Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

HMS St Vincent - Boys who distinguished themselves

Leading Boy William Thomas Snow BEM- Killed in action 14 Feb 1942

He served 25/01/38 - 30/09/38 Boy II Class and 01/10/38 - 01/12/38 Boy I Class.Then HMS Dunedin until 24/04/39. Next was HMS Glasgow which evacuated the Norwegian Royal Family to Molde. The ship was torpedoed off of Suda Bay Crete. William brought an unconcious Lieutenant and a Marine up from where he had been shutting the water tight doors to the cordite gallery flat. Award of BEM. William died aged 19, HMS LI WO in the Java Sea. It had been a Chinese Riverboat and it single handedly took on a Japanese Convoy in the hope of inflicting some damage. It sank a transport after setting it on fire and ramming it. William was helmsman. The ship became the most decorated of small ships WWII, the Captain receiving the last Gazetted V.C. WWII. 7 people out of 84 survived the battle and P.O.W. camps. His only mention was in 'Stand By To Die' by A.V.Sellwood.

William and friend? Who is the other Boy who joined in 1938. William Snow was in Foretop 52 Class and he was a Leading Boy, according to the class lists printed in the St Vincent Magazine of Summer 1938.


MINISTRY OF DEFENCE CS(R)2a Bourne Avenue Hayes Middlesex UB31 RF

Telephone 01-5'13 3831 ext

Mr A W Snow

Your reference

Our reference


October 1989

Dear Mr Snow

We are prepared and pleased to inform you that his service record reads as follows:

Names in full : William Thomas SNOW

Date of Birth : 8 October 1922

Place of Birth : Westhampnett, Bognor, Sussex

Trade or Occupation : Carriage- Oiler (Railway)

Personal Description:

Height : 5 6 1/2"

Chest : 34"

Hair : Dark Brown

Eyes : Hazel Complexion : Sallow

He entered the Royal Navy as a Boy II class on 25 January 1938 with the official number Portsmouth JX.156912.

He needed his parent's written permission in order to do so, and the Consent Form was signed by his Mother, Mrs Alice Sophia SNOW, whose address at the time was. 30 Gravits Lane, Bognor Regis, Sussex.

Still filed with the Consent Form we found your uncle's Birth Certificate which we enclose herewith as we feel sure you would like to have it.

On 8 October 1940, at age 18 years, he entered into a 12 year engagement in the Royal Navy. At this time his personal description was given as

Height 5' 10" Chest : 36"

The ships and shore establishments in which he served, together with the dates, and his Rating at the time, were recorded as. follows:


HMS St Vincent

Boy II class

25. 1.38


30. 9.38

HMS St Vincent

Boy I class





Boy I class



27.4 .39


Boy I class

28. 4.39




Ordinary Seaman



7. 5.41


Able Bodied Seaman

8. 5.41


8. 9.41


Able Bodied Seaman



14. 2.42

It was on 14 February 1942 that HMS LIWO, a vessel of 707 tons that in 1938 and requisitioned for service as a Minesweeper, was lost by enemy action at Singapore.

Sadly your uncle was a casualty of the action. His Mother was subsequently notified of his death, and a message of Royal Condolences was sent to her on 29 October 1945.

His character had always been recorded as "Very Good" throughout his service, and his efficiency as either "Satisfactory" or "Superior".

His record also shows that he was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British

Empire. We regret that we have no details of the circumstances leading to this award, but we know that it was reported in the London Gazette No 35147 on 29 April 1941, and it is possible that you may be able to' learn more about it at your local library.

We have prepared details of the other Medals that you mentioned, namely the 1939/45 Star; the Atlantic Star 1939/45; The Africa Star 1940/43; The Pacific Star 1941/45; and the War Medal 1939/45, and have pleasure in enclosing them herewith.

We very much hope that you will find the foregoing both interesting and informative.


for Departmental Record Officer

I have more material to go on this page - please bear with me I need to prepare the docs.

Leading Seaman Gordon Cleaver

Leading Seaman Gordon Cleaver Hero of the Pearl River Incident in which his patrol boat was shelled by a Communist Chinese warship

Gordon Cleaver was born on March 20 1933, the son of a Surrey postman, and joined the Navy at HMS St Vincent, Gosport, as a boy seaman in 1948. In retirement he worked in engineering management in Middlesex, and at the time of his death he was an effective chairman of the Hong Kong Flotilla Association. The Untold Story of HDML 1323 by John H Fleming was published in 2002. Gordon Cleaver, who died on October 28, is survived by his wife Jean; there were no children.

·         Obituary

·         HMS St Vincent page

·         Royal Navy opening page with LINKS to my other ships.