W. C. Bowles killed whilst serving on the HMS Voltaire 09th April 1941

Hi Mac

I came across your brilliant site whilst I was trying to find out information about my Grand-Father who was killed whilst serving on the HMS Voltaire 09th April 1941.

Whilst looking through your site I came across this article:

http://ahoy.tk-jk.net/Letters/HMSVoltaireRollOfHonor.html  and my Grand-Father's name appears on the roll of honour, however his name has been spelt incorrectly and should be spelt Bowles instead of Boles.

I have a very interesting story that my father told me if you would be interested in hearing it, it includes my uncle who was killed on the HMS Culver in January 1942.

Kindest regards 


Thank you for your letter, and your very kind comments about AHOY. It is indeed a joint effort, and I do the writing and research, whilst my Web Master and friend, Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia, does the hard bit
of designing our site, and whipping my scribblings into the form that is presented to all who may stray onto AHOY, and we trust may find something of interest. I will ask Terry to correct the information about your Grandfather, and thank you for that.

Although I do strive for accuracy, I do not always achieve it, merely proving I am often just a fallible individual.

I would love to hear your Uncle's story please, and we will add it to our other pieces on WW2 etc, as time goes on these type of memories will be lost for all time, unless we can ferret them out, and record them for posterity.

Best wishes and regards, 

Hi Mac
I have put together all the details of my Grandfathers story with regards to his family and the Voltaire.  I have also added the  events concerning my Uncle on the Culver and you'll see why when you read it.

I hope you can open Microsoft word documents, but let me know if you can't and I'll send them in another format.

If there is anything you need explaining just mail me.


William Charles Bowles Acting Petty Officer HMS Voltaire

William Charles Bowles wasn’t my real Grandfather! William married my Grandmother Mary in 1937 (see attached photo), at the age of 27. They had known each other since about 1930. My father’s real father walked out on the family when my father was only 7-years-old (1925). My Grandmother was aged 42 when she married William. However, from the moment William and my father (whose name is also William) met they got on really well, and my father took to calling William dad. And always considered him as his dad!  So, I consider him as my Grandfather.

William was in the Royal Navy and he moved Mary and the younger children my Grandmother had from Malta to Swanage England in 1938. My father and his elder brothers remained in Malta as they were old enough to take care of themselves. My father’s sister Rose also moved to Swanage at the same time as she married William’s best friend Harry John Reginald Holt.

William and Harry were as I have already stated best friends and they both served in the Royal Navy on the HMS Coventry (see attached information) until December 1940, when the Coventry was damaged in the eastern Mediterranean.

After the Coventry was damaged, both my Grandfather William and my Uncle Harry were moved to different ships, my Grandfather to the HMS Voltaire (see attached information), and my Uncle to the HMS Culver (see attached information). The Voltaire was a cruise liner before the war, and the Culver was a ship acquired from America and was formally known as the USCG Mendota.

My father told me that his father’s ship put into port in Malta in early 1941, and his dad came to see him and spent some time with him. My dad said that his father told him not to worry about anything, because as soon as the war was over he would take him to England to be near his mother. He said on the night the Voltaire sailed he watched his dads ship sail out of the harbour late at night, and he never saw his father again.

My dad said that about 6/8 weeks after his father’s ship sailed out of Malta, he received a letter from his mother (which my dad still has) stating that she hadn’t heard from William and didn’t know where he was. She said that she had contacted the Navy but they wouldn’t tell her anything due to secrecy. Of course we now know the reason why my Grandmother never heard from him.

The tragic news wasn’t to stop there either, in January 1942 my Grandfather’s best friend (my Uncle) Harry Holt was killed on the HMS Culver, when U-105 torpedoed his ship, with the loss of all hands.

Later in 1942 my dad received word that his mother had died from blood poisoning, and that his two half brothers had been placed into a home by his sister Rose. And my dad has been trying to trace them ever since.

related article to come

Grandma Mary Caruana In Malta & Dads Sister Rose
Grandma Mary Caruana In Malta & Dads Sister Rose

HMS Coventry (D 43)

HMS Culver (Y 87)

HMS Voltaire (F 47)

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