17 October 1948 there was an accident in Portland Harbour, Dorset, when
a liberty boat returning to HMS Illustrious, sank close to the ship.
19 of the crew were drowned. They are buried in Portland Royal Naval
Cemetery. Other sailors perished in this accident that are not buried
in the Naval Cemetery; these are being added as they are found.
from Western Gazette - Friday 22 October 1948:
Lost When Launch Sank
in Gale Off Portland
in lll-Fated Liberty Boat
Naval ratings and a midshipman lost their lives when a liberty launch
from the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Illustrious, sank in a gale in Portland
Harbour on Sunday night. The launch had sailed from Weymouth Pier and
had almost reached the carrier when the disaster took place. Most of
the victims were young trainees.
Wednesday a Naval board of inquiry was opened aboard H.M.S. Illustrious
under the presidency of Captain W. E. Banks. C.B.E., D.S.C., H.M.S.
Osprey, and an inquest was opened at the R.N. Hospital at Portland upon
the body of the coxswain of the launch, 18-year-old Midshipman Richard
Arthur Clough, of Oxford, who died after being taken unconscious from
the water. The liberty boat was salvaged from the sea by the Admiralty
salvage vessel Moordale on Tuesday, the bodies of two of the last ratings
being recovered from the water the same day. A deep gloom has been cast
over South Dorset by the tragic occurrence and messages of sympathy
have been sent to the Naval authorities by Weymouth Town Council and
Portland Urban Council.
The ill-fated launch sailed from Weymouth at about 10.30 on Sunday night
and was making her way to the Illustrious in the teeth of a south-westerly
gale with visibility at times reduced almost to nil by blinding rain
squalls. About 20 men survived the tragedy, being either picked up by
other boats or managing to swim to the carrier. Some owed their lives
to the courage of men from the carrier who plunged into the sea to pick
lifeboat was called to the scene to search for survivors, but found
only a number of lifebuoys and a couple of sailors' greatcoats. The
lifeboat coxswain (Mr. H. Palmer) said on Monday : “We left harbour
at a quarter to twelve and the weather was very bad —blowing a
gale. We had a message to proceed to the Illustrious and they told us
to search the breakwater for men who might have clambered there or might
be clinging to the rocks. We searched from end to end. Searchlights
were played on the scene by nearby ships, but there was no sign of any
living soul. I landed three men on the breakwater and they made a thorough
search. We recovered a number of lifebuoys and pieces of wreckage. It
was a wild night. The seas were a mass of foam and I don't think a man
could live in it for long.”
news of the disaster had been announced telephone inquiries from relatives
of the ship's company poured into Portland base, and the first action
of men who came ashore from the Illustrious on Monday night was to go
to the Post Office or to telephone kiosks to send messages saying they
to resuscitate Clough by artificial respiration kept up for about two
hours were described a surgeon-lieutenant when the South Dorset Coroner
(Lieut.-Colonel G. G. H. Symes) opened the inquest on the young midshipman
of identification was given by a Royal Marine officer, Captain J. H.
B. Allan, who said Clough's home address was 30, Longsdale-road. Oxford.
David Owen Haines, H.M.S. Illustrious, told the Coroner that he came
on the quarter deck on being informed of the accident. Midshipman Clough
had been brought aboard the carrier and was on the deck unconscious,
and artificial respiration was being commenced.
Coroner : "As far as you could tell was he then dead?" —"Yes.
witness went on to say that artificial respiration was kept, for a most
two hours and he also gave two injections, but without result. Oxygen
was administered the whole time. Death was due to drowning.
Coroner also opened the inquest on the two bodies recovered from the
sea, which were identified those of Naval Airman Thomas Arthur Leonard
(18), of Dagenham, Essex, and Ordinary Seaman Eric Morrison Jack (19),
of identity was given by Petty Officer William Murphy and Chief Petty
Officer Leslie Charman, of H.M.S. Illustrious; and the Surgeon-Lieutenant
said the bodies had the physical appearance of death by drowning.
Symes adjourned the inquests to a date to be fixed. "It will probably
be some time next week," he said.
Illustrious was lying in Weymouth Bay on Wednesday when the Naval Inquiry
opened. The inquiry proceedings, which were expected to last two days,
were private, but the findings are to be made public.
Writer. PMX 773782. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 21. Born 31 December 1925.
Seaman DJX 306883. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 24. Born 22 December 1923.
Robert Albert Edward
Mechanic PSK 841214. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Born 23 February 1930.
HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October 1948. Aged 19. Born
1 January 1929.
Seaman PSS 840145. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Born 30 December 1929.
Richard Walter James
PMX 716347. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October 1948.
Aged 28. Born 18 April 1920.
John Malcolm Rees
Airman 2nd Class LFX 853450. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th
October 1948. Aged 18. Born 13 January 1930.
Seaman DSSX 848587 HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Born 17 JUne 1930.
Airman 2nd Class LLFX 855291. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th
October 1948. Aged 18. Born 1 April 1930.
Patrolman PMX 801822. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 27. Born 21 February 1921.
853190 Naval airman 2nd class HMS Illustrious. Died
17th October 1948. Aged 18. Born 16 February 1930.
Seaman DJX 245559. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 23. Born 11 February 1925.
Seaman DJX 846727. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Born 12 May 1930.
Airman LFX 8854989. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 17. Born 29 January 1931.
Edward Frederick [James]
Seaman DSSX 771456. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 19. Born 22 June 1929.
Seaman DSS 840168. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 19. Born 2 May 1929.
Seaman DSSX 840734. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Born 9 January 1930.
Airman LFX 849264. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 19. Born 14 January 1929.
Signalman PJX 820230. HMS Illustrious. Died 17th October
1948. Aged 17. Born 2 April 1931.
or commemorated elsewhere
HMS Illustrious, Royal Navy. Died
after being rescued at Portland Harbour 17th October
1948. Aged 18. Resident of Lonsdale-road, Oxford.
Seaman, HMS Illustrious, Royal Navy. Drowned
at Portland Harbour 17th October 1948. Aged 18½.
REsident of Aberdeen. Buried in Strichen graveyard, Aberdeenshire,
Copyright © Kevin Duthie 2018
Arthur aka Buddy
Airman 2nd Class FX 853460, HMS Illustrious, Royal Navy.
17th October 1948. Aged 18. Born 3 February 1930. Resident
of Dagenham, Essex. Buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Leyton,