Author Topic: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.  (Read 13422 times)

Offline PhilipG

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HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« on: April 13, 2018, 10:53:02 AM »
This vessel was a River Gunboat built at Woolston, Southampton.    On the 14th February 1942 it left Singapore for an undisclosed destination, but was sunk "east of Sumatra".   It is my understanding, that amongst the passengers aboard was a cadre of some 26 men of all ranks from the 1st Bn. Manchester Regiment.   These men had been designated to form the basis of a new formation of that battalion, consequent upon the original battalion's fate in the fighting in Singapore.   Is there any record of the names of these 26 officers and men?

As regards the fate of the ship's company, I calculate that about 40 officers and ratings were posted as missing.   PhilipG                                                   
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 05:02:42 PM by rafboy »

Offline sphinx

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2018, 11:22:50 AM »
Philip,

I am lucky enough to own a medal group to one of the NCO's off the Dragonfly.  Here is the write up I did for him:-

Arthur Spencer, b. 1912, son of Mr. & Mrs. G. R. Spencer of Farnworth, Lancashire.  He enlisted in the 1st Bn. The Manchester Regt in the 1930 as Pte. 3525760, becoming L/Cpl. on 7.8.1936.  He formed the Bn. water polo team in 1937. In 1938 he served in Palestine earning the GSM & from there to Singapore. By February 1942 the Japanese were in Singapore in strength & the 1st Bn was engaged in a desperate defence. Arthur was by this time a Sgt. The GOC ordered the CO to select 2 officers & 24 W.Os & N.C.Os to proceed to Australia by any means they could.  The men were all regulars of long experience with special training such as weapons, signals, transport etc. & they were an exceptional group.  After midnight 14.2.1942 they went to Keppel Harbour & found a R.N. River Gunboat, HMS Dragonfly ready to sail.  By dawn they & other ships were in the Rhio Straits, when at about 9am they were sighted by a Japanese seaplane, which carried out 2 dive bombing attacks, but HMS Dragonfly was undamaged. After this attack it was decided to proceed to the nearest land to lay-up & they made for a small group of islands to the North of Singkep. Shortly after this, 2 formations of 81 Imperial Japanese Ki-21 bombers (Army Type 97), with attendant fighters flew over at 4000 ft, then broke formation & attacked in flights of 9 at heights of between 2000 & 4000 ft. The waves came in from all directions at 5 minute intervals & HMS Dragonfly was hit in the first wave by 3 bombs. 
The first 2 bombs landed amidships, pierced the deck above the Petty Officers mess where the Manchester Regt men were, almost certainly killing them immediately. The next bombs hit just behind & had the effect of splitting HMS Dragonfly in two. She turned turtle & sank within 10 minutes.  Only 4 men from the Regt survived the sinking & Sgt Spencer was not one
of them.

I have a list of all the Manchester Regiment casualties off the Dragonfly.  2 officers and 24 men.

regards
« Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 03:01:15 PM by rafboy »

Offline Robert Bonner

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 05:08:47 PM »
I thought that it would be of interest to everyone to know the background to the Dragonfly adventure.  The following is an extract from Lieut Hesford's account written after the war.

'On 13 February 1942 the Japanese had been on the island of Singapore in strength for six or seven days.  The Manchesters had been pulled back into the edge of the city and ironically our battalion HQ, where I, as Assistant Adjutant and Intelligence Officer, was stationed, was in the world notorious Lavender Street at the  centre of houses of ill-repute. We occupied one of the larger houses in the neighbourhood.  The outer room was used as the battalion office and the inner room as a temporary mess.

Later that day, at about 6pm, Lieutenant-Colonel EB Holmes the commanding officer received a secret and confidential message from the GOC Malaya.  As a result he called a conference of all company commanders and HQ officers.  It took them about two hours to assemble at the Lavender Street HQ. The gist of the message was that in view of the situation he was ordered to select two officers and 24 warrant-officers and NCOs, issue them with official passes, which arrived from GOC, authorising them to leave Singapore and proceed to Australia by any means they could find.  The group had to be specially selected so that when they reached Australia, their qualifications would fit them to be the nucleus of a new 1st Battalion to be formed around them.

The CO said the conference had been called to decide on the 24 NCOs to be chosen and to make arrangements for them to be relieved of their duties and sent to HQ immediately. There was considerable discussion but eventually the 24 NCOs were chosen; all regulars of long experience and special training such as weapons, signals, transport etc. they were an exceptional group. The selection was carried with a great air of secrecy because of the effect on morale if it were known that an escape party was being sent off.

The CO announced that he had personally chosen the two officers and they were to be Lieutenant Quinn, Quartermaster and former Regimental Sergeant-Major in command and Lieutenant A Hesford as second-in-command. Tommy Quinn protested, to no avail, that he did not want to leave the Regiment.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 09:42:07 PM by rafboy »
Robert

Offline mack

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 01:51:38 AM »
Men who died during the sinking of HMS Dragonfly:

89781 Lt. (QM). Thomas Quinn aged 44. Haxby, Yorkshire.  MM.                                                                                           
Son of James and Susan Quinn, of Heaton Park, Lancashire; husband of Catherine Quinn, of Haxby, Yorkshire.     
2034499 Pte. (Signals Section). Samuel Alexander Bennett. Aged 24.                                                                                     
Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Ann Bennett, of Moss Side, Manchester.
3523474 Cpl. (Orderly Room Clerk). Arthur Frederick Bray. Aged 25. 15 Newton Road, Altrincham.                                           
Son of Arthur K. and Edith Ann Bray, of Tutbury, Staffordshire.
3534710 Pte. (QM's Clerk) Ronald Leonard Daniels. Aged 22. 54 Hartley Street, Oldham.                                                         
Son of Alfred and Alice Daniels.                                                                                                             
3525853 Sgt. James William Dooley. Aged 24. Withington, Manchester.                                                                                   
3524258 L.Cpl.(Transport Section).  Norman Farnell. Aged 29. 93 Pearson Street, Manchester.                                                 
724269 L.Sgt. (Orderly Room Sgt). Herbert Frank Fellowes. Aged 38. 17 Caroline Street, York.                                                 
3523133 L.Cpl. (Intelligence Section). Stanley Arthur Hake. Aged 29.                                                                                     
Son of Arthur Robert and Ada Lucy Hake, of 37 St.Peters Road, Swinton, Lancashire.   
3526054 L.Cpl.(Transport Section).  Sidney Hepworth. Aged 27. 142 Lightbowne road, Manchester.                                                                                     
Son of John William Hepworth (KIA 15th April 1918), and Mary Elizabeth Hepworth, of Cheetham, Manchester.
3514357 RQMS. (QM's Staff).  Edward le Page. Aged 43. 54 Stamford Road, Longsight.                                                           
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Le Page; husband of J. Le Page, of Guernsey, Channel Islands.
3521762 CSM. Joseph Lucy. Aged 29. 3 Chapel Lane Cheetham.                                                                                           
Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Lily Lucy, of Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
Joseph Snr. DCM.MC.MM served in the Manchester's in WW1.
3525908 L.Cpl George Joseph Maskery. Aged 27. Stoke.                                                                                                       
3511718 Sgt. (Provost Sgt). Ernest Meredith. Aged 39. 124 Thornton Road, Chorlton on Medlock.                                           
Son of J. Meredith, and of Jessie Meredith (nee Murray).
3528870 L.Cpl. Donald Mitchell. Aged 24. Manchester.                                                                                                           
3526838 Sgt. (Transport Section). Leslie Noble. Aged 30. Manchester.                                                                                   
Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Noble, of Hulme, Manchester. 
3523990 L.Cpl. (Intelligence Section). Richard Olsson. Aged 28. 2 Garden Street, Wigan.                                                         
3524069 L.Cpl. (Signaller). Arthur Stanard Openshaw. Aged 30. 13 Edmund Street, Openshaw, Manchester.                             
Son of Arthur and Harriet Openshaw, of Openshaw, Manchester.
3442837 Sgt. (Sgt Cook). Albert Thomas Robinson. Aged 32. 11 Northern Street, Hulme.                                                       
Husband of Mary Robinson, of Salford, Lancashire
3525760 Sgt. (Transport Section).  Arthur Spencer. Aged 29. 153 Bradford Street, Farnworth.                                                                                         
Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. R. Spencer, of Farnworth, Lancashire.   
3526908 L.Sgt. Sidney William George Stilwell. Aged 26. Dagenham, Essex.                                                                           
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Stilwell, of Dagenham, Essex.
3514765 WO1. (RSM) . Albert Sturch. Aged 38. 2 Tewksbury Avenue, Gosport.                                                                       
Husband of Kathleen Sturch, of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.
3517970 (Signals Section).  Stanley Windsor. Aged 36. 1 Little Beach Street, Gosport.                                                             
Son of Albert Edward and Sheba Eva Windsor; husband of Doris Emily Windsor, of Gosport, Hampshire.

The men above are Remembered on Columns 75 and 76 of the Kranji War Cemetery Singapore Memorial.

Atatched to the Manchester's:

RAOC

7584492 Sgt. (Armourer). Victor George Alexander Cole.
Son of Thomas Watson Cole and Kate Lavinia Cole, of Milton, Portsmouth.
7583235 Sgt. (Armourer). Perciival Francis Joseph Wass Walker.

These two men are remembered on Column 107 of the Kranji War Cemetery Singapore Memorial.
         
7591472 Sgt. (Armourer). Henry Charles Noyce.
Son of Henry and Alice Noyce; husband of V. H. Noyce, of Ensbury Park, Bournemouth, Hampshire.
           
Remembered on Column 108 of the Kranji War Cemetery Singapore Memorial.
         
Survivors of the Sinking of HMS Dragonfly.
 
3529632 (QM's Staff). Harry Bostock. Lyndhurst, Chester Road, Hazel Grove.   
Survived the sinking Died on 13th November 1943.
Buried in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery Burma.                                            Grave B4. Z. 7
Son of Richard and Kezia Bostock, of Norbury Moor, Hazel Grove, Cheshire.
3527434 Pte. Richard Taylor. 101 Royds Street, Rochdale.
Survived the sinking. Was in poor health after the war.
3527543 L.Cpl James Taylor. 67 Church Street, Goldbourne. 
Survived the sinking. Died on 28th December 1943.
Buried in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Thailand.                                          Grave 2. H. 39
Son of Fred and Elizabeth Ann Taylor, of Standish, Lancashire.
Lt Arthur Hesford. Intelligence Officer.
Survived the sinking. His biography is here: http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php?topic=9658.msg66077#msg66077
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 03:27:34 PM by mack »

Offline themonsstar

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 08:43:01 PM »
This from the War Office File at the NA Kew on the lost of HMS Dragonfly
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 05:06:01 PM by rafboy »

Offline themonsstar

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
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Offline themonsstar

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
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Offline themonsstar

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Offline themonsstar

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Offline themonsstar

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Offline themonsstar

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Offline themonsstar

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Offline Drofseh

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Re: HMS Dragonfly and the 1st Manchester's.
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2018, 06:45:47 PM »
I think that the name Horage on the list  can be dismissed as having been a ministry clerk's effort to spell Le Page.  There was certainly only one RQMS and that was Le Page.
This leaves 22 names on the list. Not shown are Lieutenant Hesford, Cpl Harry Bostock, L/Cpl J Taylor 43 and L/Cpl R Taylor 34.
This totals 26 Manchesters. Not included are three men of the RAOC attached to the battalion.  Total 29 aboard Dragonfly plus numerous others and a large native crew.

Hesford, Bostock and the two Taylors all survived initially.  Hesford managed to avoid capture but the other three were captured and eventually  died as PoW.

Hello all, I am the grandson of Lt Hesford.
He swam from the sinking Dragonfly to the Grasshopper (which had been deliberately beached), was captured along with the survivors of that ship, and was a POW for the remainder of the war.
Our family history has one of the other 4 survivors of the sinking also surviving being a POW, but I don't know if it was Bostock or one of the Taylors.

If you'd be interested in more information about my grandad let me know and I'll provide what I can.

Attached is a photo of him, I believe from after the end of the war.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 05:10:06 PM by rafboy »