.

Nan still lived there when Fred Lemberg (Kiwi) visited in 1980.

 

 

Next to the bungalow there was a local Tennis club & courts

 which Glyn & David used to play in, along with Grandad on a few occasions.

 

 

In 1963 Nan & Grandad got to visit Buckingham Palace to see David collect his Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

 

 

 

In March 1965 (my brother) Richard was born. He was their first grandchild

 

 

In Dec 1967 I was born (Haley), the first female on Grandad’s side of the family for 53 years

 

 

Richard & I enjoying time with Nan & Grandad

 

 

 

Grandad with his sail boat in 1971

 

In Aug 1972 Glyn’s first son David was born followed by Paul in Nov 1979.

Grandad continued working in the steel works until he sadly passed away in Jan 1973.

 

We have all gone on to have children of our own and Nan now has 4 great grandchildren and 2 great great-grandchildren.

 

 

Written by Haley Cassidy but compiled by all of us on behalf of the Thomas family in loving memory of Ernest Thomas.

Oct 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Wartime photos & Service

 

The wartime segment was written by Blondie’s son David. He refers to his father as Dad.

 

In July 1941 Ernest Thomas volunteered to join the war rather than wait to be enlisted, as he wanted to be in the navy, along with a large proportion of Connah’s Quay the small town in Flintshire, North Wales where he had grown up.

 

Dad never talked in detail about his war time experiences so I have had to look up on the internet so see what was happening on the various ships he served on in accordance with the dates given in his service record.

 

 

Name of Ship. (Tenders to be inserted in brackets)

Substantive Rating

From

To

Cause of Discharge and other notations authorised by Article 606, Clause 9, K.R. and A.I.

Raleigh

Ordinary Seaman

30th July 1941

6th October 1941

 

Drake

Ordinary Seaman

10th October 1941

10th January 1942

 

Drake IV (Inconstant)

Ordinary Seaman

11th January 1942

31st March 1942

 

Tana (Inconstant)

Ordinary Seaman

1st April 1942

29th June 1942

 

Tana (Inconstant)

Able Seaman

30th June 1942

24th January 1943

 

Assegai

Able Seaman

25th January 1943

16th April 1943

 

Nile (Scarab)

Able Seaman

17th April 1943

30th June 1944

 

St. Angelo (Scarab)

Able Seaman

1st July 1944

9th September 1944

 

Drake

Able Seaman

10th September 1944

31st December 1944

 

Drake

Leading Seaman

1st January 1945

13th March 1945

 

Vindictive II (Onslaught)

Leading Seaman

14th March 1945

11th May 1945

 

Drake

Leading Seaman

12th May 1945

21st May 1945

 

Vindictive II (Onslaught)

Leading Seaman

22nd May 1945

31st July 1945

 

Excellent (Onslaught)

Leading Seaman

1st August 1945

10th May 1946

 

 

 

 

HMS Raleigh

Training Ship.

HMS Drake

Shore Establishment, Devonport, England.

HMS Tana

Shore Establishment at Kilindini, Mombasa, Kenya.

HMS Assegai

Shore Establishment at Simonstown, Durban, South Africa.

HMS Nile

Shore Establishment at Alexandria, Egypt.

HMS Angelo

Shore Establishment at Malta.

HMS Drake

Shore Establishment at Devonport, England.

HMS Vindictive II

Repair Ship and Accommodation purposes in support of Operations off French Coast.

HMS Excellent

Shore Establishment, Gunnery School at Portsmouth, England.

 

 

 

HMS Raleigh.  July 1941 – October 1941

Joined HMS Raleigh, a training establishment, on the 30th July 1941 at the age of 19 years to start his training as an Ordinary Seaman.

 

HMS Drake.  October 1941 – January 1942

Joined HMS Drake, shore establishment (naval barracks), Devonport, on the 7th October 1941 where he stayed until the 10th January 1942.

 

HMS Inconstant.  January 1942 – January 1943

From the 11th January 1942 until the 24th January 1943 he served on HMS Inconstant, initially as an Ordinary Seaman and from the 30th June 1942 as an Able Seaman. HMS Inconstant (H 49) was a modified I-Class Fleet Destroyer. It appears that Dad joined HMS Inconstant in Vickers Armstrong, Barrow, just before she carried out her acceptance trials. On completion of the trials she took on stores and proceeded to Scapa Flow where she worked-up for operational service with the Home Fleet.

 

 

 

    

H.M.S. Inconstant 1941

 

 

In March 1942 HMS Inconstant took part in escorting duties with Russian convoys before being appointed to serve overseas with the Eastern Fleet.  Towards the end March she was part of the anti-submarine screen for the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious which was escorting convoy WS17 towards South Africa when she, along with HMS Javelin, prevented the U-587 from attacking the convoy. In mid-April she was detached from convoy escort duties and proceeded to Durban and then on to Mombasa. On arrival at Mombasa she joined the 12th Destroyer Flotilla and took part in preparations for the Madagascar landings. On the 5th May HMS Inconstant, as part of the Flotilla covering force, took part in Operation Ironclad to capture the port of Diego Suarez in Vichy French Madagascar. 

 

On the 12th May 1942 she was detached for duty in the Eastern Mediterranean and took passage to Alexandria. Towards the middle of June, she was one of the escorts with convoy MW11 heading for Malta when they were attacked by a superior naval force and land-based aircraft during which HMS Airedale and HMS Nestor were sunk and other ships damaged. As a result, the convoy returned to Alexandria and HMS Inconstant was ordered back to Mombasa.

 

During July and August, she deployed, along with the 12th Destroyer Flotilla, in the Indian Ocean on convoy defence. In September she was part of the destroyer screen protecting the battleship HMS Warspite, the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and the seaplane carrier HMS Albatross and on the 10th September, they participated in Operation Stream, the final occupation of Madagascar

 

On the 23rd September she was released from Operation Stream and for the rest of the year she continued her defence role in the Indian Ocean.  On the 12th December 1942 the British merchant ship Empire Gull was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-177 in the Mozambique Channel west of Maputo, Portuguese East Africa. Later on, HMS Inconstant along with the corvette HMS Freesia picked up a total of 44 survivors between them.

 

Dad left HMS Inconstant in January 1943 just before she returned to the UK for refit.

 

 

       

Postcards Home

 

 

 

HMS Assegai.  January 1943 – April 1943

HMS Assegai, which was the shore base at Simonstown, Durban, South Africa.  One of its uses was as the general drafting and transit office for the Eastern and Mediterranean Fleets and the South Atlantic Station. 

 

HMS Nile.  April 1943 – June 1943

HMS Nile, which was the shore base at Alexandria, Egypt.

 

 

 

H.M.S. Scarab

An old and obviously well-loved photo.

From the creases it may have lived life in Ernie’s wallet

 

 

Egypt – The Pyramids

Rider is Charlie Wells – Sparker

 

Suez 1943

Statue of Ferdinand de Lessups in background

Suez 1943

 

   

 

HMS Scarab.  June 1943 – September 1944

Sunday 7th June Dad and Fred Lemberg (Kiwi) joined HMS Scarab sitting in dry dock in Alexandria dockyard. When they both walked aboard it was to an empty ship except for the Quarter Master on the gangway, who informed them that the ship’s company were down in the dockyard playing water polo. So, they went off and joined them, a great crew. From Kiwi’s diary.  The rest of the time spent on HMS Scarab is as per Russell Taylor’s articles.

 

 

From Kiwi’s diary, dad was in hospital from 3rd to 15th February 1944 with tonsillitis (in Ismalia?).  Mum knew that he had been in hospital but did not know the reason why only that dad told her that he was to be taken off the ship on a stretcher as per regulations but because of the narrow gangways on the lower decks he had to get off and walk up them himself and then get back on the stretcher. 

 

 

HMS Scarab – Wardroom 1943

Goldie (1st Left)

A.B. Dalzell (middle back)

Blondie (1st Right)

HMS Scarab leaving port

Bitter Lakes Suez

                                                           

 

           

'Buck’ Taylor 2nd row on left

‘Blondie’ Thomas Front right

Ship’s mascots Jenny (monkey) and Rags (dog)

‘Buck’ Taylor and Blondie Thomas man

a 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun

during gunnery practice in the Red Sea

Scarab Crew Members – Bitter Lakes, Suez 1943

Ernie ‘Blondie’ Thomas second from right

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. Scarab 1943

Crossed guns refer to successful bombardment duties

(i.e. Shelling targets from close inshore)

Plane and Nazi symbols refer to enemy aircraft shot down

Scarab crest (above gun) 6-inch gun & Turret

Bridge: ‘Doc’ gets a haircut.

Man at top signalling via semaphore to shore.

 

 

The interpreter from Cyprus (left)

with the Welshman holding Jenny

Scarab crew members

Suez 1943

Lofty Evans (left)

Blondie Thomas (centre)

and Kiwi Lemberg

 

 

Back row - Petty Officer Darby Allen ('Bosun') 

Lofty Evans (white singlet)

Front - Leading Seaman Isaacs

 

Lofty Evans (left)

Kiwi (right) with refreshments

Bombed out shipping in Benghazi, North East Libya.  Alexandria to Malta – July 1943

 

 

 

   

Probably Operation Husky

The Invasion of Sicily 9th July 1943

 

For Film Footage see this website: 

http://frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/WW2Films/HMSScarabOperationHuskyIWMFilms.html

 

 

  

 

The Battle of La Ciotat

 

 

Ernest Thomas was with the Special Operations Group (SOG) Task force 80.4 aboard H.M.S. Scarab. Lieutenant-Commander Douglas Fairbanks Jnr was on her sister ship H.M.S. Aphis in command of operations. There was one hell of a battle with 2 Nazi Corvettes with Fairbanks being awarded a decoration second only to the Medal of Honour or Victoria Cross.

 

For his part in the assault on Southern France, Lt. Commander Fairbanks was awarded the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valour). The citation for this award reads:

 

On the morning of August 17, when two hostile vessels attacked a group of smaller craft, he courageously led the ships of his unit into action and, aggressively directing the combat operations with expert seamanship against heavy odds, greatly aided in the ultimate sinking of the two vessels. By his brilliant leadership and steadfast devotion to duty throughout this vital period, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks contributed materially to the successful invasion of a highly strategic area.

 

 

  

An interview with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr.

In his real-life role as a naval officer in World War II

 

Excerpt from interview with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr:

 

SPECIAL OPERATIONS GROUP

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/CDRDouglasFairbanks.jpg

Lieutenant Commander Douglas Fairbanks Jnr.

United States Navy Reserve

 

 

 

Excerpt from interview with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr

 

WWII:  While you engaged in this diversion, I think you got a surprise of your own, didn’t you?

 

Fairbanks:   That’s right. At 5:40 a.m., we were just retiring when one of our air-sea rescue craft, ASRC-21 reported an enemy hull on the horizon, and that she herself was under fire. I sent a PT–boat ahead and rushed to her aid as fast as those gunboats could go – only about 10 knots – while reporting the situation to Admiral Hewitt’s headquarters ship, Catoctin, and radioing Endicott to come to our assistance. At 6:10, we opened fire on the enemy ships which turned out to be two corvettes: Unterseebootjager-6083, which had formerly been the Italian Capriolo, and Kemid Allah, a former Egyptian khedivial yacht that had been purchased by the Germans and converted into a warship with two radar-controlled 88mm guns. Commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Hermann Pollenz, they had just left Toulon and were on route to Marseilles when they ran into us.

 

WWII:   What did you do?

 

Fairbanks:   Not much. Besides learning very quickly that we were outclassed by the enemy, I learned from my gunnery officer that our guns were overheated and would need a few minutes before they’d be fit to fire again. I ordered our Motor Launches to screen us as best they could, and we circled around in the smoke while the enemy’s accurate gunfire straddled us ever closer. The radar of both gunboats was shot away, but we fired back with our small anti-aircraft guns.

 

WWII:   In the heat of action, I suppose your fear had been overcome by the need to fight and to survive?

 

Fairbanks:   No. Indeed, I was still terrified. I had a way of disguising it- somewhat- with a forced show of good spirits. Usually, only I knew that my light-hearted banter was my own private form of hysteria. I’d also deliberately drop my helmet, my binoculars and whatever other objects I could on the deck in order to have an excuse for ducking the next salvo of flying metal.

 

Fortunately, Aphis’ skipper was as calm as if he were on a peaceful exercise. Although damaged, the two gunboats had not taken any casualties thus far. At last the gunnery officer announced that our 6-inch guns were cool enough to use again. Then, when we emerged through a thin spot in the smoke screen, we found ourselves at right angles across the bows of the oncoming Germans – “crossing the enemy’s T.”

 

It was a classic manoeuvre accomplished through sheer luck. I don’t recall whether or not I gave the order, but in any case, Aphis fired a point-blank salvo without the benefit of any targeting device, and by golly, we scored a direct hit on the UJ-6083, while Scarab scored a damaging near miss. UJ-6083 began to list, while Kemid Allah seemed to hesitate.

 

WWII:  Didn’t the destroyer Endicott arrive to help you out?

 

Fairbanks: Yes, but it was really all over by that time. Admiral Bulkeley and I didn’t always agree on what happened. But as I recall, Endicott arrived in time to strike Kemid Allah a mortal blow. Kemid Allah’s ammunition began to explode, and she went down at 7:09. After launching two torpedoes at Endicott, which missed, UJ-6083 finally sank at 8:30. Endicott rescued 169 German survivors, while Aphis and Scarab picked up another 41.

 

 

 

This photo is the only one showing active wartime action.

Here are two vessels one of which shows exploding ammunition.

We believe that Ernie Thomas or a Scarab crew member somehow managed to take the shot during the conflict.

 

 

There is another photo from Ernie Thomas.

  http://frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/HMSScarab/HMSScarabWW2.html

 

 

German Survivors about to be picked up.

Photo taken from Scarab.

  

 

After action 1944 – South of France

 

 

Dimly visible in the poor light which was hampered by low clouds and drizzling rain, the enemy ships were in fact an ex-Italian corvette Capriola, which had been taken over by the Germans in July and was now manned by a Nazi crew and the armed auxiliary Kemid Allah, also a unit of the German Navy. The Capriola was the more powerful of the two. A diesel driven vessel of 565 tons, she mounted two 3.9 -inch and 8 37-mm guns, and boasted as many as ten depth-charge throwers. Not so heavily gunned as her escort the Kemid Allah nevertheless mounted a useful armament. The German ships immediately turned to pursue the fleeing small craft, showering them with salvoes of shrapnel.

 

As soon as they had received the enemy sighting report from the P.T. Boat the two Insects worked up to full speed and heading for the reported position of the encounter. Twenty minutes later they sighted the German ships and at once engaged them from a range of 12,000 yards. It was then becoming daylight. Despite the heavier guns of the Insects the protagonists were by no means evenly matched. The corvette and her escorts were far more speedy than the two old gunboats, and their modern armament control equipment enabled them to maintain a rapid rate of fire.

 

 

Their shelling was heavy and accurate and their salvoes were soon falling within 50 yards of the Aphis, which was leading, hosing her decks with splinters and shrapnel. With their vibrations agitating every part of her elderly frame the Scarab’s engines were thrusting her through the water at fifteen knots, faster even than the originally designed speed of the Insect at her launching 28 years earlier; and her consort was no less nimble.

 

The USS Endicott was now coming up fast, but until she could join them, Clifton in the Aphis decided to lay a smokescreen from the shelter of which the gunboats could carry on a running engagement. Mounting 4 5-inch guns and eight smaller weapons and with a top speed of thirty-six knots the Endicott was soon in a position to cut off the retreat of the German ships. Emerging from their smoke screen the Insects again took up the fight.

 

By now the action has lasted for over an hour, but a few minutes later a shell from one of the gunboats scored a direct hit in the boiler-room of the Capriola. In a colossal gout of flame the corvette blew up. At the same time another hit from the gunboats landed on the fore part of her consort. The enemy captain decided he had had enough and made off to westward at high speed.

 

With battle flags streaming triumphantly destroyer and gunboats pelted in pursuit, all guns blazing. Their quarry had no hope of escape, and in less than an hour the Kemid Allah was lying on her beam ends, spewing exploding ammunition from her burning decks in all directions.

 

The victors circled round to pick up survivors. A total of 211 Germans were fished out of the water from the wreckage of both German ships. The only allied casualties in this two-hour dawn sea battle were three men of Endicott who were wounded when the destroyer sustained a number of shrapnel hits.

 

The gun-boatmen’s elation at this unexpected and victorious conclusion to the successful part they had already played in the launching of Operation Dragoon was crowned when they were given signalled permission to splice the main brace. That night the three ships dropped anchor in the main assault area and the gunboats transferred their captives to the destroyer. On the following day Task Force 80.4 was dissolved and the Insects once more became units of the British Mediterranean Fleet. 

 

In recognition of their good work the Aphis and Scarab were sent to Naples for a spell of relaxation. Thus, while the French Fleet was being ceremoniously welcomed back into liberated Toulon the gun-boatmen who had helped make its return possible were happily rubbernecking around the historic ruins of Pompeii.

 

 

Battle damage to the USS Endicott during the Battle of La Ciotat in 1944.

The damage was caused by a “dud” shell which failed to explode.

 

 

 

HMS Drake.  September 1944 – March 1945

HMS Drake, which was the shore establishment in Devonport. Initially as Able Seaman and then from the 1st January 1945 as a Leading Seaman.

 

HMS Onslaught.  March 1945 – May 1946

From the 14th March until the 10th May 1946 Dad served on HMS Onslaught as a Leading Seaman. 

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. Onslaught

 

 

 

HMS Onslaught (G 04) was an O or Oribi-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Fairfield of Govan on 3rd September 1939 and construction started on the 14th January 1940.  She was originally to be called Pathfinder but her name was changed to Onslaught during construction. She was launched on the 9th October 1941 and was commissioned on the 19th June 1942 when she joined the 17th Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Home Fleet.

 

 

 

        

H.M.S. Onslaught – Crew Members

 

 

Early March 1945 HMS Onslaught was in collision with RFA Black Ranger, during a passage to join a Russian convoy, in which she sustained serious bow damage and had to return to the Clyde for repair and then onto Belfast on the 23rd March to complete these. This is where Dad joined the ship.

 

Early June 1945, on completion of repairs, she re-joined the Flotilla at Scapa Flow.  She then went to Murmansk in Russia to escort the damaged HMS Cassandra back to Rosyth. After that HMS Onslaught went to Oslo for a visit and then in early July she went to Kiel in Germany for duties as a Guard ship. After that she returned to Oslo for the Victory Parade which was reviewed by King Haakon. In August she returned to the UK and continued her Home Fleet duties

.

 

Crew Members on H.M.S. Onslaught

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. Onslaught Funnel Maintenance

 

 

 

Photograph taken in the Steamer Inn in Shanklin last week whilst I was on holiday.

Source: https://www.shipspottersteve.com/blog/adoption-plaque-hms-onslaught



This is the emblem of HMS Onslaught which is four white cutlasses with gold hilts on a blue field. 


The plaque reads: 

'PRESENTED BY THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY TO THE BOROUGH OF RYDE IW TO COMMEMORATE THE ADOPTION OF HMS ONSLAUGHT DURING WARSHIP WEEK MARCH 7th 1942' 

Warship weeks were part of British national saving schemes during the Second World War where a community adopted a warship. A level of savings would be set to ensure enough money was raised to provide for the building of a particular type of ship. The aim was for cities to raise enough to adopt Battleships and Aircraft Carriers whilst towns and villages would focus on cruisers and destroyers. The total amount raised for the war effort is recorded as being £955,611,589 with some 8 battleships, 4 Aircraft Carriers, 49 Cruisers, 301 Destroyers, 25 Submarines, 164 Corvettes and Frigates and 288 Minesweepers being adopted.



HMS Onslaught (G04) was an Oribi Class Fleet destroyer ordered from Fairfield of Govan on 3 September 1939. She was laid down on 14 January 1941, launched on 9 October 1941 and finally completed on 19 June 1942. 

Her motto was 'Fierce In action'. 

She had a complement of 175 men and was 105m long with a 11m beam and 4.11m draught. Displacement was 1560t. Propulsion was provided by twin Pearson geared steam turbines (30,000 KW) giving a top speed of 37 knots and a range of 3,850 nm (at 20 knots). Armament included 4 x single 4.7-inch Mark IX guns, a single 4-inch Mark V gun, 1 x quad 2 pounder, 6 x single 20mm guns, 1 quad 21-inch torpedo launcher for Mark IX torpedoes and four throwers and 2 racks for 70 depth charges.  

She took part in convoy escort duties throughout the war including the Arctic Convoys and during the Battle of the Atlantic, she also undertook patrol duties in the English Channel during the Normandy Landings in 1944. 

After the end of hostilities, she was deployed for training duties at the Portsmouth Gunnery School and in December 1945 she was detached to take part in Operation Deadlight which was the destruction of surrendered U-Boats in the NW Approaches. Between 1946 and 1949 she was used as a submarine target ship in the Clyde. The ship paid off early in 1950 and put on the disposal list before being transferred to Pakistan on 3 March 1951 and renamed PNS Tughril. In 1957 the ship was converted for use as an Anti-Submarine Frigate and remained on the active list until 1975. She was scrapped in 1977.

 

 

 

Author’s Note:

For more detail on Warship Weeks refer to:

 

http://frankstaylorfamilyandroyalnavyhistory.net/HMSScarab/WarshipWeeksPeterSchofield.html

 

 

 

 

 

Dad was released from Royal Naval Service on the 10th of May 1946 at the end of his demob leave which started on the 6th March 1946.

 

 

 

Certificate of Service Papers

 

Though out Earnest (Blondie) Thomas’s War Service his character was regarded by his superior officers as Very Good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Blondie’s family we are able to include the following photos of his family.

 


 



Blondie’s wife Betty standing proudly with her two boys David (left) and Glyn (right) 

 

 

Taken at Betty’s 90th Birthday in 2011

 

Front Rows: Aliced, Mike, Phillipa,  Emma, Betty (Blondie’s Wife), Haley, Hazel, Sheena.

Back Row: David, Richard, Andrew, Terry, Glyn.

 

 

 

Taken as a surprise photo from Dave & Sheena's 50th wedding anniversary 2014 (hence they are not in the picture)

 

Front row:  James, Megan, Betty (Blondie’s Wife)

Middle row:   Alice, Emma, Phillipa, Haley.

Back Row:   Mike, Richard, Terry, Andrew

 

 

Below, for identification purposes we have included Blondie’s family.

 

Betty Thomas

(Blondie’s Wife)

David Thomas

(Blondie’s Son)

Sheena

Married to David

Glyn Thomas

(Blondie’s Son)

Hazel

Married to Glyn

Richard

(Blondie’s Grandson)

Phillipa

Married to Richard

Emma

(Blondie’s Great-Granddaughter)

Richard & Phillipa’s daughter

Alice

(Blondie’s Great-Granddaughter),

Richard & Phillipa’s daughter,

Mike

 (Alice’s Husband),

Megan

(Blondie’s Great Great-Granddaughter)

Alice & Mike’s daughter

James

(Blondie’s Great Great-Grandson)

Alice & Mike’s Son

Haley

(Blondie’s Granddaughter)

Terry

Married to Haley

Andrew

(Blondie’s Great Grandson)

Haley & Terry’s Son

 

 

 

And finally to complement this wonderful tribute to Ernest (Blondie) Thomas.

We have had the privilege to put Betty, David, Glyn, Haley and family back in touch with Kiwi Lemberg’s Family in Nelson, New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

SHIPMATES

 

Kiwi

Blondie

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Us - Home