HMS Express

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 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.


Name: Booty, Frederick Walter

Rank: Leading Steward

Age:37

No.P/LX 14748

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: husband of Mrs Gladys Ethel Booty, of Pauls Grove, Cosham, Portsmouth

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-1

 

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


Name: Brown, Basil George

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:21

No.P/JX 142149

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Margaret Robins, of Haslemere, Surrey

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-2

 

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


Name: Brookes,Alfred

Rank: Stoker 2nd Class

Age:22

No.P/KX 102599

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Emma Brookes, Wednesbury, South Staffs

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  42-3

 

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


Name: Crisp, Maurice William

Rank: Chief Petty Officer

Age:36

No.P/JX 100655

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mary Crisp, of Gosport, Hants.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  37-2

 

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


Name: Carlin, Patrick

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 1680

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: son of  Elizabeth Carlin, of Possil Park, Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-2

 

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


Name: Davies, James

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:21

No.P/JX 201663

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: son of  Joseph A. Davies, of Harrow, Middlesex.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-3

 

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


Name: Green, George

Rank: Leading Seaman

Age:

No.P/JX 139805

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mabel F. Green, of Northwood

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 37-2

 

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


Name: Jack, Ernest Gordon

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/X 20126A

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Jack, of Cromarty, Rosshire.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-1

 

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


Name: Mundy, George Albert

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:40

No.P/JX 75004

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Mundy, of Littlehampton.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-1

 

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


Name: Mundy, Henry Victor

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:38

No.P/JX 68152

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Mundy, of Bumstead, London.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-1

 

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


Name: MacDonald, Murdo

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:21

No.P/JX 20510

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Macdonald, of Point, Stornoway.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-1

 

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


Name: Neill, William J.

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/UDX/1633

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Margaret, of Belfast.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-3

 

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


Name: Pither, Thomas Alfred

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:40

No.P/JX 41524

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Agnus May, of Dagenham.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 39-2

 

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


Name: Robinson, Sylvan Clarence

Rank: Steward

Age:21

No.P/LX 23322

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Martha Ann Robinson, of Gosberton, Lincolnshire.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 43-2

 

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


Name: Shaw, Alexander

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 3087

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Margaret Shaw, of Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel: 44-3

 

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


Name: Briers, Benjamin Webb

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:23

No.P/SSX 16353

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of of Mrs Ethel Briers, of Hampton Park, Southampton.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-2

 

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


Name: Brown, Charles William

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:45

No.P/JX 9168

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Gladys Brown, of North End, Portsmouth

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-1

 

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


Name: Buckett, Donald James

Rank: Supply Petty Officer

Age:25

No.P/MX 48300

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Lily Buckett, of Copnor, Portsmouth

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  43-1

 

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


Name: Campbell, William Andrew Rippey

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 2880

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mr William N Campbell, Haghill, Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-2

 

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


Name: Clark, Edgar John William

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/SSX 18950

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Ivy T Clark, Stonetgate, Leicester

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-2

 

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


Name: Girvan, James

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/CD/X 2276

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: son of Mrs Girvan, of Glasgow.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-3

 

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


Name: Hiscock, Frederick John

Rank: Petty Officer Cook

Age:

No.P/MX 48941

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Frederick Hiscock, of Mile end, Portsmouth.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  43-2

 

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


Name: Langley,Frank.L

Rank: Petty Officer Telegrafist

Age:

No.P/JX 71231

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Rosa Langley, of Portsmouth.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  40-3

 

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


Name: May, James

Rank: Acting Stoker Petty Officer

Age:

No.P/KX 61502

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Elizabeth Annie, of Forest Hall, Norhumberland.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-2

 

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


Name: MacLeod, Alexander McDonald Stewart

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/X 21125

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Guardian Mrs P.Robertson, of Gromarty, Rosshire.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-1

 

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


Name: MacLeod, Murdo

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:21

No.P/X 19442

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mr Macleod, of Stornoway.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-1

 

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


Name: Newell, Ernest Lloyd

Rank: Leading Steward

Age:24

No.P/LX 21815

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Phyllis Newell, Great Haseley.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  43-2

 

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


Name: Potter, Frederick G.H.

Rank: Stoker 2nd Class

Age:20

No.P/KX 103939

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Florence Potter, of Waddon, Croydon.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  42-3

 

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


Name: Read, William

Rank: Stoker

Age:40

No.P/SSX 121947

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Read, of Brighton.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  42-2

 

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


Name: Taylor, Robert G.

Rank: Stoker 2nd Class

Age:21

No.P/KX 103944

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Jean Taylor, of Edinburgh.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  42-3

 

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


Name: Brimley, Richard George

Rank: Engine Room Artificer 4th Class

Age:22

No.P/MX 61686

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Minnie Elizabeth Brimley, of Olney, Bucks

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-1

 

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


Name: Brett, Richard William John

Rank: Cook

Age:20

No.P/MX 60205

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Mancy Brett, of Primley, Hants

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  43-2

 

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


Name: Burt, Reginald Douglas

Rank: Chief Stoker

Age:

No.P/KX 56517

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Husband of Mrs Robina Burt, Mile end, Portsmouth

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-2

 

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


Name: Churchill, Henry Louis

Rank: Ldg Steward

Age:

No.P/LX 21760

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Step son of Amy May, of Scholing, Southampton.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  43-2

 

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


Name: Cockhill, Herbert

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:23

No.P/JX 157762

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Husband of Lily, of Huddersfield, Yorks.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  38-2

 

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


Name: Gray, Charles

Rank: Ldg Stoker

Age:32

No.P/KX 2052

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Brother of Frederick Gray, of Yeovil, Somerset.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-3

 

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


Name: Hollings, Bernard W.

Rank: Acting Petty Officer

Age:

No.P/JX 137419

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin:Husband of Dora Hollings, of Grimsby.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  37-2

 

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


Name: Land, Thomas. S.

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:23

No.P/JX 176052

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Arthur Land, of Stockport.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  40-1

 

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


Name: Mciver, Alexander John

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/JX 19909

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Mciver, of Knock, Stornoway.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-1

 

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


Name: MacFarlane, John Thomas

Rank: Telegraphist

Age:22

No.P/WRX 449

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Sister of Mrs Hislop, of Edinburgh.

 

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  45-1

 

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


Name: Pacey, Alfred

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:38

No.P/JX 92409

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Nora Pacey, of Hull.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  39-1

 

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


Name: Plums, Albert James

Rank: Leading Stoker

Age:32

No.P/KX 79221

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Dorothy Plums, of Southampton.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  41-3

 

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


Name: Stack, William

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:

No.P/JX 92321

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Husband of Mrs Margaret Stack, of Kilfinan, Ireland.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  39-2

 

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


Name: Woodward, Ivor F.

Rank: Able Seaman

Age:20

No.P/SDX 1467

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Bertha Woodward, of Brighton.

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  44-3

 

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


Name: Wright, Henry

Rank: Ordinary Seaman

Age:20

No.P/JX 184923

Missing since: 01-09-1940

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs Grace Wright, of Rothwell

 

Portsmouth Memorial Panel:  40-1

 

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