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J/X 158647 A/B Street L.G.

Les Street was the son of Sydney and Hilda Street.

When Les left school, he worked for a short time at Elliots of Newbury before joining the Navy as a Boy Entrant on 30 May 1938. He trained at various shore bases before going to Dunoon in Scotland to train as an Asdic Operator, an anti-submarine device. On 16 April 1939 he joined HMS Dunedin, a cruiser, serving in the West Indies. It was during this tour of duty that the German ship, Heidelburg, was intercepted and sunk on 2 March 1940.

As the Canadian Navy were short of Asdic Operators, he was posted to the Canadian destroyer, HMCN Ottawa, a convoy escort ship; formally HMS Crusader. This transfer is believed to have happened sometime in July 1942, but there is no actual date on his service papers.

It appears that he made several crossings of the Atlantic escorting convoys and the ship was credited with the sinking of at least one U-boat. These convoys were putting into Liverpool Docks at the time but Ottawa docked in Northern Ireland to await a return trip. Whilst there he met up with Wally Dennis, and Wally remembers him showing him around his ship and in particular the Asdic Room.

His last convoy left Londonderry on 5 September 1942 to join the Newfoundland bound convoy ON-127, consisting of 33 ships and its escort. The ship's company were looking forward to an uneventful crossing as the ship was due for repair, with shore leave for the crew. On 9 September contact was made with a U-Boat 'Wolfpack'. The enemy lost the convoy during the night but regained sight of it again at daylight the next day.

The cat and mouse game continued throughout the next day and the night of 12 September without further losses. The report goes on to describe the skill the enemy showed in diving under the escort ships and attacking the convoy from inside. The enemy continued to attack on the 13 and 14 September, and the following is copied from the naval report of the loss of Ottawa.

"...Sometime before midnight Ottawa was 5 miles ahead of the convoy investigating a contact. HMS Witch had signalled her that she was taking station 8000 yards ahead of the convoy. This signal was intercepted by St Croix but there is no evidence that it was received by Ottawa. At about midnight, she was closing on one of her contacts when an object was sighted on the starboard bow. The range rapidly closed to 1000 yards and Ottawa, to avoid collision, altered sharply to port. She had swung some twenty degrees and was about to right her course when disaster struck. There was a sudden explosion as a torpedo came from somewhere out of the darkness; it hit her in the port side and blew off her bow. She was badly damaged but the ship remained on an even keel and her commander believed she was not in immediate danger of sinking. The time was about 0005 on the 0016 the second torpedo struck in Number Two Boiler Room, starboard side. The ship listed to starboard, broke in half and sank bow and stern up..."

A/B Street was one of 5 officers and 109 ratings who lost their lives in this disaster some 500 miles off the St Lawrence River. Of the 33 ships and escort of 6 warships (destroyers and corvettes) the U-Boats sank 12 freighters and one destroyer.

The telegram informing Mrs Street of the loss of her son "Missing, believed killed" arrived at her home, 6 Moores Place on 20 September 1942.

His name is on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Photo Gallery:

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- Les Street