LITHERLAND AT WAR
1939-1945


HOME FROM NARVIK
H.M.S. Eclipse Survivors April-1940
 
HMS ECLIPSE
Built by William Denny & Brothers Dumbarton
Yard No 1264
Steam turbine 36000hp-35.5kn
Launched: Thursday, 12 April 1934
Built: 1934
Type: Destroyer
Tonnage: 1375
Length: 329 feet
Breadth: 33 feet
Draught: 8 feet
Sunk - 24/10/1943
 
Litherland and Seaforth Men
 
PETTY OFFICER MURRAY
SEAMAN GEORGE NEWNES

Since the war began, the Borough and adjoining districts seem to have had representatives at almost every major encounter with the enemy—not excluding Narvik. When H.M.S. Eclipse, a destroyer of 1,375 tons, went with the flotilla which followed H.M.S. Warspite into the fjord where seven German destroyers were sunk, almost the whole crew were Liverpool men. One of them was Petty Officer Murray, of 6 Rydal-street, Litherland; another, Seaman George Newnes of 21, Corinthian-street, Seaforth.

The grand moral of the British seaman compared with that of the Nazi was well illustrated in interviews with the men.

“ Although the greater part of the crew were young men.” said Petty Officer Murray. “ they faced the fight with the same determination with which they had been waiting it, while escorting convoys. When Jerry's bombers appeared on our side of the Fleet they were met with such a barrage of anti-aircraft fire that they didn't have much of an opportunity to do anything. One of them dropped five or six bombs around the ‘Eclipse,’ however, one scoring a direct hit, blowing up the engine-room. That was all—we were all too busy with our own jobs to notice anything else.”

Petty Officer Murray is a range-taker, is twenty five years old, and has been in the Navy for some 8½ years. He previously lived in Brook Vale, Waterloo, and is an old Beach Road School boy. During the last war, in which his father served on the “ Highflyer,” first British boat to bring in a prize-ship, his brother lost his life when a minesweeper he was aboard went down on the Dogger Bank.

Asked what impressed him most on arriving home at London. Mr Murray produced a copy of the menu headed “ English Club,” where the crew had been entertained after being congratulated by Mr Churchill: “ Tomato soup; fillet of sole; roast lamb; mint sauce; new potatoes; green peas; fruit salad, cream; cheese, biscuits; coffee.”

Seaman George Newnes, of Seaforth, has been on the “ Eclipse ” since December as a range-finder, has been three years in the Naval Reserve, and formerly was in the merchant service with the Cunard boats. He comes from a family which has given many years of devoted service to the country; father, brother and sisters all either serving or being connected with the Forces in some way. two are in the Navy, three in the Army, and one in the Air Force.

During the German bomber attack on the “ Eclipse,” fatalities were suffered and George was hit by a piece of shrapnel, “ I got laid out,” as he decribed being hit, the engine-room had been hit and the destroyer lost all power. Most of the crew were transferred to the cruiser H.M.S. York, and Captain Clark, the First Lieutenant and twenty men stayed aboard the stricken ship when it was taken under tow, arriving safely back to port.

Both sailors heard a German broadcast from Berlin whilst returning to port aboard the York, stating that H.M.S. York had been sunk, both men laughed when relating this incident and are waiting for another show.


Notes:

P.O. Murray and Seaman Newnes both survived the war

HMS Eclipse was sunk by a mine in the Bay of Kalymnos, Southern Aegean Sea, Greece - 24th October 1943

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