(19)  Cuthbert Coppinger




19 CUTHBERT COPPINGER


Cuthbert was Richard and Matilda's third son, born 28thApril 1890 in Alverstoke, Hampshire. He also followed his father into the Royal Navy.

Because I found his service record in a different form I am able to include it as follows:



Cuthbert Coppinger D.S.C.

Born 28.04.1890 Alverstoke, Hampshire.

Died 07.09.1973 Ashton, Bishops Waltham, Hampshire.

Service Record.

15.09.1905 Entered RN. One of the last cadets to

join the Britannia.

21.04.1916. 01.1919 Navigating Officer HMS Canterbury (Light cruiser)

07.01.1924 01.1025 Navigating Officer HMS Marlborough

(battleship Mediteranean)

28.09.1926 07.1927 Staff course, RN Staff College, Greenwich, HMS President.

02.12.1929 02.1931 Executive Officer, HMS York (cruiser, Atlantic fleet, commis sioned 06.05.1930)

16.11.1931 06.1933 Staff Officer (Operations) to Vice Admiral commanding 1st Battle Squadron (HMS Revenge battle ship Mediteranean)

01.1934 No appointment listed.

24.04.1934 02.1936 Flag Captain HMS Effingham (cruiser) & Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Commanding Reserve Fleet.

27.05.1936 05.1936 Senior officers' technical course. Portsmouth HMS Victory.

08.06.1936 06.1938 Commanding Officer HMS Capetown

(cruiser) & Senior Naval Officer,North China.

08.1938 10.1938 No appointment listed.

10.10.1938 02.1939 Senior Officers War Course, RN War

College, Greenwich.

11.03.1939 01.02.1941 Captain of the Dockyard and Deputy

Superintendent and King's Harbour

Master, Portsmouth. (HMS Victory)

02.1941 04.1941 No appointment listed.

03.05.1941 03.1942 Commanding Officer, HMS Malaya (battleship)

06.02.1942 28.07.1942 also; Naval ADC to the King.

04.1942 10.1944 Captain Superintendent HM's

Dockyard Alexandria.

10.1944 04.1945 No appointment listed

21.06.1945 04.1946 Commanding officer, HMS King Alfred (training establishments, Hove & Lancing, Sussex)


Promotions.


A/S Lt. 30.04.1910?

S. Lt. 19.12.1910,Seniority 30.04.1910.

Lt. 30.01.1912

Lt. Cdr. 30.01.1920

Cdr. 31.12.1925

Capt. 30.06.1933 (Ret'd 28.07.1942)



Awards;


DSC 15.09.1916. Whilst Navigator on HMS Canterbury at the Battle of Jutland for navigating the ship in the coolest manner from a very exposed position under extremely heavy fire.


Officer, Order of Maritime Merit (France) 12.03.1940; In recognition of valuable services rendered by them in connection with the rescue of survivors from the French steamer “Yolande” when wrecked on the coast of Shantung (China) on the 6thMarch 1938.

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The wording for the award of the order of maritime merit is taken from the London gazette 12thMarch 1940.

The occasion of his being awarded the Distinguished service Cross was during the battle of Jutland when he was Navigating officer on HMS Canterbury

H.M.S. Canterbury is listed as an attached light cruiser mainly for repeating signals between units of the battle fleet and was under the cammand of Captain P.M.R Royds. I have found only the following two specific mentions of the Canterbury.

When HMS Canterburyspotted the muzzle flashes to the southwest, Vice Admiral Hood was informed and his Third Battle Cruiser Squadron began to close, with HMS Chesterracing off to find out more information. Visibility to the west was not good, so HMS Chestercould only pick out a light cruiser and a destroyer, moments later three more light cruisers could be seen. These could easily have been part of Beatty's screen, but at 1738 it became clear that they were Germans, identified as four of the light cruisers belonging to Admiral Franz Hipper's Second Scouting Group which opened up on HMS Chesterat a range of 7,000 yards. In the space of the next fifteen minutes the Frankfurt, Elbing, Pillauand Wiesbadenhit HMS Chesterseventeen times.”

Another mention is made in a comment referring to a Commander Jones which states that “His old comrade, Lieutenant-Commander Barron, rushed up to take him in tow, but he would not hear of the Acasta, which was also badly damaged, being sunk for him, and ordered her to leave him. At this moment Captain P. M. R. Royds in the Canterbury appeared coming up to the rescue from the southeast. By turning to the southward he enticed the cruisers to chase, and for a while the Shark was left in peace.”

His service record shows that, after a period from 02.41. to 04.41 when no appointment was listed, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the battleship HMS Malaya on 3rdMay.1941.

HMS Malaya was in New York Naval Docks after repairs following a torpedo attack during convoy duties off West Africa. The Malaya was the first Royal Navy ship to be repaired in America under a new agreement since America was not at the tme at war with Germany. To get there he and Lieutenant Comander Joseph H Wellings an American Naval Attaché were to travel on HMS Rodney under Captain Frederick H.G. Dalrympole-Hamilton. The Rodney left Britain in the third week of May 1941 sailing to America to have an overdue refit at Boston.

En-route the news came that The Bismark which was known to be in the Atlantic had been lost by HMS Sheffield who had been following her. Among others the Rodney was ordered to join the hunt. The news was also carried that HMS Hood who had a crew of over 1400 had been sunk with the loss of all but three crew members

Captain Dalrymople-Hamilton knew he had two experienced naval tacticians on board and formed a committee with the Commander, the navigator, Coppinger and Wellings while he took the chair. They met in the chartroom 2 or 3 times a day to discuss the route which Bismark would be most likely to take and what action the Rodney should take. They decided Bismark would chose the safety of the German held West coast of France and sailed to put themselves in a position on that route at one point disregarding an order which would have sent them elsewhere.

They did meet and the end result was a major gun battle during which the Rodney and King George V inflicted crippling damage to the Bismark which was then sunk by torpedoes by HMS Dorsetshire. During the battle Coppinger seems to have spent the time on deck At one point so close that the blast from one of the guns lew his steel hat off hitting a signalman. Rodney and K.G.V. now short of fuel set off for Loch Ewe to refuel and repair after which Rodney and her passengers could resume their journey to America..

Commander Coppinger did reach America and took command of HMS Malaya. On 9thJuly, under the command of Captain Cuthbert Coppinger, the battleship left New York on trials and steamed to Halifax, Nova Scotia to provide protection for an urgent fast convoy. On this Atlantic crossing no ships were lost and Malayaarrived on 28thJuly in Rosyth.


Thereafter Malayaescorted convoys from the United Kingdom to Malta and Cape Town until summer 1943 although Coppinger seems to have left it in March 1942.

Commander Coppinger's records show that in addition to a period as Naval ADC to the King he was also Captain Superintendent, HM's Dockyard Alexandria. until October 1944.

After another period when no appointment is listed for 6 months he assumed command of HMS King Alfred training establishment which he continued to wind down until his retirement in April 1946.

In retirement he took what he described as “a most intersting job” that of secretary of the Itchenor Sailing Club in Sussex.

THE MUTINY AT INVERGORDON
by KENNETH EDWARDS
Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy (retired)
Published by Putnams 1937.

The following is an account of an incident which took place during the naval mutiny at Invergordon mainly over 15th - 16th Sept 1931. It was sent to Ian Copingere by Simon Armstrong who came across in the book.

While the liberty-men were returning on board their ships an event occurred which had a profound effect on the course of the mutiny, so far as one ship was concerned, and which served to show how light were the foundations upon which the framework of the mutiny had been reared, compared with the deep-seated loyalty to officers—a loyalty which readily took the form of something amounting almost to hero-worship when occasion arose.

The liberty-men were disembarking from the boats alongside H.M.S. York, one of the cruisers of the Second Cruiser Squadron, when one of the men returning from the shore fell overboard. The tide was sluicing past the ship on the ebb, and there was no time to be lost if the life of the man was to be saved. On the quarter deck of H.M.S. York stood the executive officer of the ship—Commander C. Coppinger, watching with some misgiving the noisy liberty-men climbing out of the boats and up the gangway. He saw the man fall overboard, and without a moment's hesitation he dived overboard to his assistance and supported the man until a boat came down-tide to the rescue.

When the two sodden figures were brought back to the ship the rowdyism of the liberty-men changed to a cheer for their commander. There was no doubt that by his prompt action Commander Coppinger had saved the life of one of his men. The realisation of this fact led to an abrupt revulsion of feeling on the lower deck of that ship. The men felt that if they joined in the projected "collective strike action" they would be letting down an officer for whom they had an intense admiration. From that moment the morale of the ship's company of H.M.S. York rose, and throughout the next two days, when mutiny was raging all around them, they remained almost entirely loyal. The few isolated cases of insubordination which occurred in that ship were quickly quelled by the best of all deterrents—-the opinion of the men themselves.



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