Capt. F. J. Walker, [Johnny Walker]

Johnny Walker, memorial, Pier Head

Aberdeen Journal, 20 March 1944


Captain F. J. Walker. One of the "kills" is shown in the dramatic pictures below. The sound locators of H.M. sloop Starling have located the enemy. Grim-faced, with a half-eaten sandwich in his hand, Captain Walker takes a bearing for the attack

Greatest ever anti-U-boat cruise

The record patrol, one incident disclosed by pictures above, has been described by the First Lord of the Admiralty as the greatest cruise, perhaps ever undertaken in this war by and escort group.

Admiralty account :-

During six days in the North Atlantic recently, H.M, sloops of the Second Escort Group, under the command of Capt F. J. Walker, C.B, D.SO, destroyed a total of 6 U-boats.

Towards the end of the patrol H.M sloop Woodpecker, Commander H. L. Pryse, was torpedoed and sustained such damage that she had to be taken in tow, first by H.M.S Starling then for 600 miles by the rescue tug Stormkng. Eight days later 40 miles off land the Woodpecker foundered under stress of heavy weather, she went down with her ensign flying. Her entire ships company were safely transferred to other ships a skeleton crew were retained on board until it became necessary to transfer them for their own safety, the last to leave was her Commander H. L. Pryse. The Second Escort Group suffered no casualties during these highly successful actions.

First contact with the enemy was made 300 miles south-west of Ireland. Wild Goose, Lt Comdr D. E. G. Wemyss, detected a U-boat between herself and Magpie, Lt Cmdr R. S. Abram, the two sloops were joined by H.M.S Starling and all three attacked with depth charges. A series of deep underwater explosions brought to the surface oil and wreckage, which included clothing of German manufacture, large pieces of wood and other evidence of the destruction of a U-boat.

Several days later the group joined a homeward bound convoy which was being heavily threatened. Towards nightfall Wild Goose sighted a U-boat diving one mile on the port bow. Starling and Woodpecker closed at speed and the convoy altered course to clear the area of the hunt. Shortly afterwards the periscope of a U-boat broke the surface only 20 yds from the bridge of the Wildgoose. The sloop engaged with gunfire, scoring several hits until the enemy disappeared. Woodpecker now attacked with depth charges. 20 minutes later deep underwater explosions were heard and shortly afterwards starshell fired by H.M.S Starling illuminated much oil and wreckage on the surface of the sea.

Next day H.M.S Kite, Lt Cmdr W. F. R. Segrave, sighted a U-boat emerging from a patch of mist several miles ahead of the convoy. The enemy submerged in a crash dive as the sloop altered course to attack. Magpie joined Kite and both ships continued to harry the U-boat while the convoy steamed safely past. Meanwhile Wild Goose off the convoys starboard bow, detected another U-boat and together with Starling carried out a series of attacks with depth charges. Some time later a deep underwater explosion was heard and a large air bubble and much evidence of destruction was sighted.

Starling and Wild Goose then joined Kite and Magpie in attacking the U-boat which had first been sighted ahead of the convoy. All four ships continued the hunt without ceasing till late in the afternoon watch. Nine hours after the first sighting a final pattern of depth charges fired by Starling brought much wreckage to the surface and established the destruction of the third U-boat.

At daylight the Second Escort Group detached from the convoy and proceeded on patrol. That night Wild Goose detected another U-boat and attacked with depth charges. The explosions were followed by noises of hammering, rending, and exceptionally heavy rumbling deep under the surface. Next day they sighted a patch of oil at least six miles wide, scattered over the area was wooden wreckage, including parts of a U-boats upper deck.

After nearly a week of patrolling the Second Escort Group then joined an east-bound convoy, with which at least one U-boat was known to be in contact. Sweeping in the vicinity Woodpecker made contact with the enemy. Starling joined in the hunt, and at intervals for more than five and a half hours the two sloops carried out a series of attacks.

Shortly after Starling fired her last depth charge the U-boat surfaced nearly a mile away. Starling at once engaged with gunfire, scoring hits with both her inch and smaller armament. The U-boats crew quickly abandoned ship and eight minutes after surfacing the enemy sank stern first. The entire crew of 51 were picked up and made prisoners of war.

The sloops had a rousing welcome as they steamed into Liverpool harbour, hundreds of naval personnel lining the decks of other warships and cheering. Starling with Captain Walker on the bridge was in the lead, her radiogram playing "Down among the Dead Men"

Mr A. V. Alexander told the 800 officers and crew of the ships companies "Well done, jolly well done, Thank you so much. God bless you all." While the hunt was on the War Cabinet sent a signal of congratulations to Capt Walker.

"Chief credit for the sock on the nose for Admiral Doenitz" said Capt Walker, must unquestionably go to Wild Goose. Of the six U-boats destroyed, four were initially detected by the Wild Goose, which also played a major part in their destruction."

13 July 1944

All the Sea His Tomb

"In our hour of need he was a doughty protector of them that sailed the seas on our behalf"

Admiral Sir Max Horton, C-in-C. Western Approaches, paid this tribute yesterday to

Capt. F. J. Walker at the funeral service at Liverpool Cathedral of the Royal Navy's ace U-boat killer.

Admiral Horton, acknowledging from the pulpit Capt. Walker's services to the nation, said, "His heart and his mind extended and expanded to the utmost, tiring of the body even unto death, that he might discover and operate means for saving our ships from the treacherous foes. Truly many were saved because he was not disobedient to his vision. Nor dust nor the light weight of a storm, but all the sea of the western approaches shall be his tomb."

As the coffin was carried out of the Cathedral to be placed on a gun waggon, hundreds of naval officers and ratings formed a guard of honour. A destroyer carried the body to its resting place in the sea.

2 August 1944


Late Plymouth-Born Ace Again Mentioned

Capt. F. J. Walker, the Royal Navy's most successful killer of U-boats, who was a native of Plymouth, but who had made his home at Liverpool, whose death was announced some weeks ago, is mentioned in despatches for "bravery skill and determination in H.M Ships Starling, Wild Goose and Wren, and in anti-U-boat operations" states last nights London Gazette.

Awards in connection with these operations, among the last which Capt Walker undertook before his illness, include three D.S.C's, three D.S.M's and a bar to the D.S.M, to officers and men serving in the famous escort group which he commanded. Capt Walker was four times awarded the D.S.O, and had twice previously been mentioned in despatches.

His eldest son Sub Lieut J. T. R. Walker R.N.V.R was killed on active service in a submarine a year ago.

Aberdeen Journal, 15 October 1946


Battle of the Atlantic Won by Scientists

How an attack by a U-boat on the steamer Rimutaka, which was carrying the Duke and Duchess of Gloucestershire to Australia, was averted at the last moment and the U-boat sunk is told in detail for the first time in "The Battle of the Atlantic" an official account of the struggle against submarine warfare issued by the Admiralty today

On December 16th 1944, the Rimutaka left Liverpool, escorted by the cruiser Euryalus, two destroyers and five frigates. The following night when the Rimutaka and her escort were south of Ireland, zigzagging on a south-westerly course in a heavy sea, H.M.S, Nyasaland one of the escorting frigates, obtained a submerged contact at long range on her asdic, which indicated that there was a U-boat on the Rimutaka's port bow.

The Nyasaland promptly made the alarm signal and the ships turned in the other direction. The frigate remained to attack, the explosion of her depth charges being followed by a violent submerged explosion which lifted the frigate in the water. Large quantities of diesel oil coming to the surface told their own tale.

High tribute is paid to the late Captain F. J. Walker, the foremost U-boat killer of the war, who operated from Liverpool. In the spring: of 1943 Captain Walker, in charge of the second escort group, devised the "creeping attack" as a means of dealing with U-boats which evaded attack by going to the depths of more than 600 feet. By this method the U-boat was stalked at slow speed by a directing ship on the flank keeping constant Asdic touch about 1500 yards and at the same time guiding an attacking ship slowly over the U-boats position.

The Battle of the Atlantic lasted 68 months and was the hardest fought victory in history.

"In truth the Battle of the Atlantic was won by the entire peoples of the United Nations. It was the triumph of right over evil, the calm determination of men and women of many different races, languages and creeds no matter of what personal sacrifice, to prevent the domination and enslavement of the world"

The Germans used U-boats with "consummate strategically skill and flexibility" At one time or another U-boats operated as far afield as Kola inlet in North Russia, the Gulf of St Lawrence, the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean, the coast of Brazil, the west coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.

No fewer than 781 German and 85 Italian U-boats were destroyed during the war by one means or another, an average of nearly thirteen a month.

U-boats sank 2775 British, Allied and neutral merchant ships of about 14,500,000 gross tons, out of the total loss of 4786 vessels of more than 21,000,000 gross tons. Sixty four per cent of the losses through all causes occurred in the North and South Atlantic, and 54 per cent of the total losses in all areas, 2566 ships of more than 11,250,000 gross tons, were British.

The Battle of the Atlantic was primarily a battle of scientists. Asdic and radar were fitted to escort vessels, and in August 1940, Coastal Command Whitleys were fitted with a new type of radar which enabled ships of less than 1500 tons to be located up to 27 miles.

Ships had wired nets as traps for torpedoes. Wellington bombers had searchlights fitted for finding submarines on the surface at night.



Rank, Captain

Date of Death, 9/07/1944 Age 48

Regiment/Service, Royal Navy H.M.S. Starling

Awards, C B, D S O and 3 Bars

Panel Reference Panel 81, Column 1.


Additional Information

Son of Frederic John and Lucy Selina Walker; husband of Jessica Eilleen Ryder Walker, of Buckfast, Devon. Died in hospital in Liverpool, buried at sea from a Western Approaches destroyer.

1911, born Devon Plymouth, aged 14, Royal Naval College Cowes, Isle of Wight

Battle of the Atlantic


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