Flower Class Corvette – SS Patrol Vessel
Dimensions: 190 long, 33 beam, draught 17.6
Machinery by Ailsa Shipbuilding and North Eastern Marine
Launched by Mrs Patricia de Chair on 6th February 1942, commanded by Lieutenant Commander M.J. Hall DSC, RNR.
Originally names Phlox, HMS Lotus was renamed after the previous HMS Lotus transferred to the Free French Navy.
She worked as an escort for convoys and on one occasion rescued survivors from the SS River Afton which had been torpedoed by a U-boat. Her first U-boat kill was in the Mediterranean in April 1943. This was followed the very next day with a second in conjunction with the “Starwort” and constituted a new Navy record at the time.
She saw service at the siege of Torbruk, worked on the Russian supply run as far north as Murmansk and then headed back to North Africa.
The crew had a bit of a penchant for pets – three eider ducks joined ship in the Arctic and a dog called Abdul from South Africa travelled thousands of miles with the crew. He, unfortunately, met his demise when ashore at Kola Julet where he was run over by the only motor lorry in the area. The crew reportedly measured their days for some time by reckoning how many it was since they had lost poor old Abdul.
Another of the stories about the crew is that they had amongst their number a peace-time classics master who described the sounds of bubbling and explosions from a U-boat breaking up underwater using the word “pompholugopaphlasnasi” which was apparently coined by Aristophanes some 2000 years previously for some other purpose. I have not been able to source this yet, but suspect it was more likely to be a phrase from one of his sayings. If anyone can enlighten me, I would be delighted! Needless to say, the crew member was dubbed “Mr Chips”.
After the war, she was returned to the mercantile fleet as “Southern Lotus”. Tom Hart in “Voices of Leith Dockers – Personal Recollections of Working Lives” recalls the Lotus being bought by Christian Salvesen Ltd to use as a “catcher”, paired with another ship called “Lily”. She was refitted as a buoy tender in 1948, and later served as a whaler until 1963 when she was towed to Melsomvik and laid up.
Records show that at a later stage, December 1966, this fine old lady was sold to Van Heyghen for scrapping in Belgium, but she and the “Southern Briar”, formerly HMS Cyclamen, had other ideas and broke from the tug Temi III off Jutland where they grounded and were wrecked.
Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010