There has for been, for quite a while, some confusion over the personnel
aboard HMS Jervis Bay during the epic encounter with the 'Admiral Scheer'. This
has certainly not been helped due to the crew casualties names being on various
memorials instead of just one memorial, and mix-ups in the survivors
ranks/forces (especially amongst ex. servicemen returning to the forces during
Here is the best information we have to date of the breakdown of the various
services that comprised the crew of the HMS Jervis Bay on the fateful day.
ROYAL NAVY (RN)
There were actually not that many of the 255 crewmen who
sailed on Convoy HX84 who were Royal Navy men. Because of wartime, there simply
were not enough RN men to go around. RN men were needed to fully crew ships
such as HMS Hood, HMS Prince Of Wales etc.
Armed Merchant Cruisers such as HMS Jervis Bay, were made up of various
naval forces, and although she was a British ship, her crew were not all
British, with some from the Commonwealth countries around the world. In overall
charge of HMS Jervis Bay was the Royal Navy, but only parts of the crew were RN
men themselves, and many tended to have the highest rankings in the general
running of the ship and her crew.
We count 40 HMS Jervis Bay crewmen as members of the RN, although that
number could be 20 depending on different interpretations of RN or RFR service.
Also included in that number is 7 Newfoundlanders. Since Newfoundland did not
join Canada until 1949, serving members at the time were considered RN.
P.O. W.J. Margetts, RN casualty, right
ROYAL FLEET RESERVE (RFR)
A.B. Stanley A. Spencer, RFR casualty, right
RFR men were ex-RN men, brought back for hostilities only, and used to
make up a shortfall in RN numbers. These were older experienced sailors, some
pensioned out of the RN. Their experience was invaluable, especially to the
overall younger RNVR members of the ship's company.
The RFR men had moved into civilian life before WW2 (Survivors Bonney, Billinge
& Gibbs worked for London Transport buses for example) and were re-called.
Like RNR men, they had undertaken continuous training over the years (at least
once a year) since being RN men, similar to the British Territorial Army.
RFR/RNR men weren't simply 'thrown in at the
deep end' though, and undertook about 6 weeks of intensive training at Chatham
(HMS Pembroke) in 1939, we are led to believe.
There were 23 RFR men in total on HMS Jervis Bay November 5, 1940, although
that number could be 43 depending on different interpretations of RN or RFR
ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE (RNR)
Royal Naval Reservists were men on reserve who
had experience of the sea, but were not RN or ex-RN (RFR) men. Many worked for
shipping lines in civilian life (Shaw Savill Line, Orient Line etc), or had
experience on boats of one sort or another. Casualty Hubert Heard (a keen
amateur yachtsman) & survivor Tom Davison (worked on a pilot boat) are two
Others were ex-fishermen, like the large contingent from
Wick in Scotland, who included people like survivors Jimmy Reid & Willie
We count 35 crewmembers with the RNR, but that could be increased by 17 if you
include NAP(MN) Officers. Merchant Navy (MN) men on board HMS Jervis Bay signed
up to the T-124 (Naval Auxiliary Personnel - NAP) agreement, where MN men came
under the control of the RN, but usually for MN rates of pay etc. They were
'temporary' RNR men .
Seaman Willie Oag, RNR survivor, right
ROYAL NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE (RNVR)
A.B. C.W. Parker, RNVR casualty, left
RNVR men were volunteers without any naval experiences
whatsoever usually. They tended to be the younger and/or inexperienced (of sea
life at least) men of the ship's company.
We count 30 crewmembers with the RNVR, but that could be increased by 3 if you
include NAP(MN) Officers.
ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY (RCN)
ROYAL CANADIAN NAVAL RESERVE (RCNR)
ROYAL CANADIAN NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE (RCNVR)
The Canadian RCN, RCNR & RCNVR work in a similar
fashion to the British RN, RNR & RNVR forces.
There were 1 RCN, 7 RCNR, and 14 RCNVR crew aboard HMS Jervis Bay during her
McDonald, RCNVR casualty.
NAVAL AUXILIARY PERSONNEL (MERCHANT NAVY)
Ship's Writer J.F Reeve, NAP(MN) casualty, right
The NAP (MN) were the most diverse of the forces serving
aboard HMS Jervis Bay. Most of these men had the 'everyday' type of jobs -
Cooks, Stewards, Carpenters, etc. The 'lowest' jobs in naval brass eyes at
least, yet the force that contributed the most men (105 out of 255 men), and
the largest contingent of casualties (86 men).
During the war, the RN lost the most men (approximately 50,000), far greater
than any other of the naval forces. The everyday MN men were amazingly
important (losing approximately 30,000 men), serving on the convoy
freighters/tankers bring vital supplies to Britain from across the world.
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