Adams, W E

  • Name on memorial: Adams, W E
  • Memorial panel: Centre
  • Full name: Walter Ernest Adams
  • Rank: Able Seaman
  • Service details: C/JX 173051, H.M.S. Curacoa, Royal Navy
  • Age at death: 24
  • Date of death: 02/10/1942
  • Birth place: Brackley
  • Parents: Charles Frederick and Nellie Adams, of Banbury
  • Mother's maiden name: Bloxham
  • Parents' marriage details: Brackley Sep-14
  • Wife: unknown
  • Wife's maiden name: unknown
  • Marriage details: unknown
  • Additional information: On 2 October 1942, HMS Curacoa was escorting the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary carrying nearly 20,000 American troops of the 29th Infantry Division to join the Allied forces in Europe. Both ships were following evasive zigzagging courses about 60 km north of the coast of Ireland when the Queen Mary cut across the path of the Curacoa with insufficient clearance, striking her amidships at a speed of 28 knots and cutting her in two. The Curacoa sank immediately, about 100 yards from the Queen Mary. Due to the risk of U-boat attacks, the Queen Mary did not assist in rescue operations and instead steamed onward with a fractured stem. Hours later, the convoy's lead escort returned to rescue 99 survivors from the Curacoa's crew of 338, including her captain John W. Boutwood. The incident occurred as the result of several factors. The captain of the Queen Mary made the assumption that her escort ship would track her course change and adjust accordingly. Meanwhile, Captain Boutwood on board the Curacoa assumed the standard seafaring rule that an overtaking ship must yield. The resulting convergent courses were reported on board both ships and the Queen Mary's First Officer issued a correction, but both the reports and correction were dismissed by both captains. The loss was not reported until after the war ended, whereupon the Navy immediately pressed charges against the Queen Mary's owners, Cunard White Star Line. The High Court of Justice subsequently ruled mostly in favour of the latter, giving two-thirds of the blame to the Admiralty and one third to Cunard White Star. This ruling would become important in the civil lawsuits subsequently filed against Cunard White Star by relatives of the Curacoa deceased. It also prompted significant revisions in Navy policy, including the suspension of escorts for passenger liners (Source: Wikipedia).

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