Frederick John Walker DSO, RN

Born  3 Jun 1896Plymouth, Devon, England
Died  9 Jul 1944(48)Naval Hospital, Seaforth, Liverpool


Captain Johnnie Walker, RN

Ranks

6 Jan 1916 S.Lt.
15 Aug 1917 Lt.
15 Aug 1925 Lt.Cdr.
31 Dec 1931 Cdr.
30 Jun 1942 Capt.

Decorations

16 Aug 1940 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
6 Jan 1942 DSO
30 Jul 1942 Bar to DSO
14 Sep 1943 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
22 Feb 1944 2nd Bar to DSO
13 Jun 1944 3rd Bar to DSO

Warship Commands listed for Frederick John Walker, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Stork (L 81 / U 81)Cdr.SloopSep 19411 Aug 1942
HMS Starling (U 66)Capt.Sloop21 Mar 19437 Jul 1944

Career information

Between the wars Capt. Walker was a ASW specialist in the Royal Navy. By the time the war began he had been passed over and was scheduled for an early retirement. Even with the war going on he was still not given a command until 18 months after the war had started or in early 1941.

In March he was given command of the 36th Escort group which consisted of 2 sloops and 6 corvettes. There he was noted for development of sophisticated group tactics.

In December 1941, while escorting convoy HG-76, Walker's group sank 4 U-boats U-131 (Baumann), U-434 (Heyda), U-574 (Gengelbach) and U-567 (Endrass) for the loss of one escort carrier and 2 ships sunk. This is considered by many to be the first real convoy escort victory of the war.

The Second Support Group

In the spring of 1942 Walker took command of the Second Support Group, the first of the new striking forces to roam against the U-boats free of escorting duties. He commanded his own sloop, HMS Starling and had under his command Wild Goose, Cygnet, Wren, Woodpecker and Kite. This proved to be a formidable team.


The sloop HMS Starling

One of his tactics was to put 3 or more sloops in a line and then bombard the submerged U-boat in a similar way as artillery bombardment. This proved very effective if the U-boat was under the vessel in the middle, then his evasive action might take him under the depth charges dropped on his left or right.

1943

In June he sank 3 U-boats in the Bay of Biscay. The first one U-202 (Poser), on the 1st but the latter two both on the same day, the 24th; U-119 (von Kameke), and U-449 (Otto).

On 30 July, 1943 Walker's support group caught 3 large U-boats on the surface (an attempt to pass the Bay of Biscay in a group to repel aircraft). After a few seconds all U-boats had been hit and were unable to dive. Walker sank the U-462 (Vowe) and U-504 (Luis) but the third U-boat U-461 was sunk by an aircraft. In 10 minutes Germany had lost 2 of its vital Milkcows.


The sloop HMS Woodpecker

In August he learned that his son, Timothy, had been killed while serving on a British submarine in the Mediterranean. From that moment on he became even more of a hunter of U-boats.

His last kill of 1943 was the U-226 (Gänge) on 6 Nov.

1944

On 31 Jan, Walker and his group scored the first kill of that year against U-592 (Jaschke).

Within a span of 15 hours on Feb 9, 1944 his escort group sank 3 U-boats; U-238 (Hepp), U-734 (Blauert) and U-762 (Pietschmann). On Feb 11 his escort group sank the U-424 (Lüders) and 8 days later he sank the U-264 (Looks) for his 5th boat in a single month.

In March Walker was sent escorting the US cruiser Milwaukee as a gift to Russia. He sank 2 U-boats on that journey U-653 (Kandler) and U-961 (Fischer) and on the way back sank the U-473 (Sternberg) after a lengthy chase.

His last command was to help secure the D-Day landings at Normandy from the U-boat threat in France. During the first critical 2 weeks no U-boats got past him and many were destroyed both by escort vessels and the hundreds of aircraft in the area.

Captain Walker died on July 9, 1944 from over-strain, overwork and battle fatigue. During his years at sea the battle had taken too much toll from him as he rarely laid back and took a rest.

Events related to this officer

Sloop HMS Stork (L 81 / U 81)


19 Dec 1941 (position 38.12, -17.23)
German U-boat U-574 was sunk in the North Atlantic near Punta Delgada, in position 38°12'N, 17°23'W, by ramming and depth charges from the British sloop HMS Stork (Cdr. F.J. Walker, RN).

HMS Stork also picks up 14 survivors from the British merchant Ruckinge that was torpedoed and damaged, finally sunk by gunfire from the British corvette HMS Samphire (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Renny, RNR), by German U-boat U-108 west of Lisbon, Portugal in position 38°20'N, 17°15'W.

14 Apr 1942 (position 47.00, -18.14)
German U-boat U-252 was sunk at 2230hrs on 14 April 1942 in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in approximate position 47°00'N, 18°14'W, by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Stork (Cdr. F.J. Walker, DSO, RN) and the British corvette HMS Vetch (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.J. Beverley, DSC, RNR).


Sloop HMS Starling (U 66)


2 Jun 1943 (position 56.12, -39.52)
German U-boat U-202 was sunk at 0030hrs on 2 June 1943 in the North Atlantic south-east of Cape Farewell, in position 56°12'N, 39°52'W, by depth charges and gunfire from the British sloop HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, DSO and Bar, RN).

24 Jun 1943 (position 44.59, -12.24)
German U-boat U-119 was sunk in the Bay of Biscay north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain, in position 44°59'N, 12°24'W by ramming and depth charges from the British sloop HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, DSO and Bar, RN).

6 Nov 1943 (position 43.42, -42.08)
German U-boat U-842 was sunk at 1400hrs on 6 November 1943 in the western North Atlantic, in position 43°42'N, 42°08'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, CB, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC, RN).

9 Feb 1944 (position 49.43, -16.23)
German U-boat U-734 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 49°43'N, 16°23'W by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC, RN) and HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, CB, DSO and Bar, RN).

9 Feb 1944 (position 49.45, -16.07)
German U-boat U-238 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 49°45'N, 16°07'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Kite (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN), HMS Magpie (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Abram, RN) and HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, CB, DSO and Bar, RN).

15 Mar 1944 (position 53.46, -24.35)
German U-boat U-653 was sunk in the North Atlantic, in position 53°46'N, 24°35'W, by depth charges from a Swordfish aircraft of the British escort carrier HMS Vindex (Capt. H.T.T. Bayliss, RN), and by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Starling (Capt. F.J. Walker, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC and Bar, RN).

29 Mar 1944 (position 64.31, -3.19)
German U-boat U-961 was sunk east of Iceland, in position 64°31'N, 03°19'W, by depth charges from the British frigate HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN).

6 May 1944 (position 49.29, -21.22)
German U-boat U-473 was sunk at 0200 hrs in the North Atlantic west south-west of Ireland, in position 49°29'N, 21°22'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Starling (Capt. F.J. Walker, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC and Bar, RN).

Media links


The Fighting Captain

Burn, Alan


Escort Commander

Robertson, Terence


Relentless Pursuit

Wemyss, D.E.G.


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