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HMS Starling
HMS Starling

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Hugh Ferguson



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Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
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Captain ''Johnny'' Walker's HMS Starling arriving in the vastness of the Gladstone Lock entrance in Feb.1944 after a patrol in which his Support Group 2 had destroyed six U.Boats. It looks as if half Liverpool has turned up to welcome this remarkable commander back from yet another sortie into the Western Ocean.
Go to:- http://www.mikekemble.com/ww2/walker.html to learn more about the man who had once been a ''passed over'' officer in the Royal Navy.
· Date: Sun, 11 May 08 · Views: 447
· Filesize: 158.2kb, 158.1kb · Dimensions: 900 x 763 ·
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Sister Eleff

Nursie

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 5,819
Sun, 11 May 08 18:45

Thank you Hugh for advising us of this incredible man. It was great fortune for Britain at that time, that his abilities were eventually recognised.
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captkenn

Senior Member

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Registered: August 2007
Location: NE England
Posts: 1,175
Mon, 12 May 08 08:02

Looks as though many are WRENS ...

------------------------------
Cheers -- from Ken in the NE of England.
.
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Hugh Ferguson

Senior Member

Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Mon, 12 May 08 16:09

Yes, indeed, there were many Wrens present. Of all of the places I would have most liked to have been at that time that was the mostest. But exactly 3 weeks earlier I was in a ship which had sailed from Birkenhead , bound Bombay. Who knows, but for Captain Walker and his Group 2, one of those 6 U.Boats might have done for us!
On return from his previous sortie he had been greeted with the news that his son, Sub Lieutenant John Timothy Ryder Walker, RNVR was missing on service in the Mediterranian. On 9th July 1944, just five months after Starlings victorious return to Liverpool, "Johnny" Walker himself had died of a stroke. He was buried at sea, near the Bar Light Ship, from the quarter-deck of HMS Hesperus. We all owe a great deal to Captain Frederick "Johnny" R.N. DSO and 3 bars.
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CEYLON220

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Registered: February 2006
Location: Silloth Cumbria
Posts: 1,884
Tue, 13 May 08 11:09

A great man, only a pity that he did not survive the end of the war --a typical Royal Navy hero and should be remembered for efforts in winning the fight against the U-Boats.
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al1934

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Registered: August 2007
Location: Torquay, England
Posts: 602
Sat, 24 May 08 08:04

My old mate, Tony Birks, was a Signalman onboard STARLING and knew the great man well. Tony has since crossed the bar and is now with his CO again.

------------------------------
Alick
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Steve Woodward
member

Registered: September 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 1
Sat, 24 May 08 09:57

I would imagine the WRENS and others present are the 'backroom' staff although in a sometimes safer role with less chance of sea-sickness, they formed part of a very successful team.
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JoyceW
Senior Member

Registered: September 2007
Posts: 273
Sat, 24 May 08 15:10

Hope you all don't mind if I give you an account of this occasion written by Commander Wemyss, Captain of HMS Wild Goose, (returning with Starling, Woodpecker, Kite and other escort ships) and which I just happened to read a week or two ago.

"We .... were informed by Sir Max Horton that on our return home to Liverpool he intended that we should be cheered into harbour. And what a welcome they gave us. We steamed up the channel into the Mersey in line ahead and turned left in succession to enter the lock leading into Gladstone Dock, and there was the crowd. Rows and rows of our comrades from the escort ships were there together with the Captain and ship's company of the Battleship King George V which was in dock nearby, masses of Wrens (who were making as much noise as all the rest put together), merchant sailors, crews from Allied ships and dock workers. To lead the cheer party stood Captain G N Brewer on a dais, himself not long returned from a career of violence at sea that included one of the longest and most savage battles fought round a convoy in the course of the whole war. He was now in command of our base, he had strung up a hoist of flags which read: 'Johnny Walker Still Going Strong', and he conducted the cheers that greeted each of us as we took our turn to berth."
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Hugh Ferguson

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Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Sun, 25 May 08 15:53

This remarkable event was also filmed and the tape I was fortunate enough to get hold of was put together by, Roland R. Smith, an R.N. Petty Officer who died in 2002. The title of the video is:- Naval Video Time Capsules: Episodes of the Royal Navy: Part 6, PERILOUS WATERS.
The Wrens you see in the picture can all be seen enthusiastically cheering ship as she edges into the Gladstone Dock. (They all mostly worked in Derby House where the control of Western Ocean convoys was situated).
Also on this film is the funeral procession of Captain Walker marching through the streets of Liverpool, down to H.M.S.Hesperus, laying alongside the Pier Head Landing Stage. Captain Walker's widow accompanies his coffin for burial at sea. She had already lost a son and now, her husband.
Roland's address was, Beck House, Escrick, N.Yorks, YO4 6JH. Tel. 01249 659825. I also was told that copies were still obtainable from, Maritime Books, Liskeard, Cornwall. Tel. 01579 343663. But whether these numbers and addresses are still in operation I would not know.
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Steve Woodward
member

Registered: September 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 1
Sun, 25 May 08 16:49

Thanks for the infornmation on this
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Hugh Ferguson

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Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Mon, 26 May 08 14:07

On the video is the following text:- "In the R.N's ceaseless war in the Atlantic, there did emerge one legendary figure who gained the reputation of being the most tenacious U.Boat hunter of all time, a Captain John Frederick Walker, CB DSO and 3 bars, better known by the crews of his Escort Groups as "Johnnie Walker still going strong". And though initially, when I first set out to make this programme concerned with some aspects relating to the war in the Atlantic, I had no preconceived notions of making it as a form of tribute to him, I cannot help but now feel, upon its completion, that this must now be so. Thus within its content you will see some remarkable film of his famous 2nd Escort Group, STARLING, MAGPIE, WILD GOOSE, WREN etc., at sea hunting their greatest adversary, the U.Boat. Their triumphant return to Gladstone Dock, Liverpool after sinking no less than six U.Boats, with the lucky survivors of U-264 being landed for internment. And his burial at sea on board the destroyer HESPERUS after his sudden death in July 1944.
It includes some of the most compelling footage ever filmed on board an operational boat in the Atlantic". Roland R.Smith.
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raybnz
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Registered: September 2005
Location: Hamilton nz
Posts: 991
Tue, 27 May 08 04:19

I can remember reading a book many years ago called 'Walker RN'. Written about this fine man.
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