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Author Topic: HMS AFFRAY  (Read 6834 times)


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« on: 05 January 2023 04:48:46 pm »


I am researching the life of Lt James Hilton Alston who was the Marine Engineering officer in HMS AFFRAY on its tragic loss in April 1951.

James joined the RN as an Artificer Apprentice in 1936 at HMS FISGARD Chatham passing out in 1939. He was torpedo and rescued three times during WWII. He served in most theatres during the war. Commissioned in 1944, and joined submarines in 1947. He had been in HMS AFFRAY for 12 months before the fatal accident.

Any information particularly any photographs of James would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

« Last Edit: 07 January 2023 11:57:58 am by kenm »


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« Reply #1 on: 12 August 2023 11:27:15 am »

James Hilton Alston
The following details come from the Royal Navy Artificer Apprentice class lists.  These were handwritten in large ledger books, and at one time they were kept near to the Captain’s Office in HMS Fisgard in Torpoint.
James Alston was in Benbow Division.
His trade is given as Fitter and Turner (E)
Official Number MX 52225
He was rated Engine Room Artificer 5th Class (Leading Hand equivalent) on 1st January 1940
He was discharged on 6th January 1940, and allocated to Devonport.

Artificer Apprentices at Chatham from January 1932 were accommodated in the Old Detention Quarters, which was renamed Fisgard Block.  They were trained in the Mechanical Training Establishment inside HMS Pembroke, RNB Chatham.
In 1939 it became increasing clear that Chatham would be vulnerable to air raids during a future conflict, so plans were made to evacuate Apprentices in the event of war with Germany.  It was decided to construct a new training establishment in Torpoint, East Cornwall.  Temporary accommodation would be provided in Portsmouth and Devonport until such time as this new establishment could be built. 
On 1st September 1939, the order was given to implement the evacuation plans.  Six hours later Apprentices were on the move.  This meant the end of Fisgard Block and of Apprentice Training in the MTE, Chatham.
Following the order to evacuate Fisgard Block, the most senior class, J Class, was drafted to Port Depots to join operational ships, thus missing the last six months of their formal apprenticeship.  Of the remaining classes A, C, E and G Classes were transferred to the Ebenezer and St. Marks Church Halls in Devonport, which had been requisitioned and converted for this purpose.
B, D, F and H Classes moved to HMS Argus, then HMS Frobisher, and then to wooden huts erected in the Naval Barrack, Devonport.  Academic instruction took place within the Barracks and with workshop training in the Dockyard.
The Church Hall accommodation proved to be totally inadequate, so E and G Classes were transferred to the MARSHALL NEY, an old monitor which formed part of the Devonport MTE, in which all Apprentices received instruction.  In December 1939 the Apprenticeship was shortened to four years because of the urgency for trained men at sea in the Fleet.
In February 1940 the Devonport Apprentices were moved into the more acceptable Stoke Dameral High School for Girls (the young ladies had vacated earlier!)  In May 1940 the Devonport Apprentices were joined by Apprentices from Portsmouth.
Also, in 1940 the construction of the new establishment in Torpoint began.  Half the current Apprentice Classes (at Stoke Dameral School) took up residence at the RNATE in Torpoint in July 1940.  The remainder joined them in October 1940.  The Senior Classes remained at Stoke Dameral School when engaged in practical ‘Afloat Party’ at work on ships in the Dockyard until 1942.
Books that explain this are:
‘The Story of HMS Fisgard’ by Lieutenant Philip Payton RN (1983)
‘Sons of Tubal-Cain’ by John North (2019)
« Last Edit: 12 August 2023 11:51:38 am by Audie »
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