Harold Pitman WW2 on HMS Exeter

Discussion in 'History' started by droylsden_kid, Jul 16, 2007.

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  1. I am enquiring to find if anyone can help solve a mystery concerning my late father's naval service.
    He was in the RN for 25yrs from c.1921 until he came out as a Warrant Officer in 1946. I have his service record at home, and I know from this that he served on Wren, and then Exeter until the Plate episode, later serving aboard Kenya on convoy duty. I was also told that he was a CPO (Gunner) on Exeter.
    The problem is, other people are convinced that it was Ajax, nor Exeter that he served on. I know the old 78 rpm record I have of the Plate incident mentions a "Gunner Pitman of the Ajax" but I did not believe this was my father. Also of all the ships badges that he carved, there are several of Exeter, but none of Ajax. His marksman's trophies also are from Wren or Exeter. He talked little of his war service, and sadly died of cancer in 1963 when I was a young lad.
    Is there anyone out there who remembers him or can help me find the truth.
  2. Well according to my research Exeter never had a Pitman of any description in their Ships Company.Have you tried the IWM?They may well be able to assist you especially if you have his Official Number etc.
  3. Is there a possibility that he was temporarily loaned to Ajax (because of his expertise?), and had no time to get back to Exeter before the curtain went up. Bit of a long shot, but would not necessarily be noted in his service docs. Just a thought.

  4. Ifyou have his record of service----we call it Service Documents then if it says 'Exeter' he will surely have been on it . The entry of ships is usually on the mid pages giving dates and rank when joined and when left to go to another place or ship. It should also give you some idea of his RN service and what he did /was.

    Ajax was part of the R.Plate squadron in 1939 but after the engagement
    all the ships were sent to different stations . Exeter was refitted after the
    damage sustained and was then sent to the Far East and was sunk .
  5. Thank you for your responses, for it is only in recent years that I have had any doubt about my previous knowledge. I think if mother had allowed me to join the RN when I was younger, I may have followed this up before.
    Obviously I have now been prompted to have another look at my fathers papers (which contain a wealth of material including photo albums). The main items relating to his service are the Certificate of Service, and Gunnery History sheets which give a date of volunteering as 28 July 1920 - (Official Number J98128) based Devonport.
    Ship's listed (I know some will be shore stations) -
    Impregnable, Revenge to Mch '22 as Boy
    Vivid,Queen Elizabeth, Valiant, Vivid, Egmont II (Wren) to Nov '30 as AB
    Egmont II (Wren), Vivid, Comus (Argus), Vivid to Nov '31 as Act Ldg Smn
    Vivid, Comus (Scotsman), Vivid, Drake, Capetown to Mch '35 as Ldg Smn
    Capetown to Mch '36 as Act PO
    Capetown, Drake, Exeter (Dec '36 - Feb '40), Drake, Kenya to Sep '40 as PO
    Kenya, Lanka, Drake, Excellent to May '45 as CPO
    It then says promoted 18/5/45 and I know he came out in '46 as a Warrant Officer.
    There is no mention of Ajax.

    I also have his drawing for the grave markers he carved for the men of HMS Exeter who died Dec '39 in the action against the Graf Spee.
    Incidentally, before the war he also carved a couple of trophy shields for the Falkland Islands Rifle Club of which I still have his drawings & photographs - I wonder if they still exist?
    In 1943 he also carved a lion (probably from Kenya's crest) for a pew end in All Hallows Church following a request by Tubby Clayton of TocH - he was offered a job there after the war, but declined.
  6. :toilet:
    From what you have said it sounds like you had a Father to be seriously proud of, his records and belongings must be fascinating to read and go through, good luck. :tp:
  7. very interesting stuff. From Exeter he went to Kenya [cruiser]and stayed as home fleet --as you said --convoy escorting and usual chasing everywhere.

    Lanka was in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] as a shore base but it was also an accounting base for small ships or he may have been training the Ceylonese Navy ,then Drake was the Plymouth main barracks.Excellent was the Portsmouth Gunnery school

    The old vets should all write down some of their experiences-- they saw things and did things that hopefully you or I will never want to experience.

    :nemo: :nemo:
  8. Some of those old Photos will be very interesting to see.
  9. Here's one picture I found of him!


  10. Dipstick!PITman not SHIPman!

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