Telegraphist Len Robinson

Lenard Robinson Telegraphist.
HMS Firedrake
K.I.A. 16th December 1942


When the Firedrake was being repaired in Boston USA, Len used to go to partyís laid on for the crew by the barons, Len regularly went to the Murray household. Len could play the piano and sing so he was very popular.
He'd been a member of the Eaton Manor boys club before joining the Navy.
In 1934 heíd played football for his school the year they won the schools cup in there league.

When the Firedrake started work again in February 1943, Mrs Ida Murray wrote a letter to Major Villiers who was the President of the Eaton Manor Boys Clubs.

Dear Major Villiers
I thought Iíd drop you a line and let you know how much my husband and I have enjoyed meeting Len Robinson one of your club members. One evening early in September a shipmate of his brought him to visit us. From then on, until a few days ago, he has been a constant visitor. We, like so many people Len came in contact with, set out to entertain him, only to find he entertained us. He fitted so perfectly into our home life, that we felt he actually belonged to us. Never have we had so much fun and laughter in our home as he brought during the last four months.

He has told me a great deal about the Eaton Manor Clubs and the enjoyable times he has had there. He also spoke of you and the keen interest you take in the clubs. It was this that prompted my writing to you.
The fact that he escaped death by inches hasnít in any way impaired his sense of humour. He will laugh and have everyone laughing with him, at some of the things said and done in the midst of danger. Surly Hitler can never expect to conquer a nation that produces lads such as he.
In the four months he has been here he has travelled a few hundred miles and has friends in at least three states. Shortly after Christmas when I felt he was due to leave at any time, I offered him the use of the house for as many friends who had entertained him as he cared to invite. Thirty six people came. Three of these came from Rhode Island a distance of 80 miles over slippery and treacherous roads, and in a heavy snow storm. Our small apartment was filled to capacity, but everyone had a grand time, needless to say Len was a perfect host.


So you see Len is keeping up the tradition of his club. He has brought happiness to everyone he has come in contact with, a smiling face is certainly part of his equipment. He is somewhere at sea now, we are desolate with out him, but our lives are so much richer for having had him with us for so short a time. We pray for his safe return to dear old England and for a happy future for him.
It was gratifying to read in your Christmas letter to Chin-Wag of your appreciation for the aid America has given Britain. We still retain our British citizenship and have been deeply touched by what our American friends have done for our people. In closing let me say that my husband and I will be delighted to meet any club member that chances to come this way.

With very best wishes. I am Sincerely yours      (Mrs) Ida Murray

Len and Ida Murray

Photo left:
Len and Mrs Ida Murray in America.

Photo right:
A photograph of Len's school football team and cup winners 1934. Len is second from the right sitting down at the front.

Len Robinson,
was not one of the survivors.

Len's School Football team

 

Firedrake leaving harbour
Firedrake leaving harbour
Iím Eddie Walliker I did 22 years in the Navy and only got one Christmas at home in all that time. I joined the Navy on 14th February 1939 as a regular, I trained at Chatham as a stoker and then joined HMS Firedrake, my memory isnít what it was but I can remember quite a lot that happened. Like the sinking of U-39 the first U-boat to be sunk in world war two, the constant dive bombing at Narvik how we got through that God knows. The time we were in Gibraltar and were bombed by the French not many people know about that, when the French had through there hand in, and became Vichy France they coursed us quite a bit of concern what made it so memorable for me was I was swimming in Gibraltar Bay at the time and had to shelter behind a wall and the raid seemed to last for hours.

The time we were nearly sunk in the Mediterranean by an Italian 500lb Bomb which blew a massive hole in our side and stopped the engines the Chief Engineer did a great job getting them started again just as we reached Gibraltar courtesy of a tow by the Eridge, so we could steam into port under our own steam to a great reception . Because of that bomb we had to go to Boston in a America for the repairs to be done and have some alterations made.

When the ship was in Boston we had lots of time to our selves, me and my two mates Arthur Place (Fishy) and Harry Titchener went out together quite a lot we were all leading stokers at the time, the Americans looked after us very well, they took us back to there houseís and to shows, I know of at least one lad who got married over there, I was surprised how many Scottish and Irish were over there.

In the December the Japs bombed the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbour which brought the Americans into the war, this was the topic of quite a lot of conversation .

We left Boston in January our repairs done and a few alteration made and went up to Halifax to start work again as escort leader to B7 escort group, escorting convoys to and from America and Canada and the UK. I was sent on a stokers course in the December of 42 so wasnít aboard when she met her end, but my two mates were Fishy Place and Titch Titchener they were both lost, we had some good times together and often think of them.
I served on several ship just to mention a few the Anson, Birmingham, Kenya and Mauritius and a couple of survey ships the Cook and the Vidal but I will never forget HMS Firedrake and the mates I lost.


Richard Liberty
R. Liberty AB  K.I.A. 16th December 1942.

Richard Joined the Navy in 1927 served on the HMS Ramillies for about three years then went to HMS Whirlwind until he left the Navy in 1933.

In the time between 1933 when Richard left the Navy and being called up for war service Richard worked as a grounds man and handyman for Sir John & Lady Ellerman (of the Ellerman Shipping Line).
They had estates in Bagshot, Chorleywood and Sunningdale and a large house in Kensington Palace Gardens London. Then came the war so he was called up some time in 1940 after a short time at Chatham he was drafted to HMS Firedrake he then saw action at Narvik, the Atlantic and Mediterranean with force H.
In July 1941 when on operation (Substance) a convoy to Malta Firedrake was very badly damaged by a 500lb Italian bomb which meant she had to go to Boston USA for repairs the repairs took just over three months so Richard used to send presents home, nylons for his wife and things you couldnít get here because of the rationing, he once sent cowboy outfits for his two young sons. When the repairs were completed the Firedrake was the escort leader to B7 escort group operating from Lough Foyle Londonderry escorting convoys to Canada and America. Richardís action stations was A or B gun forward. On the night of the 16th December 1942 while escorting convoy ON153 to America the Firedrake was struck by a torpedo fired by U211 and subsequently sank with the loss of one hundred and sixty eight of her crew Richard being one of them. A very sad loss for all the family.

Other Pages Below
HMS Firedrake Page 1 The history of HMS Firedrake. The history of HMS Firedrake. HMS Firedrake details. Survivor Donald Coombes Survivor George Walker Joe Curbishley and John Bridge Bert How & Bill Aldous Topsy & Scouse Cliff Vincett, Wiggy Bennett & Reg Furgusson. Stanley Humphries and Henry Timpson. The Coxswain and the Chrysanthemum Memories from the Sunflower Some of Firedrake's last crew. Some more of Firedrake's last crew. Capt. S. Norris. DSO. DSC. and Comm. E.H.Tilden DSC. RN. The Mailli Breze Tragedy and J. Wallbank. Adopted by Tynemouth. Edwards, Sym amd Pattison. The U39 and Durbo story Dr John Aldren's story Peter Kelly Remembers Lt D.J.Dampier. Survivor Leonard Browne & George Dougal The "F" Class Destroyers Ken Neale OBE. FSA.