Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Gossamer Crew
Able Seaman Colin Kennedy Page

 


I saw your web-site while doing a little research about my Dad. He was an ASDIC operator on the Gossamer, and survived the bombing in 1942. He was mentioned in despatches for saving the life of a crew member during the sinking of a ship Ė Iím almost certain it was the Gossamer. He was on the ship when she assisted the Edinburgh, and told tales of helping my uncle (who was an officer on the Edinburgh) onto the Gossamer. He also said that the heard the final torpedo through the earphones, as it missed the Gossamer by a fraction before hitting the Edinburgh. He told me that there was a print out of the sound of the torpedo, and he intended to keep it (to assist him as a raconteur) but lost it in the sinking. 

As an ASDIC operator he assisted in the sinking of a U-boat while on the Gossamer. (He told the tale of him and the depth charge layer tossing a coin for a Soviet medal which was awarded to the ship for the sinking of the U-Boat. Dad said he lost.) 

Dad died in 1992.  

His name was Colin Kennedy Page, 24/02/18 to 25/03/92. He joined the RN as a regular in 1936, and served until 1946 Ė when he left to go whaling in the south Atlantic.

Mark Page

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Webmaster: I gave Mark some details about his father's 'mention' (see below) and asked if there were any more recollections....

I donít have too many facts and figures about Dadís service (I have his Navy papers, still), just memories of him sitting at the tea table telling stories. However the stories mostly involved the Ďsocialí side of the war. He was reticent about the actual fighting, and only had one or two accounts like the ones I mentioned to you. I guess he (like many Iíve read about) wanted to dwell on the positive sides of his wartime experience rather than the bad side of it. 

Only two vague recollections come to mind, only one of which may have been the Gossamer.

He kicked a live Mills bomb (which had fallen out of a mis-firing compressed air launcher) over the side and it exploded almost instantly. He wasnít injured by the Mills bomb until 1975 when in his sleep he relived the experience and kicked the wall next to his bed. His foot and ankle swelled like a balloon and turned almost black up the calf. He was off work for weeks it was so bad. I can only imagine how close the shave was that 30 years on it could have that effect on him.  

He also spent some time on a MTB (I see from his Navy Papers that it might have been ML 132) in the channel towards the end of the battle of Britain. On this period he would not be drawn about the war, but rather told how Daphne Du Maurier would buy the crew drinks in a pub (I think it was Falmouth). Perhaps she bought them drinks as the commander was the grandson of Charles Dickens. Somehow he had become an Oerlikon gunner. Something dreadful happened in the Channel which he never talked about Ė even all my Mum knew was it was pretty awful. In that theatre I guess itís pretty useless to speculate. Anyway the RN was very short of ASDIC operators and Dad was (metaphorically) dragged kicking and screaming back to his proper job. He tells me that on the next trip out the MTB didnít come back, lost with all hands. (However I wonder if this is true or muddled up, as I see that there is a book available about MTBís by Peter Dickens Ė wonder if it is the same chap.)

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Note: See photo of reunion on Gossamer Crew page

 

Source: ADM1/12285 Enemy air attack on HMS GOSSAMER while acting as an escort to North Russian Convoy, June 1942
Extract from Report of Lt Commander Crease

Recommendations for operational awards to ratings of HMS GOSSAMER: 

PERRY John, Petty Officer, Official Number not known. (Posthumous)
After the explosion this Petty Officer took charge below decks ensuring that there should be no rush for the one remaining after hatch. He then saved the life of a stoker by extricating him from a pile of debris and getting him to the upper deck. He was last seen in the water encouraging the weaker swimmers. He himself was not saved. 

HOLDEN Edward Sydney Farr, MX 64698, Sick Berth Attendant
McLEAN Archibald
, MX 60416, ERA III
These two men at great personal risk extricated a badly wounded able seaman from the debris in the after part of the ship just before this part of the ship became submerged and got him safely into the whaler. 

BIRD Arthur Edward, M30181, Chief ERA
ELKS George Earnest, JX 236417, Able Seaman
FOSTER George Campbell
, JX 153809, Petty Officer
After the engine room had been cleared, these three men returned below with the ship settling and listing rapidly, at great risk to themselves, and worked until just before she capsized to try to get the steam electric generator on the board. 

BEALE Sydney Martin Chichester, JX 296483, Ordinary Seaman
PAGE Colin Kennedy
, SSX 18160, Able Seaman
Having themselves only just got out of very cold water into boats, each of these men dived in again without hesitation to drag a man in difficulties into their respective boats. There is no doubt that both were responsible for saving a manís life.

 

The Honours and Awards Committee has carefully considered the services of Officers and Men of HMS GOSSAMER, and submits that the Kingís approval be sought for the awards set forth below. 

Great gallantry was shown by members of the shipís company after she had been hit by bombs while acting as part of the escort to a North Russian convoy. 

In addition to the Awards submitted, it is proposed to refer the gallantry in rescue work of Ordinary Seaman Beale and Able Seaman Page to the Royal Humane Society 

British Empire Medal

SBA Edward Sydney Farr Holden
ERA III Archibald McLean 

Mention in Despatches (Posthumous)

Petty Officer John Perry 

Mention in Despatches

CERA Arthur Edward Bird
B George Earnest Elks
PO George Campbell Foster

[Published in London Gazette No 35815 of 4th December 1942]