H.M.S. Asphodel (K 56)
Flower Class Corvette
H.M.S. ASPHODEL SUNK BY U-BOAT
9th MARCH 1944
At 0130 on March the 9th, the Corvette H.M.S. ASPHODEL, of Escort Group B.4, while Escorting Convoy S.L. 150/M.K.S. 41, was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat, U. 575, about 390 miles W.N.W of Cape Finisterre. H.M.S. Asphodel was on the starboard bow of the convoy. A radar contact had been made at 0056, 100° two miles, and foxers were streamed, but did not operate correctly. No star shell was fired until 0120. The torpedo struck the ship aft when she was steaming at 15 knots at 3.500 yards range. Five survivors, including the First Lieutenant, out of a Crew of 97 were rescued by H.M.S. Clover. Other ships of the group, assisted by The Destroyers H.M.S. Whitehall and H.M.S. Wrestler and the escort carrier H.M.S. Tracker, hunted the U-boat without success. H.M.S. Asphodel was commanded by Lieutenant Michael Albert Halliday R.N.Z.N.R. when she was sunk.
H.M.S. Asphodel was the vessel, which picked up RCAF survivors from the sinking of the M.S. Amerika, which was torpedoed and sank on the 22nd of April 1943. At the time of the sinking of M.S. Amerika, Lieutenant H.P. Carse, D.S.C., R.N.V.R commanded H.M.S. Asphodel. The M.S. Amerika carried as passengers 53 RCAF aircrew officers and 75-85 crew. The air crew 26 bombers aimers, 12 navigators and 15 pilots. The ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine U-306 120 miles SSE of Cape Farewell, Greenland. 16 aircrew and approximately 40 crew were rescued by H.M.S. Asphodel. One of the RCAF survivor's was John. H. Newland, who is still alive today, read his letter to me here.
Click HERE to view some of the RCAF survivors on board HMS Asphodel.
The German U-boat, U-575 was herself sunk on the 13th of March 1944, in the north Atlantic north of the Azores, by depth charges from the Canadian frigate HMCS Prince Rupert, the US destroyer USS Hobson, the US destroyer escort USS Haverfield, and by depth charges from British Wellington and Fortress aircraft (Sqdn. 172/B and 206 and 220/J) and Avenger aircraft of the US escort carrier USS Bogue. Leaving 18 dead and 37 survivors.
I would like to thank Jean Hedges of New Zealand for kindly donating most of the photo's that are in the photo gallery, Jean's father Lieutenant Gilbert Percy Hedges served aboard Asphodel from February 1941 to April 1943. Please visit Jeans personal website from the drop down menu on the link's button, and see the other ship's her father served on.
Get in touch with some of the relative's of H.M.S. Asphodel's crew, Jean Hedges, who's father was a Lieutenant on Asphodel, Michael Downes, who lost a brother when she was sunk, David Bell, who lost a cousin when she was sunk, and Allan Walker or John Binsted who's father's were among the five to survive. You can e-mail them from the drop down menu on the e-mail button.
Lieutenant Peter Binsted RNR
Patrick Francis Featherstone
HMS Asphodel Crew Memorial
New Zealand Naval Memorial, Devonport, Auckland
The adoption of H.M.S. Asphodel
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