BEECHAM, Ernest Royal

No.C/KX 89124, Stoker 1st, Ernest Royal BEECHAM
Aged 21

H.M. Submarine "Thistle", Royal Navy
Killed in Action on Sunday, 14th April 1940

Ernest Royal Beecham was born in Stansfield in 1918(Risbridge Q3-1918 4A:1185), son of Fred Ernest and Sybil Rose BEECHAM (née TAYLOR).

His parents were not Stansfield born but had settled there and had two children with them in 1939.

In the 1939 register the family were at Thurston Lane, Stansfield, father Fred E [14-6-1895] a stoker; mother Sybil R [8-4-1898]; brother Leonard R [10-3-1921] a carpenter/wheelwright. There is one closed record.

H.M.Submarine "Thistle" (N-24) was patrolling of the Norwegian coast near Stavanger on 9th April 1940 and spotted a U-boat on the surface. She fired a spread of four torpedoes, at 16.04 hours, all of which missed. HMS Thistle later reported the unsuccessful attack via radio, and that the submarine had only two torpedoes left. They were ordered to resume patrol off Skudenes
The U-boat, U-4 (Hans-Peter Hinsch), had seen one torpedo passing ten metres ahead and had evaded further underwater attacks by crash diving. The U-boat crew later heard three explosions of the off-track torpedoes at the end of their run. Afterwards U-4 found HMS Thistle on the surface recharging its batteries.
At 02.13 hours on the morning of 10 April 1940, U-4 fired a spread of two torpedoes at its attacker. The first, a G7a torpedo, missed. The second, a G7es torpedo, found its mark, sinking Thistle with all hands (53 men) near Skudenes.
The G7-a torpedo was an unguided steam propelled weapon which left a trail of bubbles, the G7-es was electrically driven and much harder to spot.

The Bury Free Press of 27th April 1940 reported:-
Lost on the "Thistle" - A Stansfield Naval Hero

Deep and general sympathy is felt in Stansfield for Mr. and Mrs. F.E.Beecham (and family) who have received the sad news from the Admiralty that their eldest son 1st Class Stoker, Roy Beecham of H.M.Submarine Thistle is missing believed dead. This information has since been confirmed by the publication of the official casualty list.
Roy, who was in his 22nd year, was born in the village and will be remembered for his sunny smile and cheery word. He was very popular with his ship mates and was a born sailor. He joined the Royal Navy in July 1936, and was trained at Chatham. He served two years on H.M.S. Encounter, after which he joined the Submarine Service and was drafted to the Thistle when she was commissioned.
Much sympathy is also felt for his fiancee, Miss Hillman of Barrow-in-Furness.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ernest Beecham is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, panel 38:2

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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