HMS Esk

The Texel Disaster took place off the Dutch coast on the night of 31 August 1940 and involved the sinking of two Royal Navy destroyers, and damage to a third and a light cruiser.

 

The disaster was caused by a destroyer flotilla running into an unmarked minefield, which caused serious damage to one vessel; two more destroyers were sunk going to the aid of the first, and a light cruiser sent as an escort was slightly damaged by a mine on the return journey. In all, the disaster caused approximately 300 deaths, with a further 100 men injured or taken prisoner of war.

 

On the night of 31 August 1940, the British 20th Destroyer Flotilla – consisting of HMS Express,  Esk, Icarus, Intrepid and Ivanhoe – sailed from Immingham to the Dutch coast northwest of Texel to lay mines.

The flotilla was joined by part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla consisting of HMS Kelvin, Jupiter and Vortigern.

 

While the ships were laying mines, air reconnaissance detected a German naval force moving west from Terschelling towards Britain; fearing an invasion the 20th flotilla was ordered to intercept.

 

Whilst heading for this German force, the flotilla ran into a newly laid, uncharted minefield and Express was badly damaged, losing most of her bow.

The explosion caused heavy casualties: ninety of the 175 men on board were killed or wounded, including her captain, J.G. Bickford, who was injured by the explosion.The flotilla commander, Lieutenant-Commander Crouch, moved his ship, Esk, to assist Express but the Esk also hit a mine and the vessel swiftly sank, killing all on board, save one man.  HMS Ivanhoe then went to transfer the wounded from Express but also hit a mine and was badly damaged, the explosion killing a further 53 men and wounding the majority of the crew.

 

Several life rafts, carrying shipwrecked sailors, drifted into the Dutch coast where those on board were detained by the German authorities as prisoners of war.

 

1 September brought Kelvin and Jupiter from the 5th flotilla to help rescue the shipwrecked crews and later two light cruisers – HMS Aurora and Galatea – arrived as an escort. The Ivanhoe was scuttled by fire from Kelvin and the ships returned to port.

Jupiter towed the hulk of Express until tugs could be sent out to take over.

 

On the way, Galatea hit a further mine and was slightly damaged.

The final toll of the disaster was approximately 300 killed, with a further 100 injured or taken prisoner; this was the greatest loss of life suffered by Nore Command since the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The German "invasion force" turned out to be a small minelaying unit transferring from Cuxhaven to Rotterdam.

The casualties returning from the disaster, some badly burned, contributed to the myth that a German invasion had been repulsed by the use of burning oil floated on the sea.One theory amongst British civilians and press of the time laid the blame for the disaster with Lord Louis Mountbatten.

A-H


Name: Adam, Hyacinth Alec George

Rank: Petty Officer

Age:29

No.P/JX 131408

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mr and Mrs Hyacinth Adams, husband of Eleanor Adam.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  37-1

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Bagg, Albert Henry

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:25

No.P/JX 192478

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Iris May Bagg, of Andover.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  39-3

 

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Blundell, Leonard Arthur

Rank: Leading Telegraphist

Age:39

No.P/JX 130605

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mr and Mrs Alfred H. Blundell, husband of Jane Blundell.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 40-3

 

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Bunyan, Arthur Douglas

Rank: Ordinary Coder

Age:22

No.P/JX 196269

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Henry Herbert and Grace Bunyan, of Maidenhead.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 41-1

 

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Carter, Clifford Woodruff

Rank: Lieutenant

Age:30

No.

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Francis Neville and Mabel Carter, Newport.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 36-3

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Chambers, William, Arthur 

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:52

No.P/J 30097

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Henry Herbert and Grace Bunyan, of Maidenhead.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 41-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Cotton, Stanley James 

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:21

No.P/SSX 19234

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Ernest and Emily Cotton, husband of S Cotton, of Leamington Spa.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 41-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Cowley, Harold

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/JX141457

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Nephew of Mrs Marky K Cowley, of Douglas, Isle of Man.

 

  

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-2

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dance, Malcolm Henry

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:35

No.P/K 60228

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of David and Louisa Sarah Dancer. 

 

  

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dimond, Thomas William

Rank: Stoker 2nd Class

Age:22

No.P/KX 102662

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William Henry and Alice Dimond, of Greenford.

 

 

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Downs, Leonard

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:35

No.P/KX 76638

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Walter and Mary Eliza Downs , husband of Mabel Kate Downs, of Fareham.  

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-3

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Duthie, Ritchie

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:20

No.P/X 21268A

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William T and Eliza Ann Duthie, of Rosehearty.

   

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Finlay, Alexander

Rank: Leading Seaman

Age:39

No.P/J 91856

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William and Elizabeth Finlay, husband of Isabel Olive Finlay, of Stratford.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 37-3

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Gamblen, Reginald Arthur Edward

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:34

No.P/KX 76085

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Henry Edward and Mary Gamblen, husband of Kathleen Esther Gamblen, of Liverpool.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 37-3

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Hamlin,Robert

Rank: Petty Officer

Age:28

No.PJX 131663

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Sidney and Jessie Hamlin, husband of Ivy Hamlin, of Portland, Dorsetshire.

  

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Hawkins, Herbert Charles

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:38

No.P/J92912

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Edward and Emily Hawkins, husband of Kathleen Mary Hawkins, of North Bersted, Sussex.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-3

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Guy, Norman Leonard

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/JX 145243

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Charles and Noah Mary Guy, of Fratton, Portsmouth.

   

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Bacon, Horace

Rank: Petty Officer Stoker

Age:47

No.P/K 56314

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Horace and Caroline Jane Bacon, husband of Nellie Gertude Bacon, of Worthing.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-2

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Beckham, Charles William

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:21

No.P/SXX 19235

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mr and Mrs Hyacinth Adams, husband of Eleanor Adam.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-1

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Briscoe, Westley

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/SSX 23217

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Edwin Thomas and Elizabeth Briscoe, of Leominster. 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-2

 

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Butler, Frederick

Rank: Petty Officer Stoker

Age:41

No.P/K 58630

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Richard and Ada Butler, husband of Jessie Jane Butler, of Kilburn.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 41-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Carter, Gilbert Thomas

Rank: Stoker 2nd Class

Age:21

No.P/KX 102660

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Thomas and Alma Carter, of West Moselsey.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Corlass, John

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 2728

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Corlass, of Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Corney, Arthur

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:

No.P/K 52035

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Samuel and Alice Corney, husband of Christina Corney, of Ryde, Isle of Wight.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Crawford, John Thomas

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:25

No.P/CD/X 2917

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Margaret Crawford, husband of Elizabeth Crawford, of Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dart, John Charles

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:

No.P/SS119411

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs E.G. Dart, of Yeovil. 

 

  

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dick, Robert

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X2731

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Dick, of Glasgow. 

  

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-3

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name:  Duplock, Harry Victor

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:47

No.P/KX 98695

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Nellie Duplock, of Brighton. 

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name:  Evans, Henry Winstone

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:22

No.P/JX 178163

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William and Florence Evans, of Summer Hill, Denbighshire.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name:  Fitzgerald, Michael Papillon

Rank: Sub-Lieutenant

Age:20

No

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Major N D'Arcy and Kathleen Mary Fitzgerald.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 37-1

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Geddes, David Weir

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 2732

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Nephen of Mrs Kennedy, of Glasgow. 

 

 

  

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name:  Greatrix, Arthur

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:

No.P/JX168275

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Ann Greatix, of Ladywood.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-3

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Hammond, Clarence Edward

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:44

No.P/SSX31518

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of James and Harriet Hammond, husband of Alice Hammond, of Aston Clinton.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-3

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Bacon, Thomas Arnold

Rank: Petty Officer Stoker

Age:46

No.P/KX 98372

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Thomas and Florence Bacon, husband of Clara Bacon, of Sheffield.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-2

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Birkett, Douglas Thomas

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:22

No.P/JX 167706

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Thomas James and Betsy Jane birkett, of Darlaston.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-2

 

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Blachford, Samuel Arthur

Rank: Leading Stoker

Age:28

No.P/KX 82495

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Samuel and Rosina Blachford, husband of Doris Susan May Blachford.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  39-3

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Brown, William Sidney Ernest

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:23

No.P/KX 92422

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William Thomas and Ivy Ethel Brown, of Cosham.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  42-1

 

 KIA Information: Know

n to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Cannell, George Bertrand

Rank:Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class

Age:

No.P/MX54792

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Gladys M Cannell, of Neath. 

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-1

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Collett, John Edward

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:20

No.P/JX 167707

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Edgar and florence Collet, of Dudley.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Cowan, George

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:21

No.P/SSX 32154

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Richard and Elspeth Cowan, of Lochgelly, Fife.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Couch, Richard John Hollis

Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Age:32

No.

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Eng Lieutenant-Comaander Herbert Willian and Edith Cecile Couch of Westminster.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-2

 

 KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Curtis, Albert Henry

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:40

No.P/J 44640

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William and Beatrice Curtis, Husband of Edith Eliza Curtis, of Tonbridge.

 

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 38-2

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dashwood, Robert John

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:20

No.P/JX 192481

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Charles Henry and Annie Frances Dashwood, of Pennington.

 

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Day, John Henry

Rank: Chief Petty Officer

Age:43

No.P/J 20631

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of John and Charlotte Day, husband of E.M. Day, of Brighton. 

   

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Dixon, Henry

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:41

No.P/SS 118805

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Joseph and Mary Jane Dixon, husband of Emily Amelia Dixon, of Worksop.

   

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Duce, Lawrence

Rank: Leading Steward

Age:23

No.P/LX 21665

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of William and Eva Eliza Duce, husband of Mary Duce, of Portsmouth.

 

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 43-2

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Ferguson, William John

Rank: Ordinary Telegraphist

Age:

No.P/JX 155199

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Nellie. D. Gerguson, of St Mary's Southampton. 

 

 

 

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 40-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Firth, Cedric Ronald James

Rank: Petty Officer

Age:26

No.P/JX 133190

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Son of H.J.W. and Alice Louisa Frith of Bournemouth.

 

  

 Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 40-3

 

  KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Georgelin, Frank Marie

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Age:

No.P/K62190

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Georgelin, of St Heliers, Jesey. 

 

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 42-1

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.


Name: Harrison, Thomas

Rank: Steward

Age:20

No.P/LX22466

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Robert and Mary Emma Harrison, of Wingate.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 43-2

  

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at North Sea of Texel.