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Thread: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

  1. #1
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    Default Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Well do i remember the 15th of July it was 72 years ago that i was to live in my memory .The German commerce raider (Michel)was intercept us in the South Atlantic on a pitch dark night and blew hell out of us .
    What i cannot understand they kept on the big and small guns firing even when the ship was sinking but i suppose that is war

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    Thumbs up Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Must have been dreadful Lou
    You sure have been through a lot mate,and its a wonder that you survived it all!
    As the saying goes I suppose!
    'It wasn't your time yet"

    Lets hope that you will have many Years of the same good fortune.
    Excluding those hard Years mate!
    Take Care
    Doc
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Lou, would probably keep on firing until told to stop. Most probably not the individual gunners, but the gunnery officer who probably received orders by chain of command from the top. Most seaman would stop of their own accord but the German military had the reputation of going by the book. I know its not a day of rejoicing, but carry on making the most of life, always remembering those who werent as lucky. regards John S.

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Glad you survived mate and that I was able to meet you

    Kind regards Ivan (and from Wendy xx)

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    I was lucky to be only eleven then Lou but this date five years later I was in the British MN and the Nazis and Japs had not long got their come-upance. It was then all so vivid in the minds of my older shipmates. I am looking forward to the honour and pleasure of your visit to the Blue Mountains next month.
    Kind regards, Richard
    Our Ship was our Home
    Our Shipmates our Family

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Lou, war is horrific most times and for you to survive was a blessing. But as for many others you have to live with the memory of that, and other, fateful days. Your strenght of character and sence of justice has no doubt kept you going all the years. Good luck for many more we hope.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Hi Lou,
    I also remember that date.
    When your ship mate and our family friend Joe Farnworth went down with the Gloucester Castle, same age as you, 17.
    Hi mother just got a telegram saying that he was missing and didn't find out until near the end of the war that he had been killed.
    A sad day.

    In 2001 I was sailing to Cape Town on the QE2, Itook a Merchant Navy Poppy Wreath with me, told Captain Ron Warwick the story of the loss of the Gloucester Castle and just said ` leave it with me`. `
    When we arrived over the Position of the sinking, just south of Ascension Island, A table was laid out on the after deck and covered with a Red Ensign and the Wreath laid on top. Service Sheets had been printed and handed out to the passengers by his Secretary, We had a Service over the site of the sinking, and then two minutes Silence, the Chief Security Officer, ex RM. took the wreath to the Stern and cast it into the sea above the ship and saluted.
    The 95 dead passengers and crew of the Gloucester Castle had finally been laid to rest.
    A few tears were shed by some of the lady passengers.

    Photos.....
    The Service on QE2, over the Gloucester Castle site of the sinking. I am on the right in a black jacket, with Captain Warwick and Chief Officer Peter Russell
    and our Lou in Liverpool last year by the monument for the returned Far East POWs and his ship the Monowai that he returned on.
    .
    Cheers
    Brian.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    Dear Lou

    15th July was your, "Day of Life". Neither the Germans nor the Japanese could take away what was to follow you later. Look at your family~ as I'm sure you do~ and think what a wonderful legacy you have. Pete and I send you our very best wishes for all your TOMORROWS !

    Kindest regards
    Brenda & Pete

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    I have just found this in my files. Lou`s account of the sinking of the Gloucester Castle 72 years ago today,
    .......................
    .


    Charles Louis Barron

    Location: Dunedin New Zealand

    The sinking of the Gloucester Castle.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    By Lou Barron.



    At 7o clock tonight, 16 July 1942, the German Kriegs Marine decided to change my life style, my mate and had been playing crib when we heard a loud explosion then followed by more then the ship seem to give a couple of shakes we thought what the hell grabbing our life jackets we went to out the starboard alley way they was a few of us looked out onto the well deck and we could see was a mass of flames the drums of aviation spirits had gone on fire so we went through to the port side and the flames did not seem to bad as we looked towards the bridge we could see a big part of it was blown away as wee ran towards the boat deck we could hear gunfire and machine guns also as we got onto the boat deck the Bosun and a couple of us started to lower one of the boats then the ship heeled over port then a women passenger with a baby went to get into the boat but she fell into the water the ship was going down by the stern as some of us got into the boat the boat over turned and we was thrown into the ocean it was just as well I had my life jacket on all I can remember is getting away from the struggling mass of bodies I was then picked up by the only lifeboat to get away safely we got a fair distant away as we watch the Gloucester Castle go down by the stern with fire still burning in the well deck at that time we did not know what had attacked us so bloody savagely then we saw the ship it was the German raider `Michel` .

    ………

    ……….

    By Brian Aspinall

    93 Passengers and crew were killed, including a family friend, 17 years old Deck Boy, Joe Farnworth of 16 Dougill Street, Bolton.

    On the 21st of June 1942, my birthday, his brother David and I carried Joes Sea Bag down to the bus stop, he was on his way to join the Gloucester Castle in the Mersey.

    I asked “Where are you going Joe?”, he replied “Africa”, I said “ I wish we could go to Africa, that’s where Tarzan lives” Joe laughed as he climbed aboard the bus and we waved him goodbye.. We were never to see Joe again.

    The Gloucester Castle, of the Union Castle Line sailed that day in convoy down to Freetown, Sierra Leone. There she was to sail independently for Cape Town, and on the evening of 16 July she was attacked by the German Raider, Michel, just South of Ascension Island.

    She was hit several times with shells and bullets and set ablaze with the deck cargo of aviation spirit. See Lou`s narrative above.

    61 survivors were picked up out of the sea by the Raider and taken down the South Atlantic. There the prisoners were transferred to a German oil tanker and taken across the Indian Ocean to Singapore and handed over to the Japanese, some including a woman and two children were taken on to Japan.

    Lou Barron was in Singapore as a POW for three and a half years until liberated in August 1945.

    They were used as slave labour, working naked cutting down the mangroves in the swamps around the island living on a bowl of rice a day and any insects, rats, lizards, cockroaches etc to survive. Later locked in Changi Gaol, a notorius place.

    They were like skeletons when released.

    No one knew what had happened to the Gloucester Castle for three and a half years then the story came out in 1945.

    The Farnworth family like all the other families waited all that time before finding out their son was dead.

    .

    .



    This summer Lou came over to England to attend the Battle of the Atlantic memorials in Liverpool and to visit his daughter in Twickenham.

    He retuned to Dunedin last month August.3rd.

    ../



    . In October 2001, I sailed to Cape Town on the QE2,and knowing she would be sailing past the site of the sunken Gloucester Castle I told the Farnworth family that I would take a MN wreath with me.

    I saw the Captain, Capt, Ron Warwick and told him the story. `Just leave it to me` , he said.

    Then just south of Ascension Island in the position of the sinking over the Gloucester Castle, a table was laid out on deck covered by the Red Ensign and the wreath laid on top. Hymn and Service sheets had been prepared and issued to the assembled passengers. Captain Warwick read a Service of Remembrance to the 93 dead who had gone down below us. The Master at Arms, carried the wreath aft to the stern and at a signal from the Captain was thrown into the sea, he then Saluted.

    Two minutes silence followed and some of the lady passengers were weeping.

    A very dignified and moving event in the middle of an ocean.

    The 93 dead of the Gloucester Castle could now rest in peace.

    Brian Aspinall
    Last edited by Captain Kong; 15th July 2014 at 08:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Sinking of the Gloucester Castle

    It was while i was going through some papers looking for dates for my story that i came across a copy of the magazine The Sea Breezes 1993 i got this mag when my late wife and i was on our first trip to the UK.
    How i came by this magazine was when we went to Greenwich museum i got talking to one of the guys on the info desk any how i told about my history and said would i like a copy of the Sea Breeze withe the Story of the G/Castle sinking it as a very good story of the sinking told by i do not know the thing what i was interesting was when we got landed in Singapore they took Albert Day who was the chef and also Charles Harris of the G/Castlethe Japs took them away to Thailand as cooks for the Japanese .
    What happened to them i do not know .
    In the story it mentions about Ronald White who was a passenger he not very old he ended up with a broken leg .
    when i ended up in the raiders hospital after they gave me a needle was the next thing when i woke up the next day i was in the top bunk and in the bottom bunk was young Ronald White and he had lost his mother and he was in a very bad state.
    Both him and i stayed to together all the time on the raider i often wandered what became of him after the war .

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