Humphrey Leoline Jenkins DSC, RN
|Born||11 Jun 1903|
|Died||23 Oct 1993||(90)||Malmesbury, Wiltshire|
Retired: 11 Jun 1953
Warship Commands listed for Humphrey Leoline Jenkins, RN
|HMS Larne (ii) (J 274)||Cdr.||Minesweeper||3 Jul 1944||Oct 1944|
|HMS Welfare (J 356)||Cdr.||Minesweeper||16 Oct 1944||19 Mar 1946|
Humphrey Leoline Jenkins decided to join the Navy in 1907 - then only 4 years old. In 1916 at the age of 13 he interviewed for the Navy joining the RNC Osborne in Jan 1917 and a year later he went to RNC Dartmouth.
In 1921 - Jenkins went on spring cruise in HMS CARNARVON. On 15 May joined HMS VALIANT as a Midshipman. During this time he wrote up a detailed and well illustrated log which has been copied by the Imperial War Museum. Became a keen oarsman and won several trophies. He was sent to HMS Viceroy for destroyer training in 1922 before returning to HMS Valiant in the Home Fleet. Jenkins left HMS Valiant in Oct 1923 and then went to RNC Greenwich for courses. 6 July to HMS SCOTSMAN for the Spithead Review, then to Portsmouth for courses.
On 7 May 1925 Jenkins sailed for China, joined HMS IROQUOIS as a hydrographic surveyor at Hong Kong in June and stayed in her until 7 February 1928. During this period the ship carried out surveying work around the mangrove swamps of Johore between the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore which is joined to the mainland by The Causeway.
In 1926, serving on HMS IROQUOIS, he took part in a survey of reefs in the South China Sea and Jenkins has a shoal, called the ‘Jenkins Patches’ in the North Danger group of reefs, named after him. The position of the North Danger group is 11°25’N, 114°20’E and lies between the Philippines and Vietnam. There were also visits by IROQUOIS to Shanghai.
1932. 25 January went back to Navigation School to qualify for 1st Class ships. 19 March qualified. Posted to HMS BIDEFORD, in the Persian Gulf, and it was on this ship that the agreement was signed to give Imperial Airways the concession for a landing strip at Sharjah on the route to India. 14 November joined HMS Enterprise, an E class cruiser, at Bombay as navigating officer; the ship was part of the East Indies Squadron. The ship was based at Trincomalee in Ceylon and from there the ship sailed all over the Indian. HMS Enterprise came home on 8 June 1934.
On 31 August 1934 Jenkins joined the destroyer HMS Kempenfelt (I 18) (Home Fleet). Went to Aden in September for Abyssinian War and in June 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, HMS Kempenfelt, was involved in the evacuation of the British Embassy staff from Santander on the north coast of Spain. The evacuation was undertaken whilst a Spanish naval ship was bombarding the coast nearby.
On 18 January 1937 Jenkins was appointed navigating officer of the cruiser, HMS Newcastle (76) (Home Fleet) for building and commissioning. 27 July 1939 appointed Navigating Officer of the R class battleship, HMS Revenge (06), and became Commander (Second in Command) in November of that year.
World War Two
In early 1940 Revenge became involved in Operation FISH, the evacuation of the Bank of England gold reserves to Halifax, in Canada, in the face of a possible German invasion. On 3 July the ship was involved in the take-over of the French battleship PARIS and submarine SURCOUF at Plymouth and Jenkins produced the orders for the operation. A leading seaman from Revenge was killed and an able seaman wounded. Two British submarine officers and a Frenchman were killed.
On 8 July 1940 Revenge left Greenock at midnight, together with the cruiser HMS Bonaventure (31), carrying a cargo of gold bullion. At day break they made a rendezvous in the north channel off Scotland with three former liners: the MONARCH OF BERMUDA, the SOBIESKI and BATORY (the latter two being Free Poland ships). Four destroyers served as escorts. Under command of Admiral (later Sir) Ernest Russell Archer, this convoy carried approximately $773 million of gold bullion, plus 299 boxes of securities - a total value of about $1,750,000,000. After about 200 miles the escorts left the convoy on their own and it pushed on steadily westwards across the Atlantic. About three quarters of the way across the BATORY was slowed down by an engine defect and was diverted to St. Johns in Newfoundland escorted by BONAVENTURE. All across the Atlantic Revenge’S eight 15-inch and twelve 6-inch guns, plus her 4-inch anti-aircraft guns were ready for action. On 13 July the three ships arrived in Halifax harbour, shortly followed by BONAVENTURE and BATORY. The gold was then taken by train from Halifax to Montreal where it was stored. Between June and August the Admiralty’s records show that British ships (with a few Canadian and Polish) carried to Canada and the USA gold worth more than $2,556,000,000.
The records show that Revenge herself carried the following amounts of bullion:
October 1939 - Portland to Halifax - £2 million
January 1940 - Plymouth to Halifax - £10 million
June 1940 - Greenock to Halifax - £40 million
July 1940 - Greenock to Halifax - £47 million
August 1940 - Greenock to Halifax - £14.5 million
TOTAL £113.5 million
Despite one hundred and thirty four Allied and neutral ships being sunk in the North Atlantic between June and August not one gold carrying vessel went down. On 20 August 1940 the ship completed fifty thousand miles steaming and two hundred days at sea in the three hundred and fifty one days the war had lasted. Revenge then took part in a bombardment of Cherbourg on the night of 10/11 October which had recently been occupied by the Germans. The ship fired one hundred and twenty tons of high explosive at the city.
Revenge carried the Polish leader, General Sikorski, across the Atlantic between 24 March and 1 April 1941. In May 1941 Revenge was in Halifax when the German battleship Bismarck broke out into the North Atlantic. With her sister ship HMS Ramilles (07), who was on convoy escort, she was ordered to close on the Bismarck however the German ship was sunk before they could make contact much to my father’s relief as Revenge, which was nearly thirty years old, would not have proved much of a match for the new and heavily armed Bismarck. On 14 August Revenge left Halifax for the Indian Ocean on convoy escort duty.
From Freetown HMS Revenge escorted convoy WS10X with elements of 22nd Armoured Brigade (part of 1st Armoured Division) en route from the UK to Egypt via South Africa. The following day, in perfect weather, she was involved in a collision with the SS ORION (Orient Line - 23371 tons). There were no casualties and the collision was caused by an error of judgement by the officer of the watch who permitted the engine room to exercise steering breakdown drill although the ship was in the middle of a convoy of large merchant ships loaded with soldiers. The drill in the engine room went wrong and HMS Revenge went out of control. The proud metal was burned off ORION’s bow at Capetown, the stem was filled with concrete, and ORION was ready for sea in 48 hours. Revenge then escorted convoy WS4B which arrived in South Africa from the UK on 12 December carrying the balance of 2nd Armoured Division, 1st Armoured Brigade and the bulk of 9th Australian Division from the UK to Egypt via the Cape of Good Hope.
Revenge operated with the Eastern Fleet in the scramble off Ceylon in early 1942 when the Japanese raided Colombo and Trincomalee in overwhelming strength. HMS CORNWALL (56), DORSETSHIRE (40) and HERMES (D 95) were sunk and many merchant ships were lost in the Bay of Bengal. The main force of the Eastern Fleet, under Admiral Somerville, was never engaged and HMS Revenge went to Mombasa to get out of the way until reinforcements arrived. He left HMS Revenge in June 1942 and was posted to the Admiralty.
During 1943 Jenkins was in the Admiralty Operations Room in London, as Staff Officer Shipping Plans, on the night that the German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk in the North Sea on 26 December 1943.
In June 1944 Jenkins was involved in dispatching parts of the Mulberry Harbour from Selsey Bill on D Day. He worked from a beach hut which had formerly been one of Queen Victoria’s railway sleeping carriages. The Mulberry Harbour project was set up as part of the D Day landings in France as there was no harbour to land the massive amount of supplies needed to sustain the Allied attack on the Germans in France. Numerous concrete caissons were built and towed across the Channel and sunk off the beaches to make a huge harbour. Many caissons were destroyed in a storm shortly after D Day but they were replaced and there is no doubt that Mulberry was of great assistance to the Allies.
5th Minesweeping Flotilla
On 12 July 1944 he was appointed Senior Officer of the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla (5 MSF) and sailed from Green and Silley Weir’s dock at Tilbury in HMS LARNE (J 274) to Londonderry to take the flotilla to the Mediterranean. HMS LARNE was the only British fleet sweeper to take part in both the invasion of Normandy on D Day, 6 June 1944, (with the 6th Minesweeping Flotilla) and the subsequent invasion of the South of France.
The flotilla assembled at Maddalena in Sardinia and between 12 - 22 August took part in Operation DRAGOON where they came under fire from German shore batteries off the south coast of France, in the Rade d’Hyeres, near the Iles de Porquerolles, whilst mine sweeping prior to the Allied Landings there. For this action Jenkins was awarded the Croix de Guerre (avec Palme). From there the flotilla returned to Maddalena and then sailed on to Malta. On 13 September at short notice they were ordered to mine sweep the Kithera Channel off Greece and cleared the approaches to the ports of Poros and Piraeus and on 30 September 5 MSF took part in Operation EDGEHILL, the occupation of Poros.
Following these operations 5 MSF departed for a refit in Alexandria but no sooner had they arrived there than they were ordered back to Poros to prepare for Operation MANNA - the sweeping of a combined British and Greek fleet into Piraeus. On 15 October his ship, HMS LARNE, was involved in sweeps off Cape Kalouri when she hit a mine which caused a tremendous explosion next to her boiler room and No 1 fuel tank and two of her engine room crew were killed. The leading sweeper, HMS Clinton (J 286), also caught a mine under her bow and stopped, down by the head, with vented steam feathering from her funnel steam pipes. LARNE was towed into Poros Bay and was eventually patched up, as was CLINTON.
Jenkins transferred to HMS SYLVIA (J 382) and the next day to HMS WELFARE (J 356) which he commanded until 19 March 1946. On completion of the operation the flotilla anchored off Piraeus and then sailed for Alexandria where they arrived on 8 November for an overdue boiler clean. On 15 November the flotilla left Alexandria for Khios via the Kinaros Channel arriving at Khios on 18 November. The next day they sailed for Salonika where, after a few days sweeping the area, they moved on to Kavalla where they were involved in an operation against the Greek Communist Partisans, who were known as ELAS. From Kavalla they sailed to Mudros Bay (the principal base for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in World War I) where they joined 12th MSF to sweep mines south of the island of Limnos. From 12 December 1944 - 16 January 1945, as part of ‘Force 58’, they swept off Tenedos Island inside Rabbit Island to the mouth of the Dardenelles for the warships which were shortly to carry the Allied leaders Sir Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt to their meeting with the Russian leader, Josef Stalin, at Yalta.
Between 17 January and 7 February 1945 WELFARE was sent to Malta for a boiler clean and to change a defective winch and she then rejoined 5 MSF at Alexandria for their next operation. They left Alexandria on 24 February for Patras, on the western coast of Greece, to begin sweeping south of Cephalonia Island until 18 March. The next task allocated to the flotilla was to commence widening the Patras swept channel on 22 March until 1st April. On 3 April the flotilla sailed for Ancona, in Italy, on the Adriatic where they joined 19 MSF who were ordered to sweep a channel to Venice and 5 MSF to Trieste. They were helped by the discovery of a German chart in the bilges of a German E boat showing where the German mines had been laid.
From August 1944 until the end of sweeping off Greece in December 1945, 5 MSF accounted for a thousand mines and obstructions and one hundred and thirty eight static cutters. Commander Jenkins left HMS WELFARE in March 1946 and took over as Senior Officer of 12 MSF in HMS FLY and bought that flotilla home to the UK in May 1946. He was next appointed Executive Officer at HMS LOCHINVAR, the mine sweeping base, at Port Edgar on the Firth of Forth.
Apart from the award of the Croix de Guerre for action during Operation DRAGOON he was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1943 for distinguished service (HMS Revenge) and again on 27 March 1945 (5 MSF). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty in operations which led to the clearance of the Aegean and the relief of Greece (1944). He was also awarded a bar to his Distinguished Service Cross for outstanding skill, determination and devotion to duty while serving in HMS WELFARE in command of minesweeping operations in the Adriatic in April and May 1945.
Jenkins said that mine sweeping with 5 MSF was the most enjoyable and rewarding time he had in the Royal Navy. In 1985 he was invited to become the first President of the Algerines Association which was formed by ex-Algerines crew members forty years after the war. The Algerine Class of minesweeper is credited by the Guinness Book of Records as having carried out the fastest sweep - forty nine mines in seventeen minutes.
Jenkins came home from the war in 1946 to his naval postings to Rosyth (Scotland), Portland, Gibraltar and then New Zealand before settling at Staveley, Little Somerford, Wiltshire. In the 1960’s - 70’s he worked for the RN Hydrographic office correcting Admiralty Sailing Directions and in 1985 he became the first President of the Algerine Association, which was formed by many of the ex-servicemen of the Algerine class of minesweepers. In the 1990’s the Association numbered over 2250.
Orginal text kindly provided by his son, Richard Jenkins.
Events related to this officer
Minesweeper HMS Larne (ii) (J 274)
15 Oct 1944
On 15 October 1944, HMS LARNE, Commander Humphrey Leoline Jenkins, was involved in sweeps off Cape Kalouri when she hit a mine which caused a tremendous explosion next to her boiler room and No 1 fuel tank and two of her engine room crew were killed. The leading sweeper, HMS CLINTON, also caught a mine under her bow and stopped, down by the head, with vented steam feathering from her funnel steam pipes. LARNE was towed into Poros Bay and was eventually patched up, as was CLINTON. Comdr. Jenkins transferred to HMS SYLVIA and the next day to HMS WELFARE which he commanded until 19th March 1946. (1)
- Personal communication
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