James Heaps, a survivor of HMS Mourne on the 15th of June 1944

Just found your website !! Would just like to say that my father James Heaps was also a survivor of HMS Mourne on the 15th of June 1944.

I was 11 years old when the Mourne was hit by the accoustic torpedo from Captain Dankleff, Uboat 767 and you can imagine the cheers that went up in our house of 6 kids when we heard that dad was among the few survivors. Now contrary to the public image, my dad always stated that it was an American destroyer that picked them up 10 miles south of the "Lizard" off Cornwall and treated them with the utmost respect, cleaning off of all the oil (they had been in the sea for 6 hours)...

The British ships had scattered, and it came to a lonely US Destroyer to pick up the bits and pieces that was left of the Mourne. My Father was emphatic about this. He also said that it was the first time he had tasted American "toasted" tobacco which were "Lucky Strike" and said that he was the oldest member of "Mourne" at age 44.

Just thought I would touch base with you Mac, lovely website, I also joined the Navy in 1951 at 18,  my ships being "Illustrious" "Eagle" and "Bulwark"     Happy times.

Keep smiling
Terry Heaps

Great to hear from you, although I have not found anything about a US destroyer picking up Mourne survivors, your Father would know who rescued him.

Having been sunk myself from the 8 inch cruiser HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island on August 9 1942, you never forget what ship came along to collect you, in my case the US destroyer BLUE.

Mourne was unlucky to collect an accoustic torpedo from U 767, she was her only victim, and its always good to learn from a family member that his Father survived.

Thank you for your nice comment about AHOY, it is all worth the effort when I get mail from someone such as your good self. In Atlanta Georgia, my web master and friend Terry Kearns puts all my research and scribblings together to put up our site, and without his able help and dedication, AHOY would not exist.

Again  thanks for writing to me, have a lovely Christmas over there in UK.

Best regards,


Here is a little more for you about HMS Mourne, with a picture:


The location of the wreck of HMS Mourne is recorded as 49.35N, 05.30W - Grid BF 2469.

In the above text is a note that the survivors were were picked up by Aylmer. Some details about her are printed here, and I see that this ship was originally named as USS Harmon, but her delivery was diverted to the Royal Navy prior to her launch, and the ship finished up named Aylmer, this may explain why you Dad thought a US ship rescued him.

HMS Aylmer was a Buckley class Captain class frigate during World War II. Named after Matthew Aylmer, commander of HMS Royal Katherine at the Battle of Barfleur in 1692 during the War of the Grand Alliance.

Originally destined for the US Navy HMS Aylmer was provisionally given the name USS Harmon (later this name was reassigned to DE 678) however the delivery was diverted to the Royal Navy before the launch. Commanding Officers were Lt Cdr A.D.P.Campbell RN, Cdr B.W.Taylor RN (Senior Officer 5th Escort Group) August 30, 1944 and Lt Cdr W.L.Smith RNR February 1945.


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