The uncertain cause of the loss of Turbulent does not alter the fate of the sixty-seven crew members. Parents and wives, children and siblings, colleagues and friends all mourned these men. Admiral Cunningham said the loss of Commander Linton, his company and their fine ship is a very great blow which will be long felt by us all. Captain Fawkes also acknowledged Linton by saying His career has been one of conspicuous gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. He will surely be recorded as one of the greatest of submarine Commanding Officers.
The crew listed below are at the heart of this project. I dedicate it to them. The order is regardless of rank.
The crew members of His Majesty’s Submarine Turbulent who perished in March 1943, missing, presumed killed.
Arthur O BAKER; Frederick G N BENNETT; William H J BIDDLECOMBE; Morgan E BILLINGSLEY; John P BLAKE; Albert E BOURNE; James M BOYCE; Victor C BOYCE; Henry BROKENSHIRE; Harry BROMBY; Norman BROWN; Clive F E CHARTRES; Brian C W CLEMENTS; Cyril F COURTNALL; Arthur S CROWSTON; Cecil DARLING; John A DELLER; Ronald A DENNIS; Cyril S T DOWN; Walter J DYE; William E FARROW; Cyril D FORD; Tom GARDNER; William A GLESTER; William H GLOVER; Andrew GOLDSWORTHY; Bernard GORMAN; William K HADLEY; Richard HALL; George HAY; William HOGG; Brian HUNNISETT; Norman E JONES; John M LAWSON; John W LINTON; Christopher A LLOYD; Albert R LYFIELD; George L MASON; Albert E MAYNARD; Cyril E MORRIS; Frederick C MORRIS; Leonard C OATES; Charles OGDEN; Maurice ORMEROD; Charles H PEARCE; William C PEEBLES; Robert H REEVES; William RICHARDSON; Robert R RIDLEY; William E SHARP; Malcolm SIMPSON; John STEAD; Fredrick P de M STONE; Harold STRANAGHAN; Joseph SWEENEY; Charles A TODD; Joseph W T TUNNELL; Henry F WALKER; Frederick C WALLIS; Leslie WALTON; James W WEATHERLEY; Frank T WHEELER; Harold W WHELDON; Hugh M WHYTE; George H WILKES; Geoffrey A WILLIAMS; Thomas J WILLICOMBE.
The following details of the crew are correct to the best of my knowledge. There were twenty-two married men in the crew. Hugh’s was not the only wedding which took place in the spring of 1941. Leslie Walton married Nellie Smith in Leeds and Charles Todd married Winifred McDonald in Lancashire. Earlier that year Henry Walker married Lilian Hall in the Thanet area. In the summer of 1941, Cyril Down married Phyllis Peter and Walter Dye married Kathleen Mulchrone. Nine men are known to have had children and at least one child was in utero. At least sixteen children became fatherless with the loss of Turbulent. Most of the crew also had parents to mourn their loss. Half the men were under twenty-five and half over. Commander Linton had a wife and two sons, one of whom was to die whilst serving in the navy in 1951.
It is a tribute to the high calibre of Turbulent’s crew when noting that twenty-eight of her men were either mentioned in dispatches or decorated. The following were mentioned in dispatches: Darling, Dye, Glester, Lloyd, Lyfield, Pearce, Peebles, Ridley, Simpson, Stead, Stranaghan. Those awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, given to members of the navy up to the rank of Chief Petty Officer for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea, were: Bromby, Crowston, Gardner, Glester, Hadley, Hogg, Morris, Reeves, Richardson, Sharp, Stone, Walker, Wallis, Wilkes, Willicombe. Clements and Blake were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery and devotion to duty in the Turbulent. The announcement for these awards coincided with that for Linton’s VC. Clements had served on Turbulent for just six months.
Some men had served with Turbulent since she was built. Clive Chartres had just joined the boat as a cadet. Hugh was one of three crew members who came from abroad, Baker being from New Zealand and Oates a fellow American resident.
The CWGC certificate also states that Hugh is commemorated on the naval memorial at Plymouth. This is one of the three obelisks and side structures commissioned following the First World War. The other two are at Portsmouth and Chatham, the names of the crew being divided amongst them all. The extensions, built after the Second World War, commemorate those without graves.
Names are arranged chronologically and by rank.
Hugh’s name is amongst many Engine Room Artificers.
In 1987, the city of Newport, Gwent, Linton’s birthplace, paid tribute to him with a memorial on the bank of the Usk. The black bollard, which once stood at the entrance to Newport docks, was unveiled by Sydney Kay, a former submariner who had served on Turbulent. Hugh would have known this man who held the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Kay was in hospital when Turbulent was lost. Indeed, it may have been due to Kay’s absence that Hugh was temporarily promoted to Chief Engine Room Artificer.
The bollard now stands outside the Riverfront Theatre and a ceremony is held at the memorial annually. It takes place in March around the time that Turbulent was lost. The time of day is synchronised with the outgoing tide in order that a wreath floats out to sea. The inscription reads:
COMMANDER J. W. LINTON
V.C.D.S.O. D.S.C. R.N.
LOST WITH ALL HANDS ABOARD
H.M. SUBMARINE ‘TURBULENT’
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Although I had already located the bollard, our move to Bristol brought the possibility of attending the annual ceremony nearer. At the beginning of 2020, I contacted Newport Royal Navy Association’s Peter Gray. He told me that the event would take place on Friday, March 13th. We are not superstitious but it turned out that this was a risky journey to take. The country would be in lockdown the following week. We travelled by train which took us to the heart of the city. It was a bright morning as we walked down to the River Usk and met members of the Association. They proudly wore their uniforms and bore flags. The only precaution in place was bumping elbows rather than shaking hands.
A moving tribute to John Linton was led by the Reverend Mark Lawson-Jones, chaplain to the local Mission to Seafarers. The Mayor, Councillor William Routley, also made a heartfelt speech. The group then moved into place so that the wreath could be cast into the Usk.
We then discovered the location of The John Wallace Linton public house, named as such in 2004 and to which we were invited for refreshment. Just inside, the walls are covered with memorabilia regarding Linton and Turbulent. The menu card also contains information about Linton. The display includes a list of the crew which of course includes Hugh’s name. Our visit to Newport was my final motivation to put Hugh’s story ‘out there’.
Memorials in Scotland
Scott told me that he was taken to Edinburgh Castle as a boy. Here, he was shown his Uncle Hugh’s name which is on the Roll of Honour of the Scottish National War Memorial. Hugh must have been very proud of his heritage to be recorded as a Scottish citizen.
Hugh’s name was also inscribed on a plaque displayed at East Church where he married Roberta. The wording is remarkable in that the minister, Reverend William Runciman, who married Hugh and Roberta is a dedicatee. He also died in 1943. The church amalgamated with Johnstone West Church and the building was closed and subsequently demolished. The plaque was eventually transferred to the new building of St Paul’s in Johnstone. Hugh was one of seven men from the church who lost their lives serving between 1939 and 1945 and whose names appear on the plaque.
The text reads:
THE COMMUNION TABLE IS DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THE REV WILLIAM RUNCIMAN BD 1915-1943
THE CHOIR AREA WAS RENOVATED AND A LECTERN AND NEW ORGAN CONSOLE PLACED THEREIN AND DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE FROM THIS CHURCH WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1939-1945
G BALLANTYNE J MCLELLAND J FARROW J MCCALLUM G ROUGH J MCININCH H WHYTE