the diary of signalman John Emrys Williams
Puzzles solved and other messages
CCO - "the Command and Control Office/Center on board a ship
- today called CCC on American ships, at least" - Werner.
TDR - "probably TDD which is a destroyer - chases after submarines, smaller
than a cruiser" -
TAC - "an aircraft, usually a bi-plane, carried on ships which can launch
them with a small catapult. Older ones would put them in the water with a
crane first for a take-off on their floats; they are used for reconnaisance
(looking for enemy U-boats and surface ships) and defense against air attacks." - Werner.
Liberia (?) -
"probably a Liberator (an American bomber flying naval patrol)" - Werner.
"might be Home Fleet" - Werner.
ATLZ - "sounds as if it refers to a signal flag being hoisted to
an Air Alarm. But I am not certain of that..." - Werner.
CSIO - " when I read CSIO I thought "Commander South Indian Ocean"
(because it had to be something high enough to make him 2nd
in command of the Home Fleet -- but that didn't seem to make
any sense...) " - Werner.
Tracker - "an escort carrier (because of the low cost of such ships, mostly converted mertchant ships, known as "Woolworth's Carriers"), Kepplea destroyer etc. although I am surprised that Keppel and Starling have the same designation letters, because I thought that Starling was a sloop." - Charles Morton, ex M.N., Montreal, Canada.
billet - "The word in general means a place where soldiers etc. were placed, often in private homes with room and board, when regular facilities were not available. During the war, householders were often ordered to take in military personnel whether they liked it or not and were paid a nominal sum for their trouble. (another example of billeting was the case of the evacuee children sent out of the cities in case of air raids. Their foster homes were officially known as billets). In service parlance, Billet came to mean any place to stay; thus, when your grandfather is wandering around Portsmouth looking for a billet, he is just looking for a place to stay rather than return to his ship. There were numerous places for servicemen to get a bed in most cities (YMCA, King George's Service Clubs, Flying Angel Missions to Seamen etc.) but in places like Portsmouth and Plymouth in June 1944 when all the ports were crowded with servicemen, finding a vacancy at short notice would be very difficult. Hence, your grandad found an air raid shelter (there were hundreds of them) where he probably slept on a concrete bench." - Charles Morton, ex M.N., Montreal, Canada.
"I wonder if someone could help me in my quest for information about my
fathers service on the ship HMS Diadem during WWII?
My father (Ernest Ball) worked in the engine room (from what I can recall),
and I'm now trying to find out if there are any of his shipmates still alive
who may remember him?
Sadly my father passed away in 1994, and I must say that I feel quite
ashamed that I learned so little of his wartime experiences whilst he was
alive. I would like to make up for this now if posssible.
I do hope you can help me in my "quest". Best Regards" - Andrew Ball, Bolton, UK.
"Excellent work and a tribute to your grandfather.
My Dad also took part in Atlantic convoys on Free French Navy corvettes operating out of Greenock, into Murmansk
and other places.
I will see if I can shed any light on your queries and also out of curiosity ask him if he knows which convoys he was on." -
"Brilliant site. I think it is so important to keep the memories from the War
generation. I am currently teaching in a small junior school in Caerphilly.
I've bookmarked the site as I intend using it in a few weeks when I intend
covering the D Day landings.
You may like to take a look at a site that I created to show my father's
http://members.aol.com/Groeswenphil/Grandad" - Philip Edwards
"A friend of mine who
was a scout for the paratroupers landing on D-day is writing
his memoirs and I just recently had visited him, I was curious
if there was something of relevance to him mentioned in your
grandfather's tale... :-)
" - Werner.
My old father-in-law, George Sargent, was on the following ships,
And died two years ago, aged 82, I can tell you about "billet!" George
would say, about his car and car parking: "I want to get back in case
some bugger's stole my billet"! His place, or space; where he bunked on ship, where he kept his gear, all were billets.
If I can find out any of the others I'll let you know, thanks for the
site, its an inspiration really, we're trying to find details and
pictures of all the ships both George and his Dad were on." -
father (Robert Edward Priest), served on Diadem also as a
telegraphist during the second world war and was also involved in
the Russian convoys. My father is still alive, he's 76 (born 11th
Feb 1925), his service number was P/JX453268 and he served on Diadem
during Dec 1943 and May 1944.
My Father, has not yet been informed about your web site’s latest
addition but you can count on me as soon as I return home from visiting
my girlfriend in Massachusetts he’ll be the first to know.
Although my father can still remember the model number etc of the
radio communication systems he used during his service days the
Internet still dumbfounds him.
I would also like to thank you on behalf of my Father and I’m sure
I speak for each and every one of the sailors and men who served
on these fantastically daunting and heroic escapades, for making
such a wonderful tribute which could and would easily have been
The message posted from Andrew Ball in your message board highlights
this fact perfectly; we all need to learn from those who have been
involved and gain knowledge from their mistakes and tribulations.
If you require any further details regarding my Father’s exploits
I would be happy to assist, perhaps we could, together, highlight
some far forgotten stories of bravery never before known?" -
Richard Priest Cmdr R.N. R.M. January 2002.
just read john williams account of his time on board HMS Diadem.my
granfather Len Breakspear also severed on the ship during ww2.
it was very interesting to find out what those men went thro. i would
be very grateful if u can send me any infomation u have regarding
the time they spent aboard the Diadem. my grandfather passed away
3 years ago." - Richard Breakspear, December 2003
record of submarine detector shows him to have joined Diadem 18 Jan
1947 until 25 Feb 1948. This does not show the ship's final days as
you inquire on your website but shows it still to be around in 1948.
Also have a photo of a small liberty boat with the name Diadem on
her mast." - Colin Dannatt, July 2004.
don't know a lot about the Diadem, my father was Chief Petty Officer
second artificer in the engine room, his name was Charles Frederick
Hughes, he passed away in 1981 sadly missed, according to ex navy
that I work with the Diadem was used as a navy training ship for some
years unfortunately that's all I have on her, hope that is of some
use to you. sorry no dates." - Robbie Hughes, July 2004
Hugh McGilvray served on the 'Diadem' during the Second World
War from the time of her sea trials to his demob in 1946. As you probably
know she was built by Hawthorn Leslie at Hebburn on the Tyne. There
is nothing left of that Yard today I'm sorry to say. Unfortunately
my Father is currently in Hospital in Haddington East Lothian following
a couple of minor strokes. I guess he must have been one of the youngest
officers to serve on HMS Diadem. He has just celebrated his 83rd Birthday.
One of his chums, Rodney Gear Evans also served on the 'Diadem'
Rodney sadly passed away just before Christmas. They both joined the
Diadem in Hebburn in 1943, I think. My Father seldom talks about his
wartime experiences. Rodney spent most of his life after the war in
the far east, retiring to Canterbury, Kent. He called me out of the
blue, as I am the only McGilvray listed in our local phonebook about
19 years ago. Rodney was very interested in Naval reunions and attended
a few of them. He even persuaded my Father to attend one of them.
The 'Diadem' was sold to Pakistan in the late Fifties early Sixties
and became the flagship of the Pakistani Navy. I have a very old copy
of Janes Fighting Ships somewhere, circa 1964, that has a photograph
of her. Presumably the Pakistan Navy scrapped her. If you are interested
I will dig out the Janes Book in question and photocopy the appropriate
page." - Fraser McGilvray, January 2006.
father (Godfrey Edward Phillips, stoker 1st class) died in 1989 but
looking at his service record it shows that he served on the HMS Diadem
from 11 Nov 1944 to 11 May 1946. It would be nice to learn if there
are any men who served at that time who are still alive and might
remember him.Probably a long shot given the passage of time but would
appreciate any info.Many thanks." - Tom Phillips, July 2006
father-in-law, Jack Coultous served aboard HMS Diadem during WW2.
Does anyone remember him?, he would like to get in touch with anyone
who may remember him. Many thanks." - Paul Pybus, September
just found your site on HMS Diadem as my dad, who served on her
in 1945, has recently discovered the internet as a way of looking
for old memories and friends. He would be very interested in getting
in contact with anyone you know who was on board around that time.
He was on board during her voyage from Copenhagen up the Norwegian
coast - and still has friends in Norway that he made while painting
the side of the ship in Oslo Fjord!
"I've another reason for writing as well though. I've been
married to my wife Helen for two years now. Her family come from
the North East, although we met in Manchester. More specifically
they originate from Hebburn, and her great uncles worked for Hawthorn
and Leslie, the yard that built Diadem, during the war.
"Although we have no direct evidence they worked on her, I
think it's a fantastic story that 50-60 years after the fact I meet
and marry someone whose relatives probably helped build the ship
my dad served on!
"My dad has read the diary on your site as was intrigued by
the story of what his ship went through before he embarked, he didn't
know any of it previously. If you have any extra info or contact
details he'd be delighted to hear about them.
"His name is Dennis Fisher, he had been trained as a coder
and he served on the ship in 1945 and helped to man the officers'/duty
boat for the ship.
initially joined Diadem on a six-month posting to do his six-months
seatime for his 'CW' course, but while he was on board they changed
the rules so that he would have sign up for a further three years
in order to continue on the course. Not wanting to take that step
at the time he left the course and completed a whole year on Diadem,
working as a seaman on the officers' motor launch. After that he
left the Navy to join his father's firm of solicitors in the City
"Interestingly the very motor boat he worked on has recently
been restored by the British
Military Powerboat Trust (http://www.bmpt.org.uk/boats/43957/index2.htm)
and is intended to go on show in Poole, Dorset, in the near future."
- Keith Fisher, 16 November 2006
have recently been sorting through some of my late Father's belongings
and came across his old sea ditty box. Inside I found information
on his War Service and found he served on the HMS Diadem from 17th
December 1943 til June 13th 1945. His name was Albert George
Singleton and his position on the ship was A/Leading Coder.
He survived the war and moved to London where he worked for the
Shell Oil Company for many years. On retirement he moved back to
Merseyside where he originated from. Please feel free to add my
Fathers details to the web site. When I get time I will send photo
and scan his Naval record as well. I don't know if any surviving
crew would be able to verify these following stories my Father told
me. Prior to D Day my father who was a linguist (graduate Liverpool
University French and Spanish) was sent for training at the Naval
Intelligence base HMS Ferret. He was dropped along the French coast
at various times to liase with the local resistance groups to pick
up or give information. On one occasion he had to hide in a barn
under floor boards with rats running over him as a German patrol
was searching underneath him. On another occasion he had to kill
a German Guard on a beach in order to escape by cutting his throat.
After the war unsurprisingly he suffered a mental breakdown. My
Father was a volunteer with the Red Cross in Spain during the Spanish
Civil War. He also lived in Paris after Spain and when the war broke
out, while drunk he joined the French Air force however when they
found out he was British he was discharged. He had to escape Paris
as the Germans approached in 1940." - Yvonne Clayton, February
thanks to all who've written. If there's anything you'd like to
let us know.(email@example.com)
you have any stories about the Diadem
- if you served on the ship and remember John Emrys Williams
- if you know of anything else that may make an interesting addition
to this site
NEW: Image gallery
HMS Diadem home...