Walter Skett

Walter Leonard Skett

Attended the Wireless College 1936 – 1937. Passed his 2nd Class PMG – certificate No. 5304.

He served as Radio Officer aboard SS Uganda (1937), SS Sea Rambler (1939) and MV British Petrol in 1940.

He was aboard the MV British Petrol when she was stopped and sunk by the German Raider "Widder" on the 13th June 1940. Along with the rest of the crew (except two who were killed in  the action) he was taken as a POW. His family are not sure but assume he was taken on board the Widder arriving at Brest on the 31st October 1940. He was later transported to a prison camp in Germany, Milag Nord. 

His mother was then informed by the Red Cross that he was a POW and she was later advised that he had been shot on the 13th or 14th of May 1942.

They do know from the CWGC records that he is buried at the Becklington War Cemetery where it states he "died" at the age of 23 on the 13th - 14th May 1942 .

His family say that Walter L Skett went through the wireless college in 1937 and a letter advising of his examination success dated 16 April 1937 also contains the following names:

RFW Bufton, AH Cook, MB Glover, HW Hughes, BMK Jennings, BW Lee, TWH   Mellows, (all recorded as passes)

(Some of the letters may be incorrect due to the state of the typewriter  and/or its ribbon making them hard to read).


In the Memorial register of British Radio Officers Killed at Sea 1939 - 1945. Under entry 1355 is the following:

Skett, 1st RO Walter Leonard (23) MV British Petrol 13 May 1942.

Buried Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Germany. The tanker Pritish Petrol, 6891 tons 9B.P. Tankers) Clyde to Trinidad, was intercepted by the Commerce Raider “Widder” (German) on 13th June 1940 and was sunk, the crew being taken prisoner. 

Dennis Heath says (in 2006):-

In February 2004 on behalf of my wife Elvira, I started to use the Internet to try and find out more about Elvira's brother Walter Leonard Skett who had been a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy. 

All we knew was that he had lost his life in Milag Nord a P.O.W. camp for Merchant Seamen, but we did not know how, where or when he had been captured. 

Now nearly two years later thanks to the following Web Sites :-

Billy McGee
The Wireless College (Dave Baker, Naish Kelly and Willie Williamson),
Gabe Thomas
Ahoy Mac's Web Log (Mackenzie J Gregory)
Murray Armstrong (and his father in law (Tachus (Tommy) McNamee's log book) 
and Gordon & Barbara Mumford
 - - - we have a much better understanding!

 Thank you all

Dennis Heath

Part one of a video made by Dennis about Walter L. Skett (part two is more for the family and not included here)