War dead Male Born 27/2/1920 Died 24/2/1941
Alfred John Clewer was born on 27 February 1920 in Shoreditch, the only child of Alfred William Clewer (1876-1963) and his second wife Selina Clewer née Riches (1882-1971).
Electoral registers from 1920 list his parents as living at 22 Taplow Street, Hoxton, and they were still shown there on the 1939 England and Wales Register.
He joined the Royal Navy and was rated as an Ordinary Seaman, service number P/JX 206661. He was serving aboard HMS Manistee, a steam merchant ship that in September 1940 had been requisitioned from Elders and Fyffes Ltd to be used as an Ocean Boarding Vessel that was armed with two 6 inch guns, one 12 pounder gun and one AA gun.
At 22.42 hours on 23 February 1941, the German submarine U-107 fired a spread of two torpedoes at HMS Manistee south of Iceland and scored a hit in the engine room. The ship had escorted convoy OB-288 until it was dispersed at 21.00 hours the same day. She was also attacked by the Italian submarine Bianchi, which fired a torpedo at 22.56 hours claiming a hit in the stern from a distance of 600 metres and which then proceeded to chase other ships of the convoy.
At 22.58 hours, U-107 fired two more torpedoes and a stern torpedo at 23.42 hours all of which missed. The U-boat began a long chase of the zigzagging ship and fired two torpedoes at 07.58 hours on 24 February 1941. One of them hit in the stern and caused the ship to sink. HMS Churchill was ordered to search for survivors, but found none. The commander, 18 officers and 122 ratings were all lost. He was aged 20 years.
As he has no grave, he is commemorated on Column 2 of Panel 50 at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Clarence Parade, Southsea, Hampshire and is also recorded in the London Borough of Islington's Book of Remembrance.