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Old 20-05-24, 01:38 PM
gurkharifles's Avatar
gurkharifles gurkharifles is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,038

One of the graves I look after ( I volunteer for the CWGC) is that of Eric Ladd, Royal Navy who was killed on the 8th June 1944, aged 25. I've shared before and after my clean up photos of his grave before - but I've done some more research on his story and I thought it was timely to share it with the 80th anniversary coming up.

Before the war Eric had been a solicitor’s clerk, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, he joined the Royal Navy and became a Telegraphist aboard HMS Minster.

The ship had been built in 1924 as a cargo vessel for the Southern Railway Company, it was requistioned by the Royal Navy in 1940 and converted into a net layer. Its primary function was to lay metal anti-submarine nets around the harbours or individual ships. In the summer of 1944 HMS Minster was assigned to a largely American Group of ships - Task Force 128

The Task Force sailed from Torbay on the 5th June to arrive at dawn on the Normandy coast the following day D-Day. Two days later HMS Minster having been under almost constant shell fire from shore batteries, was still there and had just completed the laying of some moorings when tragedy struck.

The following is taken from the official war diary of Task Force 128:

1308 - Tug, or English trawler, stuck mine and caused terrific explosion to our port bow, her heading due east. Ship paused momentarily, then began to sink, stern first. She lay over to her port slightly. There was no sign of life. As she rolled over objects were seen in the water, among some oil and spurts of fire. Steam poured from her hull as water replaced air. One lone figure was seen to shove himself off from the port side. With obviously not much strength. She was completely sunk by 1310.

Accounts vary as to the number of casualties suffered. According to one first hand account the ship had been picking up some Canadian Rangers off the beach who had landed on D-Day itself, which is why there is some confusion over the numbers lost. The Royal Navy records 58 members of the crew killed or missing presumed killed, but there may have been more casualties amongst the Canadians. There were at least 3 survivors from the crew including the Captain, Act/Lt Cdr W Jackson RNR.

Because the ship sank so quickly, trapping most of the crew below 48 bodies were never recovered and lie with the ship, which is now designated by the French as a War grave. 8 bodies were washed up on the beach and these are now buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery. Two more bodies, including Eric Ladd’s were recovered by ships that were presumably heading back to England and as it was relatively short trip home they would forgo a burial at sea, consequently, Eric has the unusual distinction of having been killed at sea but buried in the Church of his hometown.

His headstone has a poignant description of his death.

8th JUNE 1944
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Old 20-05-24, 04:06 PM
Mike B Mike B is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North West
Posts: 2,594

Many thanks for sharing, and doing the volunteer work for CMGC
- so many unsung heroes ... just doing their job ...
An image of the grave would be appreciated - all the best
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Old 20-05-24, 07:27 PM
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Skippy Skippy is offline
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 157

A sobering story - sunk in two minutes.

Thank you for sharing and your efforts. Lest we forget.

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Old 21-05-24, 01:09 PM
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wardog wardog is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 2,555

Thanks for this post and your voluntary work. Good man. Regards, Paul.
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Old 28-05-24, 07:29 AM
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Gary B Gary B is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Worcestershire
Posts: 223

GURKHARIFLES; I'm guessing you're a fellow "Eyes On Hands On" Volunteer like me... It's a brilliant way to get out of the house (away from the long haired General) and do some valuable work isn't it?

That's a great story, you should upload it to the Commission's "For Evermore" platform so more people cane see it, it's really moving.

I'm also a volunteer moderator and writer for the Commission, so I could upload it for you if you like - and credit the story to yourself. Let me know if you'd like me to do this.

All the very best - keep up the great work with the CWGC (looking outside, it looks like being a good headstone scrubbin' day today my friend - get the bucket filled!!!)
Gary B
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Old 01-06-24, 10:11 AM
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gurkharifles gurkharifles is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,038

Hi Gary - yes I'm an "Eye's on Hands On" volunteer - I'm responsible for 20 sites and 74 graves in North Somerset. I'd be more than happy for you to load up Eric's story on the for evermore site - I'm afraid its a bit light on the personal details of Eric and wasn't sure whether it would fit the bill - but if you think it would then please go ahead. I'm writing a book at the moment ( just for circulation amounts friends and family) - I've done one story of one grave from each of my sites and tried to wrap it up in some history/CWGC work etc . I've got one chapter left to do and I'm awaiting some info from the National Archives to try and put the story together. I find the work very satisfying and therapeutic ( and yes it does get me out of the house !) - it's also given me a healthy perspective of my own mortality ( not in a morbid way ) - and I love finding out the stories behind the graves - so far I have a young RAF Sgt shot down in a dog fight over Exmouth ( it was his very first flight ( observer) and the day before his 21st Birthday) - and then I have a Royal Engineer who was killed when he fell down the stairs in the pub where he was billeted !
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