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Seeking information about HMS Dunedin

Author: RichardRickyPalmer Published: 11th August 2011 09:53

HMS Dunedin 

I am researching the sinking of HMS Dunedin. I would be love to hear from anyone who has any connection with the ship or her crew. My Great Uncle, Joseph John Dyer (1900 -1941), was one of the crew who died.

I am currently writing an article which will interweave the story of the sinking of HMS Dunedin with the "The Joe & Vi story - a war time Tragedy." This will be the tragic tale of my great Uncle Joe & his wife Violet.

It is only recently that I discovered a tragedy that engulfed a member of my family during the years of the Second World War. I have been researching my family tree for several years, uncovering various skeletons waiting to be dusted off in various family closets! I had been concentrating my efforts on delving back further in time; uncovering relatives in the 19th, 18th & 17th century. My more recent relatives were skipped over, in an attempt to dig further back into history. Many stories emerged from my search. However, none has inspired me more than the wartime tragedy that befell my Great Uncle Joe. When I first became aware of the tragic events in their lives, I knew I had to find out more...

Story 'spoilers'

Here are some snipets of what I have written thus far:

  • If ever a story deserved to be told, it is that of HMS Dunedin and crew. Unbeknownst to the crew, they were involved in the greatest secret of WW2: the breaking of The Enigma Code. Whilst on an Enigma inspired operation, HMS Dunedin was to meet her demise. 
  • A tragic story was unfolding in Portsmouth: Violet was still grieving the death of her first son when tragedy struck again with the death of her other son. 5 months later, she would also lose her husband, Joe, in the sinking of HMS Dunedin.  
  • After the sinking, the U-boat surfaced and circled the survivors for about ten minutes.Would this be the end for these brave souls who had scrambled their way off the sinking ship only to be gunned down in cold blood? Whilst awaiting their fate, as an act of defiance the men spontaneously sang ‘There will always be an England'
  • A desolate scene played out that day on the South Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 150 men struggled to haul themselves onto rafts and any floating debris that would hold them. It soon dawned on them that they were surrounded by sharks.  Most of the rafts carried several badly wounded men, many of whom died during the first night; they were gently put over the side of the raft, and a prayer was said.
  • Survivors drifted for 4 days & 3 nights, the numbers of the men dwindled.  Some died of injuries sustained during the torpedo attack. Some went insane - becoming hysterical and delusional. Some drowned. Others were taken by sharks. Some died raving and mad - caused by the drinking sea water. Shrieks of pain rang out as some were bitten on the feet by vicious barracuda, black durgon and dogfish. 
  • Sounds of terror and desperation pierced the silence of the ocean. Cries for help were interspersed and the groans of injured men.

Much more to come, so watch this space!


"When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today"

- John Maxwell Edmonds, 1916


HMS Dunedin enters Portsmouth 1938

On the 24th November 1941 at 1526 hours, she was sunk by two torpedoes from the German submarine, U-124.

Whilst on an Enigma - inspired operation, HMS Dunedin was to meet her demise. From Enigma decrypts, the Admiralty learned that four German U boats, supported by a supply ship, were planning to attack shipping near Cape Town. HMS Dunedin was ordered to track them down.

In the late afternoon of the 27th November, when US merchant ship Nishmaha discovered  six Carley rafts, only 72 men were still alive. Five of these survivors would die before the Nishmaha reached Trinidad. Out of a crew of 486 officers & men, only 4 officers & 63 men survived.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Dunedin


The crew of HMS Dunedin

"They shall not grow old, as we are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them"

- Lawrence Binyon, 1914



Binyon, L. (1914) Ode to remebrance ( from the poem "The Fallen"). London; The Times.

Dundine society.

Edmonds, J. (1916) Kohima Epitaph. London; The Times (printed 06 Febrruary 1918)

Gill, S. (2003) Blood in the sea. HMS Dunedin and the Enigma Code. London: Orion publishing group Ltd.


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Click  to contact: The Dunedin Society

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At 09:10 on 11th August 2011, RichardRickyPalmer commented:
A family history magazine has expressed an interest in my story

You need to log in before you can do that! It's only a quick registration process to join the AMA network and completely free.

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