Bertie Featherstone Chief Petty Officer

birth registration index Bertie Featherstone Mar 1900 Bethnal Green LND 1c 233

mother’s maiden surname Benge

School Admission

Malmesbury Road School

26 August 1907 Bert Featherstone father Frederick 31 Cordova Street born 6 January 1900

Supplement to The London Gazette, 16 August 1940

Chief Petty Officer Bertie Featherstone, P/J-55642, H.M.S. Esk:

Casualty Lists of the Royal Navy

Chief Petty Officer Bertie Featherstone, P/J 55642, Esk, 1 September 1940, ship loss, killed

Service Registers and Registers of deaths and injuries ADM104/130

Bertie Featherstone port division and official no P/J 55642 R.N. rating C.P. ship HMS Esk date of birth 6.1.1900 place of birth Bethnal Green, London date of death 1.9.1940 cause of death 2 place of death as sea decorations D.S.M.

CWGC

Chief Petty Officer Bertie Featherstone Service No:P/J 55642 Date of Death: 01/09/1940 age:41 Regiment/Service: Royal Navy H.M.S. Esk. Awards:D S M Grave Reference:10A. G. 15.Cemetery: Hamburg Cemetery Additional Information:son of Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick George Featherstone; husband of Annie Phoebe Featherstone, of Paulsgrove, Cosham, Hampshire.

HMS Esk was an E-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. She was designed to be easily converted into a fast minelayer by removing some guns and her torpedo tubes. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935-36, during the Abyssinia Crisis. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, she spent considerable time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. Esk was converted to a minelayer when World War II began in September 1939, and spent most of her time laying mines. During the Norwegian Campaign of April-June 1940, the ship laid mines in Norwegian territorial waters before the Germans invaded, but was recalled to home waters to resume her minelaying duties in early May. During one such sortie, Esk was sunk during the Texel Disaster on the night of 31 August 1940, when she ran into a newly laid German minefield.

The Texel Disaster took place off the Dutch coast on the night of 31 August 1940 and involved the sinking of two Royal Navy destroyers, and damage to a third and a light cruiser. The disaster was caused by a destroyer flotilla running into an unmarked minefield, which caused serious damage to one vessel; two more destroyers were sunk going to the aid of the first, and a light cruiser sent as an escort was slightly damaged by a mine on the return journey. In all, the disaster caused approximately 300 deaths, with a further 100 men injured or taken prisoner of war.

On the night of 31 August 1940, the British 20th Destroyer Flotilla – consisting of HMS Express, Esk, Icarus, Intrepid and Ivanhoe – sailed from Immingham to the Dutch coast northwest of Texel to lay mines. The flotilla was joined by part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla consisting of HMS Kelvin, Jupiter and Vortigern. While the ships were laying mines, air reconnaissance detected a German naval force moving west from Terschelling towards Britain; fearing an invasion the 20th flotilla was ordered to intercept.

Whilst heading for this German force, the flotilla ran into a newly laid, uncharted minefield and Express was badly damaged, losing most of her bow. The explosion caused heavy casualties: ninety of the 175 men on board were killed or wounded, including her captain, J.G. Bickford, who was injured by the explosion.The flotilla commander, Lieutenant-Commander Crouch, moved his ship, Esk, to assist Express but Esk also hit a mine and the vessel swiftly sank, killing all on board, save one man. Ivanhoe then went to transfer the wounded from Express but also hit a mine and was badly damaged, the explosion killing a further 53 men and wounding the majority of the crew. Several life rafts, carrying shipwrecked sailors, drifted into the Dutch coast where those on board were detained by the German authorities as prisoners of war

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