Leading Stoker A.R. Cripwell, KX 88496
Sunk five times and died aged 92
Arthur Robert Cripwell was a Leading Stoker on HMS Hecla when she was torpedoed and sank on the night of the 11 -
12 November 1942 off the coast of North Africa. He had been severely wounded when Hecla
struck the mine off Cape Town and spent several months recovering in
the Simonstown hospital. Arthur Cripwell hd joined the Navy in 1934 and had previously served on
HMS Wessex, Jersey, Douglas, Worcester, and the battleship, King George V. He was in the King George V
when she took part in the hunt for the Bismarck and sinking. His
shipmates would not have been happy when they heard his story on
joining their ship.
He left the Navy in 1948 but was recalled during the Korean War and finally left the service in 1952. He died three months short of his ninety-third birthday in December 2007.
Astonishingly, there were 190 stokers serving on HMS Hecla when it was torpedoed but only one of them, Charles Brearley, has left an account of the loss of the ship and how he was saved. Their names are all recorded on the crew list compiled by TNT Data Services
which can be downloaded as a PDF. Their rates range from Petty Officer
Stoker, Chief Stoker, Leading Stoker and Stoker 1st Class to Stoker 2nd Class but there were also Acting and Temporary Acting rates. The most common rate was Stoker 1st Class.
There were only eleven Leading Stokers but if one includes to the
Acting and Temporary Acting Leading Stokers there were thirty-one.