Walter Whitehouse was born on the 14th November 1918 and baptised at St. Andrew’s Church, on the 16th March 1919, the event was recorded in the St. Deniol’s Church Parish Registers. Walter was the son of Joseph Henry & Mary Whitehouse, Queens Street, Queensferry, Steelworker.
Joseph Henry & Mary had married in St. Ethelwold’s Church, Shotton on the 13th February 1904 Joseph Henry Whitehouse was 27 and a Bachelor and Ironworker, his abode was Shotton, and his father was also named Joseph Henry Whitehouse (Deceased), he had been an Ironworker & Mary Uriena Millard was 24 and a Spinster, her abode was Shotton, her father was John Millard (deceased), and he had been a Collier. They married after banns, and their witnesses were William Jones & Jane Ashcroft (Her Mark X)
Joseph Henry and Mary Uriena Whitehouse are seen on the 1911 census living at 36, Cecil Road, Gorseinon, South Wales, where they probably had moved for work, Head of the household was Joseph Henry, age 37 a Sheet Mill Worker(Furnace), born Staffordshire, his wife Mary Uriena, age 33, born Sedgley Parish tells us that they had been married 7 years and 3 children had been born to them, but sadly 2 had died, leaving little Jack, age 2, he had been born in Flintshire. Jack was born on the 5th October 1908 and Baptised on the 25th October the same year. They were living at Connah’s Quay at the time and Joseph was a Furnaceman then.
Other children came along, and they were Baptised at St. Andrew’s Church, but the entries are in the St. Deniol’s Parish Registers as this was the Mother Church. Mary Uriena , born 27th April 1914 Bapt. 21st May 1914, living at Queen Street, Queensferry, on this entry the Vicar forgot to enter Joseph’s name. Next came Joseph Henry, born 4th August 1915, Bapt. 29th August 1915, living at 23, Queen Street, then came Walter, in 1918 as noted above.
Sadly, the family were struck with tragedy when Mary Uriens, Walter’s mother died at the age of 53 in the March quarter of 1933 (Denbighshire South (Ruthin) DNB/41/E47)
I do not have any information about Walter’s early life or teen years, so the next time we see Joseph Henry Whitehouse is on the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939.
However there are two entries that might be Joseph Henry, one where his is living at 3 Chester Close, Shotton, this gives his date of birth as the 10th March 1976, he is a Steel Foundry Heavy Worker and Widowed. He is in the household of Ethel N. Allen, a widow, born 12th April 1889 and also there was a John Morris a Steel Rolling Mill Heavy Worker and Single. His date of birth was the 26th June 1895.
The other entry for Joseph Henry was on the listing for New House, Chemistry Lane, Queensferry, where the head of the household was Joseph Henry Whitehouse, born on the 10th March 1876 a Steel Rolling Hand at the Steel Works and Widowed. Also in the household was a Mary Uriena Lamb*, date of birth the 27th April 1914, as most married women without a job are described on this Register as doing House Duties, but she was also Widowed. There is a closed or redacted record on this entry, I could be the son of Arthur & Mary Uriena, (see below) as I found a birth of a William A. Lamb in the September quarter of 1938 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/49A/62). Any information would be gratefully received.
*Mary Uriena Whitehouse had married Arthur Lamb in 1937 at St. Ethelwold’s Church in Shotton, (Flintshire (Mold) C115/05/E248), however, again the family were to suffer bereavement when Arthur died in the September quarter of 1939, age 32 years. (Flintshire (Mold) FLNT/40/10).
As I cannot find Walter on the 1939 National Register, I believe that he may have already enlisted or was conscripted into the Royal Navy, any information again, would be gratefully received, so we can tell his story and he will be remembered for his sacrifice.
However he was to find himself on the “HMS Laforey” when it ws attacked by U-223 on the
Crew list of Ships hit by U-boats
RN (P/KX 101422). British
Died 30 Mar 1944 (25)
Roster information listed for Walter Whitehouse:-
Ship Type Rank / role Attacked on Boat
HMS Laforey (G 99) Destroyer Stoker 1st Class 30 Mar 1944 (+) U-223
Son of Joseph H. and Mary U. Whitehouse, of Pentre, Queensferry, Flintshire.
The British destroyer HMS Laforey (G 99) lost on 30 Mar 1944 in position 38° 54’N, 14° 18’E.
Shorty after being completed HMS Laforey joined Force H at Gibraltar and escorted a Malta convoy. The destroyer took part in the most Malta operations in 1941 and 1942. On one of these operations, HMS Ark Royal was torpedoed on 13 November 1941 by the German submarine U-81. The aircraft carrier lost all power and the destroyer went alongside to provide power and assist the rescue and salvage parties, but the carrier foundered shortly before reaching Gibraltar.
Similarly, the destroyer rescued survivors from HMS Eagle, which had been torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-73 on 12 August 1942 during another Malta operation.
Between these operations, in May 1942, HMS Laforey participated in the landings at Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
In December 1942, the destroyer escorted the convoy KMF-5, when the merchant Strathallan was torpedoed on 21 December by U-562. The destroyer picked up many survivors and took the ship in tow, but she foundered shortly before reaching Oran.
In the spring of 1943, HMS Laforey undertook shore bombardments in Tunisia and participated in the blockade of the Cape Bon area to prevent the escape of the German Army to Sicily.
In June 1943, the vessel took part in the bombardment and capture of Pantellaria and Lampedusa and a month later participated in the landings in Sicily.
On 23 July 1943, the Italian submarine Ascianghi was sunk by depth charges from HMS Laforey and HMS Eclipse near Augusta.
In September 1943, the destroyer participated in the landing at Salerno and was hit by a shore battery. The engine room was damaged, but the ship remained on patrol at a reduced speed.
Between October 1943 and January 1944, she took part in various bombardments of enemy positions on the west coast of Italy. HMS Laforey earned the following battle honours: Malta Convoys 1941-42, Diego Suarez 1942, Atlantic 1942, Sicily 1943, Salerno 1943, Mediterranean 1943-44, Anzio 1944.
On 29 March 1944 the German submarine U-223 was located by asdic* from the British destroyer HMS Ulster, which was carrying out a routine Anti-Submarine sweep together with two other destroyers of the 14th Flotilla, HMS Laforey and HMS Tumult. The U-boat was heavily depth-charged, but managed to carry out many evasive manoeuvres in an attempt to evade destruction. In the early morning on 30 March, the U-boat was forced to surface and was attacked by the destroyers with gunfire, which now included the British escort destroyers HMS Hambledon, HMS Blencathra and HMS Wilton, which had replaced HMS Ulster. Shortly before being sunk, U-223 fired a Gnat** and hit HMS Laforey, which sank about 60 nautical miles northeast of Palermo, Sicily, Italy in position 38º54’N, 14º18’E. Among the 189 who lost their lives was the Commanding Officer of Laforey and the 14th Flotilla, Capt. Harold Thomas Armstrong, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN.
** https://legionmagazine.com/en/2017/06/gnats-versus-cats/ tells the story of GNATs versus CATs, the Canadian’s answer to the threat of the The German Naval Acoustic Torpedo (GNAT) which homed in on the noise of ships’ propellers. Many thanks to Sharon Adams -June 16, 2017.
Hit by U-boat – Sunk on 30 Mar 1944 by U-223 (Gerlach).
List of all U-boats
Ordered 15 Aug 1940
Laid down 15 Jul 1941 F. Krupp Germaniawerft AG, Kiel (werk 653)
Launched 16 Apr 1942
Commissioned 6 Jun 1942 Oblt. Karl-Jürgen Wächter
6 Jun 1942 – 12 Jan 1944 Kptlt. Karl-Jürg Wächter (German Cross in Gold)
12 Jan 1944 – 30 Mar 1944 Oblt. Peter Gerlach
6 Jun 1942 – 31 Jan 1943 8. Flottille (training)
1 Feb 1943 – 31 Oct 1943 6. Flottille (active service)
1 Nov 1943 – 30 Mar 1944 29. Flottille (active service)
Successes 2 ships sunk, total tonnage 12,556 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,935 tons
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 4,970 GRT
1 warship a total loss, total tonnage 1,300 tons
Sunk on 30 March 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea north-east of Palermo, in position 38.48N, 14.10E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Tumult and the British escort destroyers HMS Hambledon and HMS Blencathra. 23 dead and 27 survivors.
Walter’s father Joseph Henry passed away in 1950 age 74 years and was buried at Hawarden on the 26th June, his address was 3, Chemistry Lane, Pentre.
Walter was loved and missed by his family as they added his name to the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial so he would be remembered in perpetuity.