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Clifford Benjamin Reynolds

Able Seaman

HMS Prince of Wales

Clifford & Winnefreda's wedding day, January 1941, Click for a larger view (19049 bytes)

 

Clifford was born 15th May 1920 in Solva, South Wales. He was 22 when he married Winnefreda in January 1941 Clifford was the son of Dai Reynolds of Solva and Martha (Jenkins) of Roch, South Wales.

 

The most notable action Clifford was involved in, would probably be the sinking of HMS Hood, which was on 24th May 1941, Not forgetting the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse of course.

The following list is his complete service history:

HMS Wildfire

20/04/37 - 08/11/37

(Shore base at Sheerness)

HMS Drake

09/11/1937 - 30/12/37

(Shore Base at Plymouth)

HMS Revenge

31/12/37 - 02/01/39

HMS Repulse

03/01/39 - 02/02/40

HMS Drake

03/02/40 - 01/10/40

(Shore Base at Plymouth)

HMS Eaglet

02/10/40 - 18/01/41

A 1st World War sloop - HMS SIR BEVIS (renamed EAGLET) in 1926
which was berthed at Salthouse Dock. During the 2nd World War, EAGLET became the flagship of Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches. 

HMS Prince of Wales

19/01/41 - 10/12/41

Was present aboard Prince of Wales as she accompanied HMS Hood against Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in May 1941. Survived the sinking of Prince of Wales in December 1941.

HMS Sultan

11/12/41 - 16/02/42

Shore base at Singapore. All survivors were assigned here after
the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse, some then got re-assigned to
other bases or ships, others died whilst still unassigned, and probably died
defending the Naval base/Singapore, or trying to help with the evacuation,
or to escape themselves.

 

Clifford Benjamin Reynolds born, May 15 1920, to parents Dai and Martha Reynolds in Solva, Pembroke shire, South Wales. He was brother to Bronwen, Jack, Hilda and Malcolm. Clifford was brought up in this small close-knit community by devoutly religious parents.
He entered service on 20 April 1937 as a Boy 2nd Class aged 16. He was first based at training barracks HMS Wildfire shore base at Sheerness, Kent for 7 months basic training from 20 April 1937 until 08 Nov 1937, during this time 1st July 1937 he was made Boy 1st Class. During Clifford's time at Wildfire he won a trophy for athletics and like a lot of his class he was above average ability and was assigned to HMS Revenge, though first posted to HMS Drake shore base at Devonport from 09 Nov 1937 until 30 Dec 1937 to await boarding his first ship.
Clifford's first ship assignment was aboard HMS Revenge from 31 Dec 1937 until 02 Jan 1939. Although there are no details of Clifford's post aboard ship he was made up to Ordinary Seaman on 15th May 1938. The ship left port in January for training exercises in Gibraltar and sailed up to Corsica then back to Gibraltar before returning home for Easter and home leave. After the Easter leave Revenge was on more exercises and a South Coast cruise to "show the flag". Toward the end of July she sailed back to Devonport for summer leave thru August. After summer leave she set sail for Scapa Flow in September thru October before returning for Christmas. 
Clifford's next posting was aboard HMS Repulse where he served from 03 Jan 1939 until 02 Feb 1940. Whilst serving with Repulse Clifford was made up to Able Bodied Seaman on the 15th July 1939. Later that year the outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September 1939 took place. The Repulse was in the Battle Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet, at sea, having left Scapa Flow on patrol on 31st August. During the first week of the War she cruised between the Shetlands and Norway to intercept any ships returning to Germany and to exercise contraband control. The Repulse was detached from the Home Fleet in November 1939, to assist in covering Atlantic convoys against attacks from German surface raiders. In December of that year she escorted to the United Kingdom the first Canadian troop convoy. 
Clifford was on shore leave and assigned to HMS Drake from 03 Feb 1940 until 01 Oct 1940. During this period of shore leave Clifford must have visited his parents in Wales and between May and July visited and stayed with friends he had made on board ship who came from the Liverpool or Birkenhead area. Whilst in the area Clifford met Freda (Winnefreda) Smith at a local dance hall. They would later be married in Birkenhead in the January of 1941. Clifford was posted to HMS Eaglet shore base in Liverpool from 02 Oct 1940 until the 18 Jan 1941.
On 19 January 1941 Clifford was assigned to the 'HMS' Prince of Wales. On the 14th March 1941 Clifford and Freda gave birth to a Daughter (Rosemarie). The Prince of Wales was completed by Cammell Laird Shipbuilders of Birkenhead in the March of 1941 and whilst not fully operational was sent into action with the Bismarck in May. After battling with and causing damage to Bismarck the PofW herself was damaged and sailed home for repairs, during the June and July of 1941. It is not known if Clifford managed to see his baby daughter during this time.
Once repairs were complete in the August the PofW conveyed Prime Minister Churchill and his staff to meet President Roosevelt off the coast of Newfoundland to sign the Atlantic Charter.
Around the third week of September the PofW joined Force H in Malta on Operation Halberd before returning home.
On October 25th the Prince of Wales left the Clyde with Repulse for Singapore via the Cape of Good Hope and arrived on the 2nd December. On the 10th December with Repulse she was sadly sunk.
Clifford along with other survivors was taken to Singapore and assigned to HMS Sultan Naval Base.
Unfortunately on the 16th February 1942 Clifford was listed as missing presumed killed during the evacuation of Singapore.

Like so many other families there are no personal papers or diaries of Clifford's and I therefore cannot add personal details, I live in the hope that one of his friends or shipmates may read this and recollect him and give an insight into this young sailors short life.
Clifford's wife Freda sadly passed away in 1994, leaving his only daughter and subsequent grandchildren and great grandchildren to wonder what this young man was like.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those sailors who have recollected this period of time in print and allowed us a small insight into some of the things Clifford had to endure whilst he was with you.
Thank-you
And God Bless You All

Clifford Welsh (a grateful grandson).


I am looking for any more information about my Grandfather, Clifford Benjamin Reynolds - Able Seaman, Prince of Wales. Until I found this web site the family believed he went down with the ship, however it now appears he is listed as missing presumed killed in action during the evacuation of Singapore. 

I am also looking for information on anyone who was with him on Repulse and maybe got re-assigned with him. What theatres of action he was involved in whilst on Revenge, Repulse and Prince of Wales. Anyone who was in shore barracks with him if I have got the shore bases correct. Also I would like more details of HMS Sultan and anyone who knew him there.

If anyone knew him or knew of him and what happened to him on board ship and or if he was in Singapore could you please contact me.

Thank you for your help. 
Cliff .

Please contact myself or Andy (Webmaster) with any information.

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

Information provided by

Cliff Welsh

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record:

In Memory of
CLIFFORD BENJAMIN REYNOLDS 
Able Seaman
D/SSX 20595
H.M.S. Prince of Wales, Royal Navy
who died on
Monday 16 February 1942.
Cemetery: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL Devon, United Kingdom 
Grave or Reference Panel Number: Panel 101. Column 2.