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Seven Trips to Dunkirk on HMS Vanquisher icon for Recommended story

by fredgarbutt

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Fred Garbutt
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07 February 2004

I joined the navy in 1934 as a boy entrant (HMS Ganges to 1935 - HMS Orion 35-36 )and served in home waters and far east before the war (China - HMS Diana 36-39- saw Japanese invasion of China)

At the time of Dunkirk I was a leading seaman /asdic opertor on HS Vanquisher(V+W Class Destroyer) on Atlantic convoy operations when we were recalled for Dunkirk duties.

We sailed directly from Mid Atlatic directly to Dunkirk and we made 5 round trips to Dunkirk going either to the Inner Harbour Mole or the beach.Over aperiod of 5 or 6 days.

On one trip we passed a H class destroyer (Harvester??) which was sinking. We anchored in Dunkirk harbour on Hydrophone watch ad heard large explosion , went on upper deck and saw Isle of Man ferry (Monas Queen ??) turning over and sinking as her degaussing gear had been damaged by shellfire and failed to protect aginst a magnetic mine.

Ran aground on Goodwin sands with 400 troops on board and broke off asdic dome.Entry into Dunkirk through dense smoke from burning oiltanks , heard cries for help in smoke but could not stop because of E Boat activity. Advice was that the cries were a German ruse to stop us.

Whilst loading at wooden jetty with troops we acquired several abandoned bren guns and tied them torigging and used as AA guns.We were frequently bombed

After Dunkirk 3 days repairs at Chatam DockYARD we proceed to Plymouth load up with Explosives and sailed for St Nazaire where we landed explosived and sappers intent to destroy french ships under construction.

Evacuated civilians from St Nazaire.

Sailed up R Gironde to Bordeaux on night time mission to try to pursuade neutral shipping to sail with us to joined allied cause.We sailed banck to sea alone and left gironde at 30 Knots. As it was not clear whether Gernman advance had reached Gironde.

We observed that on arrival at Dover the rescued troops were swiftly given tea and then loaded into trucks whose drivers were not given specific orders just told to take them away anywhere and the troops would have to find their own way back to their units. All equipment was abandoned on the jetty

Richard Baker (BBC ) was a messmate of mine on the Vanquisher.Another messmate (LS Roy Doy)was posted to the Dover Cliff Tunnels to look after the living and the dead

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Message 1 - 7 trips to Dunkirk on HMS Vanquisher

Posted on: 07 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear fredgarbutt,

This is a superb contribution. I look forward to reading more.


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