Alfred Walter Copperthwaite

Date of birth: 1905 or 1906
Place of birth: Not known
Service No.: P/JX102455
Rank: Able Seaman
Ship: HMS Daring (H16)
Died: 18th February 1940 aged 32 years *
Death location: At sea off the coast of Scotland

 

Alfred was the son of Ernest George and Florence of Coxford, Southampton.

HMS Daring H16 was built by Thornycroft in Southampton and launched in 1932.  She was of 1,375 tonnage, had a speed of 35.5 knots and a complement of 169 officers and ratings.  Her home port was Devonport.

Armament of HMS Daring consisted of:

4 x 4.7″ (12cm) open mount guns          2 x 40mm AA close range mounts
8 x torpedo tubes in 2 x quad mounts        20 x depth charges

Photos courtesy of HMS Daring Association

Captained by Commander S A Cooper, Daring was the sixth British destroyer to be lost during WW2 and the first by torpedo attack.  She was torpedoed by the German U-boat, U-23 (captained by Otto Kretschmer) in the early hours of 18th February 1940 (during the middle watch) whilst on escort duty covering Convoy HN-12; Bergen (Norway) to Merthyr (UK).   Loss position:  58.40North – 01.35West.

U-23 fired two torpedoes with one hitting; this caused a secondary explosion and Daring broke in two and sank in two minutes off Duncansby Head, Scotland.  Reports suggest that out of a complement of 169 there were only 5 survivors; 1 officer and 4 ratings.  Alfred perished together with the majority of his shipmates.  He is memorialised on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Column 2, Panels 33 to 44.

Memoriam Notice

Memoriam Notice

According to information available at the time of writing, it was assumed
that Ernest at the time of Daring’s sinking was *32 years old; date of birth 1908.
However the 1911 census shows him in that year to be a 7 or 8 year old boy
(D of B 1904) and living with his family at 3 Surrey Place, Winton Street,
Southampton.  His family consisted of, father Ernest Copperthwaite (Snr)
a 39 year old Coal-Porter, mother Florence age 29 and brothers Alfred (5)
and William (1).  Whether or not for some unexplained reason Ernest
marked his age down on enlisting we do not know.  Cards printed for
his memoriam notice give his age as 34:

 

Fate of the U-23 and Otto Kretschmer

Leutnant-sur-see Otto Kretschmer the "Wolf of the Atlantic"

Leutnant-sur-see Otto Kretschmer the “Wolf of the Atlantic”

In April 1940 (2 months after sinking Daring) Otto Kretschmer left U-23 to take command of U-99.  On the 17th March 1941 U-99 was depth-charged by the RN Destroyer HMS Walker, damaged and forced to the surface; 40 of her crew were able to get out of the stricken submarine and Kretschmer spent the rest of the war as a POW in Canada.

On the 10th October 1944, U-23 was scuttled off the coast of Turkey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researcher: Terry Randall
Published: 3rd December 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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