Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Hero Himself

HOWELL, James W, Petty Officer, RFR, C/J 37269

When the King pinned the George Medal on his chest for bomb disposal heroism, Petty Officer Jim Howell, of the corvettes, was a proud man.
He walked out of Buckingham Palace with his wife and daughter, remembering how the King had said "Well done"
A day or two later the corvette Pintail sailed into the sea war zone.
Petty Officer Howell, G.M, was aboard, and he took his George medal with him.
The pintail never came back, she was sunk a fortnight after that visit to Buckingham Palace.
Petty Officer Howell went down with his ship, with him went his George Medal.

*   *   *
Frances Howell, his daughter, wrote to me yesterday, "My mother applied for a duplicate. She got it all right."
But to obtain it we had to pay ten shillings.
We had to pay that for his honour to be returned to us."

*   *   *
The Admiralty admits that that is the system in such cases. The reason ?
There is a fleet Order which lays it down that medals must not be taken to sea.

HMS Pintail (K 21) [+1941]

On 10 June 1941, the Harwich based patrol vessel HMS Pintail was escorting a convoy near 62-Buoy some 30 miles off the Humber when the steamship "Royal Scot" detonated an acoustic mine, blew up and sank. Pintail immediately dashed to the scene to help in the rescue, but she was also caught out by an acoustic mine, close to the steamship. HMS Pintail blew up and was lost almost immediately, instantly killing her Commanding Officer, Lt. John Leopold Elphinstone McClintock, RN, six-officers and forty-eight ratings.

Lt.Cdr. D.J.L. Heber-Percy, RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Quantock, a destroyer also based at Harwich, which was passing with another convoy, reported later, "It was the most dreadful sight that I had ever seen. It did not seem possible that there could be any survivors". HMS Quantock and another ship however, did manage to rescue one-third of her crew, twenty-two in all.

28 nautical miles east-south-east of Spurn Point in position 53º30'536"N, 00º52'625"E.

Builder Denny W. & Bros. Ltd.

The William Denny Yard at Dumbarton, with a 25 tons travelling crane.

Technical Info

HMS Pintail (K 21) [+1941]

Nationality:      british
purpose:      war
type:      corvette
propulsion:      motor vessel
date built:      1939
live     live

weight (tons):      580  disp (surf)
dimensions :      74,1 x 8 x 1,8 m
material:      steel
engine:      2 shaft Parsons Geared turbines, 2 Admiralty 3 drum boilers, oil.
power:      3600  s.h.p.
speed:      20  knots
yard no.:      1335

about the loss
cause lost:      mine
date lost:      10/06/1941  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties:      † 55 rank: 468

    Denny W. & Bros. Ltd., Dumbarton
    British Royal Navy, Admiralty, Rn, London

captain:      Lt. John Leopold Elphinstone Mcclintock
no. of crew:      77

about the wreck
status:      dispersed
depth (m.):      20 max. / 18.1 min. (m)
orientation:      135°
location on seabed:      upright
visibility:      average
current:      normal
sea bed:      sand
protected:      no
war grave:      no