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H.M.S.  CHARYBDIS - A Record of Her Loss and Commemoration by the CHARYBDIS ASSOCIATION

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return to World War 2, 1939-1945

Reproduced by kind permission of the Charybdis/Limbourne Association

This booklet was produced in the early 1990's and many of the photographs are photocopies which are hard to discern. However, all have been included to remain faithful to the original.


See also:

"All in a Day's Work" - Her Career by David 'Rocky' Royle

Account of Her Loss from Captured German Archives

Service History of HMS Charybdis

Service Record of Ordnance Artificer/3 George Smith, including
loss commemoration photograph and
newspaper cuttings



5200 tons. 62500 h.p. Mean draft 18' aft 16' 6" forward

Commissioned 15th November 1941. Adopted by Birkenhead town

Blessed by the Right Rev. Lord Bishop of Chester November 1941.

November-March 1942 - working up trials. Joined Fleet 13th March 1942.





March-April 1942  Minelaying operations Northern Approaches

18th April 1942 Joined Western Mediterranean Fleet

April - Dec. 1942

Frequent operations escorting aircraft carriers carrying fighter aircraft for Malta's defence

Malta convoys

(see Operation Pedestal)

North African landing (Algiers contingent) followed by post landing patrols

Dec. 1942 Returned to U.K. for refit

March 1943 Rejoined Fleet at Scapa Flow 

Escorted R.M.S "Queen Mary" with Sir Winston Churchill to U.S.A.

Bay of Biscay & Mediterranean patrols

Salerno beach head landing carrying C in C Allied Forces General Eisenhower


Oct. 1943 Home Waters headed destroyer squadron to intercept

enemy shipping off French coastal waters (see Operation Tunnel 22/23rd Oct 1943)

'Charybdis' & destroyer 'Limbourne' sunk in this action.



Tuesday August 11th.

1317 EAGLE torpedoed (4 torps).

1325 EAGLE sank 38 08N. 03 07E.


Wednesday August 12th.

0915 First Air Raid about 12 JU 88's

1038 Torpedo passed up Port side 12 yds.

1138 Stick of Bombs dropped ahead.

1215 Second Air Raid: 16 JU 88's dropped Mines ahead of convoy.

1250 Torpedo Bombers raid started.

1345 Low Level Attack.

1515 Speed 14.5 knots.

1538 Sighted Periscope.

1843 Torpedo Attack.

1845 Dive Bomber Attack - INDOMITABLE hit.

1857 Proceeded to join INDOMITABLE.

1930 Left Convoy.

2030 Set course to rejoin Convoy. Speed 25 knots; SOMALI and ESKIMO in company.

2125 Altered course to avoid NIGERIA.

2136 Aircraft.

2223 Sighted Cape Bon Light.

2250 Sighted rear ships of convoy.


Thursday August 13th.

0128 Speed 29 knots.

0155 Passed MANCHESTER.

0330 E-Boat Alarm. E-Boats sighted 5000 yds. did not open fire.

0709 Aircraft reported.

0842 Blind Barrage etc. etc. etc. until

1550 Parted company with convoy. Speed 10 knots.

1620 Speed 24 knots.

2340 Kelibia Light passed.

Friday August 14th.

0113 Unexplained explosion. Starboard side 6 miles off Cape Bon.

0150 Engaged E-Boats.

0221 ditto

0730 Opened Blind Barrage Up-sun.

0745 JU 88 Attack.

0803 Explosion between KENYA and ASHANTI (depth charge or bomb)

0945 A/C Attack.

1000 ditto

1030 ditto

1138 ditto

1145 ditto

1157 ditto

1211 ditto

1303 Mines dropped ahead. Turn 300 deg

1315 A/C Attack.

1330 A/C Attacks ceased. Course 272 deg. Speed 26 knots

1820 Rejoined the Fleet - Speed 20 knots.


Saturday August 15th.

1830 Arrived Gibraltar.


Sunday August 16th.

0440 Sailed Gibraltar with FURIOUS to fly off Fighters to Malta.



Some of the Lads of Mess 5
(unfortunately none of the faces are recognisable)

The R.M. Band (only one member survived)


Cable party preparing to slip anchor .....

 ...... somewhere off the west coast of Scotland 1941


'B' guns crew of Charybdis during a lull

Night Action - 'Charybdis' bridge personnel silhouetted against 'B' guns flash

(Note by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net: My father, Ordnance Artificer/3 George Smith served with 'A' gun crew according to one correspondent, but he may well be in the left-hand photograph - front row,  extreme right  wearing flash hood only. If the identities of others are known, I will gladly add their names to these or any other photographs)

A close miss for Charybdis - one of many
(barely recognisable)

A merchantman of the convoy under attack


Picking up RAF survivors                                                                 Survivors from crashed RAF plane


An Uckers Team, Charybdis 1942


Between operations there was time, little though it was, for various intership and intermess sports, soccer, rowing, and the Navy's own game of "Uckers", an extra, large, and equally mad game of Ludo




Operation "Tunnel" 22nd/23rd OCTOBER 1943



1. German Coastal Traffic, Brittany, 1943. (Plan 1 – not here)


The German coastal traffic- Naval and commercial - was in the habit of moving at irregular intervals between Ushant and Cherbourg. The passages were usually made during dark hours, on a route passing close north of Ushant and keeping within 4 or 5 miles of the outlying islands off the coast of Brittany and to the east of Sark. By day ships would anchor off St. Malo or in Lezardrieux or Lannion Bays.


By October, 1943, the traffic usually consisted of larger merchant ships on passage from the Biscay Ports to Germany. Recently there had been no westward movements of these larger ships and there was little or no traffic of small craft except between Cherbourg, St. Malo and the Channel Islands. As a rule the convoys were small. They were usually accompanied by a close escort of minesweepers and E-Boats and covered by a force of Elbing class destroyers or torpedo boats.


Periodical efforts were made to interrupt this traffic by forces - air and surface - from the Plymouth Command, but until January, 1944, no permanent striking force was based there for this particular purpose and apart from Coastal Forces, reliance had to be placed on Hunt class destroyers, of which there were four in the Plymouth and five in the Portsmouth Command. As these were almost continuously employed on convoy escort duty they had little opportunity for tactical training. Their slow speed and poor torpedo armament were obvious handicaps (29 knots, 2-21" torpedo tubes). Occasionally a cruiser lent to the Plymouth Command, and up to two Fleet destroyers might be available to reinforce them. The employment of mixed forces unaccustomed to work together was an unsatisfactory expedient, but until circumstances could allow the provision of a permanent striking force, it was the best that could be done.


The enemy on the other hand, in addition to a large number of sperrbrechers, minesweepers and armed trawlers, and about 24 E-Boats, was known to have available up to six destroyers of the Elbing class, five torpedo boats (Moewe and "T" class), and six Narvik class destroyers, the latter based on Biscay Ports. The destroyers were believed to have carried out a great deal of training and were not mainly employed on convoy escort duty as was the case with the British Hunt class.  


Elbing class - 1,100 tons, 33 knots, 4-4.1", 4-1.46" A/A guns, 2-triple torpedo tubes.

Moewe class - 800 tons, 33 knots, 3-4.1" H.A./L.A., 2-1.18" A.A. guns, 2-triple 21" torpedo tubes

"T" class - 600 tons, 36 knots, 1-4.1". 1-1.46" A.A. guns, 2-triple 21" torpedo tubes

Narvik class - 2,400 tons, 36-39 knots, 4 or 5-5.5" H.A./L.A, 4-1.46" A.A. guns, 2-quadruple 21" torpedo tubes)

This was approximateIy the situation in the Western part of the English Channel at the beginning of October, 1943.


The operations against the coastal traffic were known by the generic name of "Tunnel" and were governed by standing operation orders, revised from time to time as necessary. (See Appendix "A” – not here)


After reviewing enemy intelligence - routes, current tactics, forces available, coastal defences and radar stations {see Plan 1) - these orders referred to the British Forces likely to be available and organised them into two Forces, viz,

Force 28.-Cruisers and destroyers.

Force 119.-Coastal Forces.

The intention of the operation was defined as "to intercept and destroy enemy forces and shipping on passage up or down channel.“ When ordered to carry out operation "Tunnel" the Forces addressed were to proceed by the swept channel and thence sweep through certain positions laid down in the operation order, at the times ordered by signal. Forces were forbidden to allow themselves to be drawn within effective range of the defences of the Channel Islands and the Cherbourg Peninsula, and unless otherwise ordered, were to return to their port of departure, endeavouring to be within 20 miles of the English coast by first light. Ships damaged in action were to retire to the northward if necessary, and Senior Officers of Forces were to locate them and escort them back to harbour as soon as conditions permitted.

(Note: The operation was carried out on several occasions durng the autumn of 1943, but it was not until 4th October that contact was made with the enemy. On this occasion the fleet destroyers Ulster and Grenville, with the Hunt class destroyers Limbourne, Wensleydale and Tanatside fell in with four Elbing class destroyers. The latter, having fired their torpedoes - which fortunately missed - withdrew at high speed. In the chase which ensued the Hunt class destroyers were speedily outdistanced, leaving the fleet destroyers at a considerable gunnery disadvantage.)

Operation "Tunnel" was primarily intended to be carried out by cruisers and destroyers, but provision was made for the simultaneous employment of Coastal Forces, operating as a separate force.



2. Operation "Tunnel”, 22nd/23rd October. 1943; objective and plan


On about 9th October, 1943, the German merchant ship Munsterland arrived at Brest. A concentration of six Elbing class destroyers at that port indicated an early attempt to sail up channel, but this was delayed, probably owing to the moon which was waxing to full on 12th October and to a spell of bad weather for the ensuing week. On 20th October a photographic reconnaissance showed that the Munsterland had not yet arrived at Cherbourg and the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth (Vice-Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham, K.C.B.), decided to carry out a sweep on the night of 22nd/23rd October in the hope of intercepting her.

(Note: This operation was preferred to an attack by coastal craft or aircraft for the following reasons: (1) The probable strength of the escort, a strong force of Elbing destroyers and “M” class minesweepers being available. (2) The greater certainty that weather would not interfere with the operation. (3) The probability that the attacking force would have to fight its way through the escort in order to attack the convoy.)

Careful consideration was given as to whether the sweep should be from east to west or vice versa. Previous experience indicated that the escort usually preceded the convoy and on this account a sweep from astern, i.e. from west to east, might give the best chance of getting in on the convoy, provided its position could be established by air reconnaissance before dark.

(Note: Air reconnaissance by fighters of No. 10 Group was arranged for last light on 22nd October, but had to be cancelled owing to adverse weather after the aircraft had taken off. No definite information as to the convoy was therefore available.)

But if the time of sailing and the position of the convoy were quite unknown, the low speed of the Hunt class destroyers reduced the chances of overtaking.

(Note: The Force was to sail from Plymouth after dusk in order to increase the chances of surprise.)

Moonrise (bearing 066°) was at 0125 (Zone - 1 Time), 23rd October, giving the advantage of light from then on to a sweep from the westward, but the weather forecast - low cloud and showers - favoured surprise and our forces would be on the qui vive expecting to meet the enemy. On balance it was considered that a sweep from east to west would give the best chances of success.



3. Forces employed and intentions. (Plan 2 – not here)


The following ships were accordingly ordered to sail at 1990, 22nd October, to carry out operation "Tunnel”:

(Note: C-in-C., Plymouth, to Charybdis, Grenville, Rocket, Limbourne, Melbreak, Talybont, Wensleydale. "Carry out operation 'Tunnel' as ordered in my memorandum dated 21st October tomorrow. (2) Force 28 comprising ships addressed is passing the gate outward at 1900A/ 22, thence passing HH at 0030/23 and sweep thence through KK to MM, leave MM at 0430 to pass gate inward about 0830. 1836A of 21st October, 1943.” A further signal was made at 1319A, 22nd October. substituting the Stevenstone for the Melbreak.)

 - the cruiser Charybdis (Captain G.A.W. Voelcker, R.N., Senior Officer), the Fleet destroyers Grenville, Rocket and the Hunt class destroyers Limbourne, Talybont, Wensleydale, Melbreak. The Melbreak was subsequently replaced by the Stevenstone, lent for the purpose by the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth (Admiral Sir Charles Little, G.B.E., K.C.B.)

(Notes: Charybdis (Captain G.A.W. Voelcker, R.N.) - 32.25 knots, 8-4.5" guns, 2-triple 21" torpedo tubes.

Grenville (Lt.-Cdr. R.P. Hill, D.S.O., R.N.) and Rocket (Lt.-Cdr. H.B. Ackworth, O.B.E. R.N.) - 36.75 knots, 4-4.7" guns, 2 quadruple 21" torpedo tubes.

Limbourne (Act. Com. W.J. Phipps, O.B.E., R.N.), Talybont (Lieut. E.F. Baines, R.N.), Wensleydale (Lieut. P.B.N. Lewis. R.N.), Stevenstone (Lieut. W.P. Goodfellow.R.N.V.R.) - 29 knots, 4-:-4" guns, I double 21" torpedo tube.)

 At 1320, 22nd October, Captain Voelcker signalled his policy to Force 28 (See Appendix “B" – not here). Briefly, he intended to keep the force concentrated unless a chase to to the eastward developed, in which case the Hunt class, if unable to keep up, might be ordered to continue the sweep to the westward.

(Note: This was not quite in accord with the intention of the C.-in-C., who subsequently remarked..It was my intention, if circumstances permitted, that Charybdis and the Fleet destroyers should deal with the Elbing destroyers, leaving the Hunts to press on to destroy the convoy.)

He hoped to close the enemy unobserved to a range of 6,000 yards before illuminating the target and opening fire, but if sighted by the enemy further off, fire was to be opened immediately. Ships were ordered to engage torpedo targets individually as opportunity offered; the Charybdis might carry out a divisional attack with the two Fleet destroyers. Special directions were given as to the use of fighting lights in a melee or to enable the Senior Officer to check the position of his forces in case of need.


No mention was made in this signal of the Munsterland as a special objective, or of the concentration of Elbings at Brest, and the operation seems to have been regarded as being in the nature of a routine sweep.



4. Radar Contact. (Plan 2 – not here)


At 1900, 22nd October, Force 28 left Plymouth, and proceeded to the southward, forming single line ahead in the order Charybdis, Grenville, Rocket, Limboume, Talybont, Stevenstone and Wensleydale. At 0030, 23rd October, having reached position HH (325°, 7 miles from Les Heaux Light), the Force altered course to 267° and reduced speed to 13 knots. During the run to the westward the visibility ahead was poor, owing to low clouds and rain squalls, but to the eastward the sky was clearing and the visibility was better.


The Talybont had already picked up the carrier wave of German radio telephone transmissions at 2315, and the Wensleydale, at 0045. Unintelligible speech was heard by the Limbourne at 0103; this information, reported to the Charybdis (who was not fitted with radio telephone interception gear) as "Y raw material indicates 3 units close”, was apparently not at once understood by the latter, who asked for a repetition. At 0117 the Limbourne intercepted a German signal to alter course together 50° to starboard, followed by another one 13 minutes later (0130) ordering a further 20° turn to starboard together. Five call signs were heard for certain, a sixth possibly. At the same time the Charybdis obtained a radar contact right ahead, range 14,000 yards. None of this information was exchanged between the Charybdis and the destroyers; in the latter the radar was masked from right ahead to 27° on either bow, and thus at 0130 the situation in the British Force was that the Charybdis knew there was an enemy force 7 miles ahead and closing, but did not know its composition, while the Limboume and Talybont knew that there was a force of five ships, probably destroyers, somewhere in the vicinity, but did not know where.



5. German Torpedo Attack on Force 28. (Plan 2 – not here)


In accordance with his plan to close unobserved to 6,000 yards before opening fire, Captain Voelcker held his westerly course; unfortunately he was unaware that his presence was already known to the enemy ….. 

(Note: Our force was probably detected by the Radar station at Ploumanach shortly before 0100, and the unintelligible signal read by Limboume at 0103 was possibly the report from this station to the Elbing destroyers."-C.-in-C., Plymouth Report.)

….. who was, in fact, at the time manoeuvring for a position of torpedo advantage. 

(Note: The Section in the orders for operation “Tunnel" dealing with current enemy tactics read as follows:-...... “In event of attack, the covering force endeavours to draw off our forces from the convoy, while at the same time it avoids close action. The convoy practices evasion, making asclose inshore as possible.” This may have tended to minimise the danger of torpedo attack in the mind of Captain Voelcker who had not previously carried out one of these operations.)

At 0135, 23rd October, the Charybdis signalled that she had Radar contact bearing 270°, 8,800 yards, and 7 minutes later she ordered the force to turn together to 280° (13° to starboard), speed 18 knots; this latter signal was not received by any of the destroyers except the Stevenstone. The commanding officer of the Grenville - on whom the command of the force was shortly to devolve - subsequently remarked that the increase or speed was quickly apparent, but the alteration of course was not noticed till 0146.


Between 0141 and 0144 the Talybont plotted three small units bearing 140°, 4,000 to 5,000 yards distant (Note: It was thought that these were possibly E-Boats co-operating with the destroyer force, but there is no confirmation of this) and at 0143 a number of enemy speed signals were intercepted by all the Hunt class destroyers; an undecypherable signal was also picked up.


At 0145 the Charybdis opened fire with starshell, the range being about 4,000 yards; at the same moment two torpedo tracks were sighted approaching her from the port side. Captain Voelcker at once ordered the wheel to be put hard-a-port, but a torpedo hit her and she quickly came to a standstill, listing some 20° to port. Two minutes later rocket flares fired by the Limbourne …….

(Note: "The Senior Officer was observed to alter course about 40° (sic) to starboard. No signal was received in Limbourne and it was not clear whether a red or blue turn had been carried out. Limboume followed in the wake of her next ahead. Other ships appeared to have made a blue turn and to be on a line of bearing. The following sequence of events is by no means clear, but it appeared that the position developed as follows: Charybdis increased speed and led round to port and was heard to open fire on the enemy, whose position was not known in Limboume. Grenville and Rocket did not immediately follow, but held their course, followed by Limboume. 'This manoeuvre placed Charybdis on Limbourne's port bow distant between three and four thousand yards. Charybdis was picked up and assumed to be the enemy; Limbourne fired her rockets and clearly illuminated Charybdis, who was almost immediately struck by a torpedo. By this time Grenville and Rocket were leading to port crossing Limbourne's bows. Limbourne's wheel was put hard-a-port, and two short blasts sounded to avoid Rocket. While the ship was swinging to port a torpedo track was sighted on a relative bearing of Red 140°. The wheel was put hard-a-starboard and the impression of officers was that the torpedo had missed ahead; however, there was a tremendous explosion forward." - Limbourne's report.)

…… revealed her heading to the southward and apparently stopped. By the light of the flares she was seen to be hit by another torpedo.


For about six minutes enemy torpedoes were passing through the British line. The Grenville and Wensleydale were narrowly missed, and the Limboume was hit at 0152. Just then a heavy rain squall which had been approaching from the south-west and which had probably concealed the enemy - for nothing was seen of them from any British ship - broke over the scene and the visibility shut down to nil. The action was over. 

(Note: Survivors from the Elbing class destroyer "T. 25" which was sunk 28th December, 1943, stated that she formed one of the German escort on the night of 22nd/23rd October, when a signal was received informing the flotilla of the presence of a British cruiser and destroyers in the neighbourhood. The cruiser was picked up on the German asdic at a range of 2,800 yards and had apparently failed to detect the German vessels. The whole Flotilla passed down her beam firing full salvoes of torpedoes, and by the time it came to “T.25's" turn to fire, the cruiser had blown up and disappeared.)

Deprived of its two senior officers, Force 28 was thrown into confusion. The Commanding Officer of the Grenville (Lieut.-Com. Hill) did not at first realise that the command had devolved on him, as he was under the impression that the destroyer which had been torpedoed was the Rocket; he consequently waited for instructions from the Limboume (Commander Phipps). "For the next 15 minutes" - to quote his report - "the ship was manoeuvring to avoid collision.” Then, as no orders came from the Limboume, Lieut.-Commander Hill took charge, called the force by wireless (0231) and proceeded to the northward to reform. 

(Note: The C.-in-C., Plymouth, subsequently remarked:-"The Commanding Officer of Grenville was placed in a very difficult position in succeeding to the command without any of the information which was in the possession of the Charybdis and Limbourne, and without at first knowing that it was the Limbourne which had been hit, and In all the circumstances I consider that he acted correctly in withdrawing to the northward to reorganise the scattered force.")


6. Loss of the “Charybdis


The Charybdis, meanwhile, was sinking fast. The first torpedo had hit her port side, flooding No.2 dynamo room and "B" boiler room and putting the after unit out of action. The Executive Officer, Commander Oddie, who was on the bridge at the time, went aft to take charge; by the time he reached the upper deck, the ship was listing about 20°. As he proceeded aft, the second torpedo struck the ship at about 135 station, and caused very heavy damage, displacing the after director and flooding the after engine room; all electric light failed and in about five minutes the list had increased to some 50°. Communication with the bridge had failed and Commander Oddie, seeing there was no hope of saving the ship, ordered the Carley rafts to be manned. Shortly afterwards, while climbing along the starboard side, in an endeavour to reach the bridge, he fell into the sea, and in a few minutes saw the ship suddenly take an angle by the stern till she was nearly vertical. She remained in this position for about half an hour with one third of her length out of water, and then sank." This was at approximately 0230.


The Limboume, a mile or so to the north-eastward, had fared better. She had been hit forward of the low power room and sustained such damage that it was thought the foremost magazine blew up. The forecastle was blown away from forward of the Commanding Officer's cabin and below the water line from before the low power room. The forward boiler room bulkhead was holding, however, and though the ship had immediately taken on a "heavy but not frightening list to starboard," she was in no danger of sinking and still had steam on the main engines and one steering motor in action. The bridge steering gear and communications were out of action, and attempts to get under way stern first failed owing to difficulties of communication between the bridge, engine room and tiller flat. Then water finding its way into the oil fuel caused a loss of steam. Both the Commanding Officer and First Lieutenant were suffering from concussion, and the command devolved on Sub-Lieutenant Cunliffe-Owen. Eventually, steam was recovered and communications improvised between the tiller flat and the engine room; there seemed good prospects of steaming the ship clear of the enemy's coast clearly in sight about 5 miles to the southward - but "repeated efforts failed to steady the ship on a course either stern first or bows first, and we succeeded only in turning in wide uncontrollable circles, which if anything seemed to be taking us nearer the enemy's coast”. It was an unenviable situation, and Sub-Lieutenant Cunliffe-Owen decided he must be prepared to abandon ship, in case it should be necessary to sink her to prevent her drifting inshore. The motor boat was topped up with fuel and lowered, and floats were got ready. Just then five destroyers hove in sight; at first thought to be hostile, they proved to be the Grenville with the remainder of Force 28.


After proceeding to the northward till 0250 (Plan 3 – not here), by which time the Talybont and Stevenstone were in company, Lieut.-Commander Hill had set course to meet the Wensleydale, who had reported her position to the westward of them. At this time he thought that the attack had been carried out by E-boats and that both the Charybdis and Limboume had been sunk. It seemed very probable that the E-boats would be lurking near the wrecks, awaiting the advent of rescue ships; he therefore signalled to the Commander-in-Chief at 0245, requesting instructions as to whether the area should be searched for survivors. 

(Note: From Grenville, To C.-in-C., Plymouth. "Charybdis and Limbourne hit by E-Boats torpedoes. Consider both sunk. Heavy rain, Talybont, Stevenstone in company. As E-Boats probably waiting by wrecks, should survivors be searched for. My position is now 030 KK 10 miles. 0245.”)

Half an hour later (0315) the Wensleydale and Rocket rejoined, and having in the meanwhile heard from the Stevenstone that the Limbourne was still afloat, Lieut.-Commander Hill decided to return to the scene of action, and set course accordingly, informing the Commander-in-Chief of his intention and requesting that fighter protection should be arranged. 

(Note: From Grenville, To C-in-C., Plymouth. “My posiition, course, and speed 030 KK 14, 270°, 15 knots. Propose searching for survivors at daylight. Request fighter protection. 0300.” “All five ships now in company. Am closing to search for survivors. My position course and speed, 256 KK 13, 184°, 24 knots. 0323")

It was, however, not clear to the Commander-in-Chief, from the information at his disposal, that the, enemy convoy had escaped and at 0330 he ordered the Grenville to concentrate the destroyers and sweep to the westward. 

(Note: 'From C.-in-C., Plymouth, To Grenville. "Concentrate force and then sweep westwards in search of enemy. 0330.)

This signal reached the Grenville at 0346, just as the force was reaching the damaged Limbourne: the Grenville and Rocket therefore increased speed to 24 knots and swept to the westward, leaving the three Hunt class to rescue survivors, under the direction of the Talybont (Lieut. Baines). The Wensleydale and Stevenstone started rescuing the survivors of the Charybdis, who had then been in the water for over an hour, while the Talybont stood by the Limbourne. After taking on board the wounded and men not required for towing, the Talybont took her in tow stern first, but the drogue effect of the wreckage forward was too great; as way was gathered the ship took on a violent shear and the tow parted. A second attempt proved no more successful, and at about 0500 on the return of the Grenville and Rocket from their sweep - which had been fruitless - Lieut.-Commander Hill gave orders for her to be sunk, while the Grenville and Rocket assisted in the rescue of the Charybdis survivors. Rescue work was continued till 0630, when course was shaped for Plymouth. In all, 4 officers and 103 ratings were saved (The Germans reported that some survivors from the Charybdis were captured in Brittanv.) Captain Voelcker was among those who lost their lives. Meanwhile the Talybont had taken off the remainder of the Limbourne's ship's company. Before she was abandoned the engine room running down valves were opened and the after magazine flooded. She was then torpedoed by the Talybont. She was still afloat, however, three-quarters of an hour later and was finally torpedoed and sunk by the Rocket at 0640, 23rd October.


The return passage was uneventful and the force arrived at Plymouth at 1000, 23rd October.


Photographic reconnaissance the following day revealed a large merchant ship with small craft escort at Lezardrieux and five Elbing destroyers at St. Malo.



7. Some Lessons and Remarks


“The enemy destroyers were clearly well trained and drilled in night torpedo firing, and they succeeded in effecting the surprise on our forces which we had hoped to effect on them and their quick action in firing torpedoes had the effect of completely disorganising our forces for sufficient time for them to make good their escape.


"It is also to be observed that the art of night fighting with the added new technique of radar has up to date in this war, had very little opportunity for practical test, and in the Plymouth Command at all events, little opportunity of exercise."


The foregoing extracts from the report of the Commander-in-Chief sum up the prime causes of this unfortunate reverse. It is of interest to compare them with Rear-Admiral Crutchley's remarks in August, 1942, after the Japanese victory in the Battle of Savo. "The efficiency of the enemy ships at night fighting has obviously been reached only after much intense training ....If we are to pursue a successful offensive I am convinced that whatever the cost, adequate periods must be set aside and proper facilities given for regular practices."


Two noteworthy features of the action, which were regarded by the Commander-in-Chief as mistakes, were the failure of the ships of Force 28 to exchange radar and intercepted information during the approach, and the action of the Charybdis in closing the enemy end on in view of the torpedo menace. To these may be added a third feature, the convincing demonstration by the Germans of the value of unseen torpedo attack. By their masterly use of this tactic against a superior force, they reduced it to equality and threw it into confusion, thereby achieving their object - the safety of their convoy - without the necessity of firing a gun.




OPERATION TUNNEL 22nd/23rd October 1943 by Force 28



Orders and Signals from CHARYBDIS

(1st Div, 1st Ship)






Repeated: C IN C PLYMOUTH.  

Force is to form in single line ahead course 190 deg. Speed 17 knots. Distance apart of ships 3 cables.


Following alterations of course and speed will take place at approximate times without further signals: 

(a) 173 deg. to EDDYSTONE 7.5 miles, at 2000 course 147 deg.

(b) In position at 0030/23 267 deg. speed 131knots.

(c) In position at 0200 249 deg.

Senior Officer (in CHARYBDIS) intends to keep force concentrated unless action develops into a chase to Eastward and Hunts cannot keep up; in this case Hunts may be ordered to continue sweep to Westward.


Senior Officer intends if possible to approach unobserved to 6000 yds. before illuminating target and opening fire. As soon as approach is observed by enemy, fire is to be opened immediately.


Fighting Lights should be used for identification in a melee; lights should not be switched on for more than 5 seconds.


Illuminating Ships; Rear ships of each Division.


Movement on completion: On passing EDDYSTONE homeward, Senior Officer of Destroyers take destroyers under his order and enter harbour ahead of CHARYBDIS.






Force 28 sailed Plymouth 1906 October 22nd. to patrol line joining following positions:  

325 deg. Le Heaux Light 7 miles

000 deg. Triagoz Light 7 miles

000 deg. lie Vierge Light 8 miles


0030 Speed reduced to 13 knots.


0037 Followed round to course 267 deg.


0135 CHARYBDIS to C IN C. Two unidentified vessels bearing 270 deg. distance 6 miles.



Signals & Report from GRENVILLE (1st Div, 2nd Ship)

& Signals from Other Ships



0216 STEVENSTONE TO CHARYBDIS What is your position?


0220 WENSLEYDALE to C IN C: CHARYBDIS &: LIMBOURNE TORPEDOED. Destroyers scattered am not in touch with own forces.


0225 ROCKET to C IN C: CHARYBDIS and one destroyer hit. Am not in contact.


0245 GRENVILLE to C IN C: CHARYBDIS AND LIMBOURNE torpedoed consider both sunk. E-Boats probably waiting by wrecks. Should area be searched for survivors?


0300 GRENVILLE to C IN C: Propose searching for survivors at daylight request Fighter Protection.


0305 C IN C to GRENVILLE: Concentrate Force and sweep 100 deg. to Westward in search of enemy.


0323 GRENVILLE to C IN C: All 5 ships now in company am closing to search for survivors. My position course and speed 356KK 13 180deg. 24 knots.


0347 C IN C to GRENVILLE: If no contact with enemy by 0430 at your discretion search for survivors leave area by 0530. Fighter Protection ordered at dawn.




0411 GRENVILLE to TALYBONT: What are doing with LIMBOURNE. Reply: Trying to take her in tow.


0427 C IN C to GRENVILLE: Expect Beaufighters as escort 0645 followed by Spitfires at first light.


0431 GRENVILLE to TALYBONT: If not under weigh at 8 knots by 0500 sink LIMBOURNE.


0447 STEVENSTONE to WENSLEYDALE: Which one are you taking? Reply:- There are hundreds around here.


0502 TALYBONT to GRENVILLE: Tow has parted. LIMBOURNE can still steam am having another try.


0508 GRENVILLE to STEVENSTONE & WENSLEYDALE: Are you ready to proceed? Reply from STEVENSTONE Am still picking up survivors.

0520 GRENVILLE to STEVENSTONE & WENSLEYDALE: Despatch is necessary. Report when ready.


0531 Reply: There are a great manyscattered survivors here.


0541 WENSLEYDALE to GRENVILLE: There are more survivors to Windward.


0545 GRENVILLE to FORCE 28: FoRM On me at 0600 course 340deg. Speed 24 knots. Leave Carley Floats.


0551 GRENVILLE to WENSLEYDALE: Are you ready to Proceed? Reply: Am still picking them up. From GRENVILLE: We must repeat must leave here by 0630.


0719 GRENVILLE to FORCE 28: Take Individual action against air attack keep together and keep going home.


0759 WENSLEYDALE to GRENVILLE: Am dropping back slowly - sorry tHis is my maximum speed. Reply: Don't burst yourself I will reduce.


0805 GRENVILLE to FORCE 28: Make your own survivor signals to C in C after 0900. Think you all did very well.





During the run across to France night dark and clear. Immediately before the torpedoing there was a very heavy rain squall on port bow which passed over ships a few minutes after CHARYBDIS was hit.  Moonrise 0125. Moon above horizon on starboard quarter from 0130 until ships entered rain squall at 0150. Wind S.W. 3 to 4 freshening to 6 in squalls. Little swell slight sea.


Force turned to 267deg. and reduced to 13 knots. LIMBOURNE signalled "My material indicates 3 units close". This signal was queried by CHARYBDIS. LIMBOURNE repeated it back. CHARYBDIS then increased speed although no signal received. Speed increased by 2 knots then 2 more knots. CHARYBDIS altered course 15deg, to starboard and was hit by torpedo on port side. Wheel hard a-starboard LIMBOURNE fired rocket flares which clearly lit up CHARYBDIS. She had turned 90deg. to port and appeared stopped. Just as rocket flares burst, CHARYBDIS torpedoed again. GRENVILLE altered to Port to avoid collision with ROCKET.  

0147½  Torpedo passed 5ft. ahead.


0150 Destroyer to Starboard torpedoed. Heavy rain squall next 15 minutes. Ship manoeuvering to avoid collision using Type 291 and fighting Lights.


0249 STEVENSTONE in station astern


0300 TALYBONT ordered to take station astern. Force called by W/T. Thought ROCKET torpedoed and was waiting for LIMBOURNE to take charge. When nothing happened I took over Senior Officer and decided to stand off to the North and try and concentrate Force.


0300 Altered course to West to intercept WENSLEYDALE. I felt sure attack had been made by E-Boats and knew they carried a reload of torpedoes.


0320 Set course to assist LIMBOURNE with bows blown off. Course 190deg. speed 24 knots.


0348 Hunts detached to pick up survivors. ROCKET and GRENVILLE covering operation by sweeping to West at 24 knots (moon was to the East).


0530 Closed Hunts. Many survivors still in water. Order ROCKET and TALYBONT to assist with survivors and stopped to pick up raft with 7 men on it.


0545 Signalled Force we would leave at 0600 and to slip Carley Floats before leaving. But I stayed until 0630 as there were still a few shouts from the sea. I don't think many live survivors were left as few picked up by Hunts were drowned.

As I left I saw to my surprise that LIMBOURNE was still afloat so I detached ROCKET to sink her which she did with torpedo.


 I think the Oermans knew we always ran along the same Patrol Line in line ahead and were waiting for us and with the luck of the light they carried out a very good attack. I consider: 1. Patrols should be toward the moon. 2. Not more than 4 ships in Force. 3. Second Force should sweep from West to East to intercept convoy if it puts back to Brest.



Report from LlMBOURNE

(2nd Div, 1st Ship)

0030 Arrived Le Heux Light 7 miles course altered to 267deg. Speed 13 knots.


0118 Enemy heard via HEADACHE. CHARYBDIS altered course 40deg. to Starboard.

CHARYBDlS then increased speed and led round to Port. GRENVILLE and ROCKET did not follow but held on their course. This manoeuvre placed GRENVILLE on LIMBOURNE's Port bow between 3000 and 4000 yards. CHARYBDIS was picked up on Radar and assumed to be enemy. LIMBOURNE fired rockets clearly illuminating CHARYBDIS who was struck. By then, GRENVILLE and ROCKET were leading round to Port crossing LIMBOURNE's bows. LIMBOURNE's wheel put hard a-port and 2 short blasts sounded to avoid ROCKET. Whilst ship was swinging to Port, there was a tremendous explosion forward - torpedo had struck ship forward and it is considered that the forward magazine blew up. Ship appeared to be sinking. The Captain (Commander Phipps) and the 1st. Lieutenant were both wounded and badly concussed and so the Command devolved on me (the Sub. Lieutenant, R.N.). Ship had still steam on engines and one steering motor in action. Decided to try and steam stern first but steam soon lost as water got into fuel. The glare of flames was showing through the damaged bow and giving away position of the ship. This fire was extinguished after half an hour. Then considered that there was a good chance of steaming the ship away from the enemy coast which was clearly visible 5 miles away. No signalling equipment available as it was all Iost when the ship was struck, so I went in the motor boat to TALYBONT where I informed the Captain of the situation. Decided to tow the ship stern first. But first transferred the wounded - this took considerable time as it was difficult to extricate them from the wreckage of the Wireless Office and other forward superstructure.


I am satisfied that all secret and confidential books on board were in locked steel safes. Boxes with Recognition Discs were thrown overboard also operation order which were weighed with an Aldis Lamp and Battery. HEADACHE set was thrown overboard shortly after ship was struck.


Hunt class destroyer as Limbourne



Report from TALYBONT

(2nd Div, 2nd Ship)


0145 CHARYBDIS hit. The line thrown into confusion. Speed and course adjusted as necessary to maintain touch with LIMBOURNE.


0149 LIMBOURNE illuminated to South West with rockets. CHARYBDIS seen in the light - course 180deg. approx. speed 10 knots.


0150 CHARYBDIS torpedoed again.


0151 LIMBOURNE torpedoed. Took avoiding action to avoid wreck. Severe rainstorm visibility 4 cables.


0155 Rejoined GRENVILLE and remained under her orders.


0410 Closed wreck of LIMBOURNE removed most survivors took her in tow.


0453 Tow parted.


0510 Went alongside took off remaining survivors.


0545 Torpedoed LIMBOURNE but did not sink her.


0610 Closed remainder of Force who were picking up survivors of CHARYBDIS.


0630 Set course 340 deg. - 25knots.

Enemy was never seen and only Radar picked up 5 echoes 250 deg. at 0142. These were not plotted as apparent CHARYBDIS had them and more attention was paid to echoes on the port quarter. 0154 to 0200 five echoes opening 225deg. opening to Westward at 22 knots considered to have been enemy retiring Westward. Communications on the whole failed. No manoeuvering signals received at all.


Conclusions: Force far too unwieldy. At the conference it was agreed that Force would be tightly controlled by S.O. This did not happen. Arrangements made at conference further confused issue as I personally expected CHARYBDIS to illuminate from 7000 yds. down. By coincidence or bad luck, British Force invariably seems to have light horizon behind them. When operating against German Light forces an immediate turn towards them is essential.




(2nd Div, 4th Ship)

0138 R.D.F. contact by CHARYBDIS.


0148 CHARYBDIS struck.


0154 CHARYBDIS struck again - on Port Quarter smoke and water rising to the height of her mast. Ship turned 90deg. to Port.


0350 to 0625 337deg. Triagoz Light 10 miles to rescue survivors.

During rescue operations, Petty Officers Johnson and Guy showed exceptional bravery and resource and it was through their efforts and by remaining in the water on life lines for long periods that many helpless men were rescued.



including age and where buried

ANDREWS. A.B; Fred, D/JX2S7698, 32, Dinard

ASHMAN, Musn, John Sinclair. RMB/X698, 23, Dinard

BALL. Sigmn. Walter Harry, D/JX246730, Dinard

BEAMISH, P.O. Thomas Edward, D/JX129125, 33, Dinard 

BEATTIE. Ord Sigm. John, D/JX340276, 20, Dinard

BENNETT, Lieut. Frank Birkett R.N.V.R., Dinard

BELTAM, Ord. Sea. John Noel, D/JX246433, 17, Dinard 

BIRKIN. P.O, Cook. Lester, D/MX50528, 27, Dinard

BLUCK, Ldg. Wireman, Leonard Samuel, D/MX75335, Dinard   

BOON, Marine, Robert, PLY/X103134, 38, D

BOOTH, Ldg. Sto. Frederick, D/KX93025, 25, Guernsey

BOYCE, Supply Asst. Leicester John, D/MX574117, 37, Dinard

BRADFORD. Mech. Frank, D/K62154, 38, Dinard

BRAY. ERA, Douglas Robson, D/MX57738, 25, Dinard 

BURN, A.B., Louise Lester, C/JMX351947, 19, Guernsey

CAMERON, Ord. Mech. David, D/MX75978, 23, Jersey

CLAGUE. Wireman, Thomas Arthur, D/MX74736, Dinard

CLAYTON, Boy Seaman. Donald Jeffrey, D/JY246429, 17, Guemsey

CLAYTON, Ord. Tel. William I, D/JX341388, 21, Guernsey

CROWLEY, Ord. Tel. James Wilfred, D/JX361599, 19, Dinard

DISBURY, A.B. George, D/J51825, 43, Dinard

DISLEY, A.B. Edward, P/JX35S031, 19, Dinard 

DOBSON. Ldg. Supply. John (Bill), D/MX68963, 27, Guernsey

DUNCAN, A.B., Hector, D/JX257943, 35, Jersey

FAKE, Musn. Donald Jack, RMBX1494, 28, Jersey

FINCH, Sto. P.O., Reginald Gordon, D/KX82857, 28, Jersey 

FIVEASH, Elec. Artificer, Ronald, D/MX73816, Jersey   

GOODENOUGH, Ldg. Seaman, Peter, P/JX296061, 20, Jersey 

HADWIN, Asst, Steward. Wilfred, D/LX30915, 18, Jersey 

HAMILTON, Comdr. (E) John Duncan RN, 35, Jersey 

HARPER. E.R.A. Thomas Gordon D/MX102904, Guernsey

HARROLD, Ord. Seaman. Kenneth, D/JX417624, 18, Jersey

HERBERT, Coder, John Wilson, D/JX342996, 20, Guernsey

HUGHES, Sick Berth, P.O., Ivor, D/MX51599, 37, Dinard

HOLDING, Marine, Arnold, PLY/X103541, Dinard  

JENKS, Ord. Seaman, Eric, D/JX419472, 17, Dinard

JONES. A. B. Frank, D/J22492, 46, Guernsey

KANE, A. B., Joseph Hugh, D/JX363846, 20, Guernsey 

LAWSON, Ord. Seaman, David Connal, D/JX421609, 18, Guernsey 

LIVERTON, A.B., William George D/JX163841, 41, Dinard

LOCK, Canteen Asst., Ronald C/NX1689, 21, Dinard

MacDONALD, Ord. Seaman, John Donald, P/JX518696, 18, Guernsey

McGOWAN, Ord. Seaman, Eric, D/JX563029, Dinard

MADDEN, ERA, Ivor William, D/MX55184, 22 Jersey

MAIDMENT, Ord. Seaman, John, D/JX246207, 17, Guernsey

MANNINGS, SBA, Richard John, D/MX84927, 23, Dinard

MAY. Ldg, Supply Asst., Kenneth, D/MX67815, 33, Guernsey

MEAD, Ste, P,O. John Williams, D/KX76759, 44, Dinard

MILLN, A.B., George Hazell, P/JX341353, 20, Dinard

MIL TON, Supply P.O., Arthur, D/MX54131, 26, Jersey

MORGAN, A. B., John Rees, D/JX230394, 23, Guernsey

MURPHY, Ord. Seaman, Patrick, D/JX416730, Guernsey

PENNINGTON. Sto. Walter, D/SKX972, 24, Dinard

PIESSE, Bandmaster, Frederick, RMB/X2815, Dinard

REID, Ord. Seaman, John, D/JX563458, Dinard

REYNOLDS. A.B., Mervyn, D/JXI78507, 24, Jersey

RILEY, A.B. D/JXI76204, 24, Jersey

ROBERTS, Marine, Clifford Ernest, PLY/X4181, 19, Guernsey

ROBERTSON, Ldg, Seaman, John Henry, P/JX259211, 31, Dinard

SMALLEY, E.R.A., Richmond, D/MX75813, 30, Dinard

SMITH, Mech., Thomas William, D/KX81838. Dinard

SOMERS, Sto., Henry, D/KX 134952, Dinard

STAPLES, Ord, Seaman, Ernest Edward, D/JX417332, Dinard  

STEWART, Ldg. Wireman, Maynell, D/MX7S091, 20, Dinard

STEWART, Sto. P.O. Walter, D/KX88684, 26, Dinard

THOMAS, R.P.O. Frank, D/MX74113, 31, Jersey

TOQZER. A. B., Arthur, D/J X285701, 36, Jersey

TRETHOWAN. Marine. William James, PLY/X 101542, Dinard

TRIGGER, Wireman, John Frederick, D/MX72702, Dinard

TURNER, Payms., Sub Lieut, Leonard George, R.N.V.R., 28, Dinard

VOELCKER, Captain, George Arthur Wallis, R.N., 44, Dinard

WALKER. A. B. David Farrow, D/SSX33793, Dinard

WARD, Ldg. Seaman, John, D/JX175502, 24, Dinard

WELLENS, E. R.A.. Thomas, D/MX 74832, 26, Jersey

WHARTON. E.R.A.. Ronald, D/MD/X 1478, Dinard

WHITE, Supply Asst. John Edward, D/MX68473, 24, Guernsey

WILLIAMS, Marine, Harold, PLY/X1117, 30, Dinard

WILLIS, A.B., Arthur, P/JX299074, 23, Jersey

YOUNG, Sto., Alfred Thomas, D/KX162164, 17, Guernsey





Dinard (France) is a small town 114 miles from St. Malo. It has good rail and road connections with Paris, Brest, Rennes and other towns in Brittany; 96 of our comrades are buried there; 49 identified; 47 unknown.

St. Peter Port (Foulon) Cemetery, Guernsey is situated I mile due west of the town and the Islanders hold a remembrance service every year. There are 21 of our comrades buried there; 20 identified; I unknown.

St. Helier (Howard Davis Park), Jersey is close to the south eastern boundary of St. Helier; there are 38 of our comrades buried there; 12 identifIed.

At Sea - 365 of our comrades are still missing.

Though time may ease the pain of our loss, to this day


your names are uttered with undying devotion by your


kin, with pride by your comrades, with respect by your


once enemies, with honour by your country. For it was


you who made mans' greatest sacrifice in the name of


God and Freedom.

Doug. Stafford


This photograph of H.M.S. "CHARYBDIS" was taken on 22nd February, 1943



November 1943


The Supreme Sacrifice


By F.W.F. of the "Evening Press."


"Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. . . . “


"They died that we might be free. . . . " was one of the lovely but simple tributes written on a wreath card - one of nearly 900 beautiful floral tributes which made Island history in being part of the largest, sincerest and most magnificent funeral Guernsey ever had.


This great event took place on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 17; 1943, and this wonderful display, this spontaneous congregation of people from all walks of insular life - rich and poor, farmer and labourer, manager and clerk, grower and worker, government official and dustman - will ever stand in memory and record as the finest gesture we enslaved people coud make towards nineteen brave and gallant sailors -members of the crew of the ill-fated cruiser "Charybdis" and the destroyer "Limboume" whose bodies had been washed on to our shores during those dismally dark days of November 13-16, 1943.


Did the Germans for one moment, following the outward expression of our innermost feelings, question which way after three and a half years of trial and tribulation under their misrule; did they question which direction our true feelings and steadfast allegiance lay? Individually and collectively we gave them a definite answer at the funeral here described.


To each one of those who mourn I would give this assurance, that it was a real day of triumph over adversity when the loyal civilian population of this small part of the British Empire contributed its quota of true feeling and sentiment by ensuring that those hapless victims of war should receive their final and due reward - a funeral service worthy of those who mourn in the Mother Country, and a tribute and service such as only the bereaved would have wished their father, brother or son to have had. Since that, islanders have regularly cared for the graves and weekly beautiful floral tributes have adorned the graves. (The dimensions ......)



The dimensions of public feeling demonstrated by Guernsey men and women astounded the Germans who honoured the victims of their war of aggression by official attendance and the full rites of naval honours at the funeral, with local Church of England, Methodist and Catholic clergymen to administer the funeral service to departed souls. Union Jacks draped the coffins of two of the victims, the others having been lowered into their graves prior to the public ceremony.


As the clergy pronounced the words "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," over each individual coffin, we thought of the brave men (and the sorrowing relatives separated from their loved ones) who were now dead - but who, in glorious death, were living symbols of all that was best in the manhood and youth of our Motherland: men revered in life and honoured in death by their fellow-countrymen and their, and our, bitter enemies - the Germans.


The occupying forces granted every facility to the Island Police Force, St. John Ambulance Brigade and civil government-officials (known as the States) in their duties, and credit goes to the Germans for unthinkingly and unwittingly permitting the public demonstrations of heartfelt sympathy that welled forth from the hearts of our people who made spontaneous pilgrimages from everywhere within our shores so that they could, at the graveside of the nineteen departed, stand in silent prayer, thanksgiving and tribute to those who had reached the golden shores of man's desiring.


The Royal Navy, Royal Marines and all services of the Mother Country with British Legion men and service ex-officers, were present at the mass funeral and though wreaths were so inscribed the petty-minded Nazi-newspaper censor would not permit public mention that they bore the words “Royal” or “British” or carried any words or inscriptions that in the German view, were of so-called “propaganda value."


These. their names, will always live in our memories as shining examples of those who go down to the sea in ships. C. E. Roberts, J. Maidment, F. Bradford, Petty Officer Murphy, A. T. Young, W. Clayton, H. Somers, K. May, J. D. MacDonald, C. D. Lawson, J. Herbert, T. White, F. Jones, W. J. Dobson. D. Clayton, J. R. Morgan, T. G. Harper, F. Booth and L. L. Bunn.


Added to the above must be the name of Rating J. Kane whose body was washed on to our shores on Tuesday November 30th. He was laid to rest alongside his colleagues during the afternoon of December 6th. at the same cemetery with fun naval honours, attended by civil officials, and representatives of the German forces.


It should here be stressed that following the large demonstration of public feeling at the mass funeral, the occupying enemy forbade expressions of like sympathy or newspaper mention, so only a few members of the public were present at Rating Kane's burial - or those of other Allied victims buried in this Island.


At the same time as the 19 seamen were lowered into Guernsey soil, our friends in our sister island of Jersey, buried a further 29 victims washed on to their shores, and, as in the case of Guernsey, presumed part of the crews of the "Charybdis. andLimboume”.


In Jersey the German authorities did not permit a public funeral (they had learned their lesson from a previous public demonstration at the funeral of some Allied airmen) and allowed but brief mention in that island's only newspaper, the Jersey "Evening Post”.


On Saturday, November 27, 1943, the bodies of 40 officers and men from the ill-fated vessels were interred in the German Military Cemetery at St. Brieue in France. The day following at St. Malo impressive scenes were witnessed at the mass funeral of 102 officers and ratings, with their commander. Captain James Walker (sic). (Publishers of this .....)

Publishers of this memento. Messrs. the Guernsey Press Co., of Smith Street. St. Peter-Port, at the time of this Island's mass funeral here recorded, printed a special four-page brochure (now out of print) of the photographs taken by their cameraman at the cemetry.  


German news censor Horst Schmidt-Walkhoff restricted its size and circulation. He ordered that no more than 2,000 copies (and this only after continued pleading) were to be printed. But privately, defying these instructions and at great risk to the personnel of the company, this newspaper published 5.000 copies which were eagerly sought-after and quite inadequate to meet the demand.


Now that we are once again free people as a spontaneously sincere gesture from all loyal Guernsey people we publish this memento and trihute to our fellow countrymen who paid the full price of life so that we, and you, might once more live and be free from the stress and suffering of a German-made war.


With the remainder of the British Empire we Guernsey people salute the men of the “Charybdis” and “Limboume" with these immortal words


“They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old,

“Age shall net weary them, nor the years condemn.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

we will remember them.”


Guernsey, Channel Islands

September 1945.




In Memoriam

Pause and sigh

Over the mounds of fresh-turned earth where lie

those mariners asleep.

Softly weep

For their beloved ones across the deep

who wait for them in vain;

Theirs the pain

Of watching for a ship to come again

Which nevermore will sail:

Worn and pale

The sweethearts, wives and mothers of the crew

Who courted Death and knew

Swift adieu.

Let them pass

With love and honour as befits their class.

And grave nobility:

let the sea

Rage that she left such treasure on our shore.

Let all her breakers roar;

But let the calm encircling them about

Stifle her angry shout:

And in the land where there is no more sea.

Only tranquility.

Let them know

That their great sacrifice was honoured so

In this small Isle below.

Mavis G. Mallett.

Published November 1945


Marines of the German Forces stand by the flag-draped coffin of naval men. One coffin of Roman Catholic P.O. Murphy with service being conducted by Cannon Hickey assisted by E.T. and E.J. Baker. Second coffin contained body of Church of England sailor

A soldier of the German Forces places a wreath on the graves of the gallant men who lost their lives fighting for their Motherland.



Bailiff of Guernsey, Mr Victor G. Carey, places a wreath on behalf of the people of the Island

Men and women from all walks of life pay last respects as they file past the graves.

These pictures portray the solemn scene at the burial of the bluejackets


The Dean of Guernsey is seen passing from grave to grave, each enclosing one coffin, with breastplate, to pronounce the final words of Benediction .....

..... and the other photograph shows only a small section of the wonderful tribute of wreaths.

Wednesday, November 17th, 1943

This Union Jack was used to cover the coffin of a
sailor from H.M.S. Charybdis.



The flag was retrieved by William Henry de Carteret
in whose memory it was donated to
St Johns Church,



The Star, Guernsey, Thursday, November 18, 1943






Three of the survivors pay tribute at a service and wreath laying ceremony aboard the new "Charybdis" near the spot where some 500 colleagues died…..


Captain John Lawson RN conducted the service


By Don Coolican

"Survivors of a sea disaster stood together on deck yesterday for the first time in 30 years.

They had last met fighting for their lives in a sea of burning, oil when their ship went down and 500 of their shipmates died.

Only 48 men could be found from the crew of H.M.S. Charybdis, a light cruiser sunk by two German torpedoes off Guernsey in 1943.

From that chilly night in September 1943 the survivors never met again. Some were invalided-out of the Navy while others served elsewhere, in the Second World War on other ships that were sunk.

But then two ex-Royal Marines, 51-year-old John Eskdale and 50 year-old Eric Davies got in touch.

Sixteen of the men gathered yesterday to form a survivors' association on board the Charybdis of today, a. punchy, missile-carrying frigate.





"In the wardroom of the latest vessel. moored alongside the famous H.M.S. Belfast in the Pool of London, they recalled that terrible autumn night years ago.

Ex-Marine Eskdale from Winsley, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts. said: “I was In the next turret to Eric Davies.

“When we were hit the second time the torpedo struck below our turret.

“I'm very lucky to be alive."

Ex-Marine Davies. now a plastics technician from Leonard Stanley, Gloucs, recalled how he was fusing shells in one of the gun turrets when the first torpedo struck home.

“We kept firing until the second torpedo hit us," he said. "


Club for survivors


"Among Blackboy's pleasant tasks from time to time is to spread the word about reunions of one type or another.

And one such report has helped a group of ex-shipmates to get together again, I'm pleased to hear.

A couple of survivors of the sinking of the wartime cruiser H.M.S. Charybdis in 1943 set about locating others who survived.

They managed to trace 60 out of a possible 100 and have now met up and formed an association, one of the instigators, Doug Stafford, of Park Road, Staple Hill, tells me.


"What’s more, by kind permission of the Royal Navy, some are being taken to Guernsey, where on October 5 (1974) they will pay tribute to 19 colleagues who were washed ashore and given a military funeral there.

During their trip, says Mr Stafford, they hope to visit war graves in France and Jersey where other crew members are buried.

“We also hope to visit the location of the ship’s sinking to lay a wreath for the 500 or so of our shipmates who went down with her,” he added."



….. then sailed to Guernsey in the Channel Islands where in the company of the many Island people and supporting British guards of honour they paid further tribute to 19 of their colleagues who were washed ashore and buried there



By April the following year many others of the old ships company including over thirty survivors assembled at H.M.S. "Flying Fox" the R.N.R. establishment at Bristol, held their first reunion and formed the "Charybdis" association in the October of the same year. Twenty one members with their wives and families visited the island of Guernsey where the members were invited to take part in the "Charybdis" memorial celebrations which are annually held there each October.


left. the Tribal class frigate H.M.S. "Eskimo", Commander R. K. Dibble R. N. the visiting Naval ship to Guernsey for the "Charybdis" celebrations and in which some of our members took passage from Portsmouth to Guernsey on October 3rd. in a force seven gale.


The laying of the Wreaths

Sunday October 5th  (1975),  the parade from St Peter Port Town Arsenal to Foulon Cemetery headed by R.M. Band then the R.N. officer of parade, Royal Marine & Royal Naval guards of honour

Guernsey R.N. & R.M. Association followed by the "Charybdis" Association - then Scouts - St. Johns Amb. & other groups.

Memorial Service


October 5th, 1975



O God our help in ages past

1 O God our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

  Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home.


2 Beneath the shadow of Thy Throne,

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

  Sufficient is Thine Arm alone,

And our defence is sure.


3 A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone;

  Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.


4 O God our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

  Be Thou our guard while troubles last,

And our eternal home. Amen.





Commanding Officer H.M.S. "Eskimo"







Captain R. E. LE PAGE, S.A.







Rev. O. TUDOR HUGHES, M.B.E., B.A., H.C.F.







Eternal Father, strong to save

1 Eternal Father, strong to save,

  Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.

  Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep

  Its own appointed limits keep;

            O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.


2 O Christ, Whose voice the waters heard

  And hush'd their raging at Thy word,

  Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

  And calm amid the storm didst sleep:

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.


3 O Holy Spirit, Who didst brood

  Upon the waters dark and rude,

  And bid their angry tumult cease,

  And give, for wild confusion, peace:

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.


4 O Trinity of love and power,

  Our brethren shield in danger's hour:

  From rock and tempest, fire and foe.

  Protect them wheresoe'er they go;

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.




Naval Prayer

The Very Rev. F. W. COGMAN, B.D., Dean of Guernsey


Oh Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast encompassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end; be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants, and the Fleet in which we serve, Preserve us from the dangers of the sea, and from the yiolence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and her Dominions, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Island may in peace and quietness serve thee our God; and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours, and with the thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The German Torpedo Boat Torpilleur” T23, C.O. Lt. F. K. Paul.

One of the Enemy Force In Operation Tunnel


These photos were obtained by one of our members Denis Nichols

Lookouts and bridge personnel

Lt F. K. Paul

Action stations                                                         “Torpilleur” T23


T23 anchored 1943

Aft gun’s crew



This book has been made up from extracts of a scrapbook belonging to a serving member of the 1939-1945 Wartime Cruiser HMS "CHARYBDIS" who also was partially responsible for the origination of the CHARYBDIS ASSOCIATION formed in 1975. The illustrations of The Crew together with those In Action were taken from photographs taken in 1941-2-3. All remaining insertions are through the kindness and courtesy of the following to whom sincere thanks are expressed.


The British Admiralty. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Guernsey Star Newspaper, Mrs. D. de Carteret of Guernsey, F.W.F. of The Guernsey Evening Press, Mavis G. Mallett of Guernsey. The R.N. & M. Association of Guernsey. The Commanding Officers of H.M. Frigates "Charybdis" and "Eskimo", Lieut. F .K. Paul of The German Navy and other members of The Charybdis Association.


The ROLL OF HONOUR contained herein list the members of H.M.S. "Charybdis" whose bodies were washed ashore and buried in Guernsey, Jersey and Dinard. Since publication however, it has been learned through an acquired copy of The War Dead of The Commonwealth that other members of the crew are buried in France at St. Brieuc Western Communal Cemetery, Ile De Brehat Communal Cemetery and St. Charles De Percey War Cemetery. They are:-


2nd CI. Stoker, R.W. Barnes

Stoker P.O., J. Berry

Ord. Seaman, M.J. Bishop.

2nd CI. Stoker, G. Bowden

Marine, T.G. Burfoot

1st CI. Stoker, C. Caffery

Able Seaman, H. Carson

Ldg. Stoker, E.L. Chegwin

Able Seaman, G. Clayton

Signalman, D.S. Corridon

Able Seaman. G .C. Crowther

Marine, J. Fallon

Ord. Seaman, S.A. Fillery

Able Seaman, T .C. Garner

Stoker P.O., J.F. Grant


Able Seaman, S. Gray

Able Seaman, E.C. Green

Able Seaman, W.J. Grundy

2nd CI. ERA, W.E. Hill

Ldg. Seaman, J.C. Howard

Ldg. Seaman, J. Jackson

Able Seaman, T.E. Jull

1st CI. Stoker, I.J. Lee

S/Lt. Paymstr., J.W. Little

Marine, I. Lloyd

1st CI. Mech., E.N. Lockwood

1st CI. Stoker, G. McCowan

Marine Cpl., J.T. Mercer

Marine, T. Mottram

S/Lieut., J. Pounds


Stoker P.O., E. Price

1st CI. Stoker, H. Quinn

Elect. Artif., R. Scholes

2nd CI. Stoker, J. Sheppard

Ordnance Mech., A.M. Mark

P.O., H.F. Smithies

P.O. Tel., W.N. Steedman

Steward, P.J. Sullivan

Ldg. Seaman, A.N. Taylor

Ord. Seaman, W. Thornton

Able Seaman, K.F.N. Tomkins

Marine, H.F .J. Veness

Marine, F .J. Wallis

Marine, J. Waters

Able Seaman, W. L. Whalley


Stoker P.O.. A. Wilson

Joiner 3rd CI., H. Wright



The Revd. W.H. Mitchell



P.O., C. Harrison

2nd CI. Stoker, W.H. Mansfield



It should also be remembered that there were a number more whose bodies were never recovered and others who died after being picked up.

All in all over 500 Men of Charybdis perished on that night of the 22nd/23rd October 1943.

It is also hoped that in this book, not only have we given some indication what navalwarfare was all about in that era, but have stressed the gallantry of the Guernsey People during the occupation of their Island when some ninety five percent of them paid tribute at the Burial Service of nineteen men of "Charybdis" who were washed ashore there weeks later. The tribute was against the specific orders of the German Command Forces butfrom the same contents of this book it also hoped to show that they too had respect for the Victims of "Charybdis" and ”Limbourne”.

HMS Charybdis


Leander class Frigate






AND SO TO 2008 .....

from Neil Wood, HMS Limbourne, Charybdis/Limbourne Association


When we met the First Sea Lord in Guernsey last October, he wanted to have a photograph taken with the survivors present at the time. The names of those involved are shown - Eric Davies & John Eskdale were Royal Marines on "Charybdis", George Brown, Alan Larcombe & myself were "Limbourne", the others "Charybdis".


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