Click the link above or here for an updated article on the sinking and the rescue, including a secondÂ report written by Lt-Commander Watson, not previously published on this website.
Save the date in your diary for this year’sÂ HMS Dunedin Reunion and Remembrance Service: Saturday 21st November, starting at 1200 noon at theÂ Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Southsea Common and continuing afterwards at the Royal Maritime Club. Further details will follow.
CPO Sandy Holland was one of the first six women to join the WRNS in May 1939 and was later stationed at Devonport. She remembers Dunedin in dry dock in March/April 1941. She recalls that the ship was urgently needed even though she wasn’t ready, so it was essential to “turn the boat around” very quickly. To help, she and some other Wrens went on board Dunedin to the ship’s office to help with the paperwork for three days so that the ledgers could be landed before Dunedin sailed.
Having been aboard Dunedin and knowing a number of the Plymouth-based ratings, Sandy took a special interest in Dunedin when was lost. Indeed, she sent many of the telegrams to the families of the Plymouth ratings.
Sandy is pictured, second from left, front row. The caption on the back reads:Â Â ” The Casualty Office WRNS taken about 1942 who dealt with HMS Dunedin Devonport ratings in 1941″
Harry Woodley joined HMS Dunedin in 1939 and survived her sinking. He was part of the prize crew that took over the captured German merchant ship, Hannover, in March 1940 in the Caribbean.
Harry died in 1993.
After the war, Harold wrote about HMS Dunedin and her sinking. I am grateful to his daughter, Carolyn Woodley, who generously made his original account available to the Dunedin Society. At the time of writing, we have what appears to be the first half of his account. We hope that the rest of it will turn up too.
Over the next few weeks I will be uploading Harold’s account in segments. Click on the links below.
Joined in 1939 in Scotland. Served on Northern Patrol, in Caribbean and Atlantic. Jim shared a raft with Petty Officer Butler, Able Seaman John Miles (pictured above, seated between Jim on the right and Bill Gill on the left), and Able Seaman Harry Cross. Their raft was the second or third one to be rescued by SS Nishmaha. See also Rafts and Rescue. Jim died, aged 98, at Badgers Wood Care Home, near his home in Norwich.
Jim was the second President of the Dunedin Society, following the death of the first President, Bill Gill, RM.
On return from Bermuda in 1940, one of Jim’s comrades gave him a poem that he had written, called No Regrets. Click here to see a copy of the original, but the text is reproduced below:
Weâ€™ve left the blazing tropics, left the heat behind,
Left the sweat and safety, for the travail of our kind,
Weâ€™ve parted from the romance, that tended us awhile,
Headed for our native land, thatâ€™s fighting Hitlerâ€™s guile.
Prickly heat has irked us and â€˜dhobie itchâ€™ as well,
Without a â€˜rubber seabootâ€™, weâ€™ve worried more than hell.
â€˜Roaches marched in thousands, then called on thousands more,
While flies settled on our carcase in groups of several score.
Weâ€™ll miss our grapefruit breakfast and â€˜nanasâ€™ for our tea,
Miss the swims and beaches, and the flying-fish at sea,
Miss the â€˜whitesâ€™ to swank in, mourn the iced drinks,
And some will miss the â€˜Colonelâ€™ who stutters now methinks.
For the ark of stars is waning, and the moon has drawn her veil
And breathless nights now mock us, as we dare Atlanticâ€™s gale.
The temperature has fallen and we swap our fans for fires,
Yet still our pulse runs strongly, for Britainâ€™s need is dire.
So all regret is but a phrase, weâ€™re stronger than our fate,
Our Island Home demands us back, the swines are at our gate.
We go without a coaxing, weâ€™ve wished it all along,
Weâ€™re going back to Britain to swell the Victory song!!!!
Here’s how we celebrated Jim’s 98th birthday, on the website:
Happy 98th Birthday to our President, Jim Davis, 21st March 2017!
Jim Davis is one of the original four survivors who founded the Dunedin Society and he has been a dominant force behind the Society to keep the memories of his lost comrades alive. Jim joined HMS Dunedin in Scotland in 1939 and served in her on the Northern Patrol, in the Caribbean and the South Atlantic. When the first of two torpedoes hit Dunedin on 24th November 1941, Jim was reading a book on deck. Blown to the floor by the explosion, he made his way to a Carley raft and was rescued, along with the few other survivors, by the crew of SS Nishmaha on 27th November.
Jim went back to sea after returning to Britain and, in one of lifeâ€™s great ironies, he was serving in HMS Stonecrop in April 1943 when she encountered and sank U-124, the U-Boat which had sunk HMS Dunedin.
We all wish Jim a very happy 98th birthday.