Hit on POW compass platform

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kwilley

Re: Hit on POW compass platform

Postby kwilley » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:35 pm

I recently found this site and have only just read this thread. I am the son of James H Willey and of course heard many times my Father's account of the battle against the Bismark. My Father old me that he, Capt Leach and one other were the survivors on the compass platform. Someone Had Blundered by Bernard Ash was always felt by my father to be the definitive copy. He says "The only unwounded survivors were miraculously the Captain, the Chief Yeoman, and Leading Signalman Willey, who is deaf to this day from the blast." Ludovic Kennedy's later book is held in very low regard in our family given the error he made over this aspect. My Father was a regular Navy man having joined as a boy about aged 15. He was born in 1901 and died in 1991. So he was a highly experienced sailor by the time of the action against Bismark and continued with the PoW until its sinking.
Thank you for all the hard work you have been putting into this site.
Regards
Keith Willey

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Hit on POW compass platform

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:40 pm

Hello everybody,

I have just read now this last post.

Many thanks to you Keith Willey for your precious input that do provide us an important confirmation on how many persons not wounded were in the PoW Compass Platform.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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wadinga
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Re: Hit on POW compass platform

Postby wadinga » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:28 pm

Hello All,

It is indeed unfortunate that Kennedy did not detail Keith's father's injury, but unlike Ash's book which is specifically about PoW and Repulse, and where the author had a lot of contact with PoW survivors and thus gained detail, Pursuit is more about the Bismarck Chase. It is clear that the condition of those who were not killed outright in the Compass Platform were in very poor shape immediately afterwards.

Another person whose injuries are perhaps unjustly minimised is Rowell the navigator. Although many accounts speak of one officer being wounded, ie Esmond Knight, Rowell's injury was severe enough that he too was put off the ship in Hvalfjord where the ship stopped for temporary repairs, even though she would then continue to the UK.

At Hvalfjordur, off the coast of Iceland, Esmond was transferred on a stretcher by ship's derrick on to the destroyer Echo where he lay on a hard table in the wardroom during the short journey to Reykjavik. Then a bumpy ambulance ride to Helgafell Army Hospital in Mosfellssveit, near Reykjavik, which belonged to the 49th Infantry Division, Territorial Army, and eventually into a clean hospital bed. There he was x-rayed and then wheeled in to the operating theatre where surgeons tried ("vainly") to remove all the shrapnel from his face and eyes, using a strong magnet to attract the metal. He heard a voice say to him: "Afraid I shall have to excise this left eye, Knight ...." to which he replied: "All right, go ahead."
His left eye was removed. The right eye was saved but so badly damaged that it was deemed to be useless. As he lay recovering from the operation Esmond was befriended by the navigating officer from Prince of Wales who had been on the compass platform during the action with Bismarck. Both men had been injured by the same shell. Even with a piece of metal in his cheek, with one eye swollen shut and in great pain, the navigating officer had refused to leave his post, steering the ship throughout the rest of the action, which included drastic manoeuvres to avoid the wreckage of the Hood as she sank, and only allowing someone to relieve him when Prince of Wales was out of danger. He chatted with Esmond, wrote letters for him and brought him fruit from the town.


That was not all Rowell apparently did during this period.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Hit on POW compass platform

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:55 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Keith Willey

it will be very interesting to know what your father told you about that morning.

Can you please contact me. Thanks.

@ all,

it seems that into the HMS Prince of Wales Compass Platform on that moment there were at least 6 persons :

A) Captain - John Catterall Leach

B) Chief Yeoman of Signals - Alfred Edwin Gilbert

C) Navigating Officer - Lieutenant Commander George William Rowell

D) Leading Signalman - James H Willey

E) Midshipman - Peter Tuthill Dreyer

F) Midshipman - John Bret Ince

Of which 2 of them surely died, Ince and Dreyer, Rowell was hurt and Willey became deaf ( either temporarily or permanently ? ).

5. The Prince of Wales had 13 fatal casualties that would become 14 by the following day: Leading Signalman Walter Graham Andrews, Ordinary Seaman Harold Barlow, Able Seaman Leslie Maddocks Deeds, Ordinary Seaman Edward Patrick Diamond, Midshipman Peter Tuthill Dreyer, Ordinary Seaman William John Fairbairn, Able Seaman Harry Hallam, Able Seaman Arthur Molyneaux Harper, Leading Signalman Edward James Hunt, Midshipman John Bret Ince, Signal Boy Norman Johnstone, Able Seaman Thomas Ronald Slater, Ordinary Seaman Thornton Smith, and Leading Seaman Mervyn Richard Tucker who died on 25 May 1941.


http://www.kbismarck.com/denmark-strait-battle.html

Bye, Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

Cag
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Re: Hit on POW compass platform

Postby Cag » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:58 pm

Hi All

Thank you Mr Willey for posting it was very gratifying to hear your father survived.

I think the casualties were from three areas, the compass platform, the ADP, and the RDF room aft.

I'm trying to find out the action stations complement of the CP, of course there were wounded too, including Rowell Esmond and Pike who wrote Bamboo Years. I think Franklin was also in the vicinity of the ADP and wrote one year of life with his father's contributions.

Sam Woods description as well as others interviewed for the IWM do tell of the terrible scenes that confronted those sent to help clear wreckage etc.

Best wishes
Cag.


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