George Cecil Stamp (aka Cecil George Stamp) Born 18 November 1895 and recorded as Cecil George on his Birth Certificate, he was the eldest son of John Dawson Stamp and Martha Annie Stamp, formerly Tolley (nee Salmon) although he was born four months before they were married. He joined the London South Western Railway as a Signal Lad at Vauxhall, London in Mar 1910 on a wage of 2s 6d per week.He resigned in Apr 1911 to “obtain other employment”, reportedly as a hairdresser. In Mar 1912 he enlisted in the Royal Navy, signing up for 12 years.He was initially posted to HMS Victory I, the accounting and holding barracks for the Portsmouth Royal Naval fleet. He was then transferred to HMS Haslar, the Royal Navy hospital in Gosport, Hamphire and back to Victory I a number of times before being posted to HMS Attentive II, based at Dover, Kent and one of the ships of the ‘Dover Patrol’ homeland defence in Sep 1915.
In Oct 1918 he was posted to a ‘Monitor’ ship, presumably M25 because it was while serving on this ship that he was mentioned in dispatches for ‘meritorious service’ following the Toulgas engagement in 1918 where he ‘acted as medical practitioner to River Expedition initially unaided until arrival of surgeon from HMS Attentive. The health of the crew is very largely to his credit. He also attended many wounded of Royal Scots’.
The Russian army had entered WWI on the side of the Allies. The dynamics on the Eastern Front of WWI changed in 1917; the German counter-offensive in June 1917 crushed the Russian army leading to mutiny and desertion, The October Revolution and the incoming Bolsheviks under Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Germans, effectively ending the war on the Eastern Front and stranding the stockpiles of war equipment and munitions the Allies had amassed in support of the White Russian army in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk (Archangel). In Jun 1918, the Allies decided to resurrect the Eastern Front with the aim of preventing the Allies’ military supplies falling into Bolshevik (or worse, German) hands, rescuing the Czechoslovak Legion, which was stranded along the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Included in the Allies’ Expeditionary Force were 20 ships, including M25, an M15 Class Monitor. These were small, shallow-draft vessels meant for coastal defence work and were noted for their single, over-sized guns. By the time the Expeditionary Force reached Archangel, the Bolsheviks had already expropriated most of the supplies. The Allied CO, Maj-Gen ‘Tiny’ Ironside, decided to garrison a number of the surrounding towns including Toulgas, a small town on the river Dvina. The Toulgas garrison included Americans, Canadians and the 10th Scots Guards. On 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day on the Western Front), the Bolshevik troops stormed the town and their gunboats (which had greater range) laid down fire on the Allied ships. By 14 Nov 1918 the siege was over; the Bolshevik troops withdrew, fearing being out-flanked by Allied reinforcements from Archangel and the gunboats retreating because of the encroaching ice.It was probably George Cecil’s actions during this three-day period of engagement with the Bolsheviks that earned him his mention in dispatches. The Dvina river was often so low that the armour had to removed from ships and transported on land in order to reduce a ship’s draft. In Sep 1919 M25 and its sistership M27 ran aground on the Dvina and were scuttled. George Cecil appears to have remained aboard a Monitor ship through Nov 1919 and may therefore have been transferred to M33 which returned safely to Chatham, Kent in Oct 1919.
George Cecil was granted a Free Discharge in 1920 but signed on for a further 12 years in Nov 1920.For the next five years he was stationed at HMS Victory III, HMS Victory II / Haslar Hospital, shore-based accounting and medical facilities in Gosport, Hampshire and had one brief spell at HMS Egmont Hospital in Malta. In Jun 1921 he was promoted to Petty Officer Sick Berth Attendant.Between Nov 1925 and May 1927, George Cecil served aboard HMS Barham and HMS Valiant, both Queen Elizabeth class battleships, before returning to HMS Victory II.He had two further sea postings; aboard HMS Champion, a C-class Light Cruiser and HMS Royal Sovereign, a Revenge-class battleship before earning a shore pension in Jun 1935.
With the advent of WWII George Cecil was re-mobilized and in Aug 1939 was posted to HMS Victory / RNH Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire.In Dec 1940 he joined HMS Voltaire, an armed Merchant Cruiser that had originally been a passenger ship of the Lamport & Holt line before being requisitioned and converted by the Admiralty in 1940.On 4 April 1941 HMS Voltaire under Capt. James Alexander Pollard Blackburn, DSC was on isolated patrol in the central Atlantic, about 900 nautical miles west of the Cape Verde Islands: at 0615 hrs she was intercepted by Thor, a German Raider under the command of Otto Kahler. At 0645 hrs Thor opened fire and by 0649 hrs Voltaire was ablaze, by 0715 hrs only two of Voltaire’s guns remained in action and by 0800 hrs she hoisted a white flag, sinking shortly afterwards by the stern with a heavy port list in position 14º30'N, 40º30'W. There were 75 dead, including George Cecil and 197 survivors were rescued by the Germans.George Cecil is mentioned in Roger Coward’s book entitled “Sailors in Cages” in which he details his experiences aboard HMS Voltaire, referencing George Cecil’s courage in tending to the injured whilst the ship went down.It is worth noting that the sinking of Voltaire brought to an end a remarkable sortie by Thor. Originally commissioned as a banana ship (Santa Cruz) in 1938 she was fast, capable of 17 knots and small at only 3,144 tons. She was equipped with six 5.9 inch guns, four torpedo tubes and a range of AA guns. She also had a cruising range of 40,000 miles.After sailing from Kiev in Jun 1940 and spending 329 days at sea, having steamed 57,532 miles, she sunk 12 ships (including the Voltaire) for a total of 76, 547 tons.
Ralph Clarence Stamp Born in 1897, second son of John Dawson Stamp and Martha Annie Tolley (nee Salmon). He joined the London South Western Railway in Jul 1911 on a wage of 7 /- per week. His father, a Railway Constable, recommended him for the job.He left the LSWR in Jun 1916 “after making an irregular charge of 6 /- on delivery of parcel of recruits clothing”. He enlisted in the 29th London Regiment # 38534 on 16 Jun 1916 at the Brixton office.
In Oct 1915, a combined Franco-British force of two large brigades was landed at Salonika to help the Serbs fight German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian aggression. The expedition arrived too late, the Serbs under Marshal Putnik having been defeated before they landed. In 1916, the Franco-British force under General Sarrail dug in around Salonika, becoming known as the “Gardeners of Salonika”.Having presumably undergone basic training, Private Ralph Clarence Stamp disembarked Devonport on 3 Nov 1916, arriving Salonika, Greece on 24 Nov 1916 where he was posted to 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, part of the 85th Brigade, 28th Division.
In early 1917, Clarence Ralph saw active service in the field, contracting both scabies and malaria. On 15 May 1917 he was wounded in action, sustaining a gun shot wound to his left leg, fracturing both tibia and fibula. It is not clear if Clarence Ralph was personally involved but 15 May 1917 was notable for the 28th Division’s capture of the Ferdi and Essex trenches by the Franco-British allies, one of only two objectives achieved by the expeditionary force that year; the other being the capture of Barakli and Kumli in October. He was transferred to military hospital in Salonika.His medical records report a four inch scar and overlapping of bone fragments, resulting in an inability to march for longer than five minutes.
On 22 Nov 1917 Ralph Clarence was transferred to St Elmo’s Military Hospital in Valetta, Malta. While recuperating he was obliged to forfeit his professional pay for one month for contracting a venereal disease. It was there that he was also diagnosed with gonorrhea.On 5 Aug 1918, Ralph Clarence was invalided to the UK and discharged “surplus to military requirements” on 18 March 1919.
Clarence Ralph died on 29 May 1919, no doubt as a result of complications from his injuries sustained in the Balkan campaign in 1917.
Patrick Macrae Macandrew
Born in , son of Peter Alexander Finlayson Macandrew and Fanny Ann Macrae, he originally enlisted with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. Service number 235685. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he was seconded to the 5/7th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action in Sicily on 20 July 1943 and is buried at the Catania War Cemetery in grave IG34. Rank of Lieutenant.
The 5/7th Battalion Gordon Highlanders was one of three Battalions of the 51st Highland Division, itself one of (ultimately) 10 Divisions of Montgomery’s 8th Army. I have found a reference to a Lieutenant McAndrew in the war diaries of Private Fred Tallack who was also seconded to the 5/7th Battalion Gordon Highlanders. According to the diary, on 13 February 1943, just outside Tripoli, a Major Cochrane stepped on a mine and was killed outright and Lieutenant McAndrew and others were injured. Reference is made to the evacuation of the injured men but not Lieutenant McAndrew so he presumably went on to El Alamein and Tunisia.
On 10 July 1943, following the successful conclusion of the North African campaign in mid May, a combined allied force of 160,000 Sicily, codenamed Operation ‘Husky’. Under the overall command of General Dwight D Eisenhower, there were two amphibious assaults supported by naval gunfire and tactical bombing. The two land forces comprised the 8th Army commanded by Montgomery and the 7th army commanded by Patton.
The 8th Army had four infantry divisions and an independent infantry brigade organized under XIII Corps and XXX Corps. The 51st Highland was one of three Divisions of XXX Corps.XXX Corps landed near Pachino on the Southern tip of Sicily and made early gains against the Italian 206th Coastal Division and the Napoli Division. While XIII Corps continued to push along the Catania road, XXX Corps were directed north along two routes: the first an inland route through Vizzini and the second following Route 124 which cut across U.S. 45th Infantry's front and necessitated its return to the coast at Gela for redeployment behind 1st Infantry Division. But progress was slow. The Schmalz battlegroup from the Hermann Goring Division continued to delay 5th Infantry Division, allowing time for the two regiments from the 1st Parachute Division flying in to Catania to deploy. Resistance in the British sector stiffened as German units reorganised on the new defensive plan. On 12 July 1st Parachute Brigade had been dropped to capture the Primasole Bridge over the river Simeto on the southern edge of the Catania plain and hold it open until 5th Infantry Division north to join them. 5th Division, delayed by strong opposition, made contact early on 15 July but it was not until 17 July that a shallow bridgehead north of the river was consolidated.
On the night of 17/18 July Montgomery renewed his attack towards Catania using two brigades from 50th Division. They met strong opposition and by 19 July Montgomery decided to call off the attack and instead increase the pressure on his left. 5th Division attacked on 50th Division's left but with no greater success and on 20 July 51st Division, further west, crossed the river Dittaino at Sferro and made for the Gerbini airfields. They too were driven back by counterattacks on 21 July.
Patrick McRae Macandrew was killed on 20 July 1943, probably in the Sferro hills area of Sicily near Gerbini.
Born in 1896, son of William MacRae and Jane Innes Downie and brother of Fanny Ann MacRae, my great grandmother. He enlisted in the Territorial Force on 19 Nov 1912 at Inverness RHQ for a term of four years. He was age 17.1 years and 5’3” tall. Service number 600 035 239. He never saw theatre of war but was a driver at the Buddon training centre and then Redesdale firing range before being transferred to the Territorial Force Reserve in 1816 while he worked for the Highland Railway. He was discharged “surplus to military requirements” on 14 Dec 1918