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Remembered Today:

Drifter HMS Hollydale


Victor
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I am looking for any information about the service and fortunes of this vessel, which my wife’s grandfather served on during the war. I understand that it is a longshot request, but I would love to find a photo. My wife’s GF, Sir Robert Urquhart, joined the British Foreign Service after the war and had a long distinguished career.

 

This is what we have found...


“HOLLYDALE, hired drifter, Adty No 1873. Built 1914, 99grt, Lowestoft-reg LT.437. Armament: 1-6pdr AA. In service 9.15-1920 as net vessel. Served as PECHEUR in WW2.”

 

 

 

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Do you know if he was an officer? Any chance your GF was T/Lt Robert Urquart RNVR?

See S/Lt course photo taken at RNC Greenwich.

9A2016D8-FFD3-494B-992D-5013726C12E9.jpeg

Edited by KizmeRD
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HOLLYDALE was taken up by the Admiralty on 14 September 1915, she was based on HMS HALCYON at Lowestoft, for a fortnight of fitting-out, before moving down to Falmouth to be based on HMS DREEL CASTLE from 1 October 1915. In late 1916 she was moved out to the Aegean, based on HMS OSIRIS II at Mudros harbour, Lemnos, from 28 November 1916. 11 months later she was moved to the Adriatic drifter force, based on the battleship (depot ship) HMS QUEEN at Taranto from 4 November 1917. As the war drew to a close, HOLLYDALE transferred to basing on the battleship (depot ship) HMS CAESAR at Malta and Brindisi from 1 October 1918. She probably moved, with CAESAR, to Constantinople in early December 1918. She was still at Constantinople with CAESAR on 1 March 1919 but it is not known when she returned to UK.

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Try the Port of Lowestoft Research Society for an image - they do have an extensive collection of images and it's probably your best bet.

 

Dave W

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1 hour ago, horatio2 said:

HOLLYDALE was taken up by the Admiralty on 14 September 1915, she was based on HMS HALCYON at Lowestoft, for a fortnight of fitting-out, before moving down to Falmouth to be based on HMS DREEL CASTLE from 1 October 1915. In late 1916 she was moved out to the Aegean, based on HMS OSIRIS II at Mudros harbour, Lemnos, from 28 November 1916. 11 months later she was moved to the Adriatic drifter force, based on the battleship (depot ship) HMS QUEEN at Taranto from 4 November 1917. As the war drew to a close, HOLLYDALE transferred to basing on the battleship (depot ship) HMS CAESAR at Malta and Brindisi from 1 October 1918. She probably moved, with CAESAR, to Constantinople in early December 1918. She was still at Constantinople with CAESAR on 1 March 1919 but it is not known when she returned to UK.

Thank you very much for this, horatio2. There are stories in my wife’s family of how awestruck her gf was at his first sighting of Constantinople. 

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1 hour ago, KizmeRD said:

Do you know if he was an officer? Any chance your GF was T/Lt Robert Urquart RNVR?

See S/Lt course photo taken at RNC Greenwich.

9A2016D8-FFD3-494B-992D-5013726C12E9.jpeg

Thank you so much, KimzeRD. This is very likely him. My reading of the legend with names would put him fourth man in from the left in the second row from the back. I will have to verify with my wife and her family members, who will be better at identifying him. (They will be very delighted to see this!) Do you happen to have a date/year for the course? 

 

I know what a Lt. is of course,  but may I ask you what a T/Lt and S/Lt were?  It might help you to know that Robert Urquhart was a wireless operator.

 

Victor 
 

 

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59 minutes ago, wightspirit said:

Try the Port of Lowestoft Research Society for an image - they do have an extensive collection of images and it's probably your best bet.

 

Dave W

Thanks very much, wightspirit. I googled the PLRS and found a promising name with contact.
Victor 

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2 hours ago, Victor said:

Thank you so much, KimzeRD. This is very likely him. My reading of the legend with names would put him fourth man in from the left in the second row from the back. I will have to verify with my wife and her family members, who will be better at identifying him. (They will be very delighted to see this!) Do you happen to have a date/year for the course? 

 

I know what a Lt. is of course,  but may I ask you what a T/Lt and S/Lt were?  It might help you to know that Robert Urquhart was a wireless operator.

 

Victor 
 

 

A minor update.... I have found a reference to a chap from Auckland named Robert Urquhart who was RNVR and was promoted to Temporary Lt in Sept 1917. This is just to point out that the man in the Greenwich course photo might not be our Robert Urquhart. I will consult with my wife’s family for further details about him. Will post findings. It is very interesting. 
 

Victor

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My apologies, but I can now confirm that my original suggestion was incorrect. The chap in the photo is a New Zealander who served in HMML32 (Auxiliary Patrol, Port Said). He is not the same chap who was a wireless operator on the drifter Holydale in WW1.

MB

Edited by KizmeRD
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The correct man is AB Robert William Urquhart, Clyde Division RNVR Z/8132, born 1896. According to his service record (downloadable from TNA) he was attached to Caesar (Hollydale) October 1918 to February 1919.

MB

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9 hours ago, Victor said:

 It might help you to know that Robert Urquhart was a wireless operator.

KizmeRD has idnetified the correct rating, RNVR record here  -  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7677850  -  but, as he points out, he was an Able Seaman not a Telegraphist or Signalman. He earned Victory and British War Medals, which he claimed post-war.

A bit hard to read but it looks as though he served in the hired yacht HMS ROSABELLE, based on HMS ZARIA at Orkney.Scapa Flow in late 1916. He was ship's company of the depot ship HMS BRILLIANT at Shetland Feb 1917 to Feb 1918, after which he was drafted out to the Adriatic to the ship's company of HMS QUEEN. He appears not to have joined HOLLYDALE until her attachment to HMS CAESAR on 1 Oct 1918, remaining with her until his draft back to UK in mid-Feb 1919.

Edited by horatio2
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After his wartime service in the navy, he returned briefly to Aberdeen University in order to finish off his degree. He also learnt Arabic and Turkish and his first posting in the diplomatic service was to Smyrna (he was there during the Great Fire that destroyed the city in 1922).

MB

 

Intriguingly, according to the Great War Roll of Service published by Aberdeen University, he was a telegraphist! (Only his service record does not reflect this).

 

URQUHART ROBERT WILLIAM, M.A.,
s. of Robert U. ; b. Forres, 14 Aug. 1896. M.A., 1920. Ordinary Seaman, R.N.V.R., 17 Feb. 1 9 16. Attd. Wireless School, Crystal Palace, July-Oct. 19 16. Served — North, Adriatic, Aegean. Black, Seas, Nov. 1916-Feb. 1919. Final rank. Telegraphist.

 

Edited by KizmeRD
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12 hours ago, KizmeRD said:

My apologies, but I can now confirm that my original suggestion was incorrect. The chap in the photo is a New Zealander who served in HMML32 (Auxiliary Patrol, Port Said). He is not the same chap who was a wireless operator on the drifter Holydale in WW1.

MB

Please don’t apologize, KizmeRD. You are very kind to provide all of these details, including the latest clarifications from his Service Record and I am very grateful. 
 

Picking up on your point about our Robert Urquhart in Smyrna, he was a very young man and left in charge when the more senior diplomats evacuated. He negotiated personally with Ataturk to secure the safety of British citizens and cemeteries. OBE 1923, Knighted 1950, Later, British Consul Shanghai, Ambassador to Venezuela  


Victor

(PS. “KizmeRD”...hahaha just got it).

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9 hours ago, horatio2 said:

KizmeRD has idnetified the correct rating, RNVR record here  -  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7677850  -  but, as he points out, he was an Able Seaman not a Telegraphist or Signalman. He earned Victory and British War Medals, which he claimed post-war.

A bit hard to read but it looks as though he served in the hired yacht HMS ROSABELLE, based on HMS ZARIA at Orkney.Scapa Flow in late 1916. He was ship's company of the depot ship HMS BRILLIANT at Shetland Feb 1917 to Feb 1918, after which he was drafted out to the Adriatic to the ship's company of HMS QUEEN. He appears not to have joined HOLLYDALE until her attachment to HMS CAESAR on 1 Oct 1918, remaining with her until his draft back to UK in mid-Feb 1919.

Thanks again, horatio2... I am not sure how much of this the family knows. And thanks for citing and linking the RNVR record...I will have a look ASAP.

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2 hours ago, Victor said:

 

Picking up on your point about our Robert Urquhart in Smyrna, he was a very young man and left in charge when the more senior diplomats evacuated. He negotiated personally with Ataturk to secure the safety of British citizens and cemeteries. OBE 1923, Knighted 1950, Later, British Consul Shanghai, Ambassador to Venezuela  

 

I’ve been reading up on the Greeko-Turkish War today, including several personal diary accounts from people evacuated from Smyrna thanks to the actions of your wife’s GF. There are some quite moving accounts of him accompanying frightened and distressed people down to the quay and onto the waiting ships. - Quite a step up from deck hand on an Admiralty drifter in 1919 to Deputy Consul only two years later (with him being the senior British Diplomat still in situ in Smyrna during a most momentous time in the history of the Near-East).

 

How sure are you about him being a wireless operator? The dates on his service record (July-Oct 1916) tally with the start of his wartime RNVR service. He would initially have been required to attend a new entry training course at Crystal Palace (Victory IV) but I’m not sure about whether there would have been sufficient time to complete a follow-on telegraphist’s qualifying course at the Signal School (which was co-located at Crystal Palace). In any case his service docs clearly say AB (not Telegraphist), so if he did do wireless operator training there, then I can only presume that he must have failed the course. 
 

22 hours ago, horatio2 said:

As the war drew to a close, HOLLYDALE transferred to basing on the battleship (depot ship) HMS CAESAR at Malta and Brindisi from 1 October 1918. She probably moved, with CAESAR, to Constantinople in early December 1918. She was still at Constantinople with CAESAR on 1 March 1919 but it is not known when she returned to UK.


HMS Caesar sailed from Malta for Brindisi on 19th November 1918 and thence via Mudros to Constantinople, arriving 2nd December 1918 (Caesar remained there for ten months, acting as depot ship during the period of occupation). There is evidence that the drifter Hollydale was also one of the large fleet of allied warships that got sent to Constantinople post-Armistice and looks like she continued in her support role for Caesar.  AB Urquhart returned to the UK in February 1919 - not sure yet whether this was as a crew member aboard Hollydale, or whether he travelled back by some other means.

 

MB

Edited by KizmeRD
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21 hours ago, KizmeRD said:

I’ve been reading up on the Greeko-Turkish War today, including several personal diary accounts from people evacuated from Smyrna thanks to the actions of your wife’s GF. There are some quite moving accounts of him accompanying frightened and distressed people down to the quay and onto the waiting ships. - Quite a step up from deck hand on an Admiralty drifter in 1919 to Deputy Consul only two years later (with him being the senior British Diplomat still in situ in Smyrna during a most momentous time in the history of the Near-East).

 

How sure are you about him being a wireless operator? The dates on his service record (July-Oct 1916) tally with the start of his wartime RNVR service. He would initially have been required to attend a new entry training course at Crystal Palace (Victory IV) but I’m not sure about whether there would have been sufficient time to complete a follow-on telegraphist’s qualifying course at the Signal School (which was co-located at Crystal Palace). In any case his service docs clearly say AB (not Telegraphist), so if he did do wireless operator training there, then I can only presume that he must have failed the course. 
 


HMS Caesar sailed from Malta for Brindisi on 19th November 1918 and thence via Mudros to Constantinople, arriving 2nd December 1918 (Caesar remained there for ten months, acting as depot ship during the period of occupation). There is evidence that the drifter Hollydale was also one of the large fleet of allied warships that got sent to Constantinople post-Armistice and looks like she continued in her support role for Caesar.  AB Urquhart returned to the UK in February 1919 - not sure yet whether this was as a crew member aboard Hollydale, or whether he travelled back by some other means.

 

MB

Thank you, KizmeRD. I will try to find out more about the Telegraphist training. As you say, the reference at Aberdeen says he did training at Crystal Palace from July to October. What was the normal duration of the training?
 

I note also that it says “Attd.” wireless school. I wonder if this is a common way of describing it? Would it say “completed” if the candidate had done so? I realize that it is not an annotation in the official service record. With respect to your presumption that he might have failed the course, that would be at odds with everything I know about him. In other words, is it possible that his training was interrupted? I agree that the absence of a reference in the service record is puzzling. As is the statement on the Aberdeen reference that his final rank was Telegraphist...
 

I also wonder whether, given the size of a drifter and the small crew, the role of wireless operator could have fallen to someone who could do it competently, who had received but not completed training?


Victor 

 

PS. I received your latest note this morning with the British Pathe newsreel footage of the burning of Smyrna. Thank you for sharing it.  It is amazing. A snapshot of a terrible moment in time.

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I have re-read Urquhart’s service doc and in amongst the illegible scrawl and ink blots,  I can now decipher the addition of the letters ‘OT’ added to the (ditto) AB under the rating column, once he joins his first ship. This abbreviation normally signifies ‘Ordinary Telegraphist’, so it would seem to suggest that there may indeed an element of truth in the original supposition that he was a wireless operator. 

 

I have in fact double checked this against certain other RNVR ratings of the period and I’ve seen the similar OS rate designations being used on their service sheets together with OT (which was an eye opener to me).  
Question remains, why ‘AB’ appears to be recorded on Urquharts service sheet?


It appears that those recruits lucky enough to be selected for sea service as communications ratings joined-up as Ordinary Seamen, then on completion of training, the ones who passed the course became Ord.Telegraphists or  Ord. Signalmen, and if they didn’t then they back-classed to DAMS seaman gunners.


Unfortunately Barrie Kent’s otherwise excellent book ‘Signals’ is somewhat RN/fleet focussed and does not go into sufficient detail with regards to wireless operator training given to temporary WW1 RNVR ratings, and neither does he provide clear insight into the short-course communications training undertaken at Victory VI (Crystal Palace).

 

MB
 

Edited by KizmeRD
Corrected some of the original text.
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Hi Michael. 


Fascinating! You are incredibly generous with your time and knowledge. Thank you for taking such an interest in Robert Urquhart. I’m sure that he would be grateful for your research vindicating him on his claims re training.  He had been studying journalism at Aberdeen when he left for the RNVN. My wife he said that he was proud of this, and of his training and experience in the navy, including telegraphy... it was probably an unusual education and skill set for the time, but it seems to have served him very well in his diplomatic work.

 

Victor  
 

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Some photographs from my grandfather's album - he was a PO Gunner at the time, but I can't make out which ship (will add if I find out).

[edit: should be SIKH according to his service record. Thanks to @RNCVR for deciphering!]

 

 

20151201_214608.jpg

20151201_214623.jpg

20151201_214647.jpg

20151201_214711 - Copy.jpg

Edited by seaJane
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  • 1 year later...
On 02/02/2021 at 18:05, Victor said:

Please don’t apologize, KizmeRD. You are very kind to provide all of these details, including the latest clarifications from his Service Record and I am very grateful. 
 

Picking up on your point about our Robert Urquhart in Smyrna, he was a very young man and left in charge when the more senior diplomats evacuated. He negotiated personally with Ataturk to secure the safety of British citizens and cemeteries. OBE 1923, Knighted 1950, Later, British Consul Shanghai, Ambassador to Venezuela  


Victor

(PS. “KizmeRD”...hahaha just got it).

Hello Victor, I have been researching and writing about that time in Smyrna, including Robert Urquhart's position as Vice Consul left in charge. His reports which were sent to Constantinople (now held at The National Archives) are very thorough and tell an extraordinary story - you have probably seen these.

My grandfather was Rev Charles Dobson (1886-1930) Anglican chaplain at Smyrna, who managed to get away with his family on The Bavarian to Malta on 14th September. He had only been in Smyrna since April 1922, but would have encountered Robert Urquhart in that time - probably a great deal as the Church and the Consulate worked hand in glove. CD wrote independent reports about the fire.

I expect you know that the National Portrait Gallery has a good photograph of RWU.

I've been wondering / speculating as to whether he might have been a descendant of David Urquhart (1805-1877) ?

Joanna Hyslop

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On 05/02/2021 at 17:28, seaJane said:

Some photographs from my grandfather's album - he was a PO Gunner at the time, but I can't make out which ship (will add if I find out).

[edit: should be SIKH according to his service record. Thanks to @RNCVR for deciphering!]

 

 

20151201_214608.jpg

20151201_214623.jpg

20151201_214647.jpg

20151201_214711 - Copy.jpg

Extraordinary photographs, SeaJane. My grandfather, Rev Charles Dobson, was in Smyrna - Anglican chaplain. He witnessed the fire and wrote reports about it. 

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4 minutes ago, JoMH said:

Extraordinary photographs, SeaJane

Aren't they!

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I do hope that @Victor will see the renewed interest in his wife’s GF - as a very junior diplomat, Robert Urquart should never have found himself alone as sole diplomatic representative of His Britannic Majesty’s Government in Smyrna at such a highly critical time (only two years earlier he’d been a humble RNVR wireless operator attached to a drifter with the occupying forces in Constantinople). As things turned out, he handled matters with immense fortitude and initiative, and although many unfortunate souls died during the fire and street massacres, but there’s also a sizeable number who owe their lives to his actions (in assisting their escape and evacuation).
Late in life, he wrote a personal memoir, which is in the hands of the family (I was fortunate to read a draft copy). It contains a lot of interesting information relating to the Great Fire of Smyrna, including a lively account of a face-to-face confrontation with Mustafa Kemal.

MB

Edited by KizmeRD
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22 hours ago, KizmeRD said:

I do hope that @Victor will see the renewed interest in his wife’s GF - as a very junior diplomat, Robert Urquart should never have found himself alone as sole diplomatic representative of His Britannic Majesty’s Government in Smyrna at such a highly critical time (only two years earlier he’d been a humble RNVR wireless operator attached to a drifter with the occupying forces in Constantinople). As things turned out, he handled matters with immense fortitude and initiative, and although many unfortunate souls died during the fire and street massacres, but there’s also a sizeable number who owe their lives to his actions (in assisting their escape and evacuation).
Late in life, he wrote a personal memoir, which is in the hands of the family (I was fortunate to read a draft copy). It contains a lot of interesting information relating to the Great Fire of Smyrna, including a lively account of a face-to-face confrontation with Mustafa Kemal.

MB

Indeed, I do hope that @Victor will come back to his thread. I would love to hear more about his wife's grandfather's memories of Smyrna. JH

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On 24/01/2023 at 12:49, JoMH said:

Hello Victor, I have been researching and writing about that time in Smyrna, including Robert Urquhart's position as Vice Consul left in charge. His reports which were sent to Constantinople (now held at The National Archives) are very thorough and tell an extraordinary story - you have probably seen these.

My grandfather was Rev Charles Dobson (1886-1930) Anglican chaplain at Smyrna, who managed to get away with his family on The Bavarian to Malta on 14th September. He had only been in Smyrna since April 1922, but would have encountered Robert Urquhart in that time - probably a great deal as the Church and the Consulate worked hand in glove. CD wrote independent reports about the fire.

I expect you know that the National Portrait Gallery has a good photograph of RWU.

I've been wondering / speculating as to whether he might have been a descendant of David Urquhart (1805-1877) ?

Joanna Hyslop

Hello Joanna, 

Thank you for you note, and for your interest in my wife’s gf, Robert W Urquhart. 

1. No, I regret that we have not yet seen the official reports that he submitted on the events in Smyrna, now in the custody of the UK National Archives. We would be very interested in gaining access to these and we would appreciate any guidance that you (or anyone else!) could share on how we might get access, bearing in mind that we are in Canada.

2. I googled your grandfather by name and found some of your work and publications related to his personal accounts of the horrific events in Smyrna in 1922.  I have just skimmed through them for now - I will read them again more carefully and share them with my wife’s family members. Your GF was a brave and very interesting man. I was glad that one account included a photograph of him; I was able to compare it to a contemporary group photo that includes Robert W Urquhart and I am certain that he was not in it. 

3. We are aware of the portrait of Robert W Urquhart in the National Portrait Gallery. Thank you for mentioning it.  

4. I did a quick search of our family history information and Ancestry and did not find a link to David Urquhart (1805-1877). There may be a connection, but it’s not an obvious one. 

Victor


 

 

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