C/JX 151660 HMS Veteran, Royal Navy
Reginald French was born around 1920. He was the second son of Charles William and Ethel Annie French. The family lived at 5 Middleton Road, Ballingdon, Sudbury. Reginald joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and trained at HMS Ganges at Shotley, Suffolk and later served onboard HMS Veteran.
HMS Veteran was a ‘Modified W’ class destroyer built by John Brown Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd, Clydebank, Glasgow and launched in 1919. She was involved in escorting convoys from Newfoundland across the Atlantic to Britain. The convoy RB -1 was attacked by three ‘wolf packs’ a total of 17 German submarines. At the time of the attack ‘Veteran’ was engaged in rescuing passengers from the torpedoed American passenger ship Boston and merchant ship Yorktown. Torpedoes fired from U-404 hit the ship and she sank very quickly with the loss of all the crew of 9 Officers and 150 ratings together with the rescued passengers.
His younger brother, Trooper L French served with the Tank regiment and was reported missing in Tobruk, the Suffolk and Essex Free Press later reported that he was a prisoner of war, just weeks later Reginald was reported killed.
Reginald died aged 22 on 26th September 1942, there is no known grave and he is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Chatham, Kent. (His age is given as 28 on CWGC.)
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