Able Seaman John Thomas Faunch mystery solved – thanks for your help!


Press photo kindly supplied by Graeme Clarke, very likely from the Walsall Observer.

I know I keep banging on about it, but the community and helpfulness exhibited by both contributors and readers of this blog never cease to amaze me – and yesterday, on the question of lost Brownhills Seaman John Thomas Faunch, you surpassed yourselves.

Thanks to all who contributed – Andy Dennis, Lisa Ashby, Linda Gibbets and lots of others – and yesterday afternoon I had the following great mail from old friend of the blog Graeme Clarke, that wraps all the information up.

Graeme wrote:

John Thomas FAUNCH

Able Seaman C/SSX 22481
H.M.S. “Pelican”, Royal Navy
Died at sea on Monday 22 April 1940

John was the only son of George Thomas and Ethel Maud (née Horton) Faunch of Vicarage Road, Brownhills.

After leaving school he decided to follow his father’s footsteps and become a miner, being employed initially at the Cannock Chase colliery and later at the Walsall Wood colliery. A member of the band of the Salvation Army in Brownhills, he enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1937.

John served aboard H.M.S. Pelican, an ‘Egret’ class sloop, built by Thornycroft Limited of Southampton, launched on Monday 12 September 1938 and commissioned on Thursday 2 March 1939. At the time of John’s death she was under the command of Commander Lennox Albert Knox Boswell D.S.O.

H.M.S. Pelican was attacked by aircraft during Monday 22 April 1940 whilst steaming near Molde, off the coast of Scotland. Struck by a bomb, she was severely damaged with 57 of the crew being killed when her sink mines exploded on deck.

John is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial on 35.2, on St. James’s Church War Memorial, and the roll of honour at Brownhills Memorial Hall. He was 21 years of age.

H.M.S. Pelican survived the war only to be scrapped on Saturday 29 November 1958.

Hope this helps,


Andy Dennis noted in the comments to the original post:

There is a tree on Ancestry that led me to what befell AB Faunch.

His birth was registered 1918 Jun-Sep Lichfield 6b 716. His parents were (as it says) George T Faunch and Ethel Maud, formerly Horton, who married in 1914.

According to the UK Commonwealth War Graves Memorial Register, he is commemorated at the Chatham Naval Memorial, and there is some indication that he was buried there, rather than at sea. This confirms the date of death as 22 Apr 1940 and says that his ship was HMS Pelican.
According to Wikipedia HMS Pelican was a successful anti-submarine vessel and took part in the Norwegian Campaign [anything but successful!] of Apr – Jun 1940, when she was badly damaged in an air raid off Narvik.

According to naval-history dot net, on 22 Apr 1940 she was hit on the quarterdeck during air attack whilst on passage to Romsdalfjord. She sustained major damage, including toal loss of main electrical supply amd was withdrawn from operational duties. On 24 Apr she was taken in tow to Chatham for repair.

The Chatham memorial can be found here (I hope)

Thanks to all for the help, it really is appreciated – you folks are the substance and life of this blog and it wouldn’t be possible without you.

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From the Lichfield Mercury, Friday May 3rd, 1940.

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2 Responses to Able Seaman John Thomas Faunch mystery solved – thanks for your help!

  1. Clive says:

    Nice one Graeme and Andy, another mystery solved.

  2. This is excellent work – so much found from a trail that started with the cutting in a local paper. Thank you very much.

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