Ocean Retriever, Sheerness Armed Trawler . Thanks to  Claire Hargreaves  for the photographs who's Grandad, James Henry Percival, survived her sinking when detonating a mine with the loss of her crew. 

James Henry Percival, wearing  sunglasses, would never forgot his time in the Navy or the friend he lost.

Steam Screw Ketch, 1st class, 10 men, converted to armed patrol vessel.
239
YH.307 Yarmouth


1912

 
Bloomfields Ltd. & G W Green 1913

 
95 net tons.

 

1 X 6 pounder WW1.
Mined and sank in the Thames Estuary with the loss of all 11 of her crew.

Type of Vessel:
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Fishing Number:
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Engine:
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​Fate: 
  

OCEAN RETRIEVER
Armed Patrol Drifter
Wildfire, Sheerness.


During 1943 the losses to shipping in the Thames Estuary and along the East Coast had fallen dramatically. Nevertheless, there were losses, not only from mines dropped from the air but from mines and torpedoes delivered by e-boats. (Schnellboots, fast German Motor Torpedo boats). The newly built MMS’s (Motor Mine Sweepers) and BYMS (British Yard Mine Sweepers, made in the USA.) were by now operating in the Thames Estuary and along the East Coast lessening the danger of mines.

But the danger had not gone completely. On the 22 September 1943 the Sheerness Armed Trawler the Ocean Retriever detonated a mine and sunk in the Thames Estuary with the loss of all eleven of her crew.

Ocean Retriever YH307 drifter out of Yarmouth,
(Photo credit: Lowestoft and East Suffolk Maritime Museum)


 

HISTORY.

14 September 1919. Served in World War One as a patrol boat.

April 1940. The Ocean Retriever was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an Armed Patrol vessel.

15th September 1940, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire.
Drifters: Constant Friend, Ocean Retriever, Ocean Toiler, Peacemaker, Receptive, Phyllis Rose, Ocean Treasure.

22 June 1941. Naval Vessels in the Nore Command, Battle of the East Coast, Sheerness, (Wildfire)
Harbour Defence Drifters: Constant Friend, Ocean Retriever, Ocean Toiler, Ocean Treasure, Peacemaker, Phyllis Rose, Receptive.

January 1942.  ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire.
Armed Drifters - CONSTANT FRIEND at Sheerness, OCEAN RETRIEVER at Ramsgate refitting to comp 17 Jan, OCEAN TOILER, OCEAN TREASURE, PEACEMAKER, PHYLLIS ROSE, all at Sheerness, Belgian OCEAN’S GIFT at Rochester.

22 September 1943. The Ocean Retriever detonated a mine and sunk in the Thames Estuary with the loss of all eleven of her crew.

Although all on board lost their lived when the Ocean Retriever detonated a mine, there was one surviving crew member! James Henry Percival was recovering in hospital after an operation and wasn’t on board on that fateful day.

James lost many good friends that day, especially his best friend “Lucky” Percy Worley who he would always remember and  often spoke of him.  James told his family that the Ocean Retriever took part in the search for the famous Aviator, Amy Johnson whose plane crashed into the Thames Estuary. He told of the Skipper, being an old trawlerman,  would often put out a net to catch fish to supplement their food rations.

James survived the war and lived to be 97 and sadly passed away on 23 December 2017.

































Ocean Retriever, armed patrol drifter, ship loss, 22 September 1943
(​MPK = Missing Presumed Killer.)
ARCOCK, Ernest, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 302124, MPK
CAPPS, William A, Act/Chief Skipper, RNR, MPK
CARTER, William T, Signalman, RNVR, LT/LD/X 4715, MPK
CORK, Francis C, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 195793, MPK
COULL, John, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 131162, MPK
ELLARBY, Stanley, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 117199, MPK
HARGREAVES, Harold, Cook, RNPS, LT/MX 87017, MPK
JACKSON, Reginald W, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 407829, MPK
RAVEN, Charles A, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 242877, MPK
WILLIAMS, Harold, Stoker, RNPS, LT/KX 125401, MPK
WORLEY, Percy, Seaman, RNPS, L/JX 278934, MPK.  (Photographed above)

















Gravestone of Francis C. CORK, crew member of the Ocean Retriever in the churchyard of
Overstrand St Martin, Norfolk. Photograph kindly supplied by Pam Mellor.

To find out more of the Ocean Retriever’s movements go to DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST Dec 39
Not on List

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST July 40
Temp. Skipper R.N.R., W. A. Capps, 28 June 40

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 41
Temp. Skipper R.N.R., W. A. Capps, 28 June 40

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 42
Temp. Skipper R.N.R., W. A. Capps, 28 June 40

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 43
Temp. Skipper R.N.R., W. A. Capps, 28 June 40, Lost 22 September 1943 when Ocean Retriever sank.

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.

Thank you.

Contact: johntenthousand@yahoo.co.uk

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James Henry Percival on the left, his best friend "Lucky"  Percy Worley (who didn't survive the sinking of the Ocean Retriever) is on the right.