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Zeebrugge Raid 1918


domwalsh
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Dom

Should have a photo of Richard Neate this weekend. Will post here asap.

Dave

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Hi Wendy,

I concur that the FAA Museum is your best bet on further material, although the chances of finding out what his role was on the raid - whether as ship's crew or storming party - are remote. There is a casualty book at the National Archives that has correspondence/telegrams etc on identification of bodies, and if I get there some time soon I will have a look for you. His service record would have shown any awards if he had got any, and as he is not listed anywhere else we can assume with certainty that he did not get anything, I'm afraid. The only medals he would have received would have been the standard three campaign medals, the 14-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal plus a Memorial Plaque that was given to next of kin of those who died on war service. The handwriting is in the same hand mainly as the service ledgers were filled in from time to time only from other records.

I have looked up AB Yeadon but all I can confirm is that he was initially listed as missing before being confirmed as having died.

I'm not sure what NP ref exactly means, but it presumably refers to the original corresponance or file containing notification of his death. I am not aware of any NP files being retained anywhere, but I guess it may refer to the material in the Zeebrugge casualties book. I'm afraid the scope of what you will be able to find on your forebear beyond what you have is pretty limited. But do email the lady who runs the archives at the FAA as she is generally very helpful and in return for a small fee would send copies of anything she finds. The other option is to do a Google search to search the local newspapers for the time of his death as they often carried details of death etc of their local heroes. There may be a local library for Hull that has the newspapers of the time on file.

Best regards,

Dom

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your suggestion about the FAA Museum re: my great uncle John Yeadon. I emailed them yesterday and have already had a response from the Asst. Curator. She thinks they may have something and will do a search.

The Asst. Curator also suggested getting in touch with the Royal Naval Musem for help in discovering the movements of the ships he served on and understanding his record.

Wendy

Toronto

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Hi Wendy,

I spent today researching at the Public Records Office in relation to my book on the Zeebrugge and Ostend raids. I was looking through the casaulty records and by chance I found a reference to your great uncle, Able Seaman John Yeadon (Service Number J.30413) who was killed during the operation on 23rd April 1918.

The documents are in file ADM 116/1656. It includes a testimony from Able Seaman Douglas Joseph Grey (Service Record SS 7028 (dated 15th July 1918) He wrote of Yeadon’s fate: ‘I saw Yeadon just before we landed from the Vindictive, but I never saw him on the Mole and can give no information as to his….. fate.’

There is also a letter written by the Accountant General of the Navy to his mother Mrs Teresa Yeadon (who was living in Hull) in an effort to provide information about her son. the letter was dated 15th August 1918 and up until that time his poor mother had no definite confirmation as to her sons fate. She received this letter four and half months after the raid. The letter states that 'a report has been received from another member of the crew of HMS Renown who took part in the action, to the effect that he is almost certain that he saw your son lying on the midship ramp of HMS Vindictive with a shrapnel wound through his head. In these circumstances, the Admiralty is regretfully constrained to presume that your son was killed in action on the 23rd April last.'

I know that Douglas Grey and Henry Cassell were shipmates of John Yeadon while serving aboard HMS Renown prior to the raid. Both Grey and Cassell belonged to the Royal Naval Storming Party who were orded to assault Zeebrugge Mole. It appears that your great uncle was killed just before he was about to land on the Mole.

I have a scanned copy the letter from the Accountant General of the Navy to Mrs Teresa Yeadon. Please contact me on the following email address Paulkendall291@aol.com if you would like me to send it to you via email.

It is a great shame that you do not have a photo of your great uncle, otherwise I would have included him in my book.

Regards

Paul Kendall

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Paul,

Do you take the 'midship ramp' to mean the false deck, or one of the landing brows - of which initially only two (eventually four) were successfully deployed? If the latter, they were little more than 2 feet wide and perched at a steep angle. A man shot through the head would surely have fallen back on to the deck or his body would have been retrieved in order to make the brow passable again. Great efforts were made to recover not only the wounded, but also the dead - it is therefore rather surprising that John Yeadon's body was not accounted for. Do you perhaps have a figure for the number of men who were killed before they got onto the Mole, and whose bodies were never found or were not identified? According to CWGC, there are 10 'unknown' WW1 graves in St James's cemetery in Dover, but I don't know how many (if any) of them are in the Zeebrugge plot.

Captain Henry Halahan (my avatar), commanding the naval storming party, was one of those killed on the run-in to the Mole. His body was returned to Dover aboard Vindictive and, exceptionally, buried at sea off the South Goodwins on 25 April.

Mick

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Hi Mick,

Read your post today. I too find the whole scenario rather interesting. The CWGC Casualty Detail for John Yeadon states Grave/Memorial Reference-PW 19A. St James Cemetery Dover. I am assuming that P.W. means Panel West ?? and is a memorial plaque not a grave.

Wendy

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Hi Mick & Wendy

The 'midship ramp' may mean the ramp leading to the false deck or it could be interpreted as one of the brows onto the Mole. Another hypothesis could be that AB John Yeadon was shot as he was about to land on the Mole and that he was left on the midship ramp en route to dressing rooms on the lower decks aboard Vindictive.

Regarding the letter from the Accountant General from the Royal Navy to Teresa Yeadon. Up to July 1918 the family were seeking the fate John Yeadon, it appears he was missing and therefore he was unaccounted. I would assume that there was no identifiable body. I have just looked at my photo files on St. James's Cemetery, Dover and I do have a photo of AB John Yeadon's grave. I re-visited the cemetery in April 2006 and took pictures of all the graves. AB John Yeadon shares a grave with Private William Willavise PLY 17462 from No.11 Platoon. No.11 Platoon was decimated by German shellfire just before they assaulted the Mole and may have died in similar circumstances to John Yeadon.

So John Yeadon is not commemorated on a wall to the missing, but actually rests in a marked grave in St. James's Cemetery in Dover. His epitaph reads 'HE SLEEPS WITH BRITISH HEROES IN THE WATCHFUL CARE OF GOD.' I have actually used this epitaph to open my chapter on men who buried at St, James's Cemetery, it is very appropriate.

Wendy, I have electronic copies of document relating to Yeadon from PRO and a photo of his grave. If you contact me at Paulkendall291@aol.com I can send them to you electronically.

Kind regards

Paul

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My great-uncle was reported missing on the first day of the March Offensive and later officially 'presumed' kia on the strength of a statement by another man, who knew him, that he had seen him dead. His body was never found, and my great-grandparents continued to hope that he might still be alive - perhaps unrecognised in a German hospital. My great-grandfather questioned other men from his unit when they returned home, and wrote repeatedly to the regimental depot, the last time as late as 1920, asking if any news had been received.

So I can understand Mrs Yeadon's reluctance to accept that her son was dead, despite the fact that he has a named grave. Another recent thread explained that 'double' graves usually occur where the identity of both occupants (separate burials side by side) is known, but it was not possible to determine which of them was which. If there are no other 'double' graves or 'unknowns' in the Zeebrugge plot, these two were perhaps identified by a process of elimination. The CWGC may have inherited records that could cast light on this. To explore that possibility, we need the assistance of the Forum's specialist in this field, Terry Denham.

So it seems that John Yeadon was probably killed during the frantic moments as Vindictive came alongside the Mole, under heavy fire, and her decks filled with men ready to deploy the mole anchors and the landing brows, and to storm ashore. Many lives were lost due to the failure of the anchors to hold the ship, before Daffodil moved in to push Vindictive hard against the Mole, and more were lost among the assembled storming parties as men struggled to deploy the narrow landing brows.

Mick

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My great-uncle was reported missing on the first day of the March Offensive and later officially 'presumed' kia on the strength of a statement by another man, who knew him, that he had seen him dead. His body was never found, and my great-grandparents continued to hope that he might still be alive - perhaps unrecognised in a German hospital. My great-grandfather questioned other men from his unit when they returned home, and wrote repeatedly to the regimental depot, the last time as late as 1920, asking if any news had been received.

So I can understand Mrs Yeadon's reluctance to accept that her son was dead, despite the fact that he has a named grave. Another recent thread explained that 'double' graves usually occur where the identity of both occupants (separate burials side by side) is known, but it was not possible to determine which of them was which. If there are no other 'double' graves or 'unknowns' in the Zeebrugge plot, these two were perhaps identified by a process of elimination. The CWGC may have inherited records that could cast light on this. To explore that possibility, we need the assistance of the Forum's specialist in this field, Terry Denholm.

So it seems that John Yeadon was probably killed during the frantic moments as Vindictive came alongside the Mole, under heavy fire, and her decks filled with men ready to deploy the mole anchors and the landing brows, and to storm ashore. Many lives were lost due to the failure of the anchors to hold the ship, before Daffodil moved in to push Vindictive hard against the Mole, and more were lost among the assembled storming parties as men struggled to deploy the narrow landing brows.

Mick

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Hi Dom

I am currently working on a local roll of honour of the men of Wickford and Runwell Essex. One of our guys who dies in 1919 is reported in the newspapers of the time as having been on the Zeebrugge Raid and survived the sinking, of HMS Brilliant I believe.

His details are:

GRAVES, Edward Basil

Lieutenant-Commander Royal Naval Reserve

Died Wickford 17th February 1919 aged 36

I have a fair chunk from the local papers of the time on him which I would be happy to email to you, alas I don't have a picture and am really keen to find one, would you by chance?

Out of interest one of his sons was KIA in WW2 on HMS Hood, also has a Paymaster Lieut

Regards

Steve

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Hi Everyone,

I can't believe what you are telling me. My mother, John Yeadon's niece, always told me that his body was never found and on his Service Record which I downloaded from the NA (see previous posting) it has two notations:

-NP 4018/18 missing after operations against Zeebrugge on 23 April 1918

and

-NP 4018/18 killed during operations 23 April 1918 ???? (four letter word which I can't read) Zeebrugge

Paul, the letter to Teresa Yeadon(John's mother) which you found at the National Archives and quoted in your posting, also gives the impression no body was found. I wonder if she ever received another letter from the navy? Recently when I visited the Toronto Reference Library I checked their books on Zeebrugge and one has list of Dead and Missing as an Appendix and John Yeadon is listed among the missing.

Paul I would love copies of anything you are willing to share and sent you a long email yesterday. Hope you received it.

Wendy

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Hi Wendy,

I am really pleased to have provided this information. I have not received your email. If you can resend it, I can send the documents to you.

Kind regards

Paul

Email: Paulkendall291@aol.com

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Wendy

I have sent several emails with photos and information relating to John Yeadon. I hope that you have received them.

If not, I will resend them.

Kind regards

Paul

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Hi Mick,

Belatedly, I have found confirmation that Lt W.E. Kelly RNVR went to several reunions in the 1930s of the Zeebrugge and Ostend officers. I have attached one example. Not sure if it adds much. It's from The Times. This officers-only dinner which was separate from the Zeebrugge Association may be where you got the idea of a feud from. I have also attached a letter to the newspaper from a Harold A Illingworth. Must be your man, though no Zeebrugge connection sadly!

Best

Dom

post-1778-1153850361.png

post-1778-1153850383.png

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Guest dannywebber

hello, this is my first posting and am unsure if I'm interupting another conversation - if I am I apologise. I'm researching my great grandfather Frederick John Matthew Berry who was mentioned in depatches for his role in the raid on Zeebrugge. He was in the Royal Navy from the age of 15 (Boy 2?) - his service number was J36264. He was 18 during the raid. On his service record it shows him on HMS Hindustan on the 23rd April 1918 and then HMS New Zealand from the 24th April. AT this early stage of research I'm unsure as to what ship or motor launch he was on or indeed whether he was part of the landing party. I also believe he was shortlisted onto the VC ballot - the one which was won by AB McKenzie I assume.

I guess my question is whether anyone can shed anymore info on the papers surrounding his name being put into the ballot and indeed what was his activity in the raid.

Please help,

Danny

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Hi Danny,

I might be able to help you. When I return home from work tomorrow night I will look in my files to see if I have any further information about your great grandfather's role. So far I have found his name listed on a casualty list relating to the Zeebrugge Raid.

I will write to you tomorrow.

Kind regards

Paul Kendall

Email: Paulkendall291@aol.com

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Danny

I have also found his name listed in the London Gazette, 23rd July 1918 as being Mentioned in Dispatches. If you can send me an email to my personal email address I can send the relevant page to you electronically.

Kind regards

Paul

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Hi Danny,

HMS Hindustan was the ship on which the storming parties were billeted while waiting for the off, so I think we can assume your grandfather was in the storming parties. His record of service should note that he participated in the ballot for the VC, which would indeed have been the one won by AB McKenzie. Have you seen his great nephew Colin McKenzie's website on this gallant sailor? Do you have a photo of your great grandfather.

Best regards,

Dom

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Guest dannywebber

Thanks gentleman. My email is danny_webber@hotmail.com if you have any additional information. I have seen the London Gazette containing his name for his mention in despatches. Infact I have spoken to my grandmother today and have found a few gems. One of which shows a telegram to his wife explaining that he has been wounded whilst aboard HMS Vindictive. Also on his service record, which I cannot attach due to its size, shows that he participated in the ballot for a VC. However, whilst searching the internet last night I found a copy of the ballot for the marines - is there such a document in existance for the able seamen?

Also, on a visit to the national archives i found that my great uncle on the other side of the family was also mentioned in despatches but within the second world war (ironically it was the raid of St Nazaire which is supposedly the only raid likened to Zeebrugge) - anyway I digress, I found that the national archives hold a copy of some sort of form that explains why the receipient was awarded the honour. Was there such a thing during the first world war?

I have got a photograph of him but not in an electronic format currently.

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Hi Danny,

There is a good possibility that your great grandfather, Frederick John Matthew Berry was part of the Royal Naval Landing party that assaulted Zeebrugge Mole as Dominic Walsh suggested. However we must be extremely cautious, because we should not assume that all sailors who were drafted to HMS Hindustan during the time of the Zeebrugge Raid were part of the Royal Naval Landing Party. I have examples of sailors who were drafted to the HMS Hindustan, but played other roles in the Zeebrugge Raid. For example on the Service Record of Leading Seaman Edward Gilkerson J16937 it states that he served aboard HMS Hindustan from 1st March 1918 until the date of his death 23rd April 1918. His role during the Zeebrugge raid was not part of the Royal Naval Landing Party, but he was a gunner aboard Vindictive during the raid.

Petty Officer Alfred Messer 228561 is another individual who is listed as being drafted aboard HMS Hindustan, but during the raid he commanded the 6-inch gun crew on the forecastle of the blockship HMS Thetis during the Zeebrugge raid.

The service record of Stoker Andrew Marshall SS110978 states that he served aboard HMS Hindustan from 1st March 1918 until 23rd April 1918. He was not part of the Royal Naval Landing Party, but he was a stoker aboard the blockship HMS Iphigenia.

I do have a large collection of photos of sailors who took part in the operation, if you have a photo of your great grandfather Frederick John Matthew Berry, I may be able to identify him in one of these photos and confirm whether or not he was part of the Royal Naval Landing Party.

I would also be very happy to include a photo of your great grandfather in my book. I am near to completing the project, so if you want your great grandfather included you could scan the image and send to this email address:

Paulkendall291@aol.com.

I have also looked at your great grandfather’s service record which confirms that he served aboard HMS New Zealand from June 1915 until 23rd March 1918 which mean’s that Able Seaman Frederick Berry served aboard this vessel during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and at the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917.

Kind regards

Paul

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hi everyone.

I've made this request before, so forgive me for repeating myself. I'm researching the role of the Royal Marines in the Zeebrugge Raid which took place on St George's Day 1918 with a view to writing a book. It will be biographically based, with an entry for each man who took part and, where possible, a photo. Any snippets or leads, no matter how trivial they may seem, would be gratefully received. For my part, I am happy to help anyone researching individuals, as I have mountains of info, photos etc of both marine and naval participants. I'm always happy to check names to see what info I've got.

Best wishes,

Dom

Hallo Dom,

I have read with interest all the posts regarding the Zeebrugge Raid, my grandfather, Edgar Catchpole, was a Royal Marine Gunner on board HMS Vindictive. He was taken prisoner at some stage, whether this was at the time of the Zeebrugge Raid or a later foray I don't know.

I have many postcards that he sent home whilst a POW and 2 of his medals and photos of him, also in the book The Cruise of the Vindictive by W.W.Kirby is a photo of him and other crew members.

Do you have any record of him?

Best Wishes,

Ros.

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Hi markinbelfast. This is an exciting find. Unfortunately I am unable to clearly read the names. Are you able to send me a full-size scan? I'd be really grateful. My email is dominic.walsh@ireland.com.

Best wishes and thanks for the post,

Dominic

PS Ros, I'll check my files and see what I have on your grandfather. I'd love copies of the photos etc for my book. Do you have a copy of his record of service? If not, I can get you one.

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Markinbelfast

This is indeed an amazing discovery. I know that Private Henry Conkey PLY 16188 served under an alias surname Campbell. He is buried in St. James's Cemetery Dover.

I have never seen a picture of Lieutenant Oscar Henderson who assumed command of Iris when Commader Gibbs and the navigating officer Lieutenant Spencer were killed during the raid.

I am very interested to read the names of the other sailors. Please could you send to me this newspaper article to my email address at paulkendall291@aol.com

I will be able to enlarge the image article to make it more readible.

Many thanks

Kind regards

Paul

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