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
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.
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
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
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)
Len and Mrs Ida Murray in America.
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.
Firedrake leaving harbour
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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
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 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.
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