Urmston WW2 

John Edward Sunter

Rank:CorporalNumber:PO/X 1412
Ship/Rgn/Sqn No:Royal Marines
Name of Rgt or Ship:H.M.S. Dunedin
Country of burial:Lost at Sea
Cemetery or Memorial:Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Town Memorial:Not Listed
Extra Information:
Born in 1915, the son of William James & Susan Maria Sunter (nee

In 1911 his parents resided at 43 Moorside Road Flixton.    His father was
then a retired Fireman, born: 1857 in Yorkshire.  His mother was born: 1870
in Tregynon Montgomeryshire.

Married Grace Emma Bradbury during the December quarter 1939 in the Barton
on Irwell R.D. - ref: 8c/1671.

He served with the Royal Marines on board the cruiser HMS Dunedin. On
Monday, 24th September the Dunedin was sunk by a German submarine U-124,
off Pernambuco. Over 300 lives were lost including John (aged 26). He is
commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire. He was the son of
William James and Susan Marie Sunter and was the husband of Grace Emma
Sunter of Salford. 

In November 1941, the Admiralty learned from decrypted Enigma messages that
the German armed merchant raider Atlantis and the supply ship Python were
operating in the South Atlantic and ordered the three cruisers HMS
Devonshire, HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Dunedin to track them down
independently. On 22nd November, HMS Devonshire encountered the Atlantis,
while it was refuelling a U-boat, U-126, north of Ascension Island. The
raider scuttled herself and the U-boat was not able to attack the cruiser,
but then started a rescue operation for the survivors. Two days later the
survivors were transferred to the Python, which was then ordered to refuel

In the afternoon on the same day, U-124, on her way to the rendezvous,
sighted the unescorted HMS Dunedin, steaming a zigzag pattern at 17 knots
east of St Paul´s Rock. The U-boat raced ahead of the ship´s path and
dived for a submerged attack. The lookouts on the cruiser saw the periscope
at 2.50pm and changed course to chase the U-boat, but the course of the
U-boat was misinterpreted so HMS Dunedin turned away. The approaching
U-boat suddenly came to the surface for a brief moment, but remained
unseen. The forward hydroplanes jammed and they had trouble getting the
boat under control. They spotted the Dunedin at a range of over three
miles, which was now well past the range for a favourable attack, however
the U-boar commander decided to fire a spread of three torpedoes. Just
before 3.30pm two torpedoes struck the cruiser, which rolled first to port
then to starboard before sinking stern first after 17 minutes. The first
torpedo struck amidships and wrecked the main wireless station. The second
torpedo struck further aft, probably near the officers’ quarters,
dismounting the after 6 inch gun and blowing away the starboard screw.
About 250 survivors managed to leave the ship by jumping overboard and
rescued themselves using seven Carley floats and floating debris. The
U-boat surfaced and circled the survivors for about ten minutes but then
left. Three days after the sinking the American steam merchant Nishmaha
came across the survivors on six floats; only 72 were still alive. Many had
drowned, some died of their injuries, others died of exhaustion and some
were bitten and killed by sharks. Five of the rescued men died before the
merchant ship reached Trinidad, thus only four officers and 63 ratings
survived the sinking. Over 300 men had lost their lives.

Memorials found on:
St. Mary's (Davyhulme)
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