John Malcolm Brownless joined the Royal Navy on the 25 March 1942 and commenced training at HMS Collingwood, a Royal Navel shore establishment at Fareham and at HMS Victory. He also trained at HMS St Christopher a Training Base located at Fort William in Scotland.
He was later transferred to HMS Pembroke at Chatham in Kent, where he Joined the Hunt class Destroyer HMS Cottesmore.
In 1945 John was transferred to HMS Loch Achray. John went on to train at HMS Orlando the shore base and gunnery school at Greenock in Scotland. When the war in Europe ended, in May 1945, Loch Achray took part in "Operation Deadlight” escorting surrendered German U-boats to Loch Ryan. In September 1945 Loch Achray joined the East Indies Escort Force in the Indian Ocean supporting military operations.
One John’s stories was of being landed on Java towards the end of the war, to assist the Army in fighting the Japanese, apparently 'proper' troops not Matlo's were landed to the North and a 'pincer' movement formed. They succeeded in shooting most of the monkey population having been warned of Japanese snipers in trees.
Ships mascot. In the background the 20mm Oerlikon Anti-aircraft gun
German Raider Komet. She was armed with "hidden” guns and torpedo tubes.
May 1944. Selected for duty with Force G in support of allied landings in Normandy, D-Day, as part of Operation Neptune.
1 June 44. PACKMAN, Ernest E, Stoker 1c, P/KX 122618, DOWS (Died of wounds)
5 June 1944. Escorted Assault Convoy G2 with HMS Destroyer Pytchley and three Motor Launches to clear passageway through German Minefields and approaches to the Invasion beaches. Convoy consisted of 18th Fleet Minesweeping Flotilla with Danlayers (these mark the channels cleared of mines) and part of 150th Minesweeping Flotilla.
6 June D-DAY. Arrived off GOLD Beach before H-hour. Gave supporting gun fire to assault troops.
Leading Seaman John Malcolm Brownless, JX 327772, who served on HMS Cottesmore. The photographs are from John's collection.
HMS Cottesmore was laid down on 12th December 1939 and launched on 5th September 1940. The Cottesmore was adopted by the County of Rutland in March 1942.
The Cottesmore Hunt after which HMS Cottesmore is named is still in existence today. It is one of the oldest in Britain and its origins can be traced back to 1666. It is named after the village of Cottesmore, in the East Midlands where the hounds are kennelled. Cottesmore is pronounced "Cotts moor" as a result of its origins as Cotts Moor..
May June 1945. After the defeat of Germany the Cottesmore was deployment in support of occupation troops and convoys.
HMS Cottesmore was sold in 1956 to the Egyptian Navy. After a nine-month refit at Cowes she was renamed IBRAHIM EL AWAL. The ship remained in the Egyptian Navy under two other names MOHAMED ALJ EL KEBIR and PORT SAID. She was used as a training ship until 1972 and then scrapped.
"Y" Gun Crew.
Thanks to Roger Brownless for this, from his fathers, John Malcolm Brownless, collection, proudly stating "We Were There" HMS Cottesmore, Arromanches, D-day, 6th June 1944 and signed by some of the crew.
Crew of HMS Cottesmore. The Destroyer in the background is HMS Blankney (L30) . John Brownless is furthest right.
Donald Maxwell Reed is back row, right hand side.
Above, the Raider Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper which attacked Convoy WS.5A. She carried three sea-planes and had an 80mm armoured belt and a 20 mm to 50 mm armoured deck and was armed with 8 X 8-inch guns, 12 X 4.1-inch guns, 12 X 1.5-inch guns and 8 X 0.79-inch guns.
Left, from John Malcolm Brownless photo album entitled "Panic Stations, Western Approaches" and may be from this action.
HMS Cottesmore in Hamburg 1945.
Displacement: 1,000 tons
Length: 278 feet (85 metres)
Beam: 28 feet (8.8 metres)
Draught: 10 feet 9 inches (3.27 metres)
Speed: 27.5 knots (31 MPH, 50.9 km/h)
Range: 3500 nautical miles (6,500 Kilometres) at 15 knots.
1000 nautical miles (1840 Kilometres) at 26 knots.
Power: 3 x water-tube boilers.
Propulsion: 2 x shafts, 2 x Admiralty 3-drum boilers.
Complement: 146 Officers and men.
Torpedo tubes: None
Guns: 4 × QF 4 in (102 mm) Mk XVI guns
4 × QF 2 pound (40mm) on Quad mounts.
2 x 20mm Oerlikon Anti-aircraft guns on single mounts.
40 depth charges, 2 throwers, 1 rack.
Additionally, Hunt Class Destroyers engaged on East Coast convoy work were fitted with a single QF 2 pounder "bow chaser" gun for anti-E-boat work.
Top Row, Tosh, Ivy, Sam,
Bottom Row, Mick, Timber, A. J.
January 1941. HMS Cottesmore join the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at Sheerness for coastal convoy escort and patrol.
12 February 1942. Anticipating that the German Fleet consisting of the Pocket Battle ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen together with escorting Destroyers and E-boats and with air cover would attempt to break through the English Channel the 21st Destroyer Flotilla, based at Sheerness and the 16th Destroyer Flotilla, based at Harwich where combined to form two temporary flotillas.
When the order came to attack the German Battle Fleet HMS Cottesmore like many other Destroyers, Motor Torpedo boats and Bombers were given insufficient notice. HMS Cottesmore went in pursuit of the German battle fleet but was too far behind to catch the German armada.
17 March 1942. Drove off attack by E-Boats off Lowestoft with other escorts.
26 July 1942. HMS Cottesmore together with HMS Calpe and two Motor Gun Boats where on patrol in the English Channel off the French coast. Off Cap de La Hague 15 miles N.W. of Cherbourg they intercepted an enemy coastal convoy. The convoy ships scattered and fled to port. During the pursuing battle Vorpostenboot VP202 the Hermann Bosch was sunk and Vorpostenboot VF203 the Karl Rover was severely damaged and caught fire. The Hermann Bosch made it back to Cherbourg but would take a year to repair.
Shortly thereafter the British ships came under air attack. HMS Cottesmore had 3 casualties and sustained damage.
Vorpostenboot also known as VP-Boats or Flak-ships were German patrol boats which were used around coastal areas and on patrols, escort duties and naval combat.
13 Oct 42. 13 Oct 42. HMS Cottesmore Deployed with Destroyers HMS Quorn, HMS Albrighton, HMS Eskdale and two MTB Flotillas intercept the German auxiliary cruiser Komet as together with an escort of E-boats it tried to pass through the English Channel into the Atlantic. The Komet had attacked British merchant ships in the Pacific Ocean sinking seven and was armed with six 15 cm guns, one 7.5 cm gun, one 3.7 cm and four 2 cm AA guns, as well as six torpedo tubes. She also carried an Arado 196 A1 seaplane.
The MTB were the older type and unable to keep up with the destroyers. HMS Cottesmore sighted the enemy ship at one o’clock and fired a star shell which illuminated a large ship “of modern cargo design” screened by four “T” class German MTB’s. Having taken the enemy by complete surprise the destroyers fired two salvoes before return fire, in which the enemy MTB’s fired on each other. The five Hunt Destroyers passed the enemy ships in the opposite direction at about 4000 yards.
With the large enemy ship on fire the MTB’s turned on the Cottesmore firing their torpedoes at her. In the darkness the Cottesmore heard one of the torpedoes approaching and turned sharply to port. The torpedo narrowly missed passing to starboard.
Two of the enemy MTB were on fire and the remainder turned and fled to the shore and the protection of their coastal batteries.
In the meantime, MTB 236 had caught up and seeing the enemy ship lit up by star shells, closed and fired two torpedoes.
Officer and crew on the Cottesmore witnessed a violent explosion, followed a moment later by a second explosion. Flames shot up four hundred feet into the night sky. A great plume of smoke rose three thousand feet into the sky. The enemy ship disappeared completely leaving burning oil over a square mile of sea. Her magazines, full of munitions to sink British ships, had exploded. The Komet had gone with the loss of all 251 Officers and crew. The German Officers of the escorting ship’s, none of whom saw any torpedo hits on the Komet, considered it was gunfire from the destroyers which scored a direct hit on her forward magazines causing it to explode.
A backup flotilla of destroyers more than thirty miles away saw and heard the explosion.
The Hunt-class destroyer HMS COTTESMORE (L78) firing at enemy shore positions on King sector of Gold assault area,
6 June 1944.
HMS Cattistock, (Lt. G. D. Keddie DSC) HMS Cottesmore (Lt. D. W. O’Brien DSC) and HMS Pytchley (Lt Cdr R. H. Hodgkinson) earned high praise at gold beach in support of the Canadians. They moved off station, moving close to the beach to give close covering support.
7 June 1944. Deployed with ships of Force G in Eastern Task Force area and provided naval gunfire where required.
Escort duties with Build-up force and interception patrols off beach head to prevent incursions by enemy e-boats, explosive speedboats and mini-submarines.
"Y" Gun Crew
Home Page Wildfire III. Ship Database. Dunkirk. Battle of the Scheldt. Sweeping the Scheldt. D-day. The Relief of Holland. The Enemy. Ships sunk.
Trawler/Drifter Minesweepers. MMS, Motor Mine Sweepers. BYMS, British Yard Mine Sweepers.
HMS WILDFIRE III, Shore Base, Queenborough. HMS WILDFIRE Shore Base, Sheerness.
Dieppe. Fortress Sheppey. Montgomery. Channel Dash. Amy Johnson. Thames Boom. A Bad day in December.
December 18, 1940. Convoy WS.5A depart UK. Amongst its escorts was HMS Cottesmore.
December 25, 1940. Convoy WS.5A was ordered to “scatter” when it was attacked by the German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper.
Two troopships SS Empire Trooper and SS Arabistan were hit by shells. When attacked by the British escorts the Admiral Hipper fled but not before hitting HMS Berwick with several 8-inch (which for the most part passed right through the ship) and 4.1-inch shells. Admiral Hipper then disengaged, to prevent the British destroyers from closing and launching a torpedo attack.
Kindly supplied by Roger Brownless, from his father's, John Malcolm Brownless's, collection.
If you recognize anyone in the following photographs, please let us know so we can name them.
From John Malcolm Brownless's collection. Depth Charge Thrower in foreground, sister destroyer in background.
HMS COTTESMORE (L 78), Type I, Hunt-class Escort Destroyer.
ENGLISH CHANNEL 1942-44 - NORTH SEA 1941-45 - NORMANDY 1944
On a Field Red, a lozenge Gold charged with a fret Red, surmounted by an annulet Black.
The first British destroyers enter Hamburg. 3 July 1945, Cattistock, Cottesmore, and Garth.
OFFICERS from Navy List November 1940
(Rank. Name, Date joined ship.)
No Officers other than Engineer listed in Navy List.
Cd. Engineer , C. Blatchford. 16 Apr 40.
OFFICERS from Navy List June 1941
Lieut.-Com. C. A. Ingram. 11 Dec 40.
Lieutenant C. R. Bax. 10 Dec 40.
Surg. Lieut, R.N.V.R. E. J. Delorme, MD. 11 Dec 40.
Sub Lieut. R.N.V.R. T.Collins. 20 Jan 41.
Sub Lieut. N.Z.R.N.V.R. K.H. Webb. 2 Dec 40.
Act. Sub Lieut. B.E.Bulberk. 27 Dec 40.
Cd. Engineer C. Blatchford. 16 Apr 40.
Gunner K. McConniff. 3 Dec. 40.
OFFICERS from Navy List June 1944
Lieutenant. W. D. O'Brien, DSC 28 Jan 43. (In Command)
Lieutenant. R. A. Manwaring. 21 July 42.
Lieutenant. I..A. Rodger. 9 Oct 43.
Surg. Lieut, R.C.N.V.R. W. J. T. Thompson, MD. 3 Nov 43.
Tem. Sub Lieut. R.N.V.R.J. H. Bowling. 30 Aug.
Tem. Sub Lieut. R.N.V.R. W. Evans. 25 Jan 44.
Tem. Act. Sub Lieut. R.N.V.R. P. Richardson. 10 June 43.
Tem. Act. Sub Lieut. R.N.V.R. D. Meachin. 11 Apr 44.
Engineer. A. W. Fairhead. 24 Oct 42.
Engineer. P. Richardson. 10 June 43.
If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.
The 21st Destroyer Flotilla, based at Sheerness , on manouvers. Note, the "Bow Chaser" on HMS Cottesmore. Photo by kind permission of Roger Brownless, whose father, John Malcolm Brownless, served on her.
After the D-day beaches had been secured the fall of the port of Le Havre on the east flank was inevitable. The German ships in Le Havre were expected to leave the port and attack the shipping at the D-day anchorage and ships were also trying to re-supply La Havre with ammunition. Nightly German e-boats left Le Havre to attack British shipping and create a diversion while supply convoy attempted to enter.
Seven German type III (pointed bow) Tank Landing Craft with a built up gun platform for 88’s, were used to attack British ships. (The 88 mm gun was used by the Germans as an anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and artillery gun.)
By this time at Combined headquarters there was some concern as the enemy was aware of the disposition of the British Fleet and a fierce response was expected by torpedo bombers and mines laid by planes and surface vessels.
28 august 1944, The last German ships left La Havre. Due to a number of breakdowns and other circumstances the only ships stationed off La Havre were HMS Cattistock (Lt R. G. D. Keddie, DSC) and HMS Retalick. When the German ships came out of La Havre the British ships attacked immediately and were soon under fire from the German ships and the shore batteries.
Almost at once the Cattistock’s bridge was hit by a German shell, destroying her gunnery control equipment and killing her captain, Lieutenant Keddie.
With the Cattistock out of action HMS Retalick chased the German MTB’s but they managed to escape to Dieppe. Although three were later sunk by British MTB’s while trying to escape through the Dover Straights.
August 1944. Released from Operation Neptune and returned to Sheerness to resume coastal convoy escort duty and patrols with the 21st Destroyer Flotilla.
1 Nov 1944. Detached with HMS Garth to escort HM Monitors Erebus and Roberts during passage to Walcheren Island for bombardment of enemy positions. It was important to clear the enemy from the banks of the Scheldt Estury to allow the Queenborough minesweepers to open the Port of Antwerp.