Son of Joseph Frank and Sarah Ellen Hawkins,
of Chippenham, Wiltshire.
At 20.45 hours on 20 Aug, 1944, the British destroyer HMS Keppel got a
contact on her starboard quarter, while escorting the convoy JW-59 in
position 73º01'N, 03º57'E - Grid AB 5456. Together with HMS Kite (U 87)
and a Swordfish aircraft from the British escort carrier HMS Vindex the
U-boat was attacked with hedgehogs and depth charges. They hunted the
U-boat throughout the night with their foxers (Anti Gnat devices)
streamed, but the hunt was fruitless.
At 06.40 hours on 21 August, HMS Kite (Lt.Cdr. Andrew Neil Gillespie
Campbell, RN) had slowed down to 6 knots to clear her foxers, which had
become twisted around one another. At this vulnerable moment, U-344 fired
a spread of three FAT torpedoes at the sloop, misidentified as Dido-class
light cruiser by Pietsch. The ship was struck by two torpedoes on the
starboard side and heeled over to that side immediately. The stern broke
off, floated for a few seconds, then sank in position 73º01'N, 03º57'E.
The bow remained afloat for a minute and then sank at a steep angle. At
07.30 hours, HMS Keppel stopped to pick up survivors, while the British
sloops HMS Peacock and HMS Mermaid screened the rescue operation. Only 14
of the about 60 survivors in the water could be rescued from the ice cold
water, five of them died on board and were later buried at sea.