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BEACHED WRECKS were all that remained of two enemy shipping convoys following two sharp actions off the coast of Brittany in the darkness of the early hours of Wednesday, when a British squadron of three ships completely annihilated eight German ships attempting escape from Brest with specialist equip­ment and personnel.

The enemy convoys were inter­cepted soon after midnight in Audierne Bay, between Brest and Lorient, by a British squadron under the command of Cap W.W. Davis, D.S.O., R.N. of the cruiser Mauritius. Also in the squadron were the Canadian destroyer Iroquois and the British destroyer Upsa.

“Well done; a good night’s work,” was a signal sent by the Commander-in-Chief when the squadron reached a British port yesterday

The only “casualty” in the British ships was a tear in the White Ensign flown by the Mauritius. This cruiser, in which several Plymouth men are serving, has taken part in most bombardments of the war, includ­ing Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and off Normandy on “D” Day, and claims to hold the record for bombard­ments in the Royal Navy

In the early stages of the actions the enemy’s resistance was fierce, but the British ships found the range quickly and literally blew the enemy convoys out of the water


Capt. Davis. whose home is at Whitby, describing the actions, said “In the first encounter we contacted three enemy ships – a flakship, an M class minesweper, and a merchant ship – and en­gaged after illuminating them with star shells.

“The enemy began making smoke immediately, but we closed

“The Germans put up very spirited but ineffectual fire, and a certain amount of shells fell un­pleasantly close, but we found the range straight away, and one of the ships was blown clean out of the water. There was a shower of sparks and then – nothing. The ship had sunk.

“The destroyers were doing well with the other two ships and left both in a blazing and sinking condition close in shore.

“There was a certain amount of fire from shore batteries, but it was ineffective.”

Speaking of the second action, Capt. Davis continued: “Then we went in search of other prey and soon afterwards made contact with another enemy convoy, which turned out to be one medium-sized ship, a small merchant vessel, a minesweeper, and two flakships. We engaged at once and these ships too put up spirited resistance. Star shell illumination from our ships was so good that we could see the little white houses with their red roofs behind the beach.

“We engaged and were so close in that some of our star shells actually [?] on the beach. We were [?] broadsides from the cruiser’s [?] inch guns, and  the effect on the German convoy was amazing. We carried on until all five ships were sunk or beached ”

Lieut.-Com L.P.J. Thomas Adams, D.S.C., R.N., gunnery officer in the Mauritius commented: “The cruiser lived up to her motto of ‘Sight, destroy, and let nothing pass.’”

Plymothians serving aboard the Mauritius include Photographer Samuel Bennellick, whose home is at 18. North Down-crescent. Swilly; P.O WA Hobbs, of 3 Vicarage­-gardens, St. Budeaux; and P.O. S.J. Cann, of 1. Nottingham-gardens, Mutley.

A.B. Bennellick is the cruiser’s official cameraman, and took some remarkable photographs of the two actions

Original Scans

Original Scans