John Anderson

Able Seaman John Anderson from Killyleagh, Co. Down served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. He died in 1940 on board the ill-fated HMS Glorious.

Able Seaman

John Anderson

D/JX 148096

Able Seaman John Anderson (D/JX 148096) served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. Anderson sailed on the ill-fated HMS Glorious on the night of its infamous sinking.

Born in Killyleagh, Co. Down, he was the son of William John Anderson and Isabella Anderson.

He died on board the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious on 8th June 1940 aged 18 years old. The loss of the HMS Glorious remains one of the most devastating and controversial Allied losses in the Second World War.

John Anderson, of Killyleagh, one of the crew of HMS. Glorious, is now reported presumed dead. He joined the Navy five years ago.

The Down Recorder – 16th November 1941.

HMS Glorious

Imperial War Museum Photo: FL 22991 (Part of the Ministry of Defence Foxhill Collection). The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Glorious at anchor in 1935 before its disastrous loss in World War Two. Photo taken by Royal Navy official photographer.

Sinking of HMS Glorious

Glorious was one of the largest and fastest aircraft carriers in the Allied fleet. German battle cruiser Scharnhorst torpedoed the carrier on 8th June 1940. Also destroyed and sunk in the same attack were escorting destroyers HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta.

The three warships were part of Operation Alphabet, the evacuation of Allied troops from occupied Norway. At 0300hrs, the three vessels detached from Vice Admiral Lionel Wells’ aircraft carrier squadron.

Glorious was responsible for the evacuation of 10 Gloster Gladiator planes from RAF 263 Squadron. Also on board were 7 Hawker Hurricanes from RAF 46 Squadron.

At 1545hrs, German ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau spotted the Glorious and its escorts. By 1820hrs, the last of the three ships, HMS Acasta had gone down despite a last-gasp torpedo attack on the Scharnhorst. Onboard the German vessel, a film crew captured the sinking, showing the world days later on ‘Die Deutsche Wochenschau’.

The Controversy Begins

The German ships picked up none of the men who went into the water. Neither did a single Allied ship come to their aid. Reports suggest the Royal Navy was unaware of the loss until the following day. Norwegian ships found around 40 survivors in the cold waters three days later. The death toll stood at 1,519.

An Admiralty Board of Enquiry took place days later, sealing its findings until the year 2041. Parliament put forth questions as to how and why the disaster happened. Some suggested a shortage of fuel was the Glorious’ reason for leaving the convoy. Many people contradicted this story including Winston Churchill.

Some historians suggest, HMS Glorious departed alone for shore in order for Captain D’Oyly-Hughes to court-martial another Royal Navy officer.

Remembering John Anderson

Nearby, another British ship, HMS Devonshire, received an alleged corrupted message from the Glorious. The Devonshire had been carrying the Norwegian royal family and a valuable cargo at the time. Why HMS Glorious left the convoy and why no one came to its aid may remain a mystery until 2041.

John Anderson’s name is on Panel 37, Column 1 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom.

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