To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Merchant Navy-tn

R.137657

2nd Officer

Henry Scurr

 MBE

Known as ‘Harry’

jcross

1915/06/13 - Born Durham

Merchant Navy

‘Sambridge’

 

Service

In November 1943 a Type B1 Imperial Japanese Navy submarine, I-27, under the command of 37-year-old Lieutenant Commander Toshiaki Fukumura, was patrolling the Indian Ocean. It torpedoed and sank the ‘Sambo’:-

From Peter Elphricks book:- Two successive explosions came in the early afternoon, one each in Nos. 4 and 5 holds. After that there was a smaller third explosion right aft, presumably as the after magazine went up. Then, within a space of five minutes, the ship blew up and sank, again probably aided by the nitrite cargo which is not the safest commodity to carry around. Only one boat got away, and after picking up men who had been blown off the ship into the water, it had thirty-five souls on board. All nine gunners, the ship’s carpenter and two engine-room hands were missing and believed killed in the explosion. Survivors were picked up by a Norwegian ship. The ships captain decided the ship had hit a mine which had drifted away from the British minefield off Perim, which was 10 mile away.

On November 18th the I.27 attacked again, this time it was the ‘Sambridge’, commanded by Captain A.S. Bain and part of the Brocklebank Line.  The ship was sailing for Aden from Bombay. Bad weather had damaged the Torpedo nets so they were not in use. The Japanese submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship, the first missed passing astern. The second exploding in the engine-room killing the Second and Fourth Engineers and two hands. The vessel caught fire and in under two minutes the midships section was burning fiercely. Captain Bain later reported that No. 4 boat was lowered without my orders and had pulled off with only nine members in it. With his ship now well ablaze, Captain Bain ordered abandon ship. 

He got into No. 2 lifeboat and ordered it lowered, intending to remain alongside taking only as many of the crew with as I thought safe, as the boat had a large quantity of water in it. I instructed the Chief Officer and those remaining on board to take to the rafts, adding that I would take them in tow. The boat drifted away from the ship towards the stern, all four ships rafts were released.

The Japanese Submarine surfaced and closed in on No. 2 Lifeboat ordering the lifeboat alongside, where the men were questioned the captain told the Japanese that the Master and Chief Officer had stayed on board the ship, which had since sunk, so they were believed to be dead. He decided with the 2nd Officer, Henry Scurr, that someone would have to board the sub for questioning. Having denied all knowledge of the Master and Chief Officer to the Japanese,  Henry bravely volunteered to board the submarine and climbed to the conning tower and as he did so he called out ‘Cheerio’ before disappearing inside the submarine.

The following morning the men in the Captain’s boat and the rafts were picked up by ‘SS Tarantia’ and landed at Aden. The men in No. 4 boat were later rescued by a British frigate and landed at Port Said. No one at the time knew what had happened to twenty-seven year-old Second Officer Henry Scurr.

Henry was captured Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean

 

Japanese POW

1943/011/08 - Became a PoW

Interned Iloila City, Philippines - Age 35

Japanese Index Card - Side One

Scurr-Henry-1

Japanese Index Card - Side Two

Scurr-Henry-2

1944/04/16 - Transported to Fukouka, Japan

Branch V (Kawasaki Machi, Tagawa Gun, Fukuoka Ken)

1945/06/30 - Destroyed by air raid; camp terminated;

 POWs transferred to Hiroshima 6-D which became Hir-08-Motoyama

1945/09/02 - Liberated

1945/09/23 - Arrived at Collection point

1945/10/09 - Date of Repatriation by sea ‘Marine Shark’

 

Post War

1945/12/11 - London Gazette:- The Second Officer showed outstanding courage and devotion to duty. After the ship had been sunk the submarine, which was Japanese, surfaced, approached one of the boats and demanded the whereabouts of the Master, Chief Officer and Chief Engineer. Answers to these questions were evasive, but Second Officer Scurr, realising the danger to his senior officers, volunteered to go on board the submarine. He was taken prisoner and so sacrificed his freedom and chances of safety.

 

Medals & Awards

MBE

Lloyds Bravery Medal

Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Soc. Silver Medal

Now housed in the Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

 

 

Died

Age 68

1983

 

Information

Simon Stell

‘Liberty: The Ships That Won the War’ by Peter Elphick

KEW:- FO 916/1056, WO 392/26, BT 373/3718, WO 345/46, BT 373/3722,

*

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