13 of the 99 man crew were reportedly killed.
Author Jack Humphreys (pseudonym) tells the story of Arctic Convoy JW-64 on which his father Eric sailed during WW2 that was torpedoed while protecting the final merchantman as it entered safely into Russia’s Kola Inlet.
Eric provides detailed commentary on his wartime naval life having volunteered as a seventeen year old in 1943. His story includes his time aboard the navy corvette from commissioning in Aberdeen, where it was built, up to the torpedo blast at 13 minutes past midnight, on Friday 13th, within minutes of Eric returning to the Mess from port watch.
The blast was only 12 to 18 inches beyond the protective bulkhead.
Eric had volunteered to serve in the Royal Navy against the wishes and advice of his father Charlie who had survived Passchendaele during WW1 with the Cameron Highlanders.
He spent his first year "shipping around coastal bases guarding this and that" until August 1944 when he was posted aboard the new corvette.
After three months preparation, the Denbigh Castle entered Scapa Flow where it was provisioned, and warm weather kit loaded, such that the crew expected to travel eastwards to join the fight against the Japanese but, as Eric says,
“Instead of turning right out of Scapa we turned left towards the Arctic”.
Little did they know they were about to take what Churchill would call
“The worst journey in the world”
For the Denbigh Castle, and part of her crew, it would be its first and final such journey.
Torpedo: Friday 13th Jack Humphreys
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