NZ2121   Able Seaman Clemence (Clem) William Tinney - Royal New Zealand Navy

Clemence (Clem) William Tinney was born in Waverley, South Taranaki on 17th September 1924 the son of
Florence Lily Smith (nee Pilling) and Percy Henry Tinney.

Clem’s grandfather William Tinney was from 1906 till his death Captain Tinney the harbourmaster and pilot to the Patea Harbour Board.[i] 

Both Clem’s father Percy Henry and Uncle Norman Tinney had served in WW1. 33083 Lance Corporal Percy Henry Tinney was wounded in October 1917 while serving with the Wellington Infantry Regiment when he had been blown into a shell hole and partially buried. Suffering shell shock Lance Corporal Tinney was sent back to New Zealand and discharged in
April 1918 as no longer fit for active service.[ii] Percy after leaving the army is listed as a farmer, then running the Patea Railway Refreshment Rooms before moving to Days Bay, Wellington to run a grocery shop. The Tinney family from Day's Bay moved to Gonville, Wanganui where Clem’s parents purchased a grocery business. Clem went to primary school in Gonville area before Wanganui Technical School.

On the outbreak of World War Two,  Clem was too young, at fifteen to join the
2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF) but with his parents permission was
eligible to sign on as a ‘Boy’ to a permanent position with the Royal New Zealand Navy.  
Prior to acceptance Clem moved to New Market, Auckland where he worked at the
Colonial Ammunition Company. On 25 October 1941, aged 16, Clemence William Tinney
signed on with the Royal New Zealand Navy until his 18th birthday[iii]. Clem reported to
the naval training establishment HMNZS Philomel as NZ2121 Boy 2nd Class Tinney. Basic
training was carried out at HMNZS Philomel and HMNZS Tamaki where
NZ2121 Boy 2nd Class Tinney was promoted on 26th April 1941 to Boy 1st Class. On
14th May 1941 Boy 1st Class Tinney was posted to HMS Achilles.  HMS Achilles
was engaged in convoy escort duty in the Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean.
Following the entry of Japan into World War Two HMS Achilles was involved in convoy
duties to support the movement of USA units in the South Pacific.

                                                                                    NZ2121 Ordinary Seaman 

On Boy 1st Class Tinney’s 18th birthday, 17th September 1942 he resigned on with the
RNZN for an additional 12 years and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman (O/S) Tinney. 
In September 1942 His Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Achilles was transferred to New Zealand and
                                                                                           was recommissioned as His Majesty’s New Zealand Ship (HMNZS)                                                                                                         Achilles[iv].

                                                                                            HMNZS Achilles          

                                                                                             On 5th January 1943 HMNZS Achilles was operating with US Task
                                                                                             Force 67 off Guadalcanal, Solomon Island when she was attacked by                                                                                                   four Japanese aircraft. One bomb hit and blew the top of one of the                                                                                                     ships turrets killing 13 sailors. HMNZS Achilles was withdrawn from                                                                                                     active service and sent  for repairs but because of the damage                                                                                                               arrangements were made to move the ship to Portsmouth where the                                                                                                 repairs and a upgrades could  be completed.  While in Portsmouth
O/S Tinney, on 6th June 1943, was promoted to Able Bodies A/B Seaman. The work on HMNZS Achilles was delayed because of a June 1943 dockyard explosion, so members of the Achilles, among them A/B Tinney were drafted in September  1943 to the commissioning of HMNZS Gambia,  prior to crew from the damaged HMNZS Leander arriving to crew the Gambia.

As the Achilles had not been repaired the Admiralty looked to use experienced NZ seamen to crew various British warships. A/B Tinney was posted to the UK training establishment HMS Drake and then with the potential invasion of Occupied Europe to HMS Tattoo on 7th May 1944[v]. HMS Tattoo was part of a
minesweeping force that looked to keep the invasion channels clear
leading up to the D-Day landings then in the push by the Allies from
Normandy until suitable ports could be captured. HMS Tatto was
possible stationed off Gold Beach during the landings and was
subject to a number of attacks by German fighters and bombers.
Three attacks, which all failed, led Clem to recall later ‘he was so
frustrated he threw potatoes at the bombers.’ [vi] In November 1944
A/B Tinney was made a Temporary Leading Seaman on HMS Tattoo.  
T/Leading Seaman Tinney also reflected on the peacefulness at times
‘with a calm sparkling English Channel and clear blue skies but
watching German flying bombs (V1 Doodlebugs) crossing from
German held territories to hit England[vii].                                                            HMS Tattoo 

HMS Tattoo also was also part of the flotilla which late in the war escorted the King of Denmark to Copenhagen then up to sweep for mines in the Norwegian Fjords before ending the war sweeping for mines off the English coast[viii]. Temporary Leading Seaman Tinney remained with HMS Tattoo until November 1945 when he was moved back from England to New Zealand reporting to HMNZS Philomel in December 1945.

With peacetime Temp Leading Seaman’s period of engagement was amended to 6 years and on 7th November 1947 NZ2121 Able Seaman Clemence William Tinney’s period of engagement was completed and he was discharged from the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The 23 year old returned to civilian life and like many ex-servicemen ‘found it  hard to settle down’[ix] trying his hand at
a number of jobs before getting a job with Downers. Clem married Lebon, while in New Plymouth,  the couple later moved to Porirua where 60 Sievers Grove, Porirua East became home. Clem continued to work for Downers, then Domtrac before retiring. Clem later ran PEP Gangs with one project completing all the stone  walls around Pukerua Bay Railway Station.

Clem was well known in Porirua and was given the knick name ‘The Admiral’ by his comrades in the Porirua RSA.

Clem ‘crossed the bar’ on 27th August 1995 and his ashes were scattered at sea.

Thank you to Clem and Lebon’s daughters to access to photos, unpublished letters and oral history.
Clem’s uncle and father both served in the NZEF
33083 Lance Corporal Percy Henry Tinney, 11th Company, 3rd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment
22887 Lance Corporal Norman Tinney, 14th Company, 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
NZ Defence Archives
Wikipedia HMNZS Achilles
National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy
Oral History – Tinney family

Ordinary Seaman Tinney: Tinney family
NZHMS Achilles: Wikipedia
HMS Tattoo: WMThomson – Flicker
'The Admiral' : Tinney family                                 'The Admiral' - Clem Tinney

[i]     Obituary Captain Tinney, 30th October 1930, Patea Mail
[ii]    Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 33083 Lance Corporal Percy Henry Tinney
[iii]   NZ Defence Archives: NZ2121 Able Seaman Clemence William Tinney
[iv]   HMNZS Achilles (70): Wikipedia
[v]    NZ Defence Archives
[vi]   Notes on Anzac Day comments in Evening Post - date unknown
[vii]  Notes on Anzac Day comments in Evening Post - date unknown 
[viii] WMThomson:Flicker (HMS Tatto)
[ix]   Unpublished letter by Clem: Tinney family
HMS Tattoo