Kettle, Cyril

Cyril Kettle was born, (according to his father’s attestation papers, as a WW1 – Soldier.) on the 20th December 1911, but was not registered until the New Year of 1912 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/14A/31), the son of John Samuel & Harriet Kettle (nee Roberts) who, I believe, married in the Church of St Mary & St Nicholas in Nantwich in the December Quarter of 1904, (Cheshire East 1066/6/107).

The 1911 census shows the family living at 19, Marsh Cottages, Sealand, Flintshire, (5 rooms), with John Samuel & Harriet, both 30 years old and both born in Nantwich, Cheshire.    They also tell us that they had been married for 6 years and 5 children had been born to them, but sadly one had died.    John was a Cowman and Harriet a Housekeeper.      John Samuel, when he was writing the census form, (this was the first time the householder filled in Census forms), assisted us, as he wrote down all the children’s names, including, I do believe, the child who died as there was a cross through the entry.   The children were listed as:- John Edmond, 5, born Mucklestone, Staffordshire, Thomas*, 1 month, born Aderley (Adderley?), Shropshire – crossed out, Margaret Elizabeth, 2, Thomas A., 8 months and Joseph W. 8 months, obviously twins, the last 4 born in Sealand, Flintshire.

*I am assuming that this is the child that died, but I cannot find a birth or death of a Thomas Kettle in Shropshire as I really do not know the year that he may have been born and died, this is only a guess, as another Thomas was baptised after in 1910.   He was a twin to William Joseph; they were both born on the 3rd of July 1910.   The twins were baptised on different days, one month apart, so I suspect that William Joseph was not well on the 14th of September, so William Joseph was baptised on the 14th of October of 1910.   Baptised in St. Ethelwold’s Church, Shotton, their address then was Marsh Cottages.

I found Cyril’s Baptism in the St. Ethelwold’s Church Parish Registers – Baptisms.  – Page 86 No. 767 Born 20th December 1911 Bapt. 31st March 1912 Cyril s/o John Samuel & Harriet KETTLE, Marsh Cottages, Farm Labourer.

On the 1921 census, taken on the 19th of June 1921, they are living at 20, Kirby Grove, Shotton, and they must have been there about 10 years as two of the children were born in Shotton.   I believe that they moved for John Samuel to get a job in the Steelworks of John Summers & Sons Ltd., Hawarden Bridge Steelworks.   John S. Kettle was now 40 years old and working at the steelworks but was “Out of Work.”  Because of the Miner’s strike most of the Steelworks was not working.   Harriet Kettle was now also 40 years of age and doing “Home Duties.”     Their first son, John S. Edwad Kettle was now age 15 years and had been born in Mucklestone, Cheshire.  Their only daughter, Marjorie Kettle was 11 years old.   Their other sons were: – William Kettle, 10, Thomas Kettle, 10, Cyril Kettle, 9, Reginald Kettle, 7 and F. Lawrence Kettle, 3 months old.

I have no information on Cyril’s early life, and the 1939 National Register doesn’t have him on it, as the Newspaper cutting about the Investiture, later in the story, tells us he was in the Royal Navy for twelve years.      The Register was taken on the29th of September 1939, and the War declared on the 3rd of September 1939.

By the 1939 National Register, the family had moved to 86 Mold Road, Connah’s Quay, and this source gives us dates of birth.  John S. Kettle had been born on the 16th of February 1881 and was a Boiler Fireman.  Harriet Kettle had been born on the 27th of December 1880 and was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Thomas Kettle had been born on the3rd of July 1910, he was single and a Fitter’s Labourer.   Reginald Kettle had been born on the 12th of March 1914, was single and a Marker in the Steel Rolling Mills.   Lawrence Kettle had been born on the 17th February 1921 and was an Apprentice Painter.

Cyril Kettle was to show courage as the D.S.M. was awarded to Cyril Kettle for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea and set an example of bravery and resource under fire, but without performing acts of such pre-eminent bravery as would render Cyril Kettle eligible to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

Cyril Kettle would also be entitled to use the post-nominal letters D.S.M. after his name.

Award Details:   Awarded for Actions, patrols, raids carried out by HM Submarines

Gazette Info:

Gazette Date:     05/05/1942

Gazette Page:    1957

The Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M.) was established on 14th October 1914, and is a Level 3 Gallantry Award for personnel of the Royal Navy and members of the other services, and Commonwealth countries, up to and including the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Thanks to the website (below) we have an idea what happened to HMS “Utmost” in the days leading up to the 25th of  November 1942

Excerpts taken from Allied Warships

Lost       Nov 1942

History  HMS Utmost (Lt. John Walter David Coombe, RN) disappeared without a trace after 23 November 1942.

Commands listed for HMS Utmost (N 19)

Please note that we’re still working on this section.

Commander      From     To

Lt. John Walter David Coombe, RN           16 Sep 1942       Nov 1942

Notable events involving Utmost include:

Prestwich Urban District adopted HMS Utmost during a fund raising “Warship Week” aimed at raising money to pay for a ship from particular towns. The Town of Prestwich was presented with an oak plaque/shield made of materials from the submarine. The plaque was on display in Prestwich Town Hall until Prestwich joined Bury. The plaque is now in Bury Museum. (1)

The history of HMS Utmost as compiled on this page is extracted from the patrol reports and logbooks of this submarine. Corrections and details regarding information from the enemy’s side (for instance the composition of convoys attacked) are kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada. He also provided details regarding the special operations and train wrecking missions carried out by HMS Utmost.

12 Nov 1942 – HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 24th war patrol (21th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (5)

17 Nov 1942 – HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 25th war patrol (22th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol between Tunisia and Sicily. (2)

23 Nov 1942 – HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked the Italian auxiliary minelayer Barletta (1975 GRT) with torpedoes with torpedoes 3 miles north of Cape Blanc (Bizerta). No hits were obtained.

Barletta was on passage from Palermo to Bizerta escorted by the torpedo boat Groppo (C.C. Beniamine Farina). At 1215 hours, the minelayer observed three torpedo tracks, took evading action and dropped three depth charges. Groppo who was ahead and equipped with sonar did not observe or hear anything. Barletta went on to Bizerta while the torpedo boat turned back to search for the submarine. Groppo observed only dead fishes which marked the position of Barletta’s depth charges but did not obtain a contact.

Utmost had withdrawn from the area and reported in her last signal timed 1231A/23 that she had made a successful attack. Perhaps the depth charges from Barletta had been mistaken for hits. She was in approximately 37°40’N, 11°03’E at 2200A and was expected in Malta on 25 November. Italian radio finding had detected the signal and estimated it to be from a position about 010° – 35 miles from Bizerta or approximately 37°50’N, 10°00’E. She was never heard again and disappeared with all hands.

On 25 November, Groppo sailed again from Palermo for Bizerta, escorting with the torpedo boat Sirio (s.o.) a convoy consisting of the transports XXI Aprile, Etruria and Carlo Zeno and the motorized lighters MZ.705 and MZ.756.

The same day at 1155 hours, an escorting aircraft dropped a bomb on the port side at a distance of 4000 metres and signalled a submarine. As the convoy turned to starboard, Groppo was detached to hunt. At 1210 hours an echo was obtained and four minutes later depth charges were dropped (the number is not given in the report, position 38°31.5’N, 12°01’E). The submarine was believed hit and the torpedo boat returned for a second run and claimed it sunk. After lingering in the scene for about an hour, Groppo left to rejoin the convoy.

At 1353 hours, the escorting Cant Z 506 dropped a bomb and signalled a submarine (38°32’N, 11°43’E). Again, Groppo left the convoy to search the submarine. Seven minutes later the aircraft dropped a second bomb. At 1413.5 hours, Groppo sighted what appeared to be a torpedo track and at 1525 hours obtained an echo, she dropped 15 depth charges and lost the contact. However the result appeared inconclusive and Sirio ordered her to rejoin the convoy.

Although it has been sometime suggested that Groppo may have accounted for Utmost, there is considerable doubt that this was the cause of her loss. Coombe had seemed to indicate that he was returning to Malta in his last signal, and he was due there on the 25th, the very day that Groppo attacked ‘the submarine’. The position of Groppo’s first attack was a little over 100 miles from Barletta’s reported attack. It is true that it was not a great distance, but it was not on her supposed route back and does not explain why Coombe would have taken his submarine in that direction without informing Malta.

In addition, the Italian analysis and assessment of Groppo’s claims were not favourable; Capitano di Corvetta Farina was criticised for being too optimistic and the result of both attacks deemed to be doubtful.

It must be emphasized that echo contact and torpedo tracks were not necessarily indication that a submarine was present. A fair number of reported attacks by axis and allied forces were bogus.

It is most likely that HMS Utmost was lost on a minefield as she was returning to Malta. (18)

Wendy Williams, who incidentally, is connected to the Tuck Brothers who are remembered on the WW1 War Memorial for Hawarden, and Charles Kenneth Fielder, who is remembered on the WW2 War Memorial for Connah’s Quay and Shotton, and who has been so generous in her supply of family information and memorabilia to tell the stories of these men and boys who gave their lives in both wars, has now supplied more about the fate of the submarine.

In the newspapers of May 2016, it was reported that the Submarine had been found at the bottom of the sea and the horrifying truth was that the 71 men and boys of that fateful voyage were all still inside, as it looks as though it hit a mine and the shockwave sent her to the bottom, unable to right itself and they all probably died of suffocation.   She was about 260 feet down, tilting to the right and covered in seaweed and shells, said one of the divers who found it off the Olbia, Sardinia.   Please see the newspaper cutting below (Sun newspaper Thursday May 26th, 2016.)

Please see the newspaper cutting below (Daily Mail Friday May 27th, 2016.), this newspaper gives a slightly different version of where the submarine was found, and in how much water, it was said to have one down in 80 ft of water and just off the island of Tavolara.

The submarine will be considered a War Grave and there was talk about divers flying a White Ensign from her.

Cyril was well loved and is still now remembered fondly by his family, as Wendy’s contribution of photographs and stories show us.   Wendy wears his DSM medal when she goes to London, with Gary, her husband, to march on Remembrance Sunday at Whitehall.

Chester Chronicle 11th March 1944

An Investiture.   It will be remembered that Leading Stoker Cyril Kettle, who was reported missing in December, 1942, and later presumed lost, was awarded the D.S.M. for gallantry and devotion to duty while aboard the submarine Truant.   His father and mother, Mr. & Mrs. J.S. Kettle, of 86, Mold Road, Connah’s Quay recently attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace and received from the King their son’s D.S.M.    Leading Stoker Cyril Kettle had been in the Royal Navy twelve years and before that was a steelworker at Messrs. Summers.    He was for a period on the submarine Utmost.

The Truant was one of our most famous submarines and sank many thousands of tons of enemy shipping, including the Karlsruhe and an Italian cruiser.   It was during that period that Leading Stoker Kettle won his award.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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