Memories from the Scrapbooks of Able Seaman George Lunt RN - HMS Kite
13th February 1913 - 21st August 1944
By Mike Kemble © From information provided by
|Paul Masterson lives in Crosby, not all that far from the Gladstone Dock where
his grandfather, George Lunt, sailed with HMS Camellia and HMS Kite. He very kindly
lent me the scrapbook compiled by George during his naval career. This
one finished before Kite's demise and it is thought that George was doing
another, which possibly went down with the ship. Unfortunately, the scrapbook is
larger than the scanning surface of my scanner, so I have endeavoured to
present as best an aspect as possible.
On the 21st August 1944 George Lunt died. He died in a cold, cruel sea when HMS Kite was torpedoed twice by the U-344. He wrote regular letters home during the previous 2 months which contained many references to his wife Mary and their baby daughter. He spoke of sending money home and they had accumulated a fair amount for those days. In one letter he tells his parents that he has sent Mary £4, a princely sum then. He spoke of Mary finding a suite that she had really taken a shine too and his hopes of the war ending and their being able to set up in their own home. He spoke of a few difficulties due to theirs being a religiously mixed marriage, Catholic and Protestant. How they came to accept Mary as "one of their own" and his wishes that all and everyone was enjoying good health. He thought of others all the time and not of himself.
Mary & George Lunt
|George was contacted in April 1941 under the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939 to register for enlistment for the Armed Forces. His registration number was LHB2381. his date of birth listed as 13th February 1913.|
|He received a letter dated 6 June 1941 telling him to
report to Dover Street High School, Manchester, for his enlistment
Medical on 13th June 1940. These images and more annotated by page number refer to the pages in his scrapbook where these were copied from.
|He was certified A1 fit on 19th June 1940 and passed A1 fit. G W Rogers certifying this.|
|On 19th February 1941 George was called up and reported to HMS Raleigh, Training Establishment. Page 4 of his scrapbook shows images of the namesake ship, HMS Raleigh and George himself on weekend leave in Torquay whilst training.|
|2 postcards that he purchased in Plymouth.|
|On the 19th May 1941, George joined his first ship. HMS Camellia (above). Camellia was a Flower class Corvette built at Harland & Wolf shipyard in Belfast. She was launched on 14th May 1940. Camellia survived the war.|
The next page of George's scrapbook shows the beginnings of his Royal Naval War service with a trip to Iceland. George was quite an artist and did several drawings from the decks of his ship which we shall see later on.
Where the writing by George on each page is too faint to see, I had added the same text to the photograph or postcard involved. Central Section reads:
Navy List - HMS Camellia
Lt Cdr RNR A E Wilmott 31 Dec 1940
|Drawings of fjords in Iceland and a small sample of some wild flowers he had found adorn page 8 of his book. Two small photographs of HMS Aberdeen and HMS Churchill finish the page off. This was June and July 1941.|
|From Iceland they travelled to Nova Scotia, presumably on convoy escort duties although, in keeping with the times, the purpose of their travels is not elaborated upon. Page 9 shows some Halifax postcards George placed in his book.|
|The upper of the two postcards actually opened up into a concertina of photographs of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The bottom postcard shows the Marconi Station on Cape Race, Newfoundland.|
|Three postcards of St Johns, Newfoundland dated July 1941.|
|Two cathedrals and an inlet, the RC one and the CE one. Bally Haley inlet is the third card.|
|This shows the Supply Ship HMS Forth and two magazine images of the Foundry and the Carpenters shop of the same ship.|
|And back to Iceland again where George copied in two magazine items and a drawing he did of "nearing Reykjavik - August 1941"|
|A complete copy of the Iceland Daily Post Newspaper. This one contains news of a visit by Winston Churchill himself and information on a new German thrust on Leningrad. Russians claimed over 20,000 Germans killed. Inside more details on Churchill's visit and, on the back page, an admission by Goebbels that many Germans listened to the BBC to which he countered that it would soon pass as the Germans promised, from then on, that all they would speak is the "truth". There is also a report of a 100 bomber raid on 18th August over Bremen and Duisburg. Enemy planes were reported over Hull the same evening. one plane claimed shot down and "little casualties".|
|Here we have in central place is a cinema ticket which was issued in Reykjavik,
Iceland in August 1941, quite likely to George himself.
Three drawings and a small image of HMS Camellia are on this page.
|Images of life aboard a Corvette, similar to HMS Camellia. Not known if images are actually on George's ship.|
|An image of HMS Broke, which was later lost in the North Africa Landings on 8th November 1942. Vichy French guns pounded her till she sank off Algiers. Also on this page is a copy of George's authorisation from his Captain to collect the ships mail ashore. Finally, on a visit to Londonderry, on their way home in November 1941,|
|This is a copy of a signal message pad in which is noted a submarine sighting. also annotated on the page is the news that the ship was adopted by Bagshott, November 1941.|
|four postcards from Londonderry in November 1941|
|under the left hand image: On the bridge, Ginger Boardman; Back Row; Myself, Swarbrick Front Row left to right; Phipps, Lucas, Harold, James. Right hand image: Left to Right, Myself, Swarbrick, Harold, Lucas, Phipps. On the top of the page: On a Homeward Trip November 1941.|
|HM King George VI on the bridge
of a Minesweeper, Gladstone Dock, Liverpool, December 1941.
The second image is of the King clearly leaving the deck of a corvette but the annotation states he is "boarding". Maybe the two ships are side by side?
|A magazine image of Gladstone Dock, Liverpool marked "our base, Liverpool". Gladstone dock was also the home of Walkers 2nd Support Group as we shall soon see.|
|And we find ourselves back in Newfoundland with this image of workers at Argentia waiting in line to cash their pay cheques. also on this page is, lower right, a 10 cent meal ticket at the Fleet Canteen and what looks like the empty container for a book of matches labelled USS Prairie, which was a US Supply Ship. The entire page is dated March 1942. HMS Kite was now only 12 months away.|
|Top Left: "Newfie" Boon (left); "Bris" Shepherd (right) Liverpool, Clarence
Dock, May 1942. Top right: Left to right; Myself, Ginger Bilham, Liverpool,
Clarence Dock, May 1942.
Lower Left; The Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport. Lower right; HMS Belfast.
|Top Left: Woody, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Top Middle: Dick Harding HMS Orion. Somewhere in America, Santi Diago? This is a name but not a place, so its either Santiago or San Diego? 1942. Top right: Woody HMS Queen Elizabeth. Tobogganing somewhere in America Winter 1942. Bottom Left: Same as previous Woody image. bottom middle, Dick Harding HMS Orion, somewhere in the pacific 1942, and finally, bottom right Woody in the snow again.|
17th February 1943, George Lunt joins his new ship, on commission day
|George did this sketch of HMS Kite and has written on the top left: I join my second ship at Birkenhead, 17th February 1943. Commissioned the next day.|
|A drawing of the Ships Crest by George with George's commissioning card beneath.|
Quarterdeck of HMS Kite in Gladstone Dock December 1943
|20th February 1943 saw the Dedication And Commissioning Service for HMS Kite.
Page 29 shows the order of service.
A couple of lines are missing off the base, it was too big for the scanner.
|HMS Kite takes to the sea and undergoes exercises along with the other founding ships of 2nd Support Group under the overall command of Captain Frederick John Walker RN who was to become the standard by which other ships set their sights. Walker's anti submarine tactics are still in use today. HMS Kite, and the other 5 ships were to be so highly trained they could work as one, with the minimum of signals. Walkers ship was HMS STARLING but when he flew the famous General Chase signal, he commanded Kite.|
|Four postcards of Londonderry. It was off shore here that they exercised their anti submarine skills with British submarine H28.|
|One of Walkers sailors, Robert Collier, wrote an article for the Sunday Pictorial dated 31 October 1943|
|June 1943 and CinC Western Approaches sent this commendary signal. note that he
addressed it to 2nd Escort Group,
and it says "Western Approaches is proud of you" and is dated 25th June.
|Left: Award for Captain Walker RN - Top Centre: Three DSM's And "2 Mentions" on same ship! HMS Kite. Names Chief Yeoman Collins, PO Kelly, Leading Steward Barton as DSM's and PO Ashton and A/B Mercer. Image shows Barton, Collins and Kelly. Right image: Battle Flags for Bootle. In the image is Capt Walker. Annotated at base of page: July 1943, Ship adopted by Braintree & Bocking. Articles marked as Liverpool Echo, Thursday January 6th 1944.|
|An image of an oil painting showing Catalina's riding at anchor near to a large tender ship. George has written here that "a trip to Newfoundland - our seventh and eighth U Boats on the way - Boiler clean at Argentia - November 1943. On the right an image of Gladstone dock marked "Home to our base-Liverpool (Gladstone dock) for repairs December 1943 - January 1944".|
|Top Left: Cruising Watch Station. Quarterdeck HMS Kite. Liverpool (Gladstone Dock) 25th December 1943. See Image 4 below.Top Centre: U Boat "Tageskarte" dated 7 Nov 41, taken from U boat sailor. It states "survivor from one of three U boats sunk during same day in one of our actions in the Bay of Biscay 30th July 1943. Below centre: Article from Liverpool Evening Express 20th January 1944 regarding George's previous ship HMS Camellia and harsh conditions in Russian waters. top right: Taff Nicholls (Quartermaster) Right HMS Kite (HMS Wild Goose alongside) Liverpool (Gladstone Dock) 25/12.43.|
|Newspaper article is Liverpool Tuesday February 22, 1944 on the subject of total
U boats sunk in war to date. George has hand written here about his last trip
with the Second Support Group 28th January - 18th February 1944 in which they
sank 6 U Boats! Then he goes on to mention four other U Boats sunk, a total of 9
out of 12 reported in the area! Then a fateful entry.
"We leave the Second Support Group and proceed to Greenock to join the Seventh Escort Group."
|Liverpool Echo reports that Liverpool's No 1 U Boat Killers Group now has 17
Kills. Dated 10th March 1944.
Far right, nearly invisible, Capt Walker is mentioned in Commanding Officer's Who's Who.
|Left hand: Men of HMS Wild Goose examining dinghy from a German U boat. Left to right they are: AB V Kilgour of Manchester, CPO J Westwood DSM, and Leading seaman Albuary. On the left is Leading seaman Walter Bruce, of Sunderland, a member of the Magpie's Depth Charge Party, with Sparks, the ships mascot. Next image: Able Seaman Alexander Burnett, of Glasgow, who fired some of the Starling's depth charges. Starling is adopted by Runcorn & district. Top: The sloops being cheered in as they arrived at "a home port" (my speech marks). Right, So anxious was she to greet her husband that Mrs walker did not wait for the gangway. And the bottom image: Captain Walker introducing Mr A V Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, to officers of the Starling.|
|Top left U boat prisoners come ashore. Daily Sketch 20th March 1944. Bottom Left. Article on how Tim Walker wanted to be a priest. Top Centre: Liverpool men with Walker. Liverpool Echo 20th March 1944. It refers to the word "scousers" as being related to the sea traditions of the port. It is not, its related to "labskaus" a continental dish popular in Liverpool. Bottom centre: The victory sign, what the return of Walkers Sloops signifies to the war effort. Liverpool Echo 20th March 1944. Top right: Kite hidden by a depth charge attack in the 6 in one trip attack. Daily Sketch 20th March 1944. This is not correct. This was a deliberate attempt to detonate a torpedo heading Kites way. The explosion destroyed the torpedo and cracked Kites quarterdeck. Bottom right: Woodpecker - her torpedoing and subsequent loss. All crew were safe. An acoustic torpedo was used, possibly for the first time. Liverpool Echo 20th March 1944.|
|Top of this page denotes that a diagram of Kite's attacks on German U boat on Wednesday 9th February 1944 is attached, this is detached, but safe. It adds that it also shows "creeper attack" carried out by HMS Magpie. George adds here, "Our first trip with 7th Escort group 17th - 30th March 1944. In collision at end of trip wiith merchant ship, 2 miles from Greenock, at 0105 hrs on 30/3/44. Ship badly holed and starts to sink, but is eventually saved by flooding tanks and is towed into Greenock. Put into dock at Govan, Glasgow.|
|Top left: Western Approaches C-in-C Admiral Sir Max Horton watches escort group exercises from HMS Philante, Group Escort Training ship. With him is Captain AJ Baker Cresswell DSO, Escort Training Captain, Western Approaches. New methods of U Boat hunting and destruction are constantly being tried out from HMS Philante. Top Right: Our Invasion starting point - Sheerness. Bottom left and Bottom right, possibly two postcards from Sheerness.|
|Page headed Invasion of France 6th June 1944. I have
some pencilled notes regarding the invasion from George's point of view,
day by day from June 4th.
George's report of D Day and after is below.
|Undated news article about how Navy planes beat U Boats. 3 sunk, rest driven off. A newspaper article recording the loss of HMS Kite. Commanded by Lt Cdr ANG Campbell RN (Kites regular CO was in hospital). The article concludes that this convoy made it both ways without the loss of a single merchantman. But, we lost Kite. The small section underneath says that "Sloop HMS kite, lost on Russian convoy escort duty, commander, nine officers and 207 ratings missing presumed killed." As George had gone down with his ship, I am presuming this final fateful page was added by his family, possibly Mary herself.|
George's own account of D Day -1 to D Day +7
Sunday June 4th
Ship sealed from 1400. 1545. seal lifted from ships, all invasion orders cancelled owing to bad weather. Went ashore 1700. Invasion fleet massed outside harbour.
Monday June 5th
1500 Speech of Commanding Officer. Hope to have a strong foothold on the coast of France by dawn tomorrow. D Day starts at midnight. All ships company to have a bath and change into clean clothing, muster all life belts, gas masks and anti flash gear. 2130 All hands to turn in and get a good nights sleep, (??) lie in until 0848. Ships moving into position, continual passage of aircraft all day and night towards France. Ships sealed from 1430.
Tuesday June 6th ( D Day)
0900 First news of allied landing at Caen in France between 0400 0600 by sea landing craft and airborne troops. 0845 Hands called. Much tension almost all ships company.1130 Left with convoy from Sheerness. 1220 Action stations closed up. 1400 1500 Passed through Straits of Dover.
Wednesday June 7th
0400 hrs turned into swept channels. 1130 arrived off French coast at Caen. Action stations fell out. 1200 short range weapons defensive watch closed up, Air action started three times during afternoon. Kept last dog watch. 1900 left with empty transports for Portsmouth. 2230 action stations closed up.
Thursday June 8th
0245 fired star shell. Ships found to be our own. Large convoy passed from 0100 to 0300. 0450 arrived off Portsmouth. Action stations fell out. Red watch off short range weapons defensive watch closed up. Fell out. 0630 Inside the boom for rest of day and night. Make and mend. Turned in until 1800. Two destroyers presumed lost.
Friday June 9th
0705 Action stations closed up. 0730 Action stations fell out. Closed up Red watch short range weapons defensive watch. 0815 Fell out, left Portsmouth for Newhaven. Arrived Newhaven 1230. Action report 4 Hun destroyers engaged by British Forces. Two sunk in 10 minutes, in Western Channel other two making eastwards towards us. Anchored in waiting patrol with two destroyers and three frigates. Kept first part of first dog watch short range weapons defensive watch, Red watch. Kept short range weapons defensive watch, red watch, from 2200 2300, 2330 weighed anchor and proceeded. 2330 Action stations closed up, another all night session. 0300 fired star shell, ships proved to be ours, tank landing craft.
Saturday June 10th
0500 Action stations fell out. 0630 arrived at France, at Caen. Kept afternoon watch short range weapons defensive watch, red watch. Bombardment of French coast by Belfast and another cruiser. 1430 left France with convoy. Arrived Portsmouth 1945. Had pictures on board, saw The Yellow Canary.
Sunday June 11th
In harbour, received mail (learnt that my cousin had been killed in RAF**). Wrote to Mary and Mother.
Monday June 12th
1500 Embarked 50 soldiers. 1530 left with troop convoy. Soldiers of Pioneer corps, mostly from 1st Arm, approx 28 of them. All that was left out of their whole company of 200 odd since campaign in north Africa and France lost 9 during their first landing attempt on D Day. 2315 Action stations closed up.
Tuesday June 13th
0600 action stations fall out. During night much activity. E Boats reported as well as aircraft. Ball of fire trailing across sky. Presumed to be aircraft shot down. Opened fire with star shell, ships proved to be our own. 1500 left with convoy home. Kept most of afternoon watch, depth charge party of Red watch. 2000 Arrived Portsmouth. Turned in at 2030 had tea and biscuits in bed, had a good nights sleep felt very tired with having no sleep last night.
**June 11th. In a letter home he states that his cousin was shot down in the Bay of Biscay.
George Lunt is the sailor sitting behind the newspaper reader on the right.
HMS Kite, on the River Mersey, off Gladstone Docks, Wallasey in the background. I was only allowed to copy this with a watermark
Small Souvenir off a German U Boat Survivor. July 1942 the writing on the
"survivor from one of three U boats sunk during same day in one of our actions in the Bay of Biscay 30 July 1943"
|When servicemen wrote home, the Government Censors read everything, deleting anything that could possibly be construed as fuel for the enemy spies, or so they thought! I am sure that many sailors did what George Lunt did in his letters home. Code. George had a code which told his wife where he was when he posted the letter. Here is a sample of one such letter with the code clearly defined:|
And, the news which every wife dreaded, George's beautiful wife Mary would have been devastated to receive this:
The following is a letter from the late Clem Bray to Mary in 1988:
My thanks, again, to Paul Masterson, for this unique and valuable information.
Copyright © Mike Kemble & Paul Masterson