The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1939 to 1945 HMS PETUNIA - Yard No 308 - Flower Class Corvette - Royal Navy - Built 1940

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HMS PETUNIA - Yard No 308 - Flower Class Corvette - Royal Navy - Built 1940

HMS Petunia-Ship-No-308

 HMS PETUNIA a "Flower Class" Corvette.  
Owners   Royal Navy
Registered     Keel Laid    04/12/1939
Type of Ship    Flower Class Corvette Launched    19/09/1940
      Commissioned    13/01/1941
Ship Details          
Length Overall    205' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    190' 0" Weather    
Beam    33' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     17' 6"      
Draught    11' 5"      
G.R.T.    723 tons      
Complement     85 Officers and Men      
Engines    1 X 4-cyl. triple expansion steam engine, 2750 hp      
Props    1      
Speed    16 knots      
Armament     1 X 4" Gun, 2 x 0.50 cal machine gun in twin mounts

2 Lewis .303 cal machine guns in twin mounts, 40 depth charges

Other known names   Transferred to the Chinese Navy in 1946, re-named FU PO     
Current Status   sunk after collision in 1947    
Content on HMS PETUNIA will be added as and when available. 



(Photo credit unknown)


Flower Class Corvettes

Flower Class Corvettes

The ‘ShipCraft’ series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeller through a brief history of the subject class, highlighting differences between sister-ships and changes in their appearance over their careers. This includes paint schemes and camouflage, featuring colour profiles and highly-detailed line drawings and scale plans. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing of the ships, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit. This is followed by an extensive photographic gallery of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and the book concludes with a section on research references - books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.This volume includes all the features of the regular series but the extent has been doubled to include far more detailed drawings of a class of ship that was built in huge numbers and in many variations. Mainstay of the Atlantic battle against the U-boats, Flower class corvettes were used by the British, Canadian, French and US Navies.

Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, in the case of a ship for the Royal Navy this meant she also had to be commissioned as fit for purpose, once commissioned she was then considered ready for action and would take her place in the fleet.

HMS PETUNIA was the third "Flower Class" corvette to be built and launched from the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb. 

HMS PETUNIA was to serve throughout the war and was involved in convoy protection in the North Atlantic and in the warmer waters but no less dangerous of the South Atlantic.

She also took part in the invasion of the European mainland at D-Day, this little ship had many adventures as well and was to end her time with the Chines Nationalist Government in the fight against the Chinese Communists, as FO PU before sinking in a collision in 1947, details of which have been difficult to find. 

We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.



HMS PETUNIA in her camouflage paintwork

(photo credit unknown)




This picture of HMS PETUNIA tied up in dock gives some indication of the amount of hull damage suffered by the ship and the men due to the heavy weather in the North Atlantic.

(photo credit unknown)


Atlantic Escorts

Atlantic Escorts

Winston Churchill famously claimed that the submarine war in the Atlantic was the only campaign of the Second World War that really frightened him. If the lifeline to north America had been cut, Britain would never have survived; there could have been no build-up of US and Commonwealth forces, no D-Day landings, and no victory in western Europe. Furthermore, the battle raged from the first day of the war until the final German surrender, making it the longest and arguably hardest-fought campaign of the whole war. The ships, technology and tactics employed by the Allies form the subject of this book. Beginning with the lessons apparently learned from the First World War, the author outlines inter-war developments in technology and training, and describes the later preparations for the second global conflict. When the war came the balance of advantage was to see-saw between U-boats and escorts, with new weapons and sensors introduced at a rapid rate. For the defending navies, the prime requirement was numbers, and the most pressing problem was to improve capability without sacrificing simplicity and speed of construction. The author analyses the resulting designs of sloops, frigates, corvettes and destroyer escorts and attempts to determine their relative effectiveness.

Tales from the Ship

Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

HMS PETUNIA and her part in helping to save survivors from the sinking of the Liner Empress of Canada during World War II

Empress of Canada, 21,517grt, (Canadian Pacific Ltd) had been sailing independently from Durban to Takoradi and the U.K. on government service, carrying over 1500 passengers including military personnel and Italian PoW's. On the 14th March 1943 the ship was torpedoed in the South Atlantic about 420 miles SSW of Cape Palmas by the Italian submarine Leonardo Da Vinci and sank in position 01' 13S 09' 57W. The ships Captain, 273 crew, 26 DEMS gunners and 1,188 passengers were rescued by the Corvette's HMS Crocus and "HMS PETUNIA", as well as the Destroyer HMS Boreas and the Ocean Boarding Vessel Corinthian and landed in Freetown. 44 crew and 348 passengers were lost.


The following two pictures of some of her crew have been sent into the website by R. Holloway, and shown by kind permission.

The photograph above is believed to have been taken some where in West Africa and shows the father of Richard Holloway standing at the back of this picture, perhaps someone will recognise the other crew members.

This photograph shows Richard's father Peter 3rd from left in the back row.
Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.

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+2 #17 Jonathan Allen 2017-03-15 19:02
I have several photos of the crew in 44 and 45 I think. My father, Cyril Raymond Allen, was an officer. I am happy to scan and send copies of the photos.
0 #16 Linda Jones 2017-02-07 22:34
It may not have been the the same event?
All I know is that he spent several hours in the water and had shrapnel wounds to one leg.
My Father served throughout the war, and talked about Freetown and the places he went during his time in the Navy. I am travelling to Bari where his brother was buried aged 21. A picture of the crew would be great, I would love to see him with his crew mates. I have a picture of him on board in his 'working gear' and if his official naval uniform picture.
0 #15 R Holloway 2017-02-07 16:36
Re torpedos...#14 Linda Jones.

That's curious and interesting Linda because the story I heard was that the torpedoes passed front/behind and underneath. There is the idea that the uboat set the depth too low, having mistook the ship for a much larger vessel.
0 #14 Linda Jones 2017-02-07 11:17
Hello all, just reading about the torpedo hits on the Petunia, my father recalled that to me. He was in the water for many many hours and he had the shrapnel scars to prove it. Brave Brave men also known as 'Our Father's' - My father was an engineer on The Petunia and served his naval time on The Petunia.
0 #13 R Holloway 2017-02-06 20:38
Fu Po means 'rules the waves' or something like that.

Yes, my Grandfather was Norman Palmer - lieutenant. I have a picture I'd be happy to share.

I have some photos too. Anyone know how to upload to this page?
(I have just sent out an e-mail to you to tell you how to upload photographs to the website)
0 #12 David Goldsmith 2017-02-06 19:42
Quoting Charles Henry Jones:
Does anyone have a photo of the crew, I would love to see it and my Father with his fellow crew/friends

Yes, my Grandfather was Norman Palmer - lieutenant. I have a picture I'd be happy to share.
0 #11 Stephen Kentwell 2015-10-07 01:48
The Taiwan Navy Museum link to FUPO (FUBO)ex PETUNIA is here:
The Chinese text can be translated using an internet translation engine such as Google Translate.
0 #10 Charles Henry Jones 2015-05-09 00:30
Does anyone have a photo of the crew, I would love to see it and my Father with his fellow crew/friends
+1 #9 Charles Henry Jones 2015-05-09 00:26
My Father Charles Henry Jones (Charlie) was an Engineer on HMS Petunia and served on her throughout the second world war. He talked a lot about Freetown. He suffered shrapnel wounds and talked about his 21st birthday held on board and getting terribly drunk on Rum. Missed his role call next morning anyone out there heard any stories about him? He said the best sleep was in a hammock. He died in 1991 aged 66. At least he lived to tell the tale unlike many others who perished at sea, God bless them all and may they all Rest In Peace.
+1 #8 ALISTAIR SIM BAIRD 2014-11-18 18:57
Great to see Mathews contribution. Hope you find the photograph of the crew as I am sure we would all to see if we can pick out our relatives. Love the Website.


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