Captain. F.J. (Johnnie) Walker
Johnnie Walker, was the Commander of the 2nd. Escort Group, comprising the Sloops "Starling," "Magpie," "Wren," "Wildgoose," and "Woodpecker." Walker in the between the war's Navy was an Anti-Submarine Specialist, but headed for early retirement. He was saved by the onset of the war, but it took 18 months before he gained a sea command. He became the best Anti-Submarine (Hunter/Killer) Commander, leading his Group in the Sloop "Starling".
Captain F. J. Walker is seen standing behind Admiral Sir Percy Noble.
[ click for enlarged photograph ]
In January 1944, Walker's Group destroyed 6 U-Boats between the 31st. of January and the 19th. of February, including capturing the crew of U264, commanded by Hartwig Looks. This Boat was the first German U-Boat to be fitted with the "Schnorcel."
"Woodpecker" had her stern blown off by an Accoustic Torpedo. After 7 days on tow she had to be abandoned, but her crew were all saved.
Walker and his ships returned to Liverpool on the 25th. of February, and the entire port turned out to cheer and welcome this celebrated victory. The First Lord of the Admiralty, A.V. Alexander was present on the Liverpool Dockside to give thanks and pay homage to Captain. Walker, his Officers, and crew members.
Unfortunately, these celebrations were short lived. Within 4.5 months, on the 9th of July, Captain. Johnnie, Walker, CB. D.S.O. with 3 Bars, D.S.C. with 2 Bars, Royal Navy with a record of 2O U-Boat kills, died from a stroke, at the age of only 48.
Admiral Sir Max Horton said at the funeral service held in the Liverpool Cathedral "No dust nor light weight of stone but all the sea of the Western Approaches shall be his tomb."
Captain Walker's body was carried in H. M. S. "Hesperus" and buried at sea in the North Atlantic.
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