Captain died in final ship torpedoed

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Lt-Cdr-James-Fulton-wA HELENSBURGH man commanded and died in the last British warship to be sunk in the European and Arctic theatres in World War Two.

Lieutenant Commander James Vaudalle Fulton RNVR, who had previously commanded the destroyer HMS Brighton, was the captain of HMS Goodall, K479, a lend lease 1,430 ton Captain class American frigate commissioned in 1943.

Built at the Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., she was originally intended to be named for US Navy service as the USS Reybold, DE-275.

Renamed HMS Goodall and commissioned on October 4 1943, she was assigned to convoy duties to and from Russia under his command, and completed these duties despite the harsh, freezing, dangerous sailing conditions that claimed so many other ships.

In April 1945 Lt Cdr Fulton, who had lost his brother, Major Robin Waterson Fulton, Royal Artillery, killed in action in North Africa on April 12 1943, was looking forward to some shore leave after escorting Convoy RA-66 from the Kola Inlet in the Barents Sea, near Murmansk in north west Russia, to the safe waters of Loch Ewe.

But this turned out to be the last convoy of the war to be attacked, and early on April 29 he managed to avoid a deadly Gnat torpedo fired at HMS Goodall by U-968, commanded by U-Boat ace and Knight’s Cross holder Oberleutnant Westphalen.

Sadly, after dodging U-968’s torpedo an hour earlier, tragedy struck the crew aboard HMS Goodall.

At 10pm U-286, commanded by 35 year-old Oberleutnant Willi Dietrich, fired a torpedo at the frigate, causing its ammunition magazine to blow up.

The captain was killed with 111 other members of the crew, and there were 44 survivors.

Other warships in the convoy, HMS Cotton, Loch Insh and Anquilla, then homed in on U-286, dropping depth charges, and all 51 submariners aboard died.

It was the second time the submarine had sunk. In 1944 it sank after colliding with U-1013 and was salvaged, and so was able to fulfil its destiny with HMS Goodall as one of the last U-boats to be destroyed in service during the last attack on a British convoy.

HMS-Goodall-wDespite having its front blown away, HMS Goodall (pictured) remained afloat, only to be scuttled by gunfire from HMS Anquilla.

Lt Cdr Fulton was posthumously mentioned in despatches for his bravery and skill in convoy duties.

U-968 survived the war, surrendering on May 9 1945, and was destroyed in Loch Ryan ten days later as part of Operation Deadlight.

Lt Cdr Fulton, who was born in Greenock in 1909, married Brenda Alison Neill in Greenock in 1939. They had two daughters, Aileen and Patricia, and a son Robin.

Before he was killed the family moved to Helensburgh, living first in Kilmory, West Montrose Street. Later Mrs Fulton and her children moved to Crossways, Charlotte Street.

Lt Cdr Fulton is commemorated on the Skelmorlie War Memorial, close to the train station and ferry terminal. His widow died in Leith, Edinburgh, in 2009 at the age of 94.