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Mk3iain

HMS Van Dyke

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Hi

I hope this is the right place for this question.

My father was in the navy during WW2 and was sunk in HMS Van Dyke off Norway. His recollection was that the ship was crewed by volunteers and used as a decoy when the RN evacuated Norway. I have not seen any mention of this anywhere, does anyone have any information on the sinking of the Van Dyke and what it was doing there?

Many thanks

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Hi

I hope this is the right place for this question.

My father was in the navy during WW2 and was sunk in HMS Van Dyke off Norway. His recollection was that the ship was crewed by volunteers and used as a decoy when the RN evacuated Norway. I have not seen any mention of this anywhere, does anyone have any information on the sinking of the Van Dyke and what it was doing there?

Many thanks

My grandfather was also on this ship, I believe 7 crew inc 2 officers died, the rest of the crew were taken to oflag 1X, so reports go, but my research shows that was a pow camp (a castle I believe) for RAF POWs , yet I own the war office telegram stating clearly that's where the survivors were taken, bit of a mystery truth be known

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Vandyck was an armed guard ship supposed to escort ships in the Norwegian area, it was actually sunk by a bomber on its way to act as an escort, it was originally a cruise liner and pressed into service at the beginning of the war, with a big cannon on its bows, but was sunk in 1940, I have paintings and drawings of the event done by my grandfather and other crew whilst POWs , my grandfather never recovered from 5 years as a pow and died in early 50s before I was born

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Very interesting.

Would you consider posting a few photo's of your Grandfathers paintings/drawings?

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Thanks for that !

My father and one of his brothers were on a larger RN ship when they asked for volunteers, they both remembered his brother belting him when he volunteered to go to the Vandyck. In their memory it was to be used as a decoy, maybe a bitter memory, but then would the RN admit this ? He remembered a Stuka bombing them !

My father would not talk much of his experiences until later years and he mentioned having to get away from the advancing Soviets, he was in eastern Poland. I looked up "Forces war Record" and he is noted as a POW at Stalag 344 Lamsdorf but I know that over the years he had been at a few camps including one adjacent to Auchwitz where they could see what was going on. I have a tankard marked "Stalag V11 Kreigsweihnacht 1940" and my mother has a pic of him on a stage with a clarenet with some other guys playing Jaz at one of the camps.

It would be nice to be able to piece toghether those 5 years but so far not much joy.

 

Iain

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Very interesting.

Would you consider posting a few photo's of your Grandfathers paintings/drawings?

Indeed I would006.JPGI will get some more done, but most are in poor condition,

007.JPG

011.JPG

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What a fascinating bit of history. Imagine someone saying 'And how's your Husband?' Then having to answer keeping in mind what you have been told.

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Thanks for that !

My father and one of his brothers were on a larger RN ship when they asked for volunteers, they both remembered his brother belting him when he volunteered to go to the Vandyck. In their memory it was to be used as a decoy, maybe a bitter memory, but then would the RN admit this ? He remembered a Stuka bombing them !

My father would not talk much of his experiences until later years and he mentioned having to get away from the advancing Soviets, he was in eastern Poland. I looked up "Forces war Record" and he is noted as a POW at Stalag 344 Lamsdorf but I know that over the years he had been at a few camps including one adjacent to Auchwitz where they could see what was going on. I have a tankard marked "Stalag V11 Kreigsweihnacht 1940" and my mother has a pic of him on a stage with a clarenet with some other guys playing Jaz at one of the camps.

It would be nice to be able to piece toghether those 5 years but so far not much joy.

 

Iain

My Grandfather who was on the vandyck was eventually registered as spending the war at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt) As your father was on the same ship, and presumably captured at the same time, my guess is he was at the same camp for some time

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My Grandfather who was on the vandyck was eventually registered as spending the war at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt) As your father was on the same ship, and presumably captured at the same time, my guess is he was at the same camp for some time

 

They must have been toghether, at least in the begining ! He was forever gratefull for the kindness shown by the locals in the Lofoton islands. Another place he mentioned was Eisenach (I think) which was strong is his memory.

 

I just remember fragments from his reminiscing, such as working on road gangs and doing some work on a chemical plant as he was a chemical plumber etc. And some positive and not so positive memories of his fellow prisoners (Especially the officers) best not repeated.

He also mentioned being in the same camp as Douglas Badder at one time (?), said he was not so popular with other prisoners as he kept dropping them all in the cr@p each time be tried to escape.

 

Iain

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yes very interesting..... also the way the next of kin was to be quiet about it

 

maybe as it was the beginning of the war they were more secretive of letting bad news out........

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yes very interesting..... also the way the next of kin was to be quiet about it

 

maybe as it was the beginning of the war they were more secretive of letting bad news out........

 

Does make you womder. Surley the Enemy knew they'd sunk it? Thopugh there was a tendcy to delay shipping looses until the full suvivor situation was knowm. The International Red Cross on overtime.

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Does make you womder. Surley the Enemy knew they'd sunk it? Thopugh there was a tendcy to delay shipping looses until the full suvivor situation was knowm. The International Red Cross on overtime.

 

Not necessarily, on many occasions ships were claimed as sunk incorrectly and even if the Germans knew they had definitely sunk a ship that doesn't mean they knew what the vessel was or what it's purpose was.

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Hadn't thought of that one. :red: If you have ever visited the National Mermorial Aboretium, and I do recommend it, there is an area with a tree planted for every British Merchantman sunk in WW2.

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They must have been toghether, at least in the begining ! He was forever gratefull for the kindness shown by the locals in the Lofoton islands. Another place he mentioned was Eisenach (I think) which was strong is his memory.

 

I just remember fragments from his reminiscing, such as working on road gangs and doing some work on a chemical plant as he was a chemical plumber etc. And some positive and not so positive memories of his fellow prisoners (Especially the officers) best not repeated.

He also mentioned being in the same camp as Douglas Badder at one time (?), said he was not so popular with other prisoners as he kept dropping them all in the cr@p each time be tried to escape.

 

Iain

On board the Vandyck was a certain Walter Purdy who became known as the Colditz Traitor http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/1941694.quiet_man_of_thundersley_was_the_colditz_traitor/

One of the reasons your father may have beeen on the road gangs is that there were two POW camps at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt). they were not actually completed when prisoners were taken there, so the prisoners had to literally build their own prison, one was for merchant seamen, who under the genevre convention, should have been repatriated, but were instead eventually put in the camp built for non combatant civilliams, even though they were under royal navy command. the germans did at one time offer to do a prisoner swap of merchant seamen, but Churchill refused, reason being he thought that if the german ones were released they would be pressed into crewing U Boats and warships,

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On board the Vandyck was a certain Walter Purdy who became known as the Colditz Traitor http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/1941694.quiet_man_of_thundersley_was_the_colditz_traitor/

One of the reasons your father may have beeen on the road gangs is that there were two POW camps at Marlag Ind Milag Nord , Westertimke (Tarmstedt). they were not actually completed when prisoners were taken there, so the prisoners had to literally build their own prison, one was for merchant seamen, who under the genevre convention, should have been repatriated, but were instead eventually put in the camp built for non combatant civilliams, even though they were under royal navy command. the germans did at one time offer to do a prisoner swap of merchant seamen, but Churchill refused, reason being he thought that if the german ones were released they would be pressed into crewing U Boats and warships,

 

Thank you, facinating stuff, and it all adds to the picture.

Of course these men were in the main in their teens and twenties and were only human with all their faults etc but they were ordinary folk enduring the extraordinary. Makes you think!

 

He mentioned the work gangs on a few occasions, including one of the guards who was a bit of a "private Schults" character that they teased a lot including hiding his rifle. They gave him it back before he was found out as he would have ended up on the Russian front. He did not hate the German people but most certainly had bitter feelings for some. He visited while I was based there and his spoken German came back a bit, including swearing.

 

My mother has some pictures and a red cross map of POW camps with some marked off, if I can get hold of them I'll get them copied and uploaded but it might be a few months.

 

The HMS Vandyck looks to be a big ship to be used as a "boarding vessel" with what was a small crew and with some grand rooms etc. No doubt not so grand when in RN service, except maybe the officers quarters.

 

Iain

Edited by Mk3iain
spelling of course

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The HMS Vandyck looks to be a big ship to be used as a "boarding vessel" with what was a small crew and with some grand rooms etc. No doubt not so grand when in RN service, except maybe the officers quarters.

 

Iain

Depending on what you read it is either classed as a boarding vessel, or an Armed Merchant cruiser, it was a fairly big ship, as it was previously a cruise liner accommodating 650 passengers

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Fantastic stuff. Great piece of research. It's unlikely that she was a 'decoy' but something like the Van Dyck would have been a plumb target for the Stuka's as she would have had very little in the way of AA armament.:)

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Fantastic stuff. Great piece of research. It's unlikely that she was a 'decoy' but something like the Van Dyck would have been a plumb target for the Stuka's as she would have had very little in the way of AA armament.:)

I think you are right, it certainly wasn't well armed, it was a cruise liner which was loaded with a WW1 gun and called an armed merchantman!. Three marines were put on board and the crew issued with naval uniforms, It was bombed on 9th June, which set it on fire, it was abandoned and sunk on 10th June 1940

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I think you are right, it certainly wasn't well armed, it was a cruise liner which was loaded with a WW1 gun and called an armed merchantman!. Three marines were put on board and the crew issued with naval uniforms, It was bombed on 9th June, which set it on fire, it was abandoned and sunk on 10th June 1940

 

There were also some naval volunteers that came onboard some days before, my father was one of them. In effect surely the whole operation at Narvik was a decoy for the evacuation.

 

Iain

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There were also some naval volunteers that came onboard some days before, my father was one of them. In effect surely the whole operation at Narvik was a decoy for the evacuation.

 

Iain

Its all interesting stuff, I bet Lamport & Holt were impressed their Top cruise liner was being used for that, Sadly I never met my grandfather as he died in '57, so never really got more info than he was an engineer and on board, when sunk, and no info as to anyone else on board

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Just a little update to this thread,

I now have My Grandfathers Arctic Star took some getting, but it is now proudly displayed at home

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