BOB GLENVILLE READ . Service No. C/J 111170.
Rank. Leading Seaman.
Unit Text. H.M.S. Jervis Bay.
Killed in Action. 5 November 1940.
Husband of. Ruby Miriam Read, of South Benfleet.
The Steam Ship Jervis Bay was requisitioned by the Admiralty for conversion into an Armed Cruiser.
28 October 1940.
Under the command of Captain Edward Steven Fogarty Fegan. RN., the H.M.S. Jervis Bay, set out from Halifax, Novia Scotia as an escort to thirty-eight merchant ships across the North Sea. Her 6″ guns were old and adequate only for close range battles with similar size ships and submarines but nothing larger. Convoys crossing the ocean feared an unseen enemy, the German U-Boats. The Captain was notified of an increased threat in the area, three powerful German Battleships, the Lützow, Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer, each ship capable of sinking an entire convoy and were hunting for prey. Captain of the Admiral Scheer, Theodor Krancke, had been informed by German Intelligence to intercept and destroy the convoy.
5 November 1940.
The Admiral Scheer fired all six of her 11″ guns on the convoy. Captain Fegan ordered the H.M.S. Jervis Bay to full speed ahead and turned towards the enemy. He realised that the only thing preventing the Admiral Scheer destroying the convoy was his ship with its old 6″ guns. His enemy with six 11″ guns and the latest radar fire control system he probably knew that success against the powerful battleship was not on his side. Nethertheless, he gave the order to fire on it. The enemy response was to concentrate all guns on the Jervis Bay. It was soon ripped apart, some men were killed and many wounded but those who were able, manned the guns and kept firing. Their objective was saving the convoy. The Jervis Bay took several direct hits. Captain Fegan had his arm blown off and died soon after. By now the ship was ablaze and the extensive damage caused by over 335 shells caused her to start sinking. The order to abandon ship was given and the Jervis Bay went to her final resting place with 187 of her crew.
The convoy had scattered and were hunted by the Admiral Scheer. In the ensuing battle the following ships were sunk.
Beaverford . Lives lost 77.
Fresno City . Lives lost 1.
Kenbane Head . Lives lost 24.
Maidan . Lives lost 91.
Trewellard . Lives lost 16.
Vigaland . Lives lost 12.
Captain Edward Steven Fogarty. RN., was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. On 12 June 1941, it was presented to his sister by King George VI, at Buckingham Palace.
The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to the late Commander (Acting Captain) Edward Steven Fogarty Fegan, Royal Navy, for valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect. On 5th of November 1940, Captain Fegan, in His Majesty’s Armed Merchant Cruiser Jervis Bay, was escorting thirty-eight Merchantmen. Sighting a powerful German man-of-war he at once drew clear of the convoy, made straight for the enemy and brought his ship between the raider and her prey, so that they might scatter and escape. Crippled, in flames, unable to reply, for nearly an hour Jervis Bay held the Germans fire. So she went down: but of the Merchantmen all but four or five were saved.
Of the 187 men who lost their lives, 21 were from Essex. Two were local.
Bertram Westlock Davey. Service No. 91423.
Rank. Captain’s Steward.
Son of. Benjamin Westlock Davey and Emma Davy, of Westcliff-on-Sea. Essex.
Eric Gordon Howes. Service No. 127190.
Rank. Assistant Steward.
Son of. Harry and Edith Elizabeth Ann Howes, of Southend-on-Sea. Essex.