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Charles Bell

Able Seaman
D/JX 209981

HMS Prince of Wales

 

My father joined HMS Prince of Wales on 31 January 1941, shortly before she was commissioned and served with her until she was sunk. He was present at the Bismarck action, the Atlantic Charter meeting and the visit to the Mediterranean.

After the fall of Singapore my father made his way to Australia on a Singapore based minesweeper HMS Medusa, arriving in May 1942 at HMAS Leeuwin. He served briefly with the Australian minesweepers based at Flinders naval depot, New South Wales, but was back home in Stockton-on-Tees by August 1942. In September 1942, he transferred to the torpedo school, HMS Defiance, at Plymouth.

For the remainder of the war, my father served on HMS Drury, escorting convoys. He crossed the Atlantic to the Fleet Air Arm base HMS Asbury at Rhode Island, USA in January 1943 to become part of the crew of a Lend Lease Destroyer Escort HMS Cockburn, later renamed Drury, when the original Drury was retained for the US Navy. Drury was commissioned in April 1943 and worked up in the ocean around Bermuda. From the base at Belfast, known as HMS Caroline, Drury served on the Atlantic convoy escorts from October 1943, taking party in the sinking of a U-boat in November 1943 and another in April 1945.

Finally, four days after VE day, Drury escorted the last of the Arctic convoys. Convoy JW67 left from the Clyde on 12 May 1945 heading for the Kola Peninsula in Northern Russia. Arriving at Kola on 20 May, they left again three days later escorting convoy RA67 back to the Clyde where they arrived on 31 May.

My father left Drury in July 1945 when she was returned to the US Navy at Chatham. He was released from service with the Royal Navy on 6 November 1945. 

My father had four children with my late mother, Agnes Welford, who died in 1958. He had two more children with my stepmother, Mary Cussins, and was step-father to the four children from her first marriage. By the time of his death on 9 February last year at the age of 86, my father had 18 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Regards
Stephen Bell

 

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Information provided by

Stephen Bell (Son).