Since the launch of this website in April
2006 there has been a steady number of e-mails from relatives of crew
members and, indeed, former members of the crews of the Halcyons themselves. Details have
been included here of those contacts relating to HMS Harrier, although e-mail addresses are excluded for privacy
and to avoid spam messages.
contact me if you would like to contact anyone listed here.
Father in Law
Just found your
excellent web-site having been looking for details of my late father
in law's ship, HMS Harrier.
His name was John
Swanson and was born in Liverpool, Lancashire July 13th 1921 and
passed away (Liverpool) March 18th 2001
John was a stoker
aboard Harrier, but at this moment in time I cannot assist with a
service number or dates of service aboard. I do know that he joined
the vessel in Russia having travelled out aboard HMS Argus. Amongst
others aboard 'Argus' travelling to join ships, he spoke of a young
man en route to join the ill fated Destroyer 'Matabele'. He
explained that 'Matabele' was lost soon after and his new found
friend was amongst those who perished.
Sadly he did not speak
in great detail of his exploits, save to mention that they were
based in Murmansk(?) during his time aboard and shared many of the
hardships of the local population, poor rations, black bread etc.
He also spoke of the
rescue of survivors from an American ('Liberty'??) ship, when a keen
eyed lookout spotted their lifeboat as dusk was falling and they
were about to abandon the search.
After service in
'Harrier' John returned briefly to the UK (means of transport
unknown?) and then travelled to the US to 'standby' the building of
new LSI's under construction in Virginia(?) On completion they
sailed the vessels back to Europe where they participated in the
Wounded (by 'friendly
fire' the LSI silhouette was not unlike that of a submarine to a
nervous gunner!!) he was hospitalized in Malta, following which he
spent further time on a rocket armed landing craft, bombarding the
Italian mainland, before rejoining his original LSI for 'D' Day. In
the closing months of the War the vessel was engaged ferrying
personnel etc. from UK to Antwerp(?)
It had been our
intention to mark his 80th birthday with a return to Caen and the
Normandy beaches, but sadly this was not to be.
John did apply for and
receive his Russian Convoy medal which is displayed along with his
other medals in a small cabinet featuring a photograph of 'Harrier'
any old shipmates contact you, please feel free to pass on any
messages and I will respond with pleasure.
My name is Leonard
Mills and I served on HMS Harrier from June 1940 to March 1943. I
served as a Wireman. C/MX65447 I was 20 when I joined her and 23 when
I left, to go to Chatham for Petty Officer Course. I would be pleased
to hear from any surviving people who remember me. My e-mail address
am the Grandson of James Caddick who was a writer on the HMS Harrier
and is mentioned on your tremendous website. I am currently in
possession of his diaries from his time on Harrier, and others, and
have been tracking down leads to fill in the many gaps.
First, may I compliment you on your
excellent site. It has been a source of great information and
background to my Grandad's experiences. Thank you so much
Next. I am converting my Grandad's
diaries, word for word, into a small “book” so that my two brothers
will also be able to have the information that is contained therein. I
would be happy to share this with you if it would be of any interest.
Francis James Woolley
Thank you for such a good site and
all the info available. It's really really good.
My late father Francis James Woolley
(JX165349) was the Quartermaster onboard HMS HARRIER when HMS
EDINBURGH was sunk.
I remember him telling me about the
make shift Admirals Flag as mentioned by David Moore The Flotilla
Navigating Officer (WW2 Peoples War) As my father was the
Quartermaster. It would be interesting to know if he remembered him.
Also it would be interesting to know
if my Father was on the Helm at that time.
I'm trying to collect as much
information as I can, in order to produce a record of my Fathers
War experiences to hand down to my Children. And any additional
information would be most welcome
Paul Woolley Aug 2007
George Frederick Winter
Able Seaman. C/JX
730370.Early 1944 until ship paid off Harwich 1946.
Left ship when she paid off and was part of the steaming crew that
beached her on the mud on the river Orwell at Harwich,
She was a fine Ship very overcrowded, men sleeping on tables and
benches many having no lockers to keep their gear in, always at sea
(except when broken down) and more often at action stations than
We did a great job in those days minesweeping at D Day and off the
French and Dutch coast.
you for such a great web site. My father served on the Harrier and
although he has told me some of his war experiences, this has filled
in a lot of background for me. He doesn’t have a computer so I printed
off a lot of the information from your site and he enjoyed reading it.
His name is Dewis Norman Wilson (service number C/JX570673) and he
served as an able seaman on the Harrier from 13th Sept 1944
to 30th April 1946. His main responsibility was manning the
He says they would also try and shoot down any doodlebugs that came
within range and they must have had some success because he remembers
having to clear the deck of shrapnel from one hit.
He also remembers the overcrowding. He says some of them used to go
where the depth charges were stored and put their hammocks up there
and sleep over the depth charges.
attached a photograph of my father and also another photograph that he
has of six of the crew. Unfortunately, he cannot remember any of their
names except I think the one front left is Les Whitaker who he kept in
touch with after the war. If anyone wants to contact him, I would be
happy to pass on any messages.
Graham Wilson Oct 2007
Father A/S Harold Lewis Service Number JX185980 served on HMS Harrier
from Nov.19/41 to Aug.30/44.
He is from Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Canada. He married Gertrude
(Smith) Chapman from Hull, Yorkshire. After the war he returned to
grand Falls and passed away at the young age of 67 on August
He talked a lot about the Russian Convoys and when the Russian
Government passed out Medals for Russian Convoy duties he was
overlooked and didn't receive the honour which he so deserved. He also
spent some time on HMS Dunnotter Castle as well as HMS Sikh.
If anyone has any info on Harrier duties and actions the ship was
involved in like at Normandy I would greatly appreciate hearing from
you. He often mentioned about convoy PQ 17 and I was wondering would
it have been possible that a ship's company could have been dispatched
to another ship while the Harrier was under refit at the end of June
1942 when Convoy PQ 17 set sail. My mother told me of a message she
received from Russia saying how they arrived safely. This is usually
unheard of during wartime action. I hope some of this information is
of use and I wonder if any of his shipmates remember him.
Wayne Lewis March 2008
I am writing to
you on behalf of William Joseph “Bill” COOPER who was a member of the
Royal Australian Navy during World War II. During his service he was
seconded to the Royal Navy and after completing his ASDIC training at
Dunoon, joined HMS Harrier.
The details of
his service on Harrier were:- Joined the ship on the 2nd
July 1941 as an ordinary seaman and while onboard on the 29th
August, 1941 was promoted to Able Seaman (AB/SD) and served until 9th
July, 1942. His service no. was S4802. During his time on board the
ship was involved in Russian Convoy escorts, operations in the Lofoten
Islands and with evacuation of the crew off HMS Edinburgh.
I have attached
copies of his Certificate of Service papers in the hope that his name
and details might be included in the crew list. He was a member of
the crew and not a supernumerary. Perhaps it is policy to only place
on the list members of the Royal Navy and not those of allied
services. The reason I mention this is because Bill Cooper mentioned
to me that there was a member of the Canadian Navy named Lewis onboard
and his name did not appear.
We both live in
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Thanking you in
My name is Martin Cooper from Sydney, Australia, writing about my
father, an Australian naval rating who served on HMS HARRIER
during the Second World War.
My father (details will follow & who is still alive) joined Royal
Australian Navy for war service during Second World War, and was
seconded to the Royal Navy. As an ASDIC rating, he received further
training at HMS OSPREY, Dunoon, Scotland, before being drafted
to HMS Harrier.
William Joseph Cooper
18 years of age at time of draft
RAN Official Number S 4802
HMS HARRIER 2 July 1941 to 9 July 1942.
During his time on Harrier, she performed duties to Ireland, Russian
Convoys, Iceland, Norway, was based at Murmansk, and was involved in
the action that sunk HMS EDINBURGH. His has written his
recollections at my, and others, request , and I am amazed at the
preciseness of his recollection when compared to ships log accounts
from your website. He relates how he was known only as "Digger" to
rest of the ships crew.
After his HARRIER service, my father served the rest of the war
on Australian ships, ending up in Tokyo Bay at the time of the
Japanese surrender, before being demobilised in 1946.
I was wondering if the current crew list is updated & if so, would the
inclusion of my father be considered.
I attach copies of an image he has from his Harrier service that you
may find interesting.
Martin Cooper May 2008
I am searching for information on my
Father William Clifford Knight from Manchester UK . He served
onboard HMS Harrier as a chief PO ERA. He is still alive living here
in Australia. I am hoping to bring him home to England. Is there a
list of surviving crew/ reunion contact.
Lance William Knight
Newcastle NSW Australia
James Henry Gaskell served on HMS Harrier up to it being scrapped at
Harwich. I don’t know when he joined the ship but he joined the navy
in 1943 as a signaller. My father is still alive aged 82 and lives in
Tom Gaskell, Sept 2008