Lieutenant Commander 

Stafford Radcliffe 


Royal Navy

Boat Crest
Died On:
1 August 1940


Stafford White was born in Sherbourne St John, Hampshire, on 3 May 1909, the eldest son of Stafford Charles White (a Stockbroker’s Clerk) & Beatrice Eliza White (née Radcliffe).  He joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet on 15 January 1923.  In June 1927, Midshipman Stafford White (Seniority: 1 May 1927) was serving in the Battleship HMS BENBOW (3rd Battle Squadron, Atlantic Fleet) to which he had been appointed on 3 December 1926.  He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on 16 March 1930 and subsequently qualified as a Submariner.

Appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS LUCIA (2nd Submarine Flotilla) at Devonport ‘for HMS L19 as the Navigating Officer’ on 24 April 1931, he was promoted to Lieutenant on 1 February 1932 and appointed to HMS LUCIA ‘for Submarine L26 as Navigating Officer’ on 15 March 1932.   An appointment to HMS DOLPHIN (5th Submarine Flotilla) ‘for Submarine L53 as the First Lieutenant’ followed on 5 September 1933 and, in January 1935, he is known to have been serving in the Submarine Depot Ship HMS MACKAY (2nd Submarine Flotilla) ‘for Submarine L26 as First Lieutenant’ to which he had been appointed on 8 Feb 34.

He was sent to the Far East on 13 April 1935, when appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS CYCLOPS (4th Submarine Flotilla), at Hong Kong, where he joined HMS OSWALD as the First Lieutenant.  On his return to the UK, he went immediately to HMS DOLPHIN (5th Submarine Flotilla) for the Commanding Officers Qualifying Course (COQC) on 30 January 1937.  On successful completion of the course, he was appointed to HMS H33 in Command’.

Stafford White then returned to the Surface Fleet for ‘Big Ship’ experience with an appointment to the  Battleship HMS RODNEY (Captain E N Syfret, Royal Navy) in the 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet.  Promotion to Lieutenant Commander followed on 1 February 1940.  He returned to Submarines on 13 June 1940, appointed to the Submarine Base HMS ELFIN (6th Submarine Flotilla) at Blyth ‘for Submarines’.  The date of any appointment to HMS NARWHAL has yet to be established with any certainty (or even if there had been one) and his presence onboard remains something of a mystery.

HMS NARWHAL was lost with All Hands when attacked by a Dornier aircraft near Fro Havlet off Norway on 23 July 1940. To date, it has not been possible to establish why he was aboard HMS NARWHAL when sunk as, although he was Command Qualified, he was not the Commanding Officer of that submarine.  It is possible that he was on board for a specific operation, trial, or exercise.

Stafford White of Pakoy, Ellasdale Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex was the husband of Nancy Laurie White (née Ainsworth).  He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial on Panel No 36 Column No 3.


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