John Loveday

John Loveday

Regiment:Royal Navy, HMS Exmouth
Country:United Kingdom
Service Number:Unknown
Cemetary/Memorial: Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 37, Col. 1)
Awards:1939-1945 Star
1939-1945 War Medal

Born in 1912, Lieutenant Loveday died on 21st January 1940 when his ship was torpedoed, with the loss of the entire crew of 189 men. He was 28.

Lieutenant Loveday was the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis William Loveday, RA and Lilias Mary (nee Dallas) Loveday, who had married in India in 1907.

He was younger brother to Elizabeth Dorothy (m. 1939 William Edmund Kenrick) and Penlope (m. Lunt).

John was a pupil at St Ronan’s from 1922 to 1925 where he was a Prefect and Double Colour. He also won a prize in Combined Subjects. He went on to RNC Dartmouth (Sch.) and was in Blake until he left in April 1929. He was captain of the Rugby 2nd XV and Hockey 2nd XI.

RNC Dartmouth, 29th April 1929 (2nd row, 3rd from left)

He would have been in the same class as his schoolmate, Rodney Athelstan-Price.

HMS Exmouth was escorting a merchant vessel from Aberdeen to the Orkneys when she was hit. She was was torpedoed on 21st January 1940 at 0444hrs by the German submarine U22 off Tarbett Ness in the Moray Firth, off Wick, Caithness.

The skipper of the freighter, the ‘Cyprian Prince’, heard two loud explosions, and approached to try to recover any survivors. The voices of men could be heard in the water, and ladders were let down. But after only three minutes the ‘Cyprian Prince’ was forced to move on. It was a clear moonlit night, there was a submarine close by, and Admiralty orders stipulated that ships must not stop to recover survivors.

By the time a rescue was launched by local fishermen from Wick, there was no sign of the Exmouth or any survivors. A week later, bodies of 18 of the crew were washed ashore at Lybster and taken to Wick for burial with full military honours. Most of the crew were lost within the ship. The wreck of HMS Exmouth was not located until 2001. It lies in 40 metres of water off the Scottish coast. The divers who located the wreck said that the grave of the majority of the officers and ratings of HMS Exmouth had become an underwater garden of 'stunning beauty'. The wreck has now been declared a protected war grave.

The Wick St Fergus Church of Scotland is the custodian of the White Ensign posthumously awarded to the crew of the HMS Exmouth by Commodore Sandford CBE, on behalf of the Royal Navy, during a memorial service held in 2001. A plaque of remembrance, listing the names of the crewmen lost is also sited in the Church.

HMS Exmouth

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