Thomas Wilson Jnr - HMS Undaunted
The Wartime Story of Thomas Wilson Junior
My brother Thomas joined the Royal Navy in 1943 at the age of 18. He served all his time on HMS Undaunted, from the age of 19 to 20. He received the 1939 - 1945 star, the Italy Star, the Burma Star, the Pacific Bar and the King George VI Medal. On his sleeve he wore a star, a gun and a letter 'Q' which signified First Class Gunner Quarterly Ordnance.
Thomas, who was born in 1925 and died in 1989, had one brother in the army, one in the RAF and his father, Thomas Wilson Snr, was in the Royal Marines.
From the memoirs of Glynn Roberts
We left Devonport barracks before midnight 20th February 1944 to travel by troop train to Birkenhead to join HMS Undaunted at the builders' yard, namely Messrs Cammell Laird on the River Mersey on the 21st February 1944. During the next 10 days, we carried out sea trials in Liverpool Bay and saw quite a bit of the River Mersey. For a few days, we tied up at the pier head by the Liver Building. When the builders handed over to the Royal Navy, we sailed for Scapa Flow. On arrival, we had to 'work ship' to increase our efficiency. Our first operation was with aircraft carriers for the Fleet Air Arm to attack the 'Tirpitz' in the Norwegian Fjord. We were in the North Cape area for some days and I recall that, when setting out on one operation, our captain who was a Scot played 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' on his bagpipes. We could have killed him!!
About 10 days before D Day, we sailed south and our Anchorage was by The Needles, Isle of Wight. Before D Day we carried out 'E' Patrols in the Channel. We were in the forefront of the Armada on D Day itself. Men reacted in different ways. A bugler from a Yorkshire Regiment sounded the General Salute as his landing craft passed the command ship. Commander Angus MacKenzie, aboard the Destroyer HMS Undaunted, stood wearing his highlander's bonnet as he played the bagpipes from the bridge whilst the LCAs, crowded with Infantry, went by his ship towards the beach. One sailor later said that it was like a scene from hell as the ship rocked having taken some near misses.
We brought Eisenhower and Admiral Ramsay back to Portsmouth on the evening of the 6th. A couple of days later, we escorted an aircraft carrier to Gibraltar. On our return to Plymouth, we were given leave. We then returned to the Mediterranean to escort HMS Howe into Algiers. We did a great deal of escort work out of Malta. We went to Bari, Brindisi and Taranto in Italy. We were awarded the Italy Medal for operations such as bombarding the coast near Ancona to help the army. We also undertook operations off the coast of Yugoslavia.
Later, we sailed to Alexandria where Tommy Wilson met up with his brother Stan, who was serving with RAF. They had two or three days leave together. When we went to Port Said we knew that we were off to the Far East, sailing through the Canal to Aden and then to Bombay. We again performed escort duties for Troopships etc. We went on to Ceylon where signalman Terry Thorne joined the ship.
On the 14th August 1945, we were anchored off the Port of Yokohama, after seeing action in Okinawa. We did not enter Yokohama for the signing of the Peace as we were on the way to Sydney. We then sailed on to New Zealand for a Refit, spending about 8 weeks in Auckland, North Island. On completion, we returned to Sydney then on to Yokohama (Tokyo Bay). We had leave in Tokyo and travelled up the island for a few days.
On 1st January 1946, we were told that we were going home. We reached our destination, Plymouth, on 19th March 1946, having sailed via Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town, St Helena, Freetown and Gibraltar. What a journey!!
If you have any information regarding HMS Undaunted please contact:
Flat 5 Fernleigh
45 Sharples Park