Hatfield Davison Lawton

Hatfield grew up in Cardiff. His Chief Engineer father, who in 1940 went down on the Frederick S Fales, gave him a love of the sea. At Conway, he won the Torr prize for history.

On leaving, he was posted to MV Rowallan Castle, an ammunition and naval supply vessel on the Malta-Alexandria run. During the voyage, they were bombed and the bows damaged but they reached Malta where repairs took place despite heavy air attacks. They left for Alexandria in January 1942. Attacked by air, they made it safely through. In February, they left for Malta as part of Operation MF5, loaded with ammunition. They were heavily damaged during air attacks, and attempts to tow her to Malta were unsuccessful. Due to air attacks and threats from the Italian fleet, they abandoned ship and he was taken aboard the destroyer HMS Lance. The Rowallan Castle was then sunk.

After returning to Alexandria aboard HMS Cleopatra, he was without a posting. However, he did a trip as navigating officer aboard an HM submarine, as the regular navigator had been hospitalised. They operated off the Italian coast and were attacked by an Italian destroyer while firing at a freight train. They managed to dive and remain submerged for some hours while being depth-charged, eventually sneaking away and making it back to Alexandria.

While on Rochester Castle, he took part in the critical Operation Pedestal in August 1942. Having survived heavy bombing attacks, she was damaged by German and Italian torpedo boats, but made it to Malta, the first ship to enter Valetta.

His next ship was Roxburgh Castle in the Atlantic. On 22nd February 1943, after being chased by U-107 for hours, they sank off the Azores and took to the lifeboats. The U-boat surfaced and the commander asked where the Master was Hatfield replied he had last seen him on the bridge and assumed he had gone down with the ship (the Master was in the lifeboat with him). Satisfied, the U-Boat commander gave them chocolates and a compass heading. Later rescued by a Portuguese destroyer, they were interned on St Miguel before being repatriated via Lisbon.

Service Record



Rowallan Castle



Bombed & sunk

Rochester Castle



Roxburgh Castle



Torpedoed & sunk

Sandown Castle

4th Officer

Carnarvon Castle

4th Officer

Llangibby Castle

4th Officer



Arundel Castle

4th Officer


Athlone Castle

2nd Officer






June 2013

Aged 90

Obituary - 2013

He served on the Sandown Castle, then Carnarvon Castle as 4th Officer, carrying troops from the USA to the UK. He transferred to  Llangibby Castle as 4th Officer and was involved in the trooping and landing craft operations during the invasion of Europe. They were heavily damaged in April 1945.

He spent the rest of the war on RMS Arundel Castle, transporting troops to the Far East and Africa. He left her in June 1946 to return to Union Castle. He was awarded the Atlantic Star with bar, the Africa Star and the Malta Cross.

In 1950, he married Grace. By now, he was known as David as his wife hated the nickname Hatty, given him by his seafaring brethren. In 1953, by which time he was 2nd Officer, he left the sea to stay at home in Cape Town. Joining an international printing ink company, he became their lead purchasing manager.

An avid gardener and an expert barbequer, he never lost interest in the sea and especially his pride in Conway. Extremely neat and self-disciplined, he lived by a code of honesty and integrity.

He celebrated his 90th birthday in good health with many friends and his family, including seven grandchildren.

His sudden death in June 2013 came as a shock. He is survived by Grace, a son and two daughters

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