Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow

Scott of the Antarctic

Scott of the Antarctic

On the Road to Normandy and a Little Beyond

Bernard Upton MBE

In September 1943 the 14th Minesweeping Flotilla was operating in the Mediterranean Sea. HMS Cromarty, having been in the thick of the action for over 18 months, was sunk on 23 October 1943, in the Straits of Bonificio, ironically having struck a mine. Five officers and 20 ratings were lost. 61 other crew including Sub Lieutenant Bernard Upton survived. He spent over an hour in the water, leading his men before he was rescued. He was then ordered, as the senior uninjured surviving Officer, to write to his Commander-in-Chief, regarding the circumstances of the loss of HMS Cromarty. It is this incredible account which is the highlight of the book. Bernard Upton was awarded the MBE (London Gazette of 2 May 1944) “for good services to the survivors in the water when HMS Cromarty was lost”. Despite her short life of less than two years, HMS Cromarty was described as the "outstanding ship of the gallant 14th Minesweeping Flotilla. Bernard was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) (London Gazette of 30 May 1944) “for courage and skill in dangerous minesweeping”, in the Sicilian campaign. On 25 August 1944, Allied troops, with the help of the French resistance led by General Charles de Gaulle, liberated Paris after four years of German occupation. Bernard Upton only wore his medals on 2 occasions. The first was on 6 June 1994 – the 50th anniversary of D-Day, where he caused quite a stir in a Geneva restaurant. The second and final time he wore his medals was at his funeral on 22 April 2016.
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Foreword by Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE Deputy Commander Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO "As President of the Royal Navy’s Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers’ Association, I was delighted to be asked to write the Foreword to this book. Although I never met Bernard Upton, his personality and typical Minewarfare Officers’ mentality are evident in this book, which contains a great detail of hitherto unknown, but nevertheless interesting information. Bernard was clearly of “the old school” and I should have liked to have met him during his remarkable life. In particular, the events of the sinking of HMS Cromarty on 23 October 1943 and Bernard’s leadership in the water that fateful day and the following days, is a great inspiration to us all. The clarity with which he wrote the “Senior Survivor’s Report” to Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, only a few days after his ship was mined, is remarkable. Towards the end of WW2, Bernard assumed command of one of HM Ships, and after the war he returned to the printing business and took up sailing, including crossing the Atlantic. As a keen yachtsman, his narrative of how he built a wooden Atalanta yacht and sailed it for almost 50 years is of great interest. The fact that he completed two sets of RN exercises every day into his late 90s and kept himself remarkably fit is a testament to his RN training. In summary, this is an interesting book about the life and times of a WW2 hero, which I thoroughly recommend to all those interested in minewarfare."

ISBN: 9781527213081
Format: Paperback
Author(s): Bernard Upton MBE
First Publishment Date: 21 January 2021
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Author(s) Bernard Upton MBE
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