Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

HMS CHARYBDIS

HMS Charybdis was a Dido-class cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Cammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, UK), with the keel being laid down on 9 November 1939. She was launched on 17 September 1940, and commissioned 3 December 1941. Charybdis' service was entirely during World War II. In late 1943, the British authorities were aware of the approach of the German blockade runner, Münsterland, which was carrying an important cargo of latex and strategic metals. The Germans had a well-rehearsed procedure for escorting such vessels. The British reacted by executing Operation Tunnel, a standard operation whereby available ships would attempt to intercept.

On 21 October 1943, Charybdis and destroyers HMS Grenville, Rocket and four Hunt class destroyers (HMS Limbourne, Wensleydale, Talybont and Stevenstone) intercepted Münsterland off Ushant, Brittany. The force was attacked at night by the German 4th Torpedo Boat Flotilla (five Elbing class torpedo boats), which was escorting the blockade runner.

Charybdis was almost immediately torpedoed by the German torpedo boats T-23 under the command of Friedrich-Karl Paul and T-27. HMS Limbourne was also hit during this action and had to be sunk by HMS Rocket. The German force escaped unharmed. Charybdis sank in position 48°59'N 3°39'W? / ?48.983°N 3.65°W? / 48.983; -3.65, with the loss of 30 officers and 432 ratings just off the North Coast of Brittany. The Münsterland eventually ran aground off Cap Blanc Nez and was destroyed.

Soon after the sinking, the bodies of 21 Royal Navy and Royal Marine men were washed up on the island of Guernsey. The German occupation authorities buried them with full military honours. The funerals became an opportunity for the islanders to demonstrate their loyalty to Britain and their opposition to the Nazi occupiers, with around 5000 islanders attended the funeral, laying some 900 wreaths. Enough of an effective demonstration against the Nazi occupation for subsequent military funerals to be closed to civilians by the German occupiers. Every year a commemoration service is held, which is attended by local naval veterans, Sea Cadets and representatives of the Royal Navy.

The wrecks of Charybdis and Limbourne have recently been found. The Charybdis was located in 1993, in 83 metres of water.

[For full details availabe see Wikipedia HMS Charybdis]

From the funeral sheet of the day contains the information for the burial which took place at Foulon Cemetery, St. Peter Port, Guernsey. The details of those who perished have been supplemented with information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site.

The cemetery contains the graves of 28 members of His Majesty's Forces who either died while serving on the island or who were washed ashore on the coast, 1 of the naval burials is unidentified. There are also four 1914-1918 War graves. During the years of the German occupation burials in this cemetery of members of the occupying forces, and of foreign workers whom they brought to the island, were numerous. After the war the States of Guernsey Board of Administration transferred to this large burial ground the graves of more than 40 foreign workers from the Foreign Workers Cemetery, Les Vauxbelets, so that the ground they occupied, which had been commandeered without payment, could be returned to the owner. They also transferred graves from the Jerbourg Road German Military Cemetery, St. Martins, the land for which had been similarly commandeered. The graves of the Royal Naval casualties, crewmen of H.M.S. Charybdis, which was sunk by the enemy in the English Channel on 23rd October, 1943, and of one soldier, are in a small reserve plot. This is separated from the rest of the cemetery by a grey granite wall on the eastern side, a path on the northern and western sides and a low hedge on the southern side. The other British graves are elsewhere. There is also 1 French soldier buried here. Total graves 33.

FUNERAL CEREMONY
OF
NINETEEN NAVAL RATINGS
From " H.M.S. CHARYBDIS"

Interred at the Foulon Cemetery on Wednesday, November 17th, 1943.

Marines of the German Forces stand by the flag-draped coffin of
naval men.

Bailiff of Guernsey, Mr. Victor G. Carey, places a wreath on
behalf of the people of the Island.

A soldier of the German Forces places a wreath on the graves of
the gallant men who lost their lives fighting for their
Motherland.

Men and women from all walks of Island life pay last respects as they file
past the graves.

These pictures portray the solemn scene at the burial of the
bluejackets.

The Dean of Guernsey is seen passing from grave to grave, each
enclosing one coffin, with breastplate, to pronounce the final
words of Benediction; and the other photograph shows only a
small section of the wonderful tribute of wreaths.

Roll of Honour

BOOTH

Frederick

Leading Stoker D/KX 93025. Aged 24. Son of Alfred and Mary Booth, of Pitsmoor, Sheffield. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 38.

BRADFORD

Frank

Mechanician 2nd Class D/K 62154. Aged 38. Son of William John and Kate Jane Bradford of Torpoint, Cornwall; husband, of Ellen Patricia (Nellie) Bradford, of Torpoint. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 54.

BUNN

Louis Leslie

Able Seaman C/JX 351947. Aged 19. Son of Walter Louis and Maria Sarah Bunn, of Hethersett, Norfolk. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 37.

CLAYTON

Donald [Jeffrey]

Boy 1st Class D/JX 246429. Aged 17. Son of Ella Clayton, and foster-son of Amy Barrington, of Little Breinton, Herefordshire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 52.

CLAYTON

William

Ordinary telegraphist D/JX 341388. Aged 31. Son of James and Emily Clayton, of Wigan, Lancashire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 56.

DOBSON

William John 'Bill'

Leading Supply Assistant D/MX 68963. Aged 27. Son of William Henry Hamilton Dobson and Bessie Jane Dobson; husband of Phyllis Mary Dobson, of Notting Hill, London. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 40.

HERBERT

John[Wilson]

Code D/JX 342996. Aged 20. Son of George W. Herbert and Elsie M. Herbert, of Hereford. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 50.

HARPER

Thomas Gordon

Engine Room Artificer 4th Class D/MX 102904. Son of Dr. Thomas Harper and Margaret Harper, of Stranraer, Wigtownshire; husband of Eleanor Harper, of Balderton, Nottinghamshire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 53.

JONES

Frank

Able Seaman D/J 22492. Aged 46. Son of John and Henrietta Jones, of St. Thomas, Exeter. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 51.

LAWSON

David Connal

[Listed as C D LAWSOn in funeral book] Ordinary Seaman D/JX 421609. Aged 18. Son of George Hogg Lawson and Mary Quin Lawson, of Springburn, Glasgow. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 42.

MAIDMENT

John

Ordinary Seaman D/JX 246207. Aged 17. Son of Edwin William and Eva Gertrude Maidment, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 46.

MAY

Kenneth [Rich]

Leading Supply Assistant D/MX 67815. Aged 33. Son of Robert Phillips May and Mary Ellen May, of St. Austell, Cornwall. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 57.
MORGAN John Rees
Able Seaman D/JX 230394. Aged 23. Son of Howel Rees Morgan and Mabel Elizabeth Morgan, of Crickhowell, Brecknockshire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 39.
MacDONALD John Donald
Ordinary Seaman P/JX 518696. Aged 18. Son of Donald and Williamina Macdonald, of Brora, Sutherlandshire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 49.
MURPHY

Patrick

[Listed as Petty Officer on funeral Sheet] Ordinary Seaman D/JX 416730. Son of James and Margaret Murphy, of Westport, Co. Mayo, Irish Republic. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 55.
ROBERTS Clifford Ernest
Marine PLY/X 4181, Royal Marines. Aged 19. Son of Ernest Charles and Amy Maude Roberts, of Maulden, Bedfordshire. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 45.
SOMERS Henry
Stoker 1st Class D/KX 134952. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 48.
WHITE John [Edward]
Supply Assistant D/MX68473. Aged 24. Son of Henry Edward and Frances Alice White, of Hounslow, Middlesex. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 41.
YOUNG Alfred Thomas
Stoker 2nd Class D/KX 162164. Aged 17. Son of Thomas Henry and Florence Mabel Young, of Sutton, Surrey. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 47.
Subsequent burials after the funeral service

KANE

Joseph Hugh

Able Seaman D/JX 363846. Aged 20. Son of Thomas and Margaret Kane, of Sandyford, Glasgow. Buried in Section A.M. Grave 36.

Last updated 23 March, 2009

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