commando veterans association commando dagger
[Recent Topics] Recent Topics   [Groups] Back to home page  [Register] Register /  [Login] Login 
HMS Salsette  XML
Forum Index » Looking for Information General
Author Message
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

I am researching the men remembered on a memorial in our village church. One of the men listed is A/S George Wild who died of smallpox on 13th March 1943 at HMS Salsette near Bombay, India.

Very little has been written HMS Salsette except I have found it was a former RIN base that was taken over by RN to train commandos using landing craft, and it seems the first batches of trainees moved to Bombay for advanced training in June 1943, three months after George Wild died.

Does anyone know the background and history of HMS Salsette or point me in the direction of further info.

Many thanks, Dave Hayward
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi,
According to an account by S/Lt Hill, 'H' Cdo, in Cecil Hampshire's book The Beachhead Commandos, "...the Cdo marched into their barracks - earlier abandoned by the Army since they flooded in the monsoon and were now distinguished by the ship name of HMS Salsette"

We know that 'H' Cdo was reformed in May '43, trained at Achnacarry & Inverary and was sent out to SEAC in July '43. So, given that Able Seaman Wild passed away on 13/03/43 it's fairly safe to say he wasn't with 'H' Cdo.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2191300/wild,-george-edward/

There is an account by Leading Telegraphist, GHL Bowman, on the Combined Operations Website which states
3 July 1942. Khadakwasla Camp. Arrived here, HMS Salsette, (the Royal Navy Combined Operations base), two days ago after hectic drive in army trucks. The place is in the catchment area of a reservoir... Once again I find myself a pioneer and spend the days road-making and making tents habitable. In this connection, it is comforting to know that officers? accommodation is no different from the mens'.


There is a record of No.5 Commando moving to a camp at Lake Khadakwasla on 18 June 45 which they then used as a base until 16 Aug 45

Khadakwasla Camp was some distance from Bombay; however, HMS Salsette is described as 'near' Bombay, I think that may be a relative distance - given the size of India!

Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 06/03/2020 14:18:34


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Many thanks for the info Nick.

It seems HMS Salsette changed hands several times, from Royal Indian Navy to Army and then Royal Navy, and fulfilled various roles for short periods. I can also see now that Salsette Island was one of a group of islands that were at various times linked to Bombay by causeways and presumably now form part of what is now Mumbai.

Perhaps George Wild transferred to RN when the Army abandoned the base or was sent there, (like GHK Bowman who I note "For nearly a year, I trained with army and air force contingents in landing craft operations on Loch Fyne.") to prepare what was to become HMS Salsette ready for the advanced landing craft training when "H" Cdo were posted there in July 1943. The conditions also give an indication of why George became a victim of smallpox.

Our intention is to produce something with the background of the 5 men on the church memorial listed under WW2 to coincide with VE Day 75 celebrations in May. It would be good if this leads to a descendant coming forward with more details of George's time in India.

Regards, Dave
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,
Thanks for that.

Research into some individuals can be like a complex jigsaw puzzle - you just have to get all the pieces together then jiggle them around until they fit together in the right place...
However, sometimes there's an odd piece that doesn't belong!
It's great fun and tremendously rewarding when it all comes together...

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Thanks again Nick.

Just one more question, from your records do you know where "H" Cdo went after Salsette? I am wondering if after basic landing craft training in Scotland the Commandos went to India for advanced training, in tropical conditions, before deployment in the Middle or Far East.

PS The "jigsaws" for the WW1 men on our memorial were easier in some ways because of the 100 years rule on release of records. If we manage to contact a descendant of George perhaps we can ask them to apply for the service records which may provide a few more pieces for the jigsaw.

Regards, Dave
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,

After Bombay and early 1944, 'H' Cdo were sent to the Arakan in Burma to take part in Operation Screwdriver and then with Screwdriver II - a landing of Army and RM Cdos on the Arakan coast in March 44.
Once Screwdriver II had achieved its objective 'H' Cdo returned to Bombay and then back to Europe for the final operations in Italy

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Thanks Nick

I think that confirms that HMS Salsette was used for advanced training prior to deployment in the Far East. I also suspect that Salsette was abandoned at the earliest opportunity because of it's history of flooding and disease, and why there are few records available.

From what you have sent me I think I have a good picture of what was happening at HMS Salsette after George Wild died, perhaps someone locally will come forward with details of George's life between being listed on the 1939 Register as a stable lad in Wiltshire to his death in 1943 at Bombay.

Regards, Dave
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Dave,

Because of No.5 Cdo's link to Kharakvasla Camp and then this reference to HMS Salsette
3 July 1942. Kharakvasla Camp. Arrived here, HMS Salsette, (the Royal Navy Combined Operations base), two days ago after hectic drive in army trucks. The place is in the catchment area of a reservoir... Once again I find myself a pioneer and spend the days road-making and making tents habitable. In this connection, it is comforting to know that officers? accommodation is no different from the mens'.


I have done a bit more digging and can now say that Kharakvasla and Khadakwasla are the same place...
This puts HMS Salsette on the shores of Lake Kharakvasla - a reservoir - near to Poona (Pune)...

We have a number of group photos of No.5 Cdo at Kharakvasla in 1945 - but, unfortunately, there is nothing in the background that is of any use in identifying the camp! This photo [link below] was identified by Capt Tim Balchin, No.5 Cdo, as being the HQ Troop, Lake Kharakvasla, India, June 1945.
http://gallery.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/5/scan0002+_3_.jpg.html



I have included some attachments which may help in slotting the pieces together...

The first is an extract from : D.L.I. AT WAR: The History of the Durham Light Infantry 1939-1945, by David Rissik
The second is an extract from : The Indian Army, 1939-47: Experience and Development, by Patrick Rose
The third is an extract from : It's All In The Mind: The Life And Legacy Of Larry Stephens, by Julie Warren

[Thumb - Kharakvasla Camp.1.jpg]
 Filename Kharakvasla Camp.1.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description D.L.I. AT WAR: The History of the Durham Light Infantry 1939-1945
 Filesize 92 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  347 time(s)

[Thumb - Kharakvasla Camp.jpg]
 Filename Kharakvasla Camp.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description The Indian Army, 1939-47: Experience and Development
 Filesize 126 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  358 time(s)

[Thumb - Kharakvasla Camp.2.jpg]
 Filename Kharakvasla Camp.2.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description It
 Filesize 86 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  418 time(s)

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 11/03/2020 12:59:00


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Dave,

Further bits and pieces...

The attachment is an extract from: an article by John Rose, Reproduced by kind permission of NOA News, The Quarterly Journal of the North Oxford Association. Vol 2, Issue 2, April 2004 - you'll see that the author describes Lake Kharakvasla Camp as being "in the Presidency of Bombay..."

There is a thesis from the Naval Postgraduate School in California, entitled 'HISTORY OF SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES IN MALAYSIA', from which this is an extract
LINE OF DEVELOPMENT 1. Training As a special operations unit, Force 136 emphasized training. In July 1941, initial training was conducted at STS 101 in Tanjung Balai, Singapore, and Lieutenant Colonel J. M. L. Gavin was the first commandant. Tanjung Balai is an isolated headland on the south coast of Singapore Island, appropriate for Force 136?s clandestine operations training.
Force 136 evacuated and established their new training center in Calcutta when the Japanese drew close to Singapore.

Force 136 (Malaya Section) training continued at the British Far East Military School or Camp Kharakvasla, within the Mahratta Fort in Poona near Mount Singrah, British India. The dilapidated building was converted to barracks, offices, halls, classrooms, a mess, conference rooms, and parade grounds. The course mainly covered shooting skills, assassinations, raids, canoeing, explosives and bombing, clandestine communications, intelligence gathering, camouflage, map reading, and guerrilla warfare. Practical lessons were taught almost every day. Originally, the schedule for training recruits lasted a month, but was soon extended to two months. The training focused and prepared the recruits in sabotage and espionage roles. However, when they were deployed in the field, their chief role was gathering intelligence. There had been feedback from agents on the ground that Force 136 should emphasize training in intelligence gathering. Agents also practiced the essential maneuvers for debarking from submarines and managing ?folboats.?
Force 136 emphasized training until their departure date. Training was conducted in English. Lim Bo Seng translated instructions for the Chinese ?Dragon? groups. During that period, Tan Choon Tee, a Malayan student recruited in China, and Lim Bo Seng wrote every note, copied maps, translated confidential documents, and wrote reports for Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist headquarters in Chungking. During training, Chinese trainees were divided into proChinese, who were sent by the Chinese government and regarded the British as comrades-in-arms for the war, and pro-British, who were recruited directly by the British. The pro-British Chinese were overseas Chinese workers or former employees in the British service. These two groups were not trained together, to avoid mutual suspicion and jealousy. Trainees were kept a distance from one another to keep up the spirit and strength of Force 136.

[references:
Shennan, Our Man, 75, 76, 9.21
Frederick Spencer Chapman, The Jungle Is Neutral (New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Inc., 1949), 114. ]


and The Manchester Regiment spent some time at the camp and there are a series of photos entitled :Combined Operations training on Lake Kharakvasla dated 1942 (serial nos MR 1343 - 1350)
http://www.manchester-regiment.org.uk/frontend.php?&keywords=03_2nd_Battalion&action=search&pages=60&page=4

Hope you can make sense of all this - and that it helps!

Nick




[Thumb - Kharakvasla Camp.4.jpg]
 Filename Kharakvasla Camp.4.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description John Rose, NOA
 Filesize 81 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  340 time(s)


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Thanks Nick, that has given me more to think about!

HMS Salsette seems to specialise in landing craft training. I started with this extract from the book "The Royal Indian Navy, 1939-1945", Chapter XI:

"Landing Craft Training Organisation

During the war, the Royal Indian Navy began training landing craft crews. In time, the landing craft wing developed into an organisation of considerable size, its training centre being then the largest naval establishment in India. It was called H.M.I..S Hamla, located at Mandapam on the extreme southern promontory of India. In June 1943, the first batches of trainees (the Hamla product) formed into flotillas and moved to Bombay for their advanced training in the Royal Navy establishment H.M.S. Salsette. At the end of 1943, the flotillas in Salsette (a group from land wing) were joined by their maintenance parties, trained in the landing craft base at Sassoon Dock, Bombay. This base was entirely manned and run by the Royal Indian Navy. In 1944 it was extended and improved. It was later taken over by the Royal Navy.

Early in 1944, the Royal Indian Navy Flotillas commenced combined training with the Army at the two combined training centres at Madh (Maud) and Cocanada. At this time the Headquarter Establishment and Depot H.M.I.S. Hamla moved to the Bombay area. On the move to Bombay in the spring of 1944, H.M.I.S. Hamla, the parent establishment, was located in buildings vacated by H.M.I.S. Khanjar, the old new-entry training establishment. These buildings, mainly old commandeered sanatoria, did not prove satisfactory. H.M.I.S. Hamla was then moved to new quarters in Wavell Lines, Malir Gamp, near Karachi.

A point to note is that the training of the Landing Craft and the Combined Operations during the war period, was more or less the same. No. 1 Combined Training Centre was situated on Madh Island, some 3 miles south of Marve. The naval camp to accommodate the crews of the Landing Craft engaged in naval training was established at Marve. This establishment, later commissioned as H.M.I.S. Hamlawar, originally consisted of three landing craft flotillas housed in tents and old huts, relics of the days when Marve was a sea-side resort. Hamlawar was eventually built up to an establishment of 120 officers and 1,200 men, housed in good buildings on a fine site. The camp was handed over to the Royal Marines in November 1944 when the Royal Indian Navy flotillas operating there were required for operations in the Arakan. It was decided that the R.I.N. would provide crews for training to the No. 2 Combined Training Centre in so far as future operational requirements were concerned."

I have another note with similar info:

"The Royal Indian Navy Landing Craft training began in November 1942, H.M.I.S. Hamla being commissioned at Mandapam (on the extreme southern promontory of India), on 1 January 1943. The Landing Craft wing was formed largely by officers and men transferred from the army. The camp had accommodation for 298 officers, 3,846 men and with additional tented accommodation for another 800 men. In April 1943 the first classes of trainees were half way through their four to five month preliminary training in H.M.I.S. Hamla. In June 1943, the first batches of the Hamla product, formed into flotillas, moved to Bombay for their advanced training in the Royal Navy Establishment, H.M.S. Salsette. On completion of those courses men were transferred to Landing Ship Infantry El. Hind, Barpeta and Llanstephen Castle for flotilla training from ships and additional night landing. At the end of 1943, the flotillas in Salsette were attached to Force "G" and were joined by their maintenance parties, trained in the Landing Craft Base at Sassoon Dock, Bombay. That base was entirely manned and run by the Royal Indian Navy then. It was extended and improved. It was later taken over by the Royal Navy. Early in 1944, Force "G" left India leaving the Royal Indian Navy flotillas and units in India to carry out combined training with the army at the two Combined Training Centres at Madh (Maud) and Coconada. At that time the Headquarters Establishment and Depot, H.M.I.S. Hamla, moved to Bombay area."

I notice your extract from "The 2nd Battalion in India and Burma" says:

"The Battalion found itself moved from Ahmednagar to an area north of Bombay where further work in boats could be combined with training in proper jungle more resembling that which would be met in a country such as Burma." Could that be Salsette, or Madh Island mentioned above?

I also note that the extract from "History of Special Ops Forces in Malaysia" lists what the course covered but there is no mention of landing craft. Also the photos from the Manchester Regiment do not show what I imagine as the type of landing craft used from ship to shore.

I am inclined to think there were 2 (or more) training bases, Kharakvasla Camp the centre for Combined Ops training and HMS Salsette the RN base for landing craft training. The bit I find confusing is the quote from No 5 Cdo's link to Kharakvasla Camp:

"3 July 1942. Kharakvasla Camp. Arrived here, HMS Salsette, (the Royal Navy Combined Operations base), two days ago after hectic drive in army trucks." Was Leading Telegraphist Bowman based at Khadakwasla Camp and referring to a trip to Salsette? And he refers to RN and Combined Ops base.

When I get to the bottom of this I will let you know!

Regards, Dave
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3309
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Dave,

Sorry, I think I may have confused you even further, L/Telegraphist Bowman was nothing to do with No.5 Cdo.
He was at HMS SAlsette in 1942, No.5 were at Kharakvasla Camp in 1945...

I have seen a comment the HMS Salsette was renamed HMS Braganza III (the RN had a very annoying (for researchers) habit of renaming ships and shore based establishments and thought nothing of having three different establishments all bearing the same name but different cardinal numbers...) I wonder if HMS Salsette moved from Lake Kharakvasla and was renamed at the same time?

HMS Braganza III Combined Op, landing craft signal and navigation training establishment, Bombay.

Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 11/03/2020 13:10:18


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Hi Nick

Agree with you about RN renaming ships and bases, I haven't found Salsette on any list of RN overseas bases.

I think I have all the edge pieces of the "jigsaw", just need someone to come forward to help with the rest. :)

Regards, Dave
Pete
CVA Website Archivist
[Avatar]

Joined: 23/09/2008 00:08:02
Messages: 4487
Offline

Here are some of the Staff who served at Salsette found in the Navy Lists online. Note on one of the pages it refers briefly to a second base - Salsette 11.

1. https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn30/9315/93153636.30.jpg

2. https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/93347722

2 (continued). https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/93347734

On (2) above it lists Landing Craft and Beach Party duties.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 12/03/2020 15:08:34


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


**** nb. I no longer monitor the pm facility ****
[Email]
Paul Gallagher
Forum Member

Joined: 14/04/2021 00:26:36
Messages: 1
Offline

While researching my family tree, I found that able seaman, Terence Gormley, H.M.S. Salsette, was killed in action on 25th April 1943 in Burma.
[email protected]
Forum Member

Joined: 06/03/2020 11:41:03
Messages: 7
Offline

Since my last post I have no further details of HMS Salsette. However, I have now received the service record for George Wild and following Dunkirk he was posted to a number of ships, mainly ferries, that were converted to Landing Ships and each fitted with 8 Landing Craft Assault craft on davits. It is clear he was involved in the transfer of these ships from the shipyard to the Combined Training Centres and possibly the installation and training for the LCA's.

I notice that each LCA had a crew of 4 to 7 men, so I am guessing ABS Terence Gormley was one of those and Commando records may reveal further details of a raid in Burma in April 1943.
 
Forum Index » Looking for Information General
Go to:   
©Commando Veterans Archive 2006 - 2016. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all content on this site is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Powered by JForum 2.1.8 © JForum Team
commando dagger