Harry Bernard Fidling, a gunner, served in Merchant Ships manning their armament, and was killed on the 15th. of October 1942
February 07, 2009
Subject: Long lost Uncle
Sir, I have just been searching for any records about my Uncle. H. B. Fidling.
My Father knows he served on HMS Birmingham & was later transferred to HMS President 3rd.
We were always under the impression that he was killed at sea, but with my web searches thus far can’t find any evidence of this.
I have a certificate showing he was in China in June ’39 but after that have no history of him at all.
Any information you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Stuart & Peter Fidling email@example.com
Now HMS President 111, was a Naval shore establishment near London that carried the pay records of Sailors who served in Defencively Equipped Merchant Ships ( DEMS ). This means your Uncle trained as a gunner, and served in Merchant Ships manning their armament, and was killed on the 15th. of October 1942.
Many thanks for your swift & enlightening reply.
My father (aged 78) & myself are deeply in your debt.
Can I be cheeky & quiz you a little more?
1. What ship was he killed on?
2. What is/was ‘Defencively?
3. Is there a list anywhere of all the ships he served on?
Many, many thanks, my father is quite eager to settle his mind about his brother, he was beginning to query if he had gone AWOL or died of some illness.
DEMS ships were Merchant Ships equipped with usually a stern gun and some light Anti Aircraft guns.
The DEMS Gunners were either Royal Navy, Royal Marines, or members of the Army trained to man those guns in MS, and thus found in whatever ever Merchant ship they were drafted to.
Unfortunately the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site although carrying some 1.7 million records do not show in which ship a specific Sailor died.
Your Uncle's Naval records would show all the different ships in which he served, but you will need to pursue them separately.
Can you visit the PRO to seek those out at Kew?
Glad to be of of some little help. Good luck.