William Gordon Benn, RN

Born  31 Jan 1889
Died  23 Feb 1962(73)


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Ranks

30 Jun 1905 Mid.
30 Aug 1908 S.Lt.
28 Feb 1910 Lt.
28 Feb 1918 Lt.Cdr.
30 Jun 1923 Cdr.
30 Jun 1931 Capt.
8 Jul 1941 Rear-Admiral

Retired: 5 Mar 1946


Decorations

17 May 1918 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)

Warship Commands listed for William Gordon Benn, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Royal Oak (08)Capt.Battleship7 Jul 193914 Oct 1939
HMS Fiji (58)Capt.Light cruiser28 Dec 19397 Oct 1940

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Battleship HMS Royal Oak (08)


4 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) both departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN). They were joined at sea early in the afternoon of the 6th by three more destroyers; HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN).

4 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
For the daily positions of HMS Royal Oak during the period of 4 September 1939 to 6 September 1939 see the map below.

(1)

6 Sep 1939
Late in the afternoon the battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and their escorting destroyers; HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from their patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel.

11 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

15 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

20 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

9 Oct 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the west of the Fair Isle Channel. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Cooper, RN).

10 Oct 1939
In very heavy seas, HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN), had lost touch with her escorting destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Cooper, RN). Course was therefore set to return to Scapa Flow.

11 Oct 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) arrived back at Scapa Flow. Anchor was dropped in the north-east corner of the Flow close to the seaplane tender HMS Pegasus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.E. Seaman, RN).

14 Oct 1939
At 0116 hours on 14 October 1939 the German submarine U-47 fired a spread of three torpedoes at HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and the British seaplane tender HMS Pegasus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.E. Seaman, RN) lying at anchor in the harbour of Scapa Flow, then turned around and fired a stern torpedo at 0121 hours. Prien claimed a hit on the seaplane tender, misidentified as HMS Repulse, but one of the torpedoes apparently hit the starboard anchor chain of HMS Royal Oak and both targets were undamaged.

At 0123 hours, the U-boat fired a second spread of three torpedoes of which two hit HMS Royal Oak on the starboard side and caused a magazine to blow up. The battleship rolled over and sank in 19 minutes. 833 of the crew were killed. 386 of the 420 survivors, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the drifter HMS Daisy II (Skr. John Gatt) which had been alongside as tender.


Light cruiser HMS Fiji (58)


1 Sep 1940 (position 58.10, -12.55)
At 1800 hours on 1 September 1940 German U-boat U-32 attacked the Dakar Task Force in position 58°10'N, 12°55'W. HMS Fiji (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) was damaged and was put out of commission for six months.

Media links


U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor


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($ 54.42)

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Sources

  1. ADM 53/110303

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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