Southwater War Memorial
Herbert George Turk was born in 1923 at the village of Southwater, the second son of Alfred Stephen Turk, who worked as a stationary engine operator, and Edith Turk (nee Burfoot). The family came to Horsham in 1933. During the Second World War they lived at 65, Park Street, and previously at 70, Queen Street, Horsham. Alfred and Edith both came from East Sussex. Alfred was born in 1885 at Rotherfield and Edith four years later at the village of Withyham, near Crowborough, where they were married in December, 1908. The couple had seven children born to them;. As soon as he was old enough Herbert joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth naval base as a Boy 2nd Class in 1937, and completed his training prior to the outbreak of war to be posted to serve aboard the destroyer HMS. Cossack, G03. She was the most famous of the Tribal Class destroyers built by Vickers Armstrong and launched from High Water Yard, Newcastle-on-Tyne on 8th June, 1937. Cossack became famous following her epic dash into the enemy-held Norwegian port of Narvik, where Herbert was among the boarding party which rescued a number of British seamen from the German support ship Altmark. When interviewed for the West Sussex County Times in early March 1940 he said that, prior to their rescue, the Altmark prisoners were fed on a meagre ration of black rye bread and water, with occasionally a little jam. The captured merchantmen were only allowed a half hour for exercise when the vessel was out of sight of land. For the remainder of their time they were incarcerated in the dark, dirty and overcrowded hold of the German ship. At 23.37 hours, on 23rd October, 1941, when west of Portugal (35°-36'N 25°-22'E), Cossack was subjected to a torpedo attack by the German U-boat, U-563, commanded by Oberleutnant Klaus Bargsten, a recipient of the Knights’ Cross, who survived the war. Although strenuous efforts were made to save the stricken vessel, including atow by a sister ship, this failed to save her and she finally sank at 10.43 hours on Monday 27th October 1941 with the loss of 159 of her crew from a full complement of 219 officers and men.
The death of Herbert Turk and three other local men was reported on page 5 of the WSCT, Friday 14th November 1941 edition. Ordinary Seaman Herbert was killed in action on Thursday 23rd October and is commemorated on Panel 51, Column 2 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, which overlooks the Promenade at Southsea Common, Hampshire
German U-563 met her fate when commanded by Oberleutnant Gustav Borchardt on 31st May 1943 in the Bay of Biscay, south west of Brest at 46º35’N 10º-40’W. The U-Boat was attacked at 1545 and depth charged by a Handley Page Halifax “R” Bomber captained by Wing Commander WE Oulton from No 58 Squadron. Following a second attack it was observed that the enemy craft was leaking oil and settling in the water.
An Australian crewed Sunderland from No 10 Squadron RAAF continued the attack with eight depth charges. As their boat was beginning to sink the crew began assembling on its casing wearing their life jackets, and a British Sunderland aircraft from No 228 Squadron carried out two further attacks on the stricken vessel. The second explosive attack blew seamen’s bodies into the air and, after the effects of the last explosions subsided, finally sinking the U-boat, a number of crew were observed in the water. Without means of any recue there were no survivors and the entire crew of 49 officers and men were lost, including her captain.
Herbert George TURK
P/JX 159504 Ordinary Seaman Royal Navy. HMS Cossack
23rd October 1941
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Thanks to Gary Cooper "Horsham Heroes of World War II
Portsmouth Naval Memorial