NavSource Naval History Photographic History of the United States Navy
DD-191 USS MASON / HMS BROADWATER
Remembering the crew of the HMS BROADWATER
Hi, My name is Chalky White and I have just viewed your web site on destroyers which includes the USS Mason DD191. In 1998 I carried out a very successful project which culminated in a wonderful Remembrance Service for this ship which had been one of the 50 old
destroyers transferred to Britain in 1940. Mason had become HMS Broadwater named after the ancient Parish of Broadwater,part now of a larger town Worthing on the South coast of England. The 50 ships had been named after towns common to Britain and the USA there being a Broadwater in Virginia,USA. I had traced four survivors of the sinking of HMS Broadwater together with about 10 families of those lost who all attended the Remembrance Service at St Mary's church, Broadwater,Sussex on 18th October 1998 the anniversary of the ships loss. The Officer of the Watch on the bridge who was killed when the ship was torpedoed had been an American from Charles River,Massachusetts, Lieutenant John Stanley Parker.RNVR one of the first three citizens to volunteer as Sea Officers in the Royal Navy in June 1941 before the USA entered the war.I had also traced his family and as a result his granddaughter attended the service which was wonderful.Lieutenant Parker had previously served in the United States Navy aboard USS Calhoun another of the Four Stackers and it might have been this factor of previous experience with this type of ship which encouraged the British Admiralty to draft him to a sister ship HMS Broadwater ex USS Mason. What I really thought I would e-mail you about regarding USS Mason is that the only photograph I managed to obtain of the ship for my project was shown as USS Mason DD191 a good view from the Port side in approximately 1921 which I
obtained from the Naval Institute in Washington,USA. My project was hugely successful and there is now a Memorial plaque on the wall of the Chancel in St Mary's together with a Book of Remembrance with all 45 names of those lost. Sadly the town of Broadwater on the sandy Hog Island,Virginia had ceased to exist at the time the ship was named as this town of wooden dwellings was destroyed in a storm in the late 1930's. I suppose those in the Admiralty in London merely consulted a book of maps of the period when of course Broadwater USA would have been shown.Hope this bit of information especially regarding a photo of USS Mason is helpful to you.
The ship was torpedoed by U-101 on the starboard side just below the bridge. The whole of the ship forward of this position disappeared and the bridge was collapsed down. She remained afloat for several hours. You might like to know that I have a copy of the official Admiralty report into the loss of the ship which enquiry took place in Londonderry,Northern Ireland later in 1941. There was concern from the Commander in Chief of the Western Approaches as to why the ship had been 20 miles out of station whilst escorting the Convoy SC48 and was in fact astern of where she should have been. That question remained unanswered for over 57 years until one of the four survivors of the sinking I traced told me the answer. I had not specifically questioned him about this but in general conversation he told me he had heard the Captain of the ship tell another of the Officers,quite possibly our American Lieutenant,that he would hang back during the night and see if they could GET the following U-Boat. You will know, I expect, that a U-Boat always followed a Convoy if possible passing details of course and speed back to Germany for further transmission to other U-Boats. During this convoy in which the Broadwater was sunk an American destroyer,USS Kearny,was torpedoed and damaged. You might like to view the Kearny site as I have helped the webmaster with details of the U-Boat involved. With reference to the American Lieutenant J.S.Parker there is a plaque in the floor of the Painted Hall, Royal Naval College, Greenwich,London
commemorating he and two other American citizens who came to England on 15th June 1941 to volunteer as Sea Officers in the Royal Navy. I am at the moment trying to ascertain who the other two officers were as information seems to be very scarce. I aim to get these three Americans more readily recognised and have enquiries ongoing in various directions to find an answer. I will include the web site for the Royal Naval College and you will see just why I am astounded that more information is not too hand. This College is very important in Royal Naval history, Nelson's body lay in state in the same Painted Hall as the plaque to these Americans. A plaque in this hallowed
place would not have been placed lightly and must have been instigated by a very senior source as is quite obvious. Who was that person? Was it Churchill himself?
All the Best, Chalky White ex-Royal Navy.
More remembering the crew of the HMS BROADWATER
It is possible that the names of the other two citizens who joined the Royal Naval College on 15th June 1941 are Porter and Ferris. These were two RNVR officers mentioned in A H Cherry's book Yankee RN. Porter was shore based at Chatham in October/November when Cherry and a NZ Sub Lt. Kennedy joined HMS Winchester for 2 weeks on East Coast convoys. Cherry also met another American, Lt Derek Lee, Navigation officer on HMS Sardonyx, who was very unusal in having joined the RN as an enlisted man and had risen through the ranks. This was when Cherry was on HMS Reading early in 1942. Before Cherry met Lee, he speculated that the American was named Ferris. Regards, Perry Debell
Memorial Stone in The Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London.