Wildfire III, Queenborough
Minesweeping Group 2
August 1940. With Hitler now fully in control of Western Continental Europe and Luftwaffe airfields in Holland and France the war on the East Coast would be massively intensified. German He 111’s and Ju 88 aircraft continued minelaying and bombing. With as yet no sea borne Barrage Balloons Junkers Ju 87, Stuka Dive bombers came right down to sea level to strafe and machine gun shipping and even survivors in the sea.
Aug 12 1940. The Wildfire III, Queenborough, minesweepers were sweeping off the North Foreland four miles north of Margate. Their crews mindful that only the day before a sister minesweeper from Queenborough was bombed with the loss of three of her crew and three wounded. In the afternoon, Stuka Dive bombers appeared overhead. These were led by Captain Von Brauchitsch son of the Field Marshal Heinrich Von Brauchitsch chief of staff of the Germany army. They swooped on Queenborough Minesweeping Group 2, concentrating on the Pyrope and Tamarisk. Both ships were sunk with the loss of six of the Pyrope’s crew and seven of the Tamarisk crew. After abandoning ship and in the sea the survivors were machined gunned.
The R.A.F arrived in time to allow the Margate Lifeboat to pick up survivors.
WAR CABINET WEEKLY RESUME (No. 50)
NAVAL, MILITARY AND AIR SITUATION
from 12 noon August 8th to 12 noon August 15th, 1940.
On the 11th August and H.M. Destroyer Windsor was damaged in the Thames Estuary on the same day. H.M. Trawlers Edwardian and Peter Carey were also damaged off the Thames Estuary on the 11th August, the former so seriously that she had to be beached and had three killed and three wounded. She shot down one aircraft for certain and possibly two. On the 12th August H.M. Trawlers Tamarisk and Pyrope were sunk by bombs in the same area, in each ship 6 men were killed or missing, the Pyrope having 1 wounded and the Tamarisk three.
REPORT FROM THE YORKSHIRE POST
Crews of two former Hull trawlers Pyrope and Tamarisk, announced by the Admiralty as having been sunk through enemy action, were machine gunned in the water by German bombers. A member of the crew of the Pyrope said yesterday.
While the trawler was heeling over, they continued to drop their bombs around her. All of us were wearing lifebelts, and grabbed hold of what wreckage we could to give more support. The Germans kept on machine-gunning us as we floated in the water, and our ship sank in less than two minutes. “You should have heard the cheering when our Spitfires turned up and brought a raider down close to us. It dived into the sea and exploded, and nothing more was seen of it or of the crew. No-one was more cheery than Seaman Thomas Anderson, a little ‘Geordie’ who was badly injured and died about two hours after we got ashore.”
HM Trawler Tamarisk T97 (FY 97)
Aug 1939. The Tamarisk was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a minesweeper.
June 1940. ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire III, Queenborough.
Minesweeping Group 2 - minesweeping trawlers LARCH (Sk J T White RNR), MYRTLE (Ch Sk W G Cleveland RD RNR), PYROPE (Ty Sk A J Folkard RNR), TAMARISK (Sk S C W Bavidge RNR), all at Sheerness.
12 Aug 1940. The Tamarisk was bombed and sunk in the Thames Estuary 4 miles north of Margate. Seven of her crew were lost. Her Skipper Samuel Charles William Bavidge, survived.
To find out more of the Tamarisk’s movements go to DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.
TAMARISK, ship loss,MPK = Missing Presumed Killed.
BAILEY, Allan C, Seaman Steward, RNPS, LT/JX 174709, MPK
DIXON, William, Seaman, RNR, C/X 9376 B, MPK
GARDINER, James R, Seaman, RNR (PS), LT/X 20739 A, killed
GREEN, Wesley G, 2nd Hand, RNPS, LT/JX 180314, killed
JARMAN, Thomas R H, Stoker 2c, P/KX 102394, MPK
MILLS, Harold R, Telegraphist, P/WRX 1173, MPK
SMITH, Charles S D P, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 202227, MPK
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST Dec 39
No Officers Listed but she was Commissioned on 15th June, 1939. Tender to ' Pembroke.'
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST July 40
Skipper, R.N.R., S. C. W. Bavidge, 1 Sept 39.
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 41
Not on List.
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RETURN TO SHIP DATABASE.
Type of Vessel: Steam Trawler converted to a Minesweeper.
Pennant: FY 97
Fishing Number: H198 Hull.
Other Names: St Gatien.
Year Constructed: 23 Mar 1925 launched. Completed in May 1925.
Built by: Cook, Welton & Gemmill.
Built at: Beverley.
Owner: Thomas Hamling & Co Ltd.
Engine: 1 triple expansion engine, 1 single boiler, 1 screw. 96 nHP.
Speed: 11 knots.
Gross Tons: 545 tons displacement.
Length: 140.4 feet.
Beam: 23.9 feet.
Armament: 1 x 4 inch gun.
Fate: Bombed by the Luftwaffe and sunk with the loss of seven of her crew.
Watch these short minesweeping videos.
A Bad Day in December 1940: https://youtu.be/Lw2pW31qH4s