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#51 Clive Maier

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 11:09 AM

Steve,

I am not a military or naval expert either, so my perception of Ruston’s duties could be all wrong.

I am surprised there was no alarm in the engine room. We know there were several changes of course in an attempt to evade the Sarnia. This would probably have meant nothing to a soldier like Ruston but might have been expected to warn the sailors in the engine room that something was amiss. There was no change of speed that would have given the engine room a direct indication.

I imagine the engine room was a bad place to be in a small vessel that sank very quickly. The losses on the Hythe included an assistant engineer, two stokers, a leading trimmer, and three trimmers. That must have been most of the engine room on a small vessel like the Hythe. Ruston was lucky to get out.

Those on the bridge had the best opportunity to save themselves, and most did survive including the captain of the Hythe. Two exceptions were Captain Reggie Salomons and CSM John Carter. They were last seen on the bridge and were said to have refused to save themselves while their men remained. That is the sort of thing that gets said in the aftermath of a disaster but the survival of the others on the bridge makes it quite likely to be true.

If so, they were heroic but I would not criticise anyone who did not perform heroically. They were in darkness, in total confusion and facing a situation that was hopeless from the outset.

#52 Boreenatra

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 03:05 PM

Clive. Thanks for your reply. I agree with you about the conditions etc. and so as not to hijack your thread, i'll post on the Naval Recollections thread some other of Rustons recollections. From what he says he seems a fairly unassuming man, as he says " When I look back over the four and a half years I spent as an atom in the British Army during the Great War, although, during the whole period, I lived a life not by any means devoid of tension and excitement, I find very few experiences which I can honestly call exciting in the ordinary meaning of the word. I can however recall one or two events in which the tension was rather higher than normal"

This from a man who nearly drowned on the Hythe, nearly lost his life at the evacuation of Helles, and was taken P.O.W. by the Germans, seems a trifle understated to me!!!!
Regards Steve.

#53 leanes-trench

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 07:37 PM

I am a member of the Gallipoli Association. For the past 20 years, I have been compiling a biographical register of all British and Dominion servicemen who died at, and as a result of, Gallipoli. So far I have also proven 18 Gallipoli deaths and 2 burials to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Now, the Association routinely forwards requests for information about casualties to me.

Now, I am writing a book about the Gallipoli campaign. It will be a readable history of the campaign - which has been done - but will be tied together with accounts about men who were killed - which has not. I am gathering these accounts from personal and unit war diaries, letters, missing in action reports, family lore, etc.

At the present time, I am writing about the sinking of the Hythe in my chapter on accidental deaths. I have a fair amount of information about every one of the 1/3rd (Kent) Field Company's casualties, in several cases I have photos, and would be happy to provide information about individual casualties. I am also interested in contacting descendents of casualties.



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#54 leanes-trench

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 07:39 PM

QUOTE (Boreenatra @ May 21 2005, 11:54 PM)
Clive. The story came from his own war accounts as told to local historian C.T.Perfect and are part of a selection of local men (Hornchurch / Romford ) and their WW1 stories. Ruston also became a P.O.W. and recounts a fascinating insight into his experiences. I will post it later. He does say that the engineer was a local man so that may have been the reason he was below decks at that time, but as with all things, differing accounts of the same event probably is inevitable depending on where the accountee is and his perspective on what he sees.

Once again sorry about not seeing the thread, I normaly would check the search facility, but for some reason didn't on this occasion. Regards Steve.



Dear Steve,

Any chance that there are accounts of other men who served at Gallipoli in that source?


Pat (leanes-trench)

#55 leanes-trench

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 07:56 PM

QUOTE (Chelle @ Feb 11 2005, 03:11 AM)
Clive,

My great gradnfather Percy Robert Hunt, went down on the Hythe, and as I am new to this history and researching it solely for my family tree, it brings tears to my eyes to know what it must have been like.

Can I ask you how you obtained a list of those that died in this ship as I would love to obtain a copy, also to pass it onto my great Aunt.

Chelle



Dear Chelle,

I am a member of the Gallipoli Association. For the past 20 years, I have been compiling a biographical register of all British and Dominion servicemen who died at, and as a result of, Gallipoli. So far I have also proven 18 Gallipoli deaths and 2 burials to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Now, the Association routinely forwards requests for information about casualties to me.

Now, I am writing a book about the Gallipoli campaign. It will be a readable history of the campaign - which has been done - but will be tied together with accounts about men who were killed - which has not. I am gathering these accounts from personal and unit war diaries, letters, missing in action reports, family lore, etc.

At the moment, I am writing Chapter 24, about accidental deaths at Gallipoli, and this includes the Hythe disaster. I have accumulated a great deal of information about the sinking, and the men onboard. Here is how my entry for your great grandfather looks so far:

HUNT, Sapper Percy Robert
No.1641 1/3rd (Kent) Field Company (T.F.), Royal Engineers
Born in Battersea, Surrey, the husband of Mrs. Hunt of 110, Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent. The couple had three children. In civil life he was employed as a printer by Whitefriars Press in Tonbridge and on January 7, 1915, he enlisted in Gillingham, Kent. Drowned in the minesweeper Hythe on October 28, 1915, aged 32 years. Name commemorated on the Helles Memorial, the Tonbridge War Memorial and the Hythe Memorial in Kent.

I would like to add to his entry, and perhaps include something about Percy in my chapter. Would you be able to fill in any of the following gaps for me:

1. Date of birth

2. Names of parents, to include father's occupation and mother's maiden name

3. Parents' address in 1915

4. Wife's name, to include maiden name, and date and place of marriage

5. Childrens' names, to include dates and places of birth

6. Place of education

7. Did any of his relatives serve in the war?

8. Did any stories, military or not, survive about him? Since I am trying to truly commemorate each man, every little bit is of interest.

And finally, I have a very poor photo of him. Would you happen to have one you could scan for me?

If you'd like to communicate via e-mail, my address is:

leanes-trench@comcast.net


Many thanks,


Pat

#56 Clive Maier

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 12:01 PM

I have mentioned Frank Stevens’ book Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers in the course of this thread. The author has let me know that he has further stocks of the book and is hoping to find one or two distributors to handle it. In the meantime, anyone who would like to get hold of a copy should send me a PM and I will pass on the author’s address details.

#57 Chris_Baker

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 02:50 PM

Reviving an old thread here.

Clive Maier: did you ever publish your research, mentioned above?

Also, I would be really grateful if anyone with a copy of "Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers" could see if 2132 Driver Leonard Everdell is mentioned anywhere.

#58 Clive Maier

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 03:39 PM

No Chris. I am afraid the research is still a work in progress. Finding the time is the problem. It is linked to another work in perpetual progress; a website for the war memorial at Southborough.

Frank Stevens' book is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the Southborough and High Brooms area or an interest in the Kent Royal Engineers.

#59 CJKelly5872

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:27 AM

QUOTE (Clive Maier @ May 8 2004, 08:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Matthew,

I intend to publish a full account of the Hythe on a forthcoming Southborough memorial website. Research is about 85 percent complete at this point and I know where to find the outstanding matter. You will forgive me if I don’t feel like throwing all the raw material open just now.

These are the basics.
The Hythe was a cross-channel paddle-driven ferry, with a displacement of 509 tons. She was built in 1905 for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway, and worked the Dover-Calais route. The vessel was requisitioned at the outbreak of war and became a minesweeper, based at Scapa Flow. In 1915, the Hythe was sent to work on troop movements in the Dardanelles.

The Sarnia also began life as a ferry, in 1910 for the London and South Western Railway. In war service she became an armed boarding steamer. With a displacement of 1498 tons and a top speed of 20.5 knots, Sarnia was a much larger and more powerful vessel than the Hythe, whose limit was only 12 knots. Sarnia survived the collision with the Hythe, only to be sunk by torpedo in the Mediterranean on 12 September 1918.

The men of the 1/3 Kent Field Company Royal Engineers boarded the Hythe at Mudros Bay, en route for Cape Helles. With them was 1/2 Kent Field Company Royal Engineers, bound for the same destination. Two transports were available – the Hythe and the Redbreast. The story goes that the company commanders tossed a coin to decide which vessel each company would take. Captain Reggie Salomons and 3 Company took the Hythe.

The Hythe left Mudros Bay at about 16:00 on 28 October 1915. She was severely overloaded. Men were packed on the decks, many huddling under an awning that had been rigged to give a little relief from rain and spray. At about 20:00, as they neared their destination, men donned their kit, drivers went to their vehicles, and the Hythe doused all lights. Within minutes the lightless Sarnia was spotted, steaming back empty to Mudros Bay from Cape Helles, and on a collision course. Some accounts suggest that Sarnia mistook the Hythe for a submarine and rammed her deliberately. I doubt it. We know that both vessels made at least one change of course but it seems that neither slowed down. The Sarnia struck the port side of the Hythe with such force that its bows cut halfway through the ship. That brought the Hythe to a dead stop and caused its mast to collapse on the awning. Many were killed instantly by the bows and the mast but the others fared little better because the immense damage caused the Hythe to sink rapidly. It was all over in a little as ten minutes. Many drowned trapped under the awning or in the cabs of their vehicles. The others had little or no time to gain the railings and throw off their kit before they were in the sea. As always, fortunes varied. A lucky few scrambled from one vessel to the other without getting their feet wet. The Parrott twins were parted: Wilfred died, Charles survived both the Hythe disaster and the war.



Clive. Thanks for this account. I too have an account, taken from eye witness Frederick Sanders. My great uncles, Ernest Vaughan died on the Hythe so I took down this research: The Sinking of the HMS Hythe

Eye witness: Frederick Arthur Sanders, a British Sapper who served with 1st and 3rd West Kent Field Co. Royal Engineers. Recordings of his recollections are held at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Commanding officers: Major Rushton and Captain David Salomon.

Why was the company sent?
They were sent to improve trench maintenance and design. News was coming back from the front about shocking conditions in the trenches. Mats had been put on the floor of the trenches but mud had risen up through the mats regardless and the soldiers had been forced to raise the parapets.

1st and 3rd West Kent Field Co. Royal Engineers.
The company was from Southborough, Kent, near Tunbridge Wells. There were good relations between the officers and men because no-one was a professional soldier. There was a certain clique-ness, that drew the locals in the company together. According to Sanders, no-one was promoted in the company unless they were from the local area.

Training
According to Sanders, they didn’t have the opportunity to practise making pontoon bridges. Also, when they were sent abroad, their equipment was left behind in England.

Leaving England
They were granted three to four days embarkation leave. Then at 8pm one evening, they were suddenly mobilised and were marched to Chatham Station. From there they were put on a train that headed west. There was no civilian send off and they were not told where they were going but the train ended up in Devonport. From there, they were put on a ship called the HMS Scotian which set off with a destroyer on either side due to fear of submarines and other German service craft. After two hours, the crews of the destroyers were mustered and appeared on deck to cheer the Scotia and its men. Following that, the destroyers turned and headed for home. All soldiers on the Scotia had life belts and were in compartments of forty men. The food was adequate.

Destination
After a while the men realised that they were not going to France and were pleased, having heard of life in the trenches there. Someone recognised Gibraltar but the Scotian sailed on, eventually stopping to refuel at Malta where all they saw was the harbour. The Scotian then headed to the Greek port of Mudros which was ‘very picturesque.’ The soldiers had all now guessed that their ultimate destination was Gallipoli. They had heard about the disastrous landings but believed that the British had now become established there.

HMS Hythe
At 6pm on 28th October, they were mustered and transferred to the HMS Hythe, a minesweeper ‘not much bigger than a Thames pleasure boat.’ There were no life boats or belts and there was just enough room for a soldier to stand with his kit as they were packed together like sardines. Individuals from other units were also on board although at that stage there was no feeling that the 1st and 3rd were part of a larger group or regiment. That would happen later on. The sea outside the harbour was extremely treacherous so a tarpaulin was fixed to cover the men. At about 8:20 pm, while they were approaching Gallipoli in the dark, the HMS Sarnia, which was about three times the size of the Hythe and showing no lights, left Gallipoli.

The Sarnia hit the Hythe and cut through to its main mast which crashed down on top of the soldiers below. The bridge of the Hythe was at the same level as the deck of the Sarnia so when the collision occurred, the officers simply walked across from one ship to the other. The men were not so lucky. They were crammed together on deck, weighed down by heavy kit and were trapped by the tarpaulin. Incredibly Frederick Sanders remembers very little panicking. He counted himself fortunate to be positioned near the handrail and thought that the boilers were about to burst so he dropped his kit, ducked under the tarpaulin and leapt over the side of the boat. He was also a good swimmer in such treacherous conditions. When he turned around in the water, he saw the Hythe turn up on its end and nose dive into the depths.

The only lifeboat from the Sarnia was lowered. It contained a midshipman and a cook. Sanders got inside then joined the efforts to find survivors. Eventually all eighty two survivors were crammed into the single lifeboat. It is felt that if more lifeboats had been available then more people would have been saved.

After roll call it was established that eighty two out of three hundred and twenty men had survived.

#60 spithead

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 01:33 PM

QUOTE (Fred W @ Apr 5 2005, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another man drowned when HMS Hythe was in collision with the armed boarding vessel "Sarnia" was 4063 Private Frank Wardley 26th Coy. Royal Ordnance Corps. HMS Hythe was stranded on Kephez Point in the Dardenelles and torpedoed by picket boats of HMS Triumph and HMS Majestic, to save her falling into enemy hands.
Frank Wardley was the youngest son of Mr. W.B. Wardley of 2 Selby Street, Nelson, and joined the army on 20th January 1915.

Fred W


It was not HMS Hythe that was stranded on Kephez Point but the British submarind E15, which was torpedoed from picket boats of HMS Triumph and HMS Majestic..

Regards John

#61 Neil Clark

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 02:45 PM

QUOTE (leanes-trench @ May 30 2005, 08:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
At the present time, I am writing about the sinking of the Hythe in my chapter on accidental deaths. I have a fair amount of information about every one of the 1/3rd (Kent) Field Company's casualties, in several cases I have photos, and would be happy to provide information about individual casualties. I am also interested in contacting descendents of casualties.
leanes-trench

Most of the casualties were from the Southborough / Tonbridge area of Kent which was the HQ of the 1/3rd Kent Fortress Royal Engineers (KFRE). Captain Salomons was the son of a very wealthy landowner who was the very first person in Kent to own a privately registered motor car. I would start your research looking at the various civic war memorials from this small area of Kent which will contain many familiar names of those who perished on the Hythe...

Including this man from Hawkhurst (but missed off the village civic war memorial) -

Sapper 2021 Herbert MILLS. 1/3rd Field Company, Royal Engineers (RE). H.M.S HYTHE, Royal Navy.
Died at sea 28th October 1915. Born Hawkhurst. Enlisted Gillingham. Resided Tunbridge Wells. Brother in Law of M.M Hollands of 30, Woodland Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Herbert has no known grave. His name appears on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. Panel reference – 23.24.25.325-328.

Good luck

#62 Chris_Baker

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 02:06 PM

Looks like I am about to resurrect this old thread for the second time.

If anyone is interested I now have a copy of the papers from the official enquiry into Hythe disaster.



#63 Clive Maier

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 11:01 PM

Chris,

It has taken me the best part of a year to see your post!

And yes, I AM very interested. I was just about to see whether it would be too ruinously expensive to get hold of the enquiry papers.

Best regards,
Clive

#64 andy saunders

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 08:51 PM

Chris,

It has taken me the best part of a year to see your post!

And yes, I AM very interested. I was just about to see whether it would be too ruinously expensive to get hold of the enquiry papers.

Best regards,
Clive


A chance purchase in a local junk shop last week turned out to be the Commission Document for David Reginald Herman Philip Salomons, along with an original three page letter to Salomon's father from A F (?) Ruston telling how his son had died. The letter, in its original envelope to Broomhill, and marked "Allan Line", is dated 2/11/1915 and headed Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

#65 Seadley

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 04:15 PM

Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers, a book that was self-published by Frank Stevens.<br style="color: rgb(28, 40, 55); font-size: 13px; line-height: 19px; background-color: rgb(250, 251, 252); ">
I am interested in owning a copy of Frank Steven's book. Does anyone know if it available for purchase. I note it is self published.
Google does not show anything.
I have read MJ Penfold's account but as that work is not available as the TW library jealously guards it, my hope is the Steven's work is available.
I would like to add it to the family history as my uncle went down with the Hythe.
I would also like to know how to access his war service record. His is Sapper 1266 John McNally. He is listed on panel 327 of the Helles Memorial.
Any help will be much appreciated.





#66 Seadley

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 04:18 PM

Looks like I am about to resurrect this old thread for the second time.

If anyone is interested I now have a copy of the papers from the official enquiry into Hythe disaster.



Hi Chris


Yes, i am interested in obtaining a copy of the papers from the official enquiry into Hythe disaster.
Please let me know how to go about this.
Thanks
Seadley




#67 Seadley

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 04:28 PM

I have mentioned Frank Stevens' book Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers in the course of this thread. The author has let me know that he has further stocks of the book and is hoping to find one or two distributors to handle it. In the meantime, anyone who would like to get hold of a copy should send me a PM and I will pass on the author's address details.


Hello Clive

Please pass my info on to Frank Stevens as I would like a copy of his book.
My uncle 1266 Sapper John McNally 1/3rd Kent Fortress Royal Engineers (KFRE) went down with the Hythe. I would like to read and own an accurate report of the incident.
My email is seadley.swayne@gmail.com

Thanks
Seadley


#68 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 05:34 PM

Seadley

You can find it at the National Archives in ADM 137/3136 as well as a copy of Southborough Sappers which is in the library.

TR

#69 andy saunders

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:48 AM

I am about to donate Captain Ruston's letter and the Commission for 'Reggie' Salomons to David Salomons House, Southborough.

I am aware that there has obviously been a great deal of research work conducted by others on this topic and it is a suibject which, generally, is beyond my "comfort zone". However, I am putting together an article for the next edition of "Britain at War" magazine and looking briefly at the Hythe disaster but on the back of the story about Captain Ruston's letter.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who might have photographs of any of the casualties in the event that they might be included. Also, to save a trip to Southborough in the short time available does anybody have a high-res image of the memorial plaque formerly in the Drill Hall or any other local memorials?

I'd also be interested to hear from Chris Baker if he might be willing to share the Admiralty report into the disaster. Time is short and I wont have time to access this from TNA.

Also, does anyone know where I can purchase a copy of the book on the disaster by Stevens?

Last, I am confused about the official designation of the RE unit. Variously, it is described as 1/3 Royal Engineers Kent (Fortress) Batt or 1/3 Field Coy Royal Engineers, or 1/3 Royal Engineers (T). What is the CORRECT designation at the time of the disaster? Also, the Hythe is various described as a Minesweeper or an Armed Boarding Steamer and as MS Hythe or HMS Hythe. Again, what is correct?

#70 michaeldr

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:37 PM

Also, the Hythe is various described as a Minesweeper or an Armed Boarding Steamer and as MS Hythe or HMS Hythe. Again, what is correct?


On the Helles Memorial the Hythe is recorded as an 'Armed Boarding Steamer'
In the Naval OH, vol. 2, page 17, 3rd para & note 2, the ship is described as follows
"To overcome the difficulty the Admiralty made a further draft on the mercantile marine by taking up eight fast railway packets and commissioning them as “Fleet Minesweepers,” till especially constructed vessels came forward. … … … Note 2: 'They were the Reindeer, Roebuck, Lynn and Gazelle of the Great Western Railway; Folkstone and Hythe of the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway; and Clackton and Newmarket of the Great Eastern Railway.”

Since the word 'commissioning' is used, then I assume that the correct prefix is HMS.

#71 andy saunders

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 01:38 PM

Thank you very much, Michael!

I remain confused about the correct designation of the RE unit though. Can anyone help?

#72 Jonathan D'Hooghe

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 06:22 PM

I have just found this topic as i have been researching 743 Sapper Sydney Betts lost in the Hythe collison see http://www.kentfalle...S/HMS HYTHE.pdf

Jonathan

#73 ph0ebus

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 12:34 AM

An article about this disaster appeared in my news feed today:

Memories revived of World War One disaster that hit Tunbridge Wells and Southborough

:poppy:

Daniel

#74 Dean Bennett

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:57 PM

Hi all,

I had always known that my great,great grandfather Lance Corporal Harry Parker 1990 of the 1st /3rd kent field company had been lost in the HMS Hythe disaster.

It wasn't untill watching a recent BBC program that i found out about the memorial in St matthews church where my g,g grandfather is listed as a driver on the top of the second row.
I have not got much information about him and wondered if anyone else had.My great nan died 2 years ago hence the link to our past has been lost.

I would also be interested in a copy of Frank Stevens' book Southborough Sappers of the Kent (Fortress) Royal Engineers if this would be possible.


Thanks

Dean

#75 MichaelBully

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:40 AM

I have just noticed that the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer has also featured an article on HMS Hythe and Captain Salomons in the edition dated Friday 17th February 2012 and also on their website http://www.hastingso...ficer_1_3535264

Good to see the current interest in HMS Hythe. Andy, when is your article due to be published in 'Britain At War' magazine? Will look out for it.