January 30, 2016

Dyer, Edgar

Service number: 1548941 | Rank: Gunner| Regiment: Royal Artillery, 4th Maritime Regiment

Died, May 20, 1941.
Remembered at PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL, Devon, UK. Panel 62, Column 2.

Aged 35.  Son of John and Annie Maria Dyer, of Brandon, Suffolk.

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT EDGAR …

Edgar’s birth was registered in the spring of 1906.  He appears in the 1911 census as a 5 year old, living at 2 Foster Cottages, Bury Road, Brandon, with his father John (46 years old, flint digger), mother Annie (45 years old, furrier working for Rought’s fur factory), brother William (19, coal labourer), sister Alice (17, general servant to Mrs Murrell), brother Percy (14, errand boy) and Bert (11, school boy).  During the Great War, in 1918, Edgar’s brother Bert was killed in the fields of Flanders, France.  Both men appear on Brandon War Memorial, but in separate World Wars.  Edgar was a well known football player in the town, playing for Brandon Recreation, and had somehow earned the nickname of “Peggy”!

By 1941 Edgar was on active service.  He had joined the Royal Artillery, but was not based on land, instead he was serving on a defensively equipped merchant ship (DEMS) and part of the convoys ferrying important supplies across the Atlantic to the UK.  He would have likely been trained as a gunner to use a machine gun against airborne craft.  In May, he was one of six gunners on the S.S. Norman Monarch, a steam ship built in 1937, in convoy HX-126, sailing toward the UK.  At 4.53am S.S. Norman Monarch was hit by two torpedoes from U-Boat (U-94).  The ship sunk but not before all crew were evacuated without any loss of life.  The men were rescued by S.S.Harpagus, also from the convoy, but after picking up the men the ship was left behind, so set for full steam to catch up.  While she was trying to catch up, at 23.20 that night, she was also sunk by torpedoes from a U-boat (U-109).  Survivors from the sinking of the S.S. Harpagus were later picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer, H.M.S. Burnham.  Sadly of the 48 men who served on the  S.S. Norman Monarch only 22 survived the second sinking.  All six gunners (2x Royal Navy, 4x Royal Artillery) were killed, including Edgar Dyer.