Barlow, Eric Ernest

Eric Ernest Barlow was born on the 13th May 1920 and baptised at Pontblyddyn Parish Church on the 20th June 1920 the son of George Edward & Mary Ann Barlow, their address was 6, Stone Row, Leeswood, and George Edward was a Labourer.

I do not know for certain if I have the right marriage, but I believe that George Edward Barlow & Mary Ann Tiler had married at Edstaston, North Shropshire. (Shrewsbury C-NS9/1/298)in the June quarter of 1914.

I do not know about Eric Ernest’s early years but he is seen with his family on the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939), living at Rose Cottage Llay Terrace, Caergwrle, Hawarden, Flintshire.   This source gives us the dates of birth.   George Edward Barlow had been born on the 9th May 1884 and was a Colliery Surface Fireman.   His wife Mary Ann had been born on the 27th May 1893 and as most married women, who did not have a job, was described as doing “Household Duties.”  Eric E. Barlow had been born on the 13th May 1920 and was a Clerk at a Brewery.

So Eric Ernest was still at home when war broke out, he was 19 years old.   I do not know if he was conscripted, as Conscription was for men who were over the age of 20 years.  So he may have enlisted or was later conscripted.  Any information would be gratefully received.

However, Eric Ernest was to find himself in the Royal Navy and by 1942 was a Supply Assistant* on H.M.S. “Niger,” and on the 5th July 1942, sadly, his fate was sealed along with most of his shipmates.


Supply officer (Royal Navy)

Supply officer was a specialisation in the British Royal Navy which has recently been superseded by the Logistics Officer, recognising the need to align with the nomenclature and function of similar cadres in the British Army and Royal Air Force. Though, initially, employment of Logistics Officers in the Royal Navy remained broadly the same, it has begun to reflect exposure to the ‘tri-service’ environment, including a significantly greater number of operational logistics posts, as well as the more traditional Cash, Pay and Records, and ‘outer-office’ or Aide de Camp duties. The Logistics Branch in the Royal Navy is one of the three main branches of the Senior Service, though due to its unique nature has interaction with all branches of the Naval Service, including the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Marines, as well as the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, the Ministry of Defence and many other agencies and organisations. In centuries past, the supply officer had been known as the clerk, bursar, purser and, later, the paymaster. Logistics officers are still generally referred to by the historic sobriquet ‘pusser’, a derivation of ‘purser’.[1][2]

HMS Niger was a Halcyon-class minesweeper of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1936 and was sunk during the Second World War. On 5 July 1942, the vessel sailed into a minefield while escorting Convoy QP 13 and struck one of the mines, later sinking with only eight survivors.

Service history

In fog on 5 July 1942 Niger mistook an iceberg for Iceland’s North Western Cape and led six merchant ships of Murmansk to Reykjavík convoy QP 13 into Northern Barrage minefield SN72 laid one month earlier at the entrance to the Denmark Strait.[2] Every ship detonated British mines. There were no crewmen lost aboard the Soviet freighter Rodina (4,441 GRT),[3] the Panamanian-flagged freighter Exterminator (6,115 GRT), or the American freighter Hybert (6,120 GRT); but 46 civilian crew and 9 Naval Armed Guards died aboard the American Liberty ship John Randolph (7,191 GRT) and freighters Hefron (7,611 GRT) and Massmar (5,825 GRT);[4] and there were only eight survivors of the 127 men aboard Niger. Only Exterminator could be salvaged.[5] The value of the Northern Barrage was questioned following the accident.[6]

Excerpts from the above:-


Jan Lettens 22/11/2013

On 27 June 1942, HMS NIGER departed from Murmansk for the UK with Convoy QP13 (35 ships). In the evening of July 5th, in heavy fog and by an error of navigation, mistaking an iceberg for land, HMS NIGER sailed into an allied minefield off Iceland. NIGER blew up and sank with her Commanding Officer Cdr. Arthur Jelfs Cubison, 8 officers and 140 ratings. Unfortunately, she was leading the convoy and the ships HEFFRON, HYBERT, MASSMAR and RODINA were also mined and sunk. JOHN RANDOLPH and RICHARD HENRY LEE were damaged. Her sistership HMS HUSSAR obtained a shore fix and led the remaining ships of the convoy out of the minefield and they reached Reykjavik on 7 July.

Claes Johnny 20/09/2007

During the return to Britain of convoy QP 13, HMS Niger (Cdr. Arthur Jelfs Cubison, DSC and Bar) led a column of merchantmen in bad weather with visibility reduced to one mile. HMS Niger had been unable to take bearings due to the weather but made a sighting of land, which was in fact an iceberg. She had unfortunately led the convoy into a British minefield off Iceland. She was mined at 22.40 hours as were six of the merchants she was escorting, all but one also sank.

Many thanks to the above website and Jan Lettens and Claes Johnny.

Eric Ernest was well loved by his family and his parents were alive to bear the grief of his death and made sure his name was added to the Hope WW2 War Memorial for his sacrifice to be remembered for perpetuity.

I believe that his father George Edward Barlow was to die in the September quarter of 1962 in the Wrexham, Denbighshire Registration District (Wrexham Vol. 8a Page 352) and I believe his mother, Mary Ann Barlow was to die in the Runcorn Registration District in the September quarter of 1968 (Runcorn, Inferred County: Cheshire Vol. 10a Page: 445).

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