History & Learning

Convoys Remembered

Harry Leonard Yeates


Written by Paul Yeates (grandson)

My grandfather Harry Leonard Yeates was born 14/12/1897 in Portsmouth. He was a  Greenwich schoolboy & he joined the navy in 1913, aged 15 1/2.

During WW1 he served on HMS Belerophon (among others), at The Battle of Jutland. During the wars, I know he was based in Malta, as that was where my dad was born in 1935.

At the outbreak of WW2, he was aboard HMS Transylvania when it was torpedoed in the Atlantic, he was rescued and eventually returned home.
On the 1/3/1943, he joined HMS Keppel until 28/11/44. During his time on HMS Keppel he, and another sailor received commendations for securing the broken top mast.
I believe that he was a torpedo man (others have verified this, by looking at the photos I have), & this may confirm the only story I remember being told as a child about him – the ship was being attacked by aircraft, so the crew would dive behind/under the nearest objects for cover, grandad dived under a torpedo tube, which probably wasn’t the best idea, as they were loaded with live torpedoes….!

He finished his service as CPO, and left the navy in 19 September 1945, and worked in Portsmouth dockyard until his retirement.

He passed away 28/12/1978, when I was 12.

I have attached some photos and cuttings etc about him. The first is Transylvania and a newspaper cutting.

Next photo is of him at HMS Ganges, I believe he is kneeling at the front

Next 2 photos are taken in Malta? (HMS Durban) Grandad is sitting with his hands on the guy in white, and second from the right, standing in the second photo.

Next photo is of his commendation. The story of Freddie Wood (on your site) confirms the broken mast on Keppel.

There is a photo on the IWM website of my grandad tying off the mast on Keppel.

The last photo is of his medals inc the recent addition of his Arctic Star which I have had engraved with his name and number.

Click to expand photos