Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Enquiries relating to individual men and women who served with HM Light Coastal Forces; help with interpreting service records, or with tracing former comrades
sidseymour
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Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:27 am

I am looking for more details on the sinking of Pilot Vessel No.4. This vessel was in the service of the Admiralty when it was sunk by enemy action. I am taking my information from the Record of Death of a Merchant Seaman: Leonard Gould Shannon.
On the record are some hand written notes which cloud the issue of further investigation on my part and if possible, I would ask for the help of your Veterans to assist me to get to the bottom of this particular mystery.
The vessel was Dutch Registered, in the service of RN, with the only other linking information being a number : RG7572.

I have tried several other organisations including the Merchant Navy in Liverpool. It seems that this was a RN boat. The RN state that it is categorically a Merchant craft.

My agenda is that a 79 year old ex soldier would like to know a little more about his uncle. Can you or your members help? I do have a copy of the Record of Death with the notes if it would be of assistance to the search.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Sid Seymour

Admin
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Admin » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:49 pm

Hello Sid

Thank you for your enquiry to the forum. I have checked in The War at Sea Volume III by S W Roskill, and in British Warship Losses of World War II by Lenton & Colledge, and cannot find any reference to this vessel, or vessel type, if it continued to be known as a Pilot Vessel, and was definitely lost in the incident in which Leonard Gould Shannon was killed. Could you give me the date of death please? and I'll check in the Navy List for any vessel of the type in the months leading up that date. Also have you inquired with Trinity House at all, in case the vessel was one of theirs? Another possible source of information could be Llyod's Shipping Register.

Regards
Admin

sidseymour
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:28 pm

Thank you for the review of my post .

The date of death, to the best of my knowledge is the same as the date the vessel was sunk, 28 November 1940.

Many thanks for anything you can come up with or direct me to.

Sid Seymour

Stephen
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Stephen » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:15 pm

Hi Sid,

I think this must be Stroomloodsvartuig 4, also called Pilot Boat 4, a Dutch/British (apparently) cutter that had the misfortune to be chanced upon by three German destroyers south of Cornwall on the night of the 28th. The German destroyers Lody, Galster and Beitzen sailed from Brest in the early evening and came across two tugs and a lighter, sinking the lighter and one tug. The then moved west and came across Pilot Boat 4 which was sailing from Plymouth to Falmouth and, after firing some 50 to 60 rounds, eventually sank her. Her survivors were picked up by HMS Jackal the next morning.

The action is better known for what happened next. HMS Javelin, Jupiter, Kashmir, Jackal and Jersey intercepted the destroyers and a close engagement followed. Javelin had her entire bow blown off by a German torpedo, which was unfortunate for the captain who had just had HMS Kelly put into drydock after she'd been badly damaged by a torpedo. Still, it doesn't seem to have done Lord Louis Mountbatten's career much harm...

The action is fairly well described in German Destroyers of World War II by M J Whitley, from whom I've sourced the above. Googling HMS Javelin and 29 November should tell you a bit more. Pilot Boat 4 will probably only be a footnote though I'm afraid. All I can say is that Whitley describes her as a cutter, and that the combined tonnage of both her and the lighter was only 424 tons (the Germans claimed 1,000 each!). Admiralty records in The National Archives will have more I'm sure, probably in the Plymouth Command books. At a guess she was a Dutch vessel taken on for war work, either as a British crewed merchant ship, or possibly an emergency picket boat of some sort.

Hope this helps,
Steve

Stephen
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Stephen » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:39 pm

Sorry, forgot to add, Whitley doesn't mention the Dutch name/connection. But a few other sources do. This website for instance names the other vessels involved: http://worldwartwodaily.filminspector.c ... china.html

sidseymour
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:05 am

Stephen,

Many thanks for taking the time and providing the information on Pilot Vessel No4. I was previously dissapointed when I tried the two "formal" routes and was close to moving on to another project. I will , in turn, pass this information to the gentleman who was searching for the information on hei uncle. Thank you again,

Sid

Stephen
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Stephen » Thu Oct 25, 2018 8:57 am

You're very welcome Sid. Best of luck.
Steve

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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Admin » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:28 am

Many thanks for anything you can come up with or direct me to

I checked out the Navy List but there was no mention of the vessel. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists five casualties for that day, one or two of whom may have been a DEMS gunner on S.S. St. Elwyn. In the meantime Stephen appears to have found the precise details, which would seem to indicate the vessel was not Royal Navy, and that Leonard Gould Shannon was likely Merchant Navy, presumably with a history of having been at sea?

Admin

sidseymour
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:38 pm

Many thanks for those that have kindly taken the time to provide information for my search. I have attached the Record of Death. Please note the hand written notes. Does anyone have an opinion on how these could be construed?

Sid Seymour
Attachments
Shannon.jpg

Stephen
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Stephen » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:03 pm

Quite strangely, I cannot find a record for this name in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission anywhere, despite them including Merchant Seaman and even civilians. I notice in the bottom right corner a small inscription in red saying "Not to be included in the R.O.H. pers Mr. Prater." I suspect this must mean Roll of Honour, although I can't really fathom the reason for exclusion - it's extremely unusual. It's also been crossed out in the coding. I'm sure it must be something to do with the vessel being Dutch though - and I notice it doesn't have an official number.

sidseymour
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:18 pm

Thank you Stephen.

My search, when submitted to RN came back within 1 hour saying "no further details availble try MN". MN have said the reverse.

Frustrating as clearly the vesssel was employed by RN as stated at the tom of the Record.

I am hoping a few more eyes get to see this on this forum. It will take greater minds than mine to get to the bottom of this.


Sid Seymour

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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Admin » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:33 pm

There is a useful memoir on the BBC web site for Lieutenant Commander Norman Yates which explains the Examination Service.
The function of the Examination Service is to board all merchant ships and trawlers entering the river, scrutinize their papers, if needs be search the ship for evidence of intent to help the enemy.
It would appear from the article that the pilot may have been seconded into the Royal Navy for the purpose of inspection, but the vessels used would not have been Royal Navy as such. I wonder if the reason for exclusion from the Roll of Honour is that he was not British or Commonwealth?

Shannon is an Irish surname, so he may have been born in the Republic, and whereas there are Irish nationals who died serving in Coastal Forces recorded in the CWGC, the fact he was not officially RN may have made a difference. The reference on the card to Mr Prater, may have been a casualty from the same incident who was also excluded with the reason given. There is a record of a Leonard G Shannon in the 1939 Register showing him living in Poole, Dorset.

sidseymour
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby sidseymour » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:35 am

L G Shannon was born in Portland and moved to Poole whereupon he join the MN. Spot on sir!

Admin
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Admin » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:40 pm

I wonder if the comment on the card which I believe reads Unable to verify whether S/S or M/N means Senior Service (Royal Navy) or Merchant Navy, and that it was an unresolved issue of his status which led to his being withheld from the roll, which was never subsequently resolved by anyone?

There’s also a bit of a mystery over exact number of casualties from the incident, as it would seem likely there would have been a Royal Naval contingent onboard, Lieutenant, Skipper, Signallers, and possibly a small boarding party, but there is only AB Walter William Sage (HMS President III - a shore establishment) who might have been involved. All other R.N. casualties on the day are accounted for with specific ships.

Stephen
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Re: Pilot Vessel No.4 - sunk 28/11/1940

Postby Stephen » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:25 pm

Good research! My only observation is that my reading of the annotation in red is that it says "unable to verify whether S/S or M/V", ie. steam ship or motor vessel.


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