The undermentioned names are known to be Burscough born servicemen who served King George V1 during the Second World War . If anyone can add information to expand on what is merely name and arm of service we would be truly gratefull.
The some names below have been kindly supplied by Robert Caunce ex Royal Navy, himself of Burscough origin. However should any names have been omitted that is regreted, on behalf of Robert we offer our sincere apologies for any such omissions. Should any person know of any omissions please forward them for inclusion.
We would also like to convey our thanks to Mr Fyles & Mrs L Fyles of Orrell Lane Burscough for a number of names (17) listed below
William Hankin who died shortly after demob.
The Caunce Brothers of Burscough.
(Jack, Isaac, Wiliam, Robert)
Leading Seaman Jack Caunce. R. N. Enlisted 1934
Served on H M S Tadoussac ( Minesweeper) Built in Canada by Dufferin, Ontario.
Also served HMS Duchess which was sunk following collision between The Battleship H.M.S. Barham & HMS Duchess, the story of the tragedy is told below. Jack was one of only twenty three men to survive the tragedy.
He later served aboard H M S Sheffield and was present at the sinking of the Bismark. The name Sheffield is synonymous with The Royal Navy, indeed that name was a casualty of the Falklands Conflict sunk by an Excocet Missile and was the first ‘major’ casualty of that conflict. Indeed his fortune continued aboard HMS Sheffield please refer to the account below.
HMS Sheffield… Bismark Action
In 1941, she participated in the shelling of Genoa (9 February), operations against Vichy convoys and supporting air reinforcements to Malta. In May, Sheffield took part in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, narrowly escaping a friendly fire torpedo attack by HMS Ark Royal’s Fairey Swordfish; 11 TSRs dropped (despite having been warned Sheffield was in the vicinity), and only defective Duplex exploders and fine ship handling saved her from disaster. (In the report of the attack, Admiral Sir John Tovey, commanding Home Fleet, was told only no hits were scored on Bismarck. The reaction of Sheffield‘s crew “has not made its way into the official records”.) On 12 June, she located and sunk one of Bismarck’s tankers, the Friedrich Breme. After the destruction of another German supply ship, the Kota Penang in early October (with HMS Kenya), Sheffield returned to Britain.
The Cruiser HMS Sheffield above
Above The D Class Destroyer H M S Duchess, related tragedy below.
On December 12th 1939, 9 miles off the Mull of Kintyre, the D class Destroyer, HMS Duchess was sunk when in a collision with HMS Barham. This is the story as told by a survivor. The ‘Death of a Duchess’ by Wendy Middlemass.
It was an icy black December night and the destroyer, “Duchess” was heading home to the north of Scotland. Only another hour and she could dock at Greenock, at the end of a spectacular record – breaking passage from East to West.
The declaration on of war on Germany in that ; September of 1939, had been the signal for the flotilla of nine ships –all ‘D’ Class destroyers — to leave their Chinese port, with the instruction to set sail for the ‘friendly’ waters of the U.K. with “the greatest possible speed”.It had been a rare experience, an impressive and morale – boosting sight for the crew of the “Duchess”, as they had steamed away in single file and at thirty knots, heading for refueling at Singapore On they had gone at break-neck speeds, beyond Colombo, Aden and into the Suez Canal.Here, the other shipping had been halted to ensure the flotilla’s unimpeded progress to Malta.
At Malta, three of the destroyers — “Duchess”, “Dainty”, and ‘Delight” — were detailed to escort the Battleship “Barham” from Gibraltar to Scotland.The “Barham” was a mighty ship. A veteran of previous skirmishes with the German fleet at Jutland in 1916. A massive vessel of some 31,000 tons, she dwarfed her escorting destroyers. The battleship and her escorts followed the usual pattern of submarine – avoidance by zigzagging, making it difficult for an enemy submarine to obtain a ‘fix’ on the ship.
It had been a lightning trip — perhaps the fastest East – West passage ever recorded and the crew of the “Duchess” were rightly proud of their achievement, as, in the early gloom of a December morning, she zigged and zagged her way towards the Mull of Galloway. The majority of the crew were below, asleep and the Petty Officer on watch had closed down all but one of the gunnery implacements, held a roll – call of his ten gun crew and ordered them to go below, to secure their hammocks, To clear the way for their messmates at breakfast.
Only a young Ordinary Seaman, a ‘boy sailor’ called Ernest Swinhoe, was left up top at the ‘A’ gun. He was the ‘communication number’, the sailor on watch at the ‘fore – gun. As the junior rating, he had been given the icy, early morning duty and he envied his gunnery mates their chance to go below into the warmth of the mess.
Ern had been lucky to join this destroyer, to be a part of the friendly crew of the “Duchess”, along with his good friend Peter Port. Peter was his best mate, the lad who had shown him the sights of Hong Kong, before they had left the East. They had both felt privileged to be a part of this record- breaking destroyer flotilla. As an electrician, Peter was fortunate, he thought, to be below in the warmth of the low power room. Safe from the biting chill of a Scottish strait.
It was 04OO hours now, and the watch had begun. Only an hour of this and they would be home and dry. Ern stood in the shelter of the gun shield, to avoid the wind. There was a blackout and the absence of moonlight made it a coal-black night. He adjusted his headphones and looked aft. It 3. was then that he saw the massive shape of a ship’s prow bearing down on him out of the darkness.
It towered over the diminutive destroyer and with a sickening sound, hit the “Duchess” at about half way and with such tremendous speed, that she simply turned the destroyer over. As she. ‘turned turtle’ Ern dived into the cold black sea, as other, half – naked sailors scrambled desperately round the rolling hull. The “Barham’s” searchlight lit up the scene, It had been her towering form that had pushed the “Duchess” over. Her crew felt sure that they had hit an enemy submarine, as the “Duchess’” upturned asdic domre looked just like a conning tower. But, when her searchlight beam moved aft, it revealed the awful truth — the sight of a ship’s screws, still turning –and her horrified crew began to sweep for survivors. The water was freezing and oil – ridden. There had been no time to grab lifebelts and Ern pushed off his rubber boots and overcoat, alternately treading water and floating on his back.
Out of the blackness, a drowning shipmate struggled towards him. He was naked and desperate and Ern realized from his ‘Ganges’ training, that the condemned boy would use him as a lifebelt – and so, condemn them both. Ern swam away to a reasonable distance, until the poor fellow disappeared. The light from the “Barham” lit up the side of the upturned “Duchess” and Ern could clearly see the faces of frightened men, shouting through tiny portholes, from which they were unable to escape. On the fast – disappearing hull of the “Duchess”, men were clinging on, until the “Barham” pulled alongside, plucking them to safety, only moments before the boilers of the “Duchess” blew and she disappeared. beneath the waves, taking her entombed crew with her.
The “Barham” and her other destroyer escorts, lowered boats and Ern began to shout to them. He realized that he had been in the water for some time now. His chances of survival were diminishing for every minute he was left in that icy waste. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a rowing boat and a coxswain shouting, “Oars!” The men stopped rowing now and the coxswain shouted again for silence.~ Ern summoned up ~’what little strength he had left and called for help. He was aware of a ship’s lifeboat coming alongside and pairs of arms reaching out to pull him into the craft. He felt numb as the cold air hit him and he pleaded with his rescuers to put him back into the water, where it had felt warmer. When he reached the safety of the “Barham’ he was a shaking mass, unable to warm himself through.
He was severely hypothermic and had ‘been lucky to survive. His rescuers had pulled him out of the water at some minutes after 0500 hours, which meant that he had been in the water for an hour — beyond a reasonable amount of survival time for conditions such as those on that December night. As he recovered, Ern learned that he was one of only twenty – three survivors from the ill – fated “Duchess” and, her crew of a hundred and sixty men. His fate had rested on the timing of his watch duty.
He had possibly been the only sailor aboard to see the fateful collision, when the zig and zag of the two vessels had coincided. His heart went out to his mate, Peter Fort, who had been below at the point of impact. He couldn’t possibly have survived and Ern hoped that he had known little of what was happening,’ as he and a hundred and twenty – three others perished in what was officially described at the time, as, “One of those unfortunate accidents of war.” More than fifty years have passed since that accident and my father — Ordinary Seaman Ernest Swinhoe still remembers the events of December 12th. 1939, as if it happened yesterday. He can recall the cold, misery and confusion. The anguish of seeing entombed sailors shouting from tiny portholes, the pain of losing a good friend and the guilt of seeing a shipmate drown before his eyes.
Since that day, however, ships have had escape hatches built into their sides, to prevent the fate that befell many of the “Duchess’” crew. While her demise had not been as ‘newsworthy’ as that of the “Hood”, the “Bismarck”, or — later — the poor old “Barham” herself, lessons had been learnt from this awful night in 1939.
Cpl Isaac Caunce enlisted in 1934 served India pre war and Burma during the war contracting yellow fever and dysentry from which he suffered for the rest of his life.
Pte William Caunce pre war served Palestine in 1937 with the Gordon Highlanders, wounded at Arnhem in 1944..
Able Seaman Robert Caunce initial training on HMS Ganges at Shotly, Suffolk. From 1942 served aboard HMS Bazely on convoy duties North Atlantic Convoys. Occasionally on North and East African routes.
HMS Bazely was a former USS Bazely ( DE 2) United States navy destroyer assigned to our Royal Navy under lend lease. As HMS Bazely she was credited with ‘three kills’
Above HMS Bazely and her crew.
Two of her three kills appropiate to the service time of Robert Caunce
23 Nov 1943 The German submarine U-648 was sunk in the North Atlantic north-east of the Azores, in position 42º40′N, 20º37′W, by depth charges from the British frigates HMS Bazely (Lt.Cdr. J.V. Brock, RCNVR), HMS Blackwood (Cdr. E. Chavasse, RN) and HMS Drury (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Parker, RN). (see map)
25 Nov 1943 The German submarine U-600 was sunk in the North Atlantic north of Punta Delgada, in position 40º31′N, 22º07′W, by depth charges from the British frigates HMS Bazely (Lt.Cdr. J.V. Brock, RCNVR), and HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR). (see map)
Was serving aboard H M S Mauritius in May 44 which played a part in the D Day Landings.
July 45 to Scapa Flow again for North Sea patrols, Mauritius was mined of Norway, in the same incident H M S Birmingham was damaged and suffered three casualties. Both ships returned to Rosyth for repairs and decommison. Later in 1945 he was drafted to Sydney to join HMS King George V before returning to England for demob in 1946.
Served three Sovereigns from 1918 to 1965, born Burscough 10th July 1899 died 14th Sept 1979, aged 80 years, including 40 years in service of monarch & country.
Son of William & Ann Arnold of Liverpool Road, Burscough. had two sisters Florence & Edith Annie, one brother ‘Willie’ William.
Walter taller of the two boys, with his family, father William served also during the Great War, his fathers brother James was killed serving with the Kings Liverpool Regt serving as Pte 51893 James Arnold please refer to Lathom & Burscough War Memorial page.
Enlisted 3rd July 1917 aged 17 yrs 11 months, 8th December posted to Border Regt. 3rd April 1918 posted to 1/5th Border (Pioneer)Bn BEF France. His BEF war was cut short as on the 29th April he was wounded by shellfire, evacuated via 52 Fld Ambulance, 29th Casualty Clearing Station back to 29th Gneral Hospital Rouen by 2nd May. There he remained until well enough to be returned to England 28th May to Guildford Military Hospital, Surrey.
23rd July Posted to 3rd ( Depot) Bn Border. Then on 16th August (as the BEF 10 days prior had turned the German advance at the gates of Amiens) he returned to action with 5 / Border in the Somme area. It was in this period of the war known as the last ‘hundred days’ that Walter Arnold and 5/ Border fulfilled the infantry role that they so desperately sought. It was during this period (August / September) that Walter won his Military Medal.
Walter Arnold standing second right (next to man with broom)
Walter late May 18 to mid July when hospitalsed Guilford or Rouen seated second right (next to moustached man)
In January 1919 the battalion was ‘Army of Occupation’ in Germany being satationeed at Colonge then Bonn, it was whilst satationed here that on 14th May he was notified of his Military Medal (LG 14th May 1919) On 17th October he signed a short service aggreement to prolonge his army service and was duly posted to 1/Border based at Karachi India, his service number changed to 3590007, this extension of army life came to an end with his discharge 31st May 1921.
Medal Index Card fo Walter Arnold 5 / Border Regt WW1. Indicating annotation of Military Medal awarded London Gazzette 14th May 1919 ’4th Army Group Orders’ an Immdediate Award.
Thought for gallantry in action between Late August - September 1918 considered in association with the press cutting above. Note the reference to a ‘German’ Lewis Gun, it was not uncommon for either side to utilise captured weapons, it was well known of the German admiration of ‘Lewis’ as an accurate and no fuss weapon, given that, it is reasonable to assume that Walter Arnold did indeed recapture a British Lewis Gun back from the hands of the enemy.
·On 29th November 1922 he married Mary Jane Dutton of 4 Back Lane ( Now Moss Nook) Burscough Bridge, 26th october following their duaghter Nora Ellen was born. after leaving the army he went into the employ of the Rt Hon Hamilton Smith in Junction Lane, Burscough Bridge before gaining a job at the Royal Army Ordnance Depot & workshops in Burscough. In 1932 he volunteered for the RAOC supplementary reserve extending his engagement in 1936 & 1939 the outcome of this was mobilization on 3rd September 1939 at the Command Ordnance HQ at Childwall, Liverpool.
Sent out with the BEF to France in April 1940 attached to 46th Division. It was with this unit that he served during the German Blitzkreig before being evacuated from Dunkirk after some hairy adventures in getting back to that famous port. He was back in England (one of the lucky ones) in May 1940. In November 1940 he embarked with 1st Army to Egypt landing on the 29th December 1940, serving with 1st Armoured Brigade.
Walter Arnold believed post Dunkirk .
After action in North Africa his unit was moved to Greece then Crete each being subjected to a German offensive against both islands, luckily he managed to evade the enemy, returning to Egypt arriving 15th May 1941. Serving again with 1st Armoured Brigade. From there he went to Italy with REME Workshops Stores Section. In October 44 he returned to England to face discharge as ‘aged classified service group 6′ and discharged. to class Z reserve. Returning to work at the REME Command Workshops Burscough until retirement. In 1965 he was awarded ‘The Imperial Service Medal’ QE11 ‘head’ for his services as a civilian employee in army life.
Walter died 1st September 1979 aged 80 years. The village of Burscough ought to be proud of Walter Arnold as with many of his kind. But here is the story of a remarkable man not many can live for eighty years deduct ‘thirty three’ for youth or retirement then almost all else is ‘soldiering’ or ‘army civilian’ in peace and conflict this man truly served his country.
My gratitude with my sincere thanks to ‘Eric’ for allowing me insight of your ’Uncle Walter. What is the more remarkable is that Eric himself has no less a life of ‘service’ albeit (Two Monarchs) than Walter. That he speaks of his Uncle in such high regard says much more of the man himself, courage, humility pride from a very unassuming man, Eric its a please to know you.
Albert Briscoe of Liverpool Road, Burscough.
National Serviceman 22653479 Pte A Briscoe was ‘called up’ 3rd April 1952. Did his basic training at Blackdown Camp, Hampshire. Posted to Korea sailing H.M.T Empire Fowey sailing on 28th January 1953 destination Kure Transit Camp, Japan. The sail took 7 weeks in convoy. Served in Korea with 10th Infantry Workshops RAOC attd REME, a component 1st Commonwealth Division. During hs tiem he actually travelled to the 38th Parallel almost on the Imjin River.
His return journey were on the HMT’s Empire Orwell & Empire Windrush via Singapore back to England for demob.