Sydney Norman Black

Signalman, H.M.S. Odyssey, O/P on S.S. Fort Pelly
Service number D/JX 173752
Died 20 Jul 1943
Commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial
Age 23

Sidney was born on 3 September 1919 in Brixton, London to Romania born father Hyman, a fancy goods shopkeeper who served in the Rifle Brigade in WW1, and Anne nee Shafron.

Sidney enlisted into the Navy at the outbreak of war and served for a year on the ship H.M.S. Bonaventure. He was rescued when the ship was torpedoed by the Italians. At about 02:55 on the morning of 31 March 1941, Bonaventure was hit amidships on the starboard side by two torpedoes fired by the Italian submarine Ambra south of Crete with the loss of 138 of her 480 crew. 310 survivors were rescued by Hereward and the Australian destroyer Stuart.

Two years later, Sidney was based at HMS Odyssey, a land base at the Collingwood Hotel in Ilfracombe. The hotel was taken over by the Royal Navy in 1943 and handed back to civilian life in 1946. Sidney was listed as a passenger on the S.S. Fort Pelly, an ammunition ship, in 1943. On July 20th, 1943, Fort Pelly was bombed in an air attack at Augusta, Sicily. Her ammunition cargo exploded and 40 men were killed.