ADRIAN MICHAEL BARRY

Adrian Michael Barry (Franschhoek War Dead, Second World War)

Surgeon Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Killed on active service in HMS Punjabi while on convoy duty

in the North Sea on 1 May 1942. He was 31.

Adrian was born on 2nd. October 1911 at Nourse Mines, Denver, Johannesburg, South Africa.

He was the brother of Nathanial John Merriman Barry, see post on here for family details.

He attended Mount Royal school, Claremont, Cape Province (now Western Province Preparatory School), then Sherborne School (Abbey House) in England, September 1925 – July 1930. He went up to Pembroke College in 1931, Cambridge; Fearnsides Scholar, 1937; Elmore Studentship, 1938; M.B., B. Chir.; double first Pathology (Cantab.); Gold Medallist University College Hospital.

He is Commemorated at:
Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 76, Column 3

Plymouth Naval Memorial commemorates 7,251 sailors of the First World War and 15,933 of the Second World War.

And Sherborne School: War Memorial Staircase; Book of Remembrance; Abbey House roll of honour.

Obituary, ‘The Shirburnian’, July 1942: ‘Dr A.M. Barry (d 1925-30), who was reported missing, presumed killed, on May 1st, was born in Johannesburg, educated at Sherborne and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he took part II at the natural science tripos in 1933. He was elected Foundress Scholar, also holding an E.G. Fearnsides scholarship for research on the organic diseases of the nervous system, and acted as supervisor in pathology before taking his medical degree in 1937.

He was house-physician at Addenbrooke’s, Elmore student at U.C.H. and Walter Dixon student of the R.M.A.

After a short appointment at the R.N. Hospital, Greenwich, he continued his work on nervous diseases at Queen Square, also coaching students at Cambridge.

In 1939, he was appointed to a research lectureship at Witwatersrand University, intending to return to England should hostilities break out, but permission being refused by the South African government he resigned and joined the Royal Navy at Simonstown, serving on ‘Carnarvon Castle’ and ‘King George V’ until at his own urgent request he was transferred to a destroyer.

Barry, writes a medical friend and contemporary, had a keen intellect with a capacity for concentration. He was an exceptionally good teacher, and his contribution to any discussion or meeting he attended was able and apposite. His directness of manner and a certain intolerance of conventional method might have prevented his attaining the highest academic positions, for which he undoubtedly had the ability. Always a diverting companion, his frank laugh and caustic comment were at times disconcerting.

Adrian served on what was then HMS Carnarvon Castle, an Armed Merchant Cruiser, this took part in a severe engagement with a German Armed Merchant Cruiser.

Carnarvon Castle was at Cape Town at the outbreak of the Second World War, and was requisitioned by the Royal Navy on 8 September 1939. She sailed to the naval base at Simonstown and was converted to an armed merchant cruiser.

Commissioned as HMS Carnarvon Castle on 9 October, she sailed into the South Atlantic. On 5 December, she encountered the German auxiliary cruiser Thor and had a five-hour running battle with her. She suffered heavily in the battle, sustaining 27 hits causing 4 dead and 27 wounded. Thor was apparently undamaged in the encounter. Carnarvon Castle put into Montevideo for repairs, and was repaired with steel plate reportedly salvaged from the scuttled German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee (Battle of the River Plate).

HMS Carnarvon Castle, after Engagement with German Auxiiliary Cruiser Raider Thor

German Auxiiliary Cruiser Raider Thor

 

He then transferred to the Battleship HMS King George V and may have taken part in the Hunt for the Bismarck in May 1941.

When the German battleship Bismarck along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen broke out into the Atlantic Ocean, King George V sailed on 22 May with the aircraft carrier Victorious and eleven cruisers and destroyers in support of the cruiser patrols off Iceland. King George V was the flagship of Admiral Sir John Tovey, who commanded the force. King George V was still 300 to 400 miles (480 to 640 km) away on the morning of 24 May, when Prince of Wales and Hood engaged both Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Hood was sunk and Prince of Wales was damaged when taking fire from both Bismarck and Prinz Eugen and forced to retire. Bismarck, although damaged, and Prinz Eugen continued south. See here for full story: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Last_battle_of_the_battleship_Bi…

Adrian then put in (with fatal consequences) a request to transfer to Destroyers and was appointed to HMS Punjabi a Tribal Class destroyer (F21). The primary role, at that time, was convoy protection and this included the harsh environment of the Russian Convoys in the Arctic.

 

HMS Punjabi was deployed on 26 April 1942 as part of the screen providing distant cover for the passage of Convoy PQ-15. They sailed from Hvalfjörður, Iceland on 29 April.

 

On 1 May, she was rammed and sunk in a collision with the battleship HMS King George V in foggy conditions.

While steaming in formation in heavy fog, the lookout on Punjabi reported what he believed to be a mine dead ahead; the captain reflexively (and regrettably) ordered a 15-point emergency turn to port; in so doing, she sailed directly into the path of King George V and was sliced in two by the battleship’s bow. 169 of the ship’s company were rescued from the forward section, and another 40 were picked up from the sea by other escorts, including HMS Marne.

Those crew left in the aft section, which sank very quickly, were killed when her depth charges detonated; 49 of her crew lost their lives in the accident.

She sank directly in the path of the US battleship USS Washington, which had to sail between the halves of the sinking destroyer. Washington suffered slight damage from the detonation of the depth charges.

US battleship USS Washington

King George V sustained serious damage to her bow, and was forced to return to port for repairs. Further investigation revealed no mines in the area, or indeed in any part of the convoy’s eventual path. It is unknown what the lookout actually spotted, if anything.

HMS KING GEORGE V AFTER COLLISION WITH HMS PUNJABI. 17 MAY 1942, GLADSTONE DOCK, LIVERPOOL. HMS KING GEORGE V IN THE DOCK FOR REPAIRS AFTER RETURNING TO THE UNITED KINGDOM FROM ICELAND FOLLOWING HER COLLISION WITH HMS PUNJABI ON 1 MAY 1942. PUNJABI WAS SLICED IN TWO AND LOST. (A 9949) Damage to bows (from below). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143720

He would have received the following medals:

1939 to 1945 Star
Atlantic Star
Arctic Star (This was only approved on 19 December 2012 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War, specifically those who served on the Arctic Convoys north of the Arctic Circle but can be claimed by Next of Kin).
War Medal 1939 to 1945

And thus, we have 2 brothers, from one Franschhoek Family with great links to the history of South Africa and the Cape Colony who died in the Second World War