Correspondance Between Risdon Beazley Ltd to Lieut C.H. Mashford

28 July, 1954.

Lieut. C.H. Mashford, R.N. (Rtd) 
c/o Admiralty, 

Dear Mashford:

I am writing on behalf of the above-named salvage firm by whom I am employed.

It is our intention to endeavour to salve the moneys and safes in H.M.S “ EDINBURGH”, and we have been informed by the Admiralty that you were serving in her when she was lost.

We would consider it a great favour if you could kindly inform us where the gold was stowed, or anything of interest which would help us in preparing for this operation – i.e. position were vessel sank, damage to ship before sinking, whether aeroplanes were carried, were magazines full of explosives, were ready racks on upper decks full of explosives, were war heads on torpedoes, did she carry depth charges, etc.

The reason I have asked about explosives is that we use quite a lot in salvage work, and naturally care must be taken that we do not put one of our charges anywhere near explosives.

I apologise for troubling you, but it would be much appreciated if you could give us any information.

Yours sincerely,


4 th August, 1954.

Lieut. Comdr. C.H. Mashford, R.N. (Rtd.) 
“ San Remo” 
Vicarage Hill, 
Dartmouth , DEVON.

Dear Mashford: H.M.S. “ EDINBURGH”.

Many thanks for your letter of the 30 th ult.

With reference to your request, I applied to the Admiralty for names of offices who were serving in the above-named ship at the time of her loss an asked permission that I communicate with them in the hope of obtaining the information required to enable us to commence salvage operations.

Admiralty kindly forwarded me the names of Senior officers and officers who they considered would be helpful and advised that if the letters were sent c/o Admiralty they would forward them to the correct addresses.

I have already had replies from Captain Jefferis and Captain Parker, who no doubt you know, and Captain Jefferis mentioned in his letter that you were at that time serving as a Commissioned Gunner and stowed the bullion and would therefore probably be able to give us full details. I should be very grateful if you could give me the information requested in my letter of 28 th July, together with any other points which you think may be of use.

We shall, of course, be pleased to cover any expenses which you may incur in this connection.

Hoping to have the pleasure of meeting you one of these days before finally deciding on this operation, and again thanking you,

I am,

Yours sincerely,


Hand written letter. 
Account of Edinburgh by Lieut. C.H. Mashford, R.N. (Rtd)

Apologies for mistakes made due to misinterpreting hand writing.

9 th August 1954

The ship was sunk by enemy underwater action in the Barents Sea. Actual Lat: and Long: will I imagine be supplied by the Admiralty. Navigating Officer at the time of sinking was Commander Honeywell R.N.

It must be borne in mind that the ship was subjected to two attacks, the second and fatal one two days after the first.

During the interval between attack one and two the ship made some small advance, albeit in circles, towards the Kola Inlet and to …. …. this fact is important when salvage operations are being considered as the Bomb Room wherein Bullion was stowed may have been fractured with the resultant loss of the gold.

Attack one struck the ship with two torpedoes simultaneously, one forward approximating the (2Pdr Pom Pom ? ) magazine which cause damage and some flooding to adjacent compartments, particularly the Seamans Mess Deck and one aft which carried away the Rudder, after propellers and most of the Quarter Deck abaft the Captain’s Cabin. The wreckage gave the ship permanent ….. , hence the advance in circles. The ship’s safe standing outside of the Captain’s Cabin , and to starboard, was clearly visible when we abandoned ship, a glass fronted case of .45 revolvers was adjacent the Ship’s Safe, no ammunition there.

Aircraft and aircraft catapult had been landed at South Shields during the last refit and the ship considerably strengthened hereabouts by heavy type plating (Middle Dock Company South Shields)

All magazines were filled to capacity storage and all Ready Racks on the Upper Deck and Bridge “topped up” prior to sailing from the Kola Inlet. Turret ready sacks were also filled although it is possible that those in B turret are a few rounds short because this turret fired at the enemy destroyers during the second attack. A torpedo from this second attack struck the ship on the Port Side slightly abaft the bridge, or so it seemed, and caused the abandonment of a grand ship.

The Bomb Room which contained 93 boxes of gold had been cleared of explosives when the aircraft was landed. No other explosives whether present at the time when gold was embarked. Gold was placed in the Bomb bays on the starboard side; it was in small wooden boxes. Depth charges were carried and those in the wreckage aft unless exploded by the explosion or depth of water.

Torpedoes, six in number, were primed with warheads and in the torpedo tubes

The last we saw of our ship was the masts thus proving that she sank upright.

Clausentum Yard 
Northam Bridge 


13 th August, 1954

Dear Mashford:

Thank you very much indeed for your letter of the 9 th inst. And for the valuable information contained – this will be most helpful to me when I commence assembling the facts together, and scrutinise the ship’s drawings, in an effort to estimate the amount of damage caused by the torpedoes.

As you say the bullion was sowed in the bomb room, there might be a chance that it is still there. I shall be pleased if you will let me know if you had access to that from the upper deck, and whether one could cut a hole (say 12ft. to 14ft. square) on the upper deck to go straight down through the bowels of the hsip without the interference of any magazines; also, do you know the number of boxes the bullion was stowed in, and roughly the size and weight of them?

I should be very grateful if you could assist me on these further points and with many thanks in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,


Lieut. Comdr. C.H. Mashford, R.N. (Rtd.) 
“ San Remo” 
Vicarage Hill, 
Dartmouth , DEVON.