Page 2 - Continued from Kite - Introduction

Created: 25 July 2001 - Updated: 30 April 2014

By Mike Kemble (c) From information provided by Ray Holden, Clem Bray, Christine Chaplin,
Lionel Irish, Mary Davies, Barrie Holmes & Others

HMS Gurkha was the first ship sunk by aircraft and young John Payne was recognised in some way for throwing live ammunition overboard. The letter below came from his Vicar from the Sunday School that he attended before joining up. Many attempts were made over time to contact John but he proved to be elusive. A lead pointing to Cardiff turned out to be his twin brother, but missing. Its possible John is, or was, in Manchester. He originally came from Cardiff.

The lady is John Payne's mother. I think the swastika is from a sunken U Boat

John Payne's father - a Security Guard - a vital job

Adrian Raven has kindly sent me this images of The Farr Family, taken in the 30s

Fred Heath

Norman Buchanan HMS Kite

Norman's Certificate of Service Assigned to Kite on July 7th 1944

The telegram every parent and sweetheart dreaded and hoped would never arrive

And the follow up confirmatory letter some 2 months later

This was on offer on eBay in excess of £30 (April 3 2014)

November 6th 2007. Ray Holden has sent me these two following images. The first is an article written by the late wife of Reg Holmes.
Reg Holmes died on Saturday 14th March 2009. RIP Reg.

The image of the 'action' is an artists impression and probably bears no resemblance to fact.

The late Betty Holmes (Reg died 30th June 2009)

Christine Chaplin, who was the source of the Board of Inquiry information has now provided me with an image of HMS Kite that she found at her Uncle's who sadly died recently. He obtained it in Plymouth just after the war. The image also contains a list of all those who perished and, in a lot of cases, their jobs on board. Here is that image. The sailor in the image is the late Steven Mills. Ray has noticed that the image is actually Wild Goose! It did cross my mind when I saw it but didn't follow it up.

Thanks, again to Christine, for a close up of the above. This is a large file could take some time to download. It also makes the same mistake I have made on a few occasions,?
calling it a member of the 2nd Escort Group instead of the 2nd Support Group.


Click on the thumb nail to see full image

From Ray Holden. 28 Nov 04. Shortly before my mother died she gave to my sister Shirley her writing case a valuable mahogany one with a compartment for writing paper, envelopes, pens and a heavy cut glass ink pot with a lid. She has never used it but had it as a keepsake. Also a tiny drawer for stamps etc. The other day she opened it but for some reason or other the drawer was very stiff and she had to get a knife to ease it. She left the drawer out to see if the warm air would ease it and it wasn't for two days when she was cleaning it that she found a few things at the bottom of it in a recess. There was a cutting from the local press obviously printed in September 1944 a small locket which contained the head and shoulders of Tom taken when he was aged 16 in the Home Guard. Also there was three of mothers favourite brooches which Tom had bought her, also a poem which obviously had been written by one of the family to be printed in the press but none of us seem to know who it was that wrote it. 

The letter & the newspaper article


Kite on the Mersey, probably after fitting out and on trials?


Some information obtained from Ray Holden in March 2014:

Lt.Cdr. Segrave was crashdrafted on 6th April 1944, to where is not stated, but this was when his accident happened when he fell one deck down the back of B Gun.One survivor said that he broke one leg the others said both. Some weeks later he appeared as C/O of HMS Cormarant a shore base in Gibraltar on special duties because he obviously couldn't negotiate hatch's and ladder's on a surface ship. Kite was without a C/O for one month. Lt Jones the first Lt. of Kite could not take over because he was not experienced enough having been rated from P.O to Lt. just before Kite commissioned.


Lt.Cdr's were very thin on the ground with D Day just weeks away when along comes Campbell fresh from HMS Severn in the Med and he is siezed upon to take temporary control even though he is a submarine officer. Trouble is the CinC Plymouth could not find a suitable C/O soon enough. Kite was no longer part of 2SG and was part of the landings a month after Campbell joined her, her place taken in the group by a new ship off the stocks. Before Campbell knew where he was he was on his way to Loch Ewe to escort a convoy to Russia and when Kite was sunk had only been on board her for about twelve weeks not eight months which some individuals claim online, Campbell went to Russian probably not knowing what foxers were or that the ship carried a spare set. His records show that he was a submarine officer and would not have know the first thing about hunting U Boats. He did not endear himself to his crew including the officers treating battle hardened men like naughty school children, Was his sarcasm due to his life style as the son of a Brigadier general in the Indian Army or was it because of resentment of being drafted to a surface ship? I believe that it was the latter and there would also be a certain amount of embarrassment. Submarine Officers who do not have a mutual respect to their crews are not submarine officers for very long. However none of this excuses him for the orders that he gave when this situation arose or presenting his ship as a potential target.

Notes & Emails


Captain Robert Lloyd DSC & bar. At the outbreak of war he was a Sub Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Brazen and in 1940 in company with the destroyer HMS Fearless off Vaagesfiord Brazen found and attacked U49 blowing her to the surface. Lloyd set off in the sea boat to try prevent the U-Boat scuttling herself but she sank before he could get on board. He did succeed in retrieving some of the documents that the crew were trying to destroy, including a useful chart recording U-Boat dispositions. For these actions he was mentioned in despatches. In June 1941 he was appointed to the destroyer HMS Keppel and took part in Atlantic Convoy as the leader of Escort Group B1. In late June Keppel was part of the escort of Convoy PQ17 the ill fated convoy ordered to scatter by some scatterbrain at the Admiralty.

In January 1944 he was appointed to the "Affleck" one of the American Prefabricated Style ships. "Affleck" was leader of the formidable First Support Group three of whose ships accounted for U91 on February 26 1944. Operating off the coast of Ireland on February 29, the "Garlies" detected U358 and there then followed 38 hours of attacks the longest on record. One hundred and four depth charges were used regarded at the time as a Marine Convulsion. U358 came to periscope depth and sank Gould with an acoustic torpedo causing damage from which she eventually sank. Affleck retaliated and sank U358 with depth charges and gunfire. Lloyds tenacity was rewarded with the DSC. Again he was mentioned in despatches for his contribution in sinking U392 off Gibraltar by Vanoc and Affleck. He was awarded a bar to his DSC for the sinking of U1191 in June 1944 during the Normandy Invasion. Captain Robert Lloyd , DSC & Bar antisubmarine expert was born on March 1o 1916. He died on February 23 2003 aged 86. Thanks to Ray Holden for this information. 

I am writing to express my appreciation after having discovered your excellent history concerning the above vessel. Recently I have been searching for information, through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, concerning three relatives who perished during the Second Wold War, and I have been successful. CWGC revealed that a cousin; James Anthony McAvoy was a crew member aboard HMS Kite on that fateful day 21 August 1944. He was an Able Seaman, aged 26 years.  I can recall that he was on the convoys to Russia, but that was all the info. that I had. Many thanks  John Holland.

My father asked my to look on the internet for HMCS Chilliwack.  I don't think he realised the extent of what I would find.  Needless to say he will be extremely surprised.  I have printed all I found - I think.  My fathers name is Stanley Carter and served on HMS Woodpecker and HMS Lark for certain.  I seem to think he also served on HMS Starling as well although I will have to confirm this.  My father was definitely a front gunner but I am not sure if he was front gunner on all the ships he served on: definitely on the Woodpecker though.  I would be interested if there are any of my fathers ex-ship mates still living.  Could you let me know?  My father told me about a chair that Captain Walker took with him on every ship he served on.  What ever happened to it?

I am researching all the names of servicemen on my local War Memorial in the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland. I put a search in for HMS Kite and found your website which I must say is one of the best I have come across. One of the servicemen was lost on HMS Kite he was Stoker James Craig (D/KX 162389) of 52 Montague Street, Portadown, and he was lost at sea when HMS Kite was torpedoed. Just thought I would contact you with above info.  James Stewart.

"The Officer in Command at the time of the sinking was a replacement for Lt Comdr Seagrave who was the regular commander of the ship. Seagrave had broken both his legs in a berthing accident the last time HMS Kite had berthed at Gladstone Dock - enter Lt Comdr Campbell.  This is the man who gave the orders that sank Kite, a submariner by trade. If not him, it was Lieutenant Savage. A U Boat commanders dream - a target, sailing slowly, on a dead straight course for at least 40 minutes. U344 stole right up to her from where she could not miss.  The Board of Inquiry, and accompanying papers are courtesy of Christine Chaplin". Ray Holden.

Also from Ray Holden. "Let me try to give an insight as to what was going on when Kite got hit. HMS Keppel made the signals because she was senior in command, and at 0121 she signaled to say that she was returning to her station, Kite in company. According to the report, Kite went into cruising stations, a ship is divided into 2 watches, Port and Starboard, each watch is divided into 2 parts, therefore in a cruising watch, only part of one watch is closed up. Also I gather from the report that B gun closed up for the morning watch.  This meant that A gun which Tom (Holden) served on went from action stations to middle watch until relieved by B Gun at 0400. A Guns crew would have then turned in, in their mess deck which was up forwards on the starboard side. When the torpedoes struck Tom and at least one more of his guns crew made it to the water. To do it they had to open at least 3 watertight doors, each having 6 large clips, god only knows how many were fighting to get through the doors. The report more or less blames the men for their own deaths, not wearing clothes, life belts or ropes ends across their shoulders. These men in cruising watch were expected to sleep fully clothed in a hammock with life belts and ropes ends around them. None of the men up forward were wounded as such because the explosions were down aft, neither was Tom wounded at that time - so where did his "wounds" come from? These men slept whilst their officers tempted the enemy. Keppels First Lieutenant states that Keppel closed Kite and searched for the U Boat. A Crew member of Keppel told me that she sailed "amongst the survivors" LIKE A SCENE FROM THE CRUEL SEA (Jack Hawkins film in which he orders his ship straight through survivors in the water to get at a U Boat).  Is this were Tom got his wound from I wonder? The men were left in the water for 45 minutes, the report says that they could not help themselves. That ******* Commanding Officer must have thought he was on a pleasure cruise up the River Severn, with 75% of his crew sleeping, he tempted the enemy for 45 minutes. Little wonder he uttered a mouthful of abuse and went back to his cabin. Best thing the ******* could do in my opinion.  There are so many if's and but's but had Seagrave been in command Kite would have brought those men safely home. I feel anger and embarrassment at the same time. And so the Admiralty hid the report for over 50 years to cover those with gold rings on their sleeves. As senior ship, why didn't Keppel warn Kite is what I wonder, Keppel must have been expecting it with baited breath!" Tom's family got a letter from an officer on the Keppel, in which he was upset and confided in them Tom's final words. This letter, unfortunately, no longer exists, or is lost.  Finally - a personal note from Ray about his dying brother Tom Holden.  "Tom was dying when he gave his details in a very weak voice, to his rescuers.  They took down what they understood him to say, but they got it wrong.  He tried to give them another message but died with a faint whisper about "Wife". For years I could only wonder, but now with Kites papers I am getting an insight of where Tom was when it happened. I feel ashamed that the ship and her crew were sacrificed for the sake of the Foxers which could have, and should have, been cut adrift.  I feel ashamed of the Service in which I spent 8 years of my life." I also found out that Captain Johnnie Walker refused to use "foxers" on his ships, instead leaving them on the quayside; maybe that's why he and all his men always came home!

5 Nov 2002. Message from Roy Williscroft of Tamworth.  My brother Aubrey Williscroft served aboard HMS Kite. My mother was told after the war, by another local sailor, that my brother was picked up after the torpedo attack, did not survive, and was buried at sea. He was a pom pom gunner and was probably thrown into the water. He is listed on the roll of honour.

Ref: "Jack" Boxall. Thank you for posting the photo. A bit of info that we know - (Uncle) Stoker 1st Class George Boxall was posted on HMS Kite and he had perished with her. His brother, Alfred Thomas (Uncle Tom) Boxall was on HMS Keppel and was involved with the search for survivors. I can't imagine what Tom went through looking for his brother knowing full well he was there! Both brothers were career sailors with the Royal Navy. They both joined up in 1914 for WW1 and served throughout on various ships. We're not sure which ones they served on yet throughout the years. Tom retired to pension in 1936 and was mobilised in 1939 for WW2.  George "Jack" was the older of the two and am not sure if his career went the same way. (We're not sure where he got the nickname "Jack") Both brothers were Stoker 1st Class. As mentioned previously, they were both on that same convoy with Tom aboard HMS Keppel and George aboard HMS Kite. Considering where George likely would have been on Kite at the time she was torpedoed, I don't think he would have been one of the ones who would have had time to even make it out before she went down. We only found out about Jack earlier this year when we were researching our family and so we are still discovering more information as well. Thank you again  Carolyn Rempel.

From John Murray. Re convoy JW 59, the one Kite was lost on; it´s odd, but no book I´ve read has ever mentioned the Royal Sovereign class battleship that was handed over to the Russians and renamed "Archangelsk" - I´ve forgotten what her original name was. She was stationed in the middle of the convoy and must have been an enormous temptation to the local U-boats!  Maybe it was a very well-kept secret. I remember all the comments that went round the ship when we saw her first - "Gawd, what a bleedin´ target she´ll make!" Our skipper, LT.Cmdr John Mosse, had warned Mermaid´s ship´s company even before we left Monkey Stevenson and Tobermory, that we could expect a guest appearance of Tirpitz and accompanying destroyers, so when Archangelsk showed up we were pretty sure he was right.

I copied and printed your pages and Roll of Honour for a colleague. His uncle, Alfred Ball (apparently known to the family as Hugh) was lost on HMS Kite and the family had few details of the sinking. The copy has been sent to  Hughs' surviving brother. The attachment is a photo, believed to be 1941, of Hugh (Left) and another brother, Jack. Maybe some visitor to your site recognises one or the other. Any information can be passed to the family. Many thanks for the site, I'm sure it's a lot of work. Regards Ken Fields. August 2002.

From Mike Kemble. 28 Aug 03. I want to share with you an email I got from the Australian Military. I feel so pleased, all that work on Captain Walker is now rewarded!

"Dear Mike, In my current posting I have responsibility for the production of a limited distribution journal known as TACTALKS.  I have taken a keen interest in your site that discusses CAPT Walker.  For the next edition of TACTALKS I would like to use your site to produce an article.  It is therefore requested that you grant release permission to use text and images from your website.

LCDR Scott Walker
SO Tactical Development (Under Sea Warfare)

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Australian Defence Organisation and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email."

I have removed all contact details from the email.

From George Jones. I have along with my cousin been searching for quite a number of years to find out about his father and my uncle who served on HMS KITE myself through web sites and himself by writing to Portsmouth but all to no avail, till my daughter found your site. What brought every thing back to light was when I was watching a Documentary on a Sky Channel about Johnnie Walker returning to Liverpool for a heroes welcome and then the officers were lined up on the quay side listening to a speech being made to the members of the squadron,  among the officers I saw my uncle. The last time that I saw my uncle, Chief Petty Officer John (Jack) Mackie, was when he was on home leave at his home in Bolton and he received a telegram to return to Liverpool and his ship HMS KITE and told my father that the ship was like a rust bucket and it was going on convoy patrol to Russia,  the last thing that my aunt knew was when she received a telegram to say that he was missing in action and my uncle Jacks son who did not remember his father still has the telegram and his medal but I have still not seen his name or any mention of him in any reports or on the crew list. May I say that I congratulate on your web site and hope that you find my letter of interest and informative. Your Sincerely Mr George Jones. He is in fact, on the roll of honour as Harold John MacKie.

An Email from Australia:

My name is Michelle. My family emigrated to Australia in 1976 from England. My great Grandmother was Rose James, it was her son which died on the HMS Kite. I found out the name of his ship whilst trying to trace the family history. My nan also lost her brother in the first world war on the HMS Invincible. My nan died in the 80's and her husband (Diddy to us kids) died not long before her. My great uncle's name was Stanley Henry James. My nan had a breakdown after losing him and it was something that she could not talk about. Mum only heard part of the story and thought he was on his way home aboard a merchant ship. Nan may have confused some of the events with losing her brother. However I know that she was only told that he went missing in action presumed dead. I am writing this email in hope that maybe someone knows something of my great uncle, and someone possibly has a photo of him. All of this has been lost with the deaths of my nan and diddy. I would like to gather as much information on the family history for my brother, sister and nephews so their heritage is never lost. Thank you for taking time to read this. If you can help me with any information it would be greatly appreciated. Yours Respectfully Michelle. gunner* prelace * with @ to send email. 

From Desmond Lindsay-Hawkins. November 2003. My father was Chief Stoker. H.W Hawkins I have finally found a site that has just "Kite" information and have always wanted to have a complete history of her sinking, My mother had letters from relatives that had men on board and had known my father but they also were lost at sea. Any information greatly appreciated.

From Jack Russell. Feb 2004: I was on the last convoy to kola inlet,  a stoker on hms Anguilla.  We lost HMS Goodall with  heavy loss of crew if I remember,  lost 140 crew . I will never forget that day, we sank between us 2 U Boats. We arrived back in Liverpool on that day, what  a tragic loss so late in the war. Jack Russell royal navy  stoker  pkx 528974

I was reading on the message board of your HMS Kite site of a man who's father, Stanley Carter, served on HMS Woodpecker and Lark. He was asking of any other of the crew who might still be alive, my father also served on the Woodpecker and the Lark. His name is Charlie Best and is in his 80th year. My email address is philip* - replace the * with @ to email him directly.

From Rob Webb, Calgary Canada. 26/08/04

To Robert/Andrew (Braintree Council) Hi to you both, I want to take the time to thank you both for all the time and effort you have put into this project, my family members who attended this last go around have written to me to say how impressed they were with the whole event. You two must take a lot of credit for this, but on behalf of the Webb family I thank you for every thing you did, also pass on our regards to every one concerned; the town of Braintree also deserves a mention.

To the rest of you, It was a pleasure to meet you all last year, but I just could not attend this year. On the day of the 21st I sat in my computer room, looking at all that I have collected over the years, the items you sent, photos etc, and tried to reflect on that day 60 years ago, and on how many lives changed. My dad was one of the lucky ones, for what ever reason he survived that day, for that I am thankful , to me he was the best dad in the world, so many lost loved ones, so many never had a chance to say goodbye. During this time I also had a thought of the sub that sunk KITE, in less than 24 hours they also lost there lives, I just wondered if some where in Germany relatives gathered some where to remember lost loved ones, in just one encounter in that cold sea so many lost lives in a war I am sure they did not want to be in, they were just doing there job the best they could. I poured my self a glass of rum (pussers to some) and toasted the lives of all these brave men, I hope this is not the last of things to come, I hope there is a bond between us.  

Thank you all from the Webb family in Canada.

From Bob Pendleton. 28 /03/05

I would like to say how much I appreciated your web site and the help it has given to our family. In 1944 our family was informed that Able seaman - Frederick Davenport - D/JX568231 was lost in action on HMS Kite.  It was not until I recently contacted your web site that his surviving family members were at last able to close the pages on this matter. His parents and one of his sisters, who passed away some time ago, died without having questions surrounding his death being answered.  Thanks to your web site I have been able to send details to his cousin Edward Pendleton who now lives in Australia, aged almost 80.  As boys, they were very close.  Edward has contacted Freddie's only surviving sister Charlotte.  Edward, Charlotte and I feel there is now a closure to this very sad event. Best wishes. Bob Pendleton. 

From Mal Pope - 21 July 2005

My dad Stan Pope was on the Kite from Sept-Dec 1943 and on the Wren August and Sept 1943.  He was a CW Candidate. Mal is a singer/songwriter and can be found at the following web site:

From Ed Crompton - 11 September 2005

My father, James Crompton, was washed overboard from HMS Kite on June 4th 1943. The C.O. at the time was Lt. Commander Segrave who wrote a short account of the incident in a letter to my mother. She also received a letter of condolence containing a cheque for £50 from the ship's company signed by Lt. Francis Boyer. Has anyone any recollection of O/S James Crompton or of the incident in which he lost his life? (ed_crompton* replace * with @ to send an email direct to Ed.)

February 17th 2006: Ray Holden provided me with the following item of information. On the first day of June 1943 the Second Support Group made contact with U202 in mid Atlantic and sank her with gunfire when she surfaced the following day. On the fifth of June the group turned for home arriving at Liverpool four days later but this was not without incident. On the sixth of June HMS Kite was approaching a tanker from astern at close quarters to the tanker for oiling purposes and as heading into a running sea and also the wake of the tanker. Kite was hit with a sudden huge wave which swamped her fo’csle, knocking several men off their feet and washing them across the deck, most hung on but O/S James Crompton was washed overboard. Kite immediately circled back over her course and soon spotted James in the water but when she was within yards of making a rescue he suddenly went down and never re-appeared. O/S Crompton was the first man lost from Kite while on active service.

Ian Thomas Price - 23 April 2006

I am the nephew of Able Seaman Leslie Price D/JX 555763, who died on HMS Kite. I have just come across your web site and I am so happy to have got the information that I have been looking for for years and years now. I emigrated to Australia fifteen months ago with my wife and two children and could never find info in the UK. The first time I happen to look whilst in Australia I find all I needed to know. I just wanted to thank you and to say it is a good job there are people like you to keep their memory alive. Thanks again Ian Thomas Price.

June 29th 2007: Email from John Pascalides. I stumbled across your site, and imagine my surprise when I saw reference to my grandfather on it. As you have a scanned image of his ship card. My Grandfather is Roy Curry who is alive and very well. And living in Bristol which is the place he was born. Imagine his shock when I mentioned to him that I had seen his card on your site. He did serve on the HMS Kite Circa 1943, but left it before its fateful demise. You should have seen his face light up when I showed him a photocopy of his card. He was curious as to how the card came into your possession. And was wondering if it was possible to have it returned as It would mean a great deal to him. If you do choose to reply can you please reply to john_pascalides at Replace at with @ to email him directly.

Albert Ball emailed me in November 2007: I just wanted to say thank you for the information about HMS Kite and in particular the information about my cousin Aubrey Williscroft. I have only recently started using the internet (with some assistance from my son) and had managed to find the record of Aubrey's death, but am astonished to find a photo of him together with information about what happened to him. Of course, if you have any more information I would be delighted to receive it.  Would it also be possible for you to email me the photo on the web page of Aubrey. Many thanks in anticipation.  ball.albert   -at- for any replies.

November 2009: I am Joseph Power, the nephew of Uncle Jimmy McParland that served on HMS Kite. I am sending my condolences to the family of the last surviving member of HMS Kite, Lionel Irish. Regards Joe Power.

November 2010. I received the following images from the family of Raymond Maguire (namely Monica Maguire) who served aboard HMS Kite as an original member, but was transferred to another ship before her detachment and loss.

Another picture from Ray Holden's collection is this one of 6 CH Class destroyers in line abreast, steaming at speed.
5 are visible. This, so I have been told, is an extremely rare picture and is much sort after.

INFORMATION OF A NEW GANGES SITE... Trying to compile a long, long list of ex-Ganges Boys, personnel etc
so we can all keep in touch and find two long-lost oppo`s.

A poem to HMS Kite

Buy My WW2 Book here
(Kite has her own chapter)
nothing to do with Kite, but full of sailors memories

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