The HMS Cossack Association

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This section contains news and information on forthcoming events, recent happenings and developments of interest to association members. Scroll down to see what's behind these headlines and some previous ones.

Headline items


NEWSLETTER 5/2016

The above Newsletter (the latest) is now available to download. Click here



HMS COSSACK (L03) BLESSING SERVICE

21st October 2016

Whilst throughout the Royal Navy the 21st October is remembered for the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson's death, HMS Cossack Association has other reasons for remembering. Seventy five years ago on 21st October 1941 Tribal Class destroyer HMS Cossack pennant number G03 (but known to the Association by her original LO3) was torpedoed off Gibraltar. One hundred and fifty nine of her ships company were lost. Cossack did not sink immediately and the next day (22nd) some of the survivors with others from HMS Carnation returned on board to extinguish fires and attempt to re start her engines. A tug was on its way from Gibraltar arriving on 25th and took Cossack in tow stern first. Worsening weather overcame the efforts and Cossack finally sank five days after being hit by the torpedo.

This event is commemorated on a plaque in Portsmouth cathedral. Most friends, relatives and other interested people visiting the Naval memorial on Southsea common find there is no specific focus relating to Cossack and are probably unaware of the Cathedral plaque.The HMS Cossack Association decided to provide a memorial stone at the Naval memorial. The Association had hoped to arrange the ceremony on the exact anniversary but this would have clashed with preparations for the Great South Run on the Common.

Accordingly on 28th October some 17 members of the Association gathered in the Cathedral for a service of commemoration led by the Dean of Portsmouth. The President of the Association, The Hon Rupert Digby, whose grandfather commanded Cossack at the battle of Narvik, gave a short address highlighting how such a great loss life impacted the survivors and the families left behind by fathers, husbands and sons. Following the dedication the memorial stone was unveiled at a short ceremony at the Southsea Common memorial by Alan Edinborough whose father was lost in the sinking. Alec Kellaway (aged 98) who served in L03 from 1940 to 1941 then laid a wreath at the new stone memorial.

New memorial stoneAlec lays wreath
Members present

The President then spoke again, emphasising the value of the Association as a networking hub keeping the exploits of Cossack alive for future generations and for the stone to help provide a focus to the families who suffered loss and a reminder to the general public who have benefited from the 70 years of peace in Europe partly built on the exploits and in some cases loss, of servicemen such as Cossack. Whilst all this activity has focussed on the loss of ships company at the sinking we also remember those lost at actions such as the 2nd Battle of Narvik where fourteen members of the ships company were lost and another five as a result of collision with a merchant ship, so the Memorial stone is for those who served and were lost at any time.

There are still five Life Members of the Cossack Association who served in L03.


THE NEXT COSSACK REUNION

The next reunion will be held at the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea from 31st March to 3rd April 2017. If you served in HMS Cossack but are not a member of the Association and would like to attend, why not go to the "Join" section of this page and take the plunge?


WHO ARE THEY?

Over the years many photographs have been sent usually with very little, if anything to say who is in the photograph. They may have lain in someone's ditty box for years and perhaps they have forgotten too! Some have come from relatives having found them in a late Shipmate's belongings. Our current Archivist, Keith Batchelor, has spent much time in scanning them and would now like your help. There are over 100 photographs and we can only display a few at a time. the second batch is now shown below. If you recognise anyone in any of the photos, please let us know. Please revisit from time to time to look at the next lot. Thanks

Photo No. 9 Photo No. 10
Photo No. 11 Photo No. 12
Photo No. 13 Photo No. 14
Photo No. 15 Photo No. 16


OUR ARCHIVIST DELVES INTO THE PAST OF THE FIRST FOUR HMS COSSACKS

As we all know, Archivists never stop delving into the past, and ours, Keith Batchelor, is no different. This time though his quest was to find out the names of those who commanded the first four HM ships named Cossack. He succeeded and their names have been added to the history of each ship in the HISTORY section, just click on the button.



COSSACK GRAVES AT PONTA DELGADA

As reported previously, a recent visit to Ponta Delgada in the Azores by HMS SCOTT provided the opportunity for someone to check on the graves of two COSSACK men who were buried there in 1941.

When HMS COSSACK was torpedoed and sunk in October 1941 many survivors were pulled out of the sea by boats from HMS LEGION and HMS CARNATION. Two taken aboard the Legion were Stoker 1st Class H.J. Springall and Able Seaman R.J.G. Wallace. Both were badly wounded and needed urgent hospital treatment. Legion steamed for Ponta Delgada, the Azores being neutral territory, and landed them there. Unfortunately they both died of their wounds in hospital and were buried in the British Protestant Cemetery.

The photograph below showed, in our view, a lack of care and attention if not neglect. Consequently a letter was sent to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with the photographs asking whether something could be done to improve things.

The CWGC responded that, in their view, the photographs show no evidence of a state of neglect as the headstones are accessible, clearly marked and free from disturbance. They said that because of the remoteness of the location they rely on the sevices of the church. They said that the cemetary caretaker was currently on leave but we could be aasured that both the grass and the headstone cleaning would be tended to on his return. Our letter had been passed onto the Area Horticultural Manager who is reviewing the current maintenance agreements with this and other remote sites in the Azores with a view to establishing a more comsistent maintenance regime.

We hope that anyone visiting Ponta Delgada will look in on the cemetary and keep us up-to-date with photographs.

Ponta Delgada Graves1


THE JOSSINGFJORD VISITOR CENTRE

In early 2010 we learned that our late shipmate Stoker Mechanic David Morris (D57 1954/56) left £1000 to the Association when he died the previous year. It was decided that it should be used for something worthwhile, not frittered away. However, it wasn't until our 2011 AGM that it was decided to use it to create a joint archive with the Imperial War Museum/HMS BELFAST and HMS COSSACK so that the public would be able to see some of the information, etc that our Archivists, Keith Batchelor and his predecessor Reg Doring, have put together over the years. However, the project had ground to a halt and nothing had been achieved by the time the 2013 Reunion and AGM came around and it was therefore decided to pull the plug.

At this year's AGM we were given a presentation by Finn Nesvold about the new Visitor Centre to be created on the shores of Jossingfjord. An old power station building has been donated by the local mining company, the design and plans have been drawn up and now comes the most difficult part, raising the funds. After the presentation it was proposed that the Morris Bequest of £1000 should be given to them to help towards that part of the visitor centre which will be dedicated to HMS Cossack and the Altmark Incident. This was carried unanimously. Immediately our President, Admiral Sir James Eberle, said that he would double the amount so now they have £2000 towards their costs. Finn, and Dag Sorensen who was also present, both of whom are leading lights on this project, were overwhelmed and most appreciative.


THE ALTMARK BOARD

If you have looked through the HISTORY section of this site you will have seen that in February 1940 Cossack boarded the Altmark in Jossingfjord, Norway and rescued 299 merchant seaman held as prisoners. Subsequently, when the Nazis occupied Norway, they erected a board on shore near the spot where the boarding took place. When the allies had driven the Nazis out British airborne forces "liberated" the board, which was double sided, gave one side to Admiral Vian and the other went onto their museum.

A Norwegian historical group, the Lister Defence Historical Association based at Lista airfield, not far from Jossingfjord, wished to have a replica of the board for their museum, Festung Lista. It was created by one of their local members, Asbjorn Skoien, and, as you can see in the photograph below, he has done a fantastic job. Compare it with the one to the right, the original, which was donated by Admiral Vian's daughters and now in the RN Museum, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.


Altmark Board Altmark Sign

INFORMATION ABOUT THOSE WHO SERVED IN HM SHIPS COSSACK

Over the last few years many requests have been received for information about someone's father or grandfather who was thought to have served in either Cossack (L03) or Cossack (D57). Where we had information, we passed it on. However, the information we had was, and still is, very limited. Our association has no access to MOD records, although a while ago our Archivist, Keith Batchelor, was allowed to work through some of the Victualling records of L03 to try to glean the names of those aboard.

For the uninitiated, HM ships ran a system called "Victualling and Checking" in order that the Supply Officer could claim the appropriate allowance of food, etc for those aboard. A man joining the ship would be "victaulled in" and when he left he would be "checked out". The Victualling and Check Lists were also used to pass this information to Pay Offices.

Enough of the history though ! Supplemented by information received from those who joined the association and from relatives, we now have a reasonable, but not definitive, lists of those who served in the ships. We have therefore decided to make these available on line. To access, click on the button marked SHIPS CO. on the left side of this page.

Our hope was , and is, that it would encourage others to come forward with information to add to our knowledge. Recently we heard from a neighbour of Walter Scott, a Telegraphist, who joined Cossack (D57) in 1945 on her commissioning. We knew from another shipmate that a W. Scott had been aboard but not when or anything else. Now we know more about him thanks to that friendly neighbour.


THE MERCHANT SEAMAN RESCUED FROM THE ALTMARK BY HMS COSSACK

Our Archivist, Keith Batchelor, has been beavering away and has now produced a list of the names of the merchant seamen who were rescued from the German prison ship ALTMARK on 16th February 1940. This is now on line and can be accessed by clicking on the SHIPS CO. button on the left of this page.


WARSHIPS INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW

In March and April of 2010 the magazine produced an article in two parts about the Altmark Incident. We have been privileged to receive copies of these and permission to promulgate them in our newsletter and here on the web site. These are in the .pdf format and can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Altmark Incident - Part 1: ALTMARK - Part 1

Altmark Incident - Part 2: ALTMARK - Part 2

Following on, in June and July of 2011 the magazine produced another article, in which Cossack features, about the BISMARCK action. Again in two parts, these can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Bismarck Action - Part 1: BISMARCK - Part 1

Bismarck Action - Part 2: BISMARCK - Part 2


Anyone who has a news item they would like to be included here, please send them by e-mail to the Secretary:

The HMS Cossack Association secretaryhmscossack@outlook.com


For further information on the association's activities, an abridged version of the last two HMS Cossack association newsletters are available for download by clicking on the buttons below.

Note: The newsletter is in PDF format, which should be compatible with most systems, however, if you are having difficulty reading the file, you can obtain a free Adobe Acrobat reader from their website (www.adobe.com)

Newsletter (Previous NL4-2016)

Newsletter ( Latest NL5-2016)


For information on how to join the Association, click here: How to Join

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