History & Learning

Convoys Remembered

William Sidgwick


Information provided by Peter Sidgwick (son)

Temporary Lieutenant William Sidgwick R.N.V.R (3rd October 1915 – 10th June 2000)

William (Bill) Sidgwick joined up on 30th August 1939 and did his initial training at HMS Royal Arthur in the requisitioned Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Skegness.

Initially he trained as a telegraphist at various shore establishments, the last of which was HMS King Alfred.

On 10th January 1941 he gained a commission and became a temporary sub lieutenant.

On 27th February 1941 he was appointed as Third Officer on HMS Lady Madeleine, an armed trawler.

By the 18th July 1941 he had become Second Officer, a position he held until 18th July 1942.

During this period Lady Madeleine was part of Convoy PQ16. After the war, the C/O Temporary Lieutenant W. G. Ogden wrote a memoir entitled My Sea Lady.

In the book Bill Sidgwick is referred to as being “cool and fearless”. Reference is also made to the sinking of merchant ship SS Empire Lawrence. As a result survivors were taken aboard and Bill “took charge of our first aid party and gave the wounded morphia”.

On this same convoy, an American ship, the SS Syros was hit. Once again survivors were taken aboard and the Lady Madeleine “set off to catch up the convoy. Bill Sidgwick was officer of the watch and ordered full ahead…suddenly he yelled hard a starboard down the voice-pipe to the quartermaster…I saw two torpedoes running in our direction. Bill’s quick reaction saved us and we had the relief of seeing the tin fish go fizzing past Lady M’s side.” Subsequently depth charges were laid and it appeared that as a result the attacking U-boat was sunk.

As a result of Bill’s decisive action he was mentioned in a Despatch for Distinguished Service as published in the London Gazette on 25th August 1942.

Later in 1942, Bill was promoted to temporary Lieutenant and transported to another armed trawler, HMS Kingston Amber where he became 1st Officer.

The ship saw service as an anti-submarine patrol ship and convoy escort in the North Atlantic between the Faroe Islands and Iceland in the Western Approaches and in the mid-Atlantic, especially around the Portuguese Azores. Bill served on the ship until the end of the war in 1945.

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