Grandfather was a crew member in HMS Veteran

(see this letter: "Father was in Convoy RB1")


I have come across your web-site while doing some research about my grandfather. I am pleased to see that you managed to evade the u-boats. You have a very interesting site.  My grandfather was a crew member on HMS Veteran, his name was William Edwards. I wondered if you had any other details about this ship - or can suggest where I might look. We only have one photograph of my grandfather taken at the beginning of the war and I know very little about what happened. My father was only about 5 at the time and information is very sketchy.

When you get a chance, I would love to hear any information which you might have.

Many thanks
Nuala  Edwards-Donaldson

Thank you for your message.
I will send you an E-Mail I had earlier from Jackie Marsh whose Dad was in Convoy RB1, it talks about a book written that covers that convoy, and a photo of HMS Veteran that I sent to her at that time.

The ship had been laid down on the 30th. of August 1918, launched on the 26th. of August in 1919, and commissioned on the 13th. of November of that year. Her builders were John Brown Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd on the Clyde Scotland.
The ship became a Modified W Class which included these ships, Whitshed, Wild Swan, Witherington, Wivern, and Wolverine.
She was some 1,120 tons with a speed of 35 knots and a complement of 125 crew.
Her armament 3 by 4.7 inch guns, one 3 inch and 2 by 2 pounder Anti Aircraft guns, and 3 by 21 inch torped tubes.
Under the command of Lieutenant Commander T.H. Garwood R.N. she was escorting convoy RB 1. South of Iceland on the 26th. of September in 1942, the convoy was attacked by 3 wolf packs made up of 17 U-Boats, and whilst Veteran was rescueing survivors from the torpedoed US passenger ship Boston, and the freighter Yorktown, she herself was torpedoed by U-Boat U-404, and sank without any survivors.

On the 28th, of July 1943, U-404 was sunk in the Bay of Biscay by American Liberator Bombers using Depth Charges, and all her crew of 51 died.

Earlier, on the 11th. of September 1942, Veteran, with the help of British destroyer HMS Leamington, had sunk the German U-Boat U-207, South East of Greenland.

And on the 3rd. of July 1942 she had accounted for another U-Boat, U-215, in concert with the British trawler Le Tigre.

I am sorry if your Grandfather did not survive his service in HMS Veteran.
Here is a posting concerning Veteran.
Kindest Regards, 
Mac. Gregory.

Thank-you so much for this information. Last Sunday, my 5yr old son, Niall, attended a remembrance service/parade in our village with the Beaver-Cubs group that he has just joined. He asked me what happened to his great-grandad and I only knew that the ship never came back. He said "Look on the net".
I must get a copy of that book. A small coincidence - I was born in Glasgow on 26th August.
Take care and once again many thanks.
Nuala (and Niall)

Thank-you for the newspaper cutting. From your previous information I mailed Stewart Towsend. He has also been able to give me additional details, which you can see from this email thread - im hoping I might eventually get a photograph of my grandad. In any case, what I have found out so far is very interesting and I am hugely impressed by what everyone did.
Thanks again
Nuala (and Niall) X

Hi, Nuala
Otto's survival was simply due to the fact that he changed roles after RB.1 and was no longer commanding U-404 when she was sunk. Incidentally, U-404 was sunk by a combination of RAF Coastal Command and USAAF Maritime Patrol aircraft.
Your grandfather, William Frederick John Edwards, was Petty Officer Stoker on Veteran during her last voyage. So he was in the ship's boiler room, below decks. I don't have his age, but he does have an official commemoration on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website - have you seen it yet?
Would you like a zipped copy of my Family History Research document pending your receipt of the Lawton book? It contains a pre-war photo of the ship underway.
My connection with Veteran is through my wife. An uncle of her's - James Edward Cross - was an Able Seaman on board. He too left a son - James Cross Jnr. - whom he never saw.

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