SS Gaelic Star 1943 - 1945 - Ships Nostalgia
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SS Gaelic Star 1943 - 1945

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  #1  
Old 4th November 2019, 21:57
Matthew Percival Matthew Percival is offline
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SS Gaelic Star 1943 - 1945

Hello all. I am recently retired and now have the time to research my father's military service. His name was BEN PERCIVAL and he served in the Merchant Navy and was an able seaman on the SS Gaelic Star from October 1943 to August 1945. During this time he made a number of trips as part of the south Atlantic Convoys to Buenos Aires via Freetown. I am very keen to learn more about these voyages and would like to hear from anybody who has specific information that relates to this period. Many thanks in advance. I am also keen to receive any photographs that are relevant. Many thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 5th November 2019, 13:46
Roger Griffiths's Avatar
Roger Griffiths Roger Griffiths is offline  
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Hello and welcome,
You should first of all download the Movement Card of GAELIC STAR.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8652068

This will give you a comprehensive record of her voyages.
There are excellent websites here

http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/index.html

and here

https://www.warsailors.com/convoys/index.html

Both of which are not infallible.

The Logbooks and Crew Agreements of GAELIC STAR. Official number 140302, are available from The National Archives in the following references.
1943 BT381/2309
1944 BT381/2796
1945 BT381/3304
EG https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ls/r/C11053722

A visit to Kew would be your best bet as these documents may contain information and anecdotes concerning your father.

Photo here
https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/galle...c-star/cat/521

Was your father born 22/2/1922 in Sheffield?

regards
Roger
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  #3  
Old 5th November 2019, 13:54
Matthew Percival Matthew Percival is offline
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SS Gaelic Star

Hi Roger. I am so grateful for the information you have forwarded to me and I will be spending time looking in to each source you reference. My father was born on 12 May 1925 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and I know his service number was JX555145.

Many thanks indeed for your support with this - I am really grateful.

Matt Percival
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  #4  
Old 5th November 2019, 14:16
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Roger Griffiths Roger Griffiths is offline  
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Hello again,
Your father's service number would suggest he was a Royal Navy DEMS Gunner.

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/...chive/sheet/71

DEMS are always difficult to research.
Poster Hugh Maclean is the man to talk to. Hopefully he will see your post and make a contribution.
regards
Roger
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  #5  
Old 5th November 2019, 22:06
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Hugh MacLean Hugh MacLean is offline
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Hello and welcome, Matt.
Roger has got most of what you need pretty well documented and I agree that he was not in the Merchant Navy but was a Royal Navy D.E.M.S. gunner. The D.E.M.S. provided defensive manpower and armament for merchant ships. From what you say he seems to have served on just that ship between those years. I suggest you obtain his military service record from the Ministry of Defence if you don't already have it. Cost = £30. https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records The BT 381 links at Kew supplied by Roger in his post are the logbooks for GAELIC STAR which will include the Crew Agreement. D.E.M.S. gunners signed the Articles of Agreement so will be included in those agreements. They will usually list any previous ship.
Regards
Hugh
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  #6  
Old 18th November 2019, 18:55
Matthew Percival Matthew Percival is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh MacLean View Post
Hello and welcome, Matt.
Roger has got most of what you need pretty well documented and I agree that he was not in the Merchant Navy but was a Royal Navy D.E.M.S. gunner. The D.E.M.S. provided defensive manpower and armament for merchant ships. From what you say he seems to have served on just that ship between those years. I suggest you obtain his military service record from the Ministry of Defence if you don't already have it. Cost = £30. https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records The BT 381 links at Kew supplied by Roger in his post are the logbooks for GAELIC STAR which will include the Crew Agreement. D.E.M.S. gunners signed the Articles of Agreement so will be included in those agreements. They will usually list any previous ship.
Regards
Hugh
Hi Hugh. Thank you so much for expanding on the information given to me by Roger. I intend to visit Kew in the next couple of weeks to scrutinise the Crew Agreements you both have mentioned. At the risk of being cheeky I do know that after the war ended my father spent a few months in 1946 on fishery protection in Icelandic waters. He served on a ship called HMS Allington Castle. Do you have any thoughts on where I might begin to explore his time on this ship including the ships log and the ship itself. I am so grateful for your advice and expertise which is much appreciated. Matt
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  #7  
Old 18th November 2019, 19:38
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Hugh MacLean Hugh MacLean is offline
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Hello Matthew,

Details of when he joined and left should be on his service record. I don't think you will find much more in the way of information from ship's logs - I don't think any survive. There will be no crew listing as the RN didn't keep crew lists in the same way as the MN did.

Details of the ship here: http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chr...gtonCastle.htm - you have probably seen that.

Regards
Hugh
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  #8  
Old 18th November 2019, 20:31
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Roger Griffiths Roger Griffiths is offline  
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Hello again,
Hugh is correct regarding Crew Agreements and Logbooks of the majority of RN ships in WW2. Apart from the early war years, Logbooks for RN ships smaller than a Cruiser have not survived.
Logbooks were maintained by the Officer of the Watch for every ship of the Royal Navy in commission.They were primarily Navigational records. They provide a permanent and consecutive daily record of the ships movements and position, recording all wheel and telegraph orders, weather encountered and other events, such as the employment of the ship's company, (usually penned by phrases such as general duties), any deaths on board, disciplinary action (i.e. the reading of punishment warrants), loss or damage to stores and any other items of interest, such as visits by dignitaries or foreign Officers.
If you are going to Kew, you can take a look at the Movements of HMS ALLINGTON CASTLE in
https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ro=any&_st=adv
At least it should tell you where your dad sailed in 1946. Although doubt it will give much more information as the post war notes at Naval History.net

regards
Roger
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  #9  
Old 13th January 2020, 14:24
Matthew Percival Matthew Percival is offline
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SS Gaelic Star

Dear Roger and Hugh.

Thank you for the invaluable information you sent me regarding my father's service on the SS Gaelic Star. I took your advice and made a visit to the NA at Kew ..... fabulous! I managed to take copies of extracts from the crew agreements etc where I found my father's signature as an 18 year old! It was both emotional and enlightening so I am in your debt!

You both were very certain that my father was in the Royal Navy even though he was on a Merchant Navy ship. You seemed to establish this from his service number and I wonder if you would be able to explain this for me please? I was also wondering how it was decided that he would join the navy (ie rather than the army) for his war service and I wondered if you would be able to shed any light on this for me?

Finally, my father served on HMS Allington Castle just after the war and I know they were in Icelandic waters protecting British trawlers during 1946. This was as part of the 'Home Fleet'. When I was at Kew I tried hard to find the movements of the Allington Castle during this period but they were unable to find them. In fact I have had real difficulty trying to find out anything about this period of service and wondered if you had any further suggestions I could try? Trying to find out about the 'Home Fleet' and its activities during this time has so far been fruitless.

Thank you both once again for your help and expertise with this.... I have already learnt a lot!

Matt
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  #10  
Old 14th January 2020, 18:50
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Roger Griffiths Roger Griffiths is offline  
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Hello Matt,
Thanks for getting back to us. Good to know we are dispensing some correct advice and glad you found at least some of the info you were looking for.
You wrote
"You both were very certain that my father was in the Royal Navy even though he was on a Merchant Navy ship. You seemed to establish this from his service number and I wonder if you would be able to explain this for me please?
Hugh will proably answer your query better than me, so I will leave him to explain.
"I was also wondering how it was decided that he would join the navy (ie rather than the army) for his war service and I wondered if you would be able to shed any light on this for me?
I think he would have been conscripted and would have had no choice in which service he was allotted to.
All I know is that ALLINGTON CASTLE was based at Fleetwood for most of 1946.
1946. Everyone was sick of the War. Your dad would not have been needed as a DEMS Gunner and was part of the flotsam just plonked anywhere until he was demobed.
You could try The Castle Class Association
[email protected]
But sadly, I doubt there will be many members left.


regards
Roger
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  #11  
Old 14th January 2020, 19:43
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Hugh MacLean Hugh MacLean is offline
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Hello Matt,
Just to echo what Roger has said - it is appreciated that you took the time to let us know how you got on. I have had people on here recently asking questions and months later have still not acknowledged the help they were given.

Regarding your specific question about the service number. Easily recognisable in the way it is formatted as opposed to a Merchant Navy Dis. A number.
The JX indicates he was a seaman or communicator and the X indicates he joined sometime after the 1930 pay review. If he joined during the war it is probably that there was another letter follwed by a forward slash added prior to the 'J' which would indicate his home port or welfare authority such as P = Portsmouth, D = Devonport, C = Chatham, L = Lowestoft and there are some others but these are the main ones.

Merchant Navy Discharge book numbers for British seaman for that time period are also easily recognisable and would have a prefix 'R' followed by up to 6 numbers. Some who had joined a lot earlier would have just a numeric number without the 'R'. There were some other prefixes too. I hope that helps and thank you again for letting us know of your sucess at the archives.

Regards
Hugh
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