The story of HMS Venomous

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Cyril Hely (1920-2008)

Armed to the teeth!

Dorothy Hely gave her husband a Kodak bellows camera on his 21st birthday, the 11 December 1941, shortly before he joined HMS Venomous. Dorothy thinks the film was developed and printed aboard ship. His notes on the back of the photographs are very revealing but we would like to know more. Can you help? Look at the photographs and get in touch if you can.

After leaving Venomous at Falmouth in October 1943 Cyril was posted to HMS Baudoin, a cross channel ferry requisitioned by the Navy and used as a troop transport. It carried troops to the invasion beaches at Normandy on D Day and the landings in Southern France in August but his fondest memories were of his eighteen months on Venomous which took him from Murmansk in Arctic Russia to Alexandria in Egypt. After being demobbed he returned to his prewar job with the Post Office and was working in the Investigation Branch when he retired.

He kept in touch  with many of his shipmates and was an active member of the Hecla, Marne and Venomous Association which from 1992 onwards brought together the  men whose lives had crossed paths on Armistice Day 1942 when Hecla was torpedoed.

  Cutlas Fight
Cyril Hely (left) in a mock cutlass fight with a shipmate - note the laughing face at the port hole
"AB Sydney Compston recalled that a rack of cutlasses hung in a small fo’c’sle cabin, no bigger than a broom cupboard, under the bridge behind “A” gun
ready for use should an attempt be made to board an enemy ship"; A Hard Fought Ship.

"B" Gun Crew
Crew of "B" Gun
"B Gun’s crew of my watch, that is the good old blue watch. "Ginger" [Ron Hargreaves] took this when we missed the ship or Taff would have been in it.”
Cyril and Harry Haddon ("Taff") were left behind in Gibraltar in March 1943 when Venomous was ordered back to Britain.
Most of the crew ashore were found in the bars but they being non-drinkers were on the beach.

Crew of "B" Gun
The crew of "B" gun appear to be practicing loading the 4.7 inch gun on the bow of Venomous
But Cyril Hely wrote on reverse "Having a skylark, October 42"
and "Ginger Hargrave, 'Dolly' (William J.) Gray, Tom Davies (Liverpool), me"

"Stand by to receive" - a practice torpedo firing
Practice torpedo firing
Four 4.7 in guns and the two triple mount torpedo tubes were the main armament of V & W Class destroyers when built.
After Dunkirk one of the triple mount torpedo tubes on Venomous had been replaced by a 12 pounder HA anti-aircraft gun.
By 1943 the  "Y" Gun had been replaced by depth charge rails and "A" Gun at the bow by the Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar.

"Inspecting Spanish ship for contraband, May 1943"
Inspecting Spanish ship for contraband
Harry Haddon recalled that it was a Spanish fishing boat in the Straits of Gibraltar and nothing was found.

to see more of Cyril Hely's photographs click  here

The story of HMS Venomous is told by Bob Moore and Captain John Rodgaard USN (Ret) in
A Hard Fought Ship
  Buy the new hardback edition online for 35 post free in the UK
Take a look at the Contents Page and List of Illustrations

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