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Price, Robert Gerald

Robert Gerald Price was born on the 19th November 1918 and Baptised on the 10th January 1917 according to St. Francis’s Church Parish Registers, Sandycroft.   He was the son of Andrew & Violet Price (nee Bates).

Andrew and Violet were married in the St Bartholomew’s Church at Church Minshull, Cheshire on the 6th June 1914.   Andrew was 29, a Bachelor and Ironworker, who lived at Clifton House, Bedford Street, Rhyl, his father was Henry Price, Lead Worker now deceased.   Violet Bates, was 23, a Spinster and her address was Church Minshull.   Her father was Levi Bates, a Retired Police Constable.

As they lived in different Parishes and indeed counties and they had their Banns read in both Rhyl & Church Minshull on the 17th, 24th and 31s May 1914.

I believe that Robert Gerald had at least 3 other siblings.   Albert V. Bates, born in the December quarter of 1915 (Hawarden Vol.  11b Page 343), Cyril Bates, born the 2nd February 1919 and Baptised on the 10th April 1919 in St. Francis’s Church, Sandycroft and Violet M. Bates born the September quarter of 1923, (Hawarden Vol. 11b Page 352).

I do not know anything about Robert Gerald’s early childhood or teen years, so if anyone has any information , it would be gratefully received.

I do know that Robert Gerald, at some time joined or was conscripted into the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman and he was to find himself on HMS “Arethusa” and on the fateful journey on the 16th November 1942 when they joined the Convoy (Operation Stoneage), many thanks to the websites and articles below which tells the story of Robert Gerald’s involvement and death.

http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-06CL-Arethusa.htm

November    1942          Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy MW13 (Operation STONEAGE).

16th        Joined convoy with HM Destroyers JAVELIN, JERVIS, KELVIN, NUBIAN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN  and PETARD as escort after it left Port Said.

17th        Relieved as escort by HM Destroyers ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT, BELVOIR, CROOME,

DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HURSLEY, HURWORTH, TETCOTT and Greek destroyer PINDOS.

Returned to Alexandria with original screen.

18th        Rejoined MW13 with HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA, DIDO and ORION and same destroyers.       After unsuccessful air attacks came under further by torpedo carrying aircraft at dusk.        Hit on port side abreast B turret and took on heavy list to Port.   Extensive fires in forward structure due to oil fuel together with flooding. 156 killed and 42 injured .               Ship disabled.                   (Note: Hole in structure was later found to be 53 ft long and 35 feet deep.

19th        Fires under control and took passage under own power using emergency steering, escorted by HMS  PETARD, HMS JERVIS and HMS JAVELIN.   Taken in tow by PETARD when damaged section bucking. Other destroyers detached to return to MW13.

20th        Tow by HMS PETARD stern first in continuation.

21st         Arrived at Alexandria and assisted to tugs to prevent further damage by use of main engines.

December              Under temporary repair at Alexandria to allow ocean passage.

https://www.world-war.co.uk/web_arethusa.php3

HMS ARETHUS

On November 18th 1942, HMS Arethusa formed part of the escort of cruisers and destroyers taking an important convoy through the Eastern Mediterranean to Malta.

It was important because Malta needed stores to enable her to fulfil the role allotted to her in the great general offensive operations which had opened with the British Eighth Army’s advance from Alamein a few days previously.

During the day the convoy was passing through that part of the Mediterranean between Cyrenaica and Crete known as “Bomb Alley” and at dusk had reached a position about half way between Derna, on the hump of Cyrenaica, and Malta. Both the convoy and the escorts had been attacked during the day but neither had been damaged.

At the very end of twilight, in that difficult light when visibility favours the aircraft rather than the ship, a strong formation of Torpedo-Carrying Aircraft made a most determined attack upon the escort.

The Arethusa was attacked simultaneously from both sides and was able to avoid all but one of the torpedoes.

This torpedo hit her and caused a violent explosion accompanied by a severe blast. The blast killed instantaneously all the men in the vicinity. Some not quite so close were badly burned by the flash and some of these unfortunately died later of their injuries. The next of kin of these men were informed that their kinsmen had died from burn injury, but it can now be stated with some certainty that all the remainder were killed at once by the tremendous blast and that they would not have suffered pain.

Their bodies were buried at sea, altogether three services were held, and they were taken by the Chaplain very beautifully and reverently.

A memorial service was held ashore later when the ship reached port and it was a most impressive service.

Correspondence is now being exchanged with the Commodore of the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham about a permanent memorial to these gallant men to be placed in the Barracks Church. It will probably form a part of the general memorial to all the men of the Chatham Division who lose or have lost their lives in this present war.

In May 1942 Arethusa sailed to join the Mediterranean Fleet via the Cape of Good Hope. She had been refitted with tripod masts, radar and extra anti-aircraft guns. In June she took part in Operation Vigorous taking 11 ships from the East to Malta. The convoy had a close escort of destroyers, corvettes and minesweepers and also the old battleship Centurion, which had been disarmed between the wars and now fitted with anti-aircraft guns. There was no heavy ship available to provide cover and Centurion was simulating a commissioned battleship. One merchant ship was damaged by air attacks on 12th and had to divert to Tobruk. Another merchant ship sent to Tobruk because of engine trouble was sunk by further aircraft attacks. The cruiser Newcatle was damaged and the destroyer Hasty sunk during E-boat attacks off Derna. During air attacks on 15th the cruiser Birmingham and two destroyers were damaged, one destroyer Nestor, having to be sunk the next day. The force was threatened by the Italian Fleet comprising two battleships and heavy cruisers which approached to within 150 miles of the convoy. As the convoy withdrew to Alexandria, the cruiser Hermione was sunk by U-205 south of Crete. Arethusa suffered splinter damage during this convoy. On the night of 12-13 August, she, with the Cleopatra and four destroyers, bombarded Rhodes as one of the diversionary actions in support of the Pedestal Convoy to Malta.

In November 1942 Arethusa was part of the escort of the Stoneage convoy to Malta. Four merchant ships were escorted by the 15th Cruiser Squadron and seven destroyers. The convoy (MW13) sailed from Port Said to Alexandria on 15th and the next day at dusk the Euraylus and eight destroyers joined the escort. At 1330 the 15th Cruiser Squadron (Cleopatra, Dido, Orion and Arethusa) sailed with the 12th and 14th Destroyer Flotillas from Alexandria and by daylight the next morning they overtook the convoy and joined the escort. Air attacks by six JU88s took place at 1110. There was no damage to the convoy and one aircraft was seen to crash. At 1620 twenty six JU52s with two fighters passed, ahead of the convoy, and forty minutes later, at sunset, the Cruiser Squadron and fleet destroyers detached to the north to cover the convoy.

According to the UK, British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 Robert Gerald died in War Service on the 18th November 1942, the day before his 26th birthday.

Robert Gerald was well loved by his family as they added his name to the WW2 Memorial at Hawarden to be remembered in perpetuity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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