Lloyd Trigg and crew die as they sink U-Boat

A crew of No 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force with a camera, about to emplane on Lockheed Hudson 'K-King' for an anti-submarine patrol, being helped by native workers.

A crew of No 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force with a camera, about to emplane on Lockheed Hudson ‘K-King’ for an anti-submarine patrol, being helped by native workers.

A Lockheed Hudson 'J-Jig' of No 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force, in flight over a coastal region of Gambia.

A Lockheed Hudson ‘J-Jig’ of No 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force, in flight over a coastal region of Gambia.

The Allied improvement in their long range air cover over the main convoy routes proved decisive in winning the Battle of the Atlantic. The German response was improve the anti-aircraft guns on the decks of their U-boats in an attempt to ‘fight back’ against aircraft attacks.

Making an attack on a U-boat found on the surface became an even more dangerous proposition for patrolling aircraft, as one RAF Coastal Command aircraft, piloted by New Zealander Lloyd Trigg, was to discover on the 11th August. This was to prove a fight to the death for both aircraft and U-boat.

Oberleutnant zur See Klemens Schamong, the commander of U-468 was to give the only account of the action for British Naval Intelligence:

We opened deadly fire from our two 20mm cannons and the first salvo at a distance of 2000m set the plane on fire. Despite this, Trigg continued his attack. He did not give up as we thought and hoped. His plane … flew deeper and deeper. We could see our deadly fire piercing through his hull. And when Trigg was almost over us we saw his `ash cans’ coming down on us and (they) exploded and damaged the boat to death.

Portrait of Lloyd Allen Trigg RAF, awarded the Victoria Cross: South Atlantic, 11 August 1943.

Portrait of Lloyd Allen Trigg RAF, awarded the Victoria Cross: South Atlantic, 11 August 1943.

It was only because Klemens Schamong survived the attack and was subsequently taken prisoner that the British learnt of what became of Trigg and his crew. Even more unusually the account was to lead to recognition of Trigg’s bravery.

It was solely on the evidence of Schamong’s testimony that Flying Officer Trigg was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross:

The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: —

Flying Officer Lloyd Allan TRIGG, D.F.C. (N.Z.413515), Royal New Zealand Air Force (missing, believed killed), No. 200 Squadron.

Flying Officer Trigg had rendered outstanding service on convoy escort and antisubmarine duties. He had completed 46 operational sorties and had invariably displayed skill and courage of a very high order. One day in August 1943, Flying Officer Trigg undertook, as captain and pilot, a patrol in a Liberator although he had not previously made any operational sorties in that type of aircraft. After searching for 8 hours a surfaced U-boat was sighted. Flying Officer Trigg immediately prepared to attack.

During the approach, the aircraft received many hits from the submarine’s anti-aircraft guns and burst into flames, which quickly enveloped the tail. The moment was critical. Flying Officer Trigg could have broken off the engagement and made a forced landing in the sea. But if he continued the attack, the aircraft would present a “no deflection” target to deadly accurate anti-aircraft fire, and every second spent in the air would increase the extent and intensity of the flames and diminish his chances of survival.

There could have been no hesitation or doubt in his mind. He maintained his course in spite of the already precarious condition of his aircraft and executed a masterly attack. Skimming over the U-boat at less than 50 feet with anti-aircraft fire entering his opened bomb doors, Flying Officer Trigg dropped his bombs on and around the U-boat where they exploded with devastating effect.

A short distance further on the Liberator dived into the sea with her gallant captain and crew. The U-boat sank within 20 minutes and some of her crew were picked up later in a rubber dinghy that had broken loose from the Liberator.

The Battle of the Atlantic has yielded many fine stories of air attacks on underwater craft, but Flying Officer Trigg’s exploit stands out as an epic of grim determination and high courage. His was the path of duty that leads to glory.

Supplement to London Gazette, 29 October 1943, (dated 2 November 1943)

By August 1943 the Squadron were equipped with Liberators. A Consolidated Liberator GR Mark VI of No. 200 Squadron RAF is marshalled from its dispersal at St Thomas Mount, India, for a maritime patrol.

By August 1943 the Squadron were equipped with Liberators, which they continued when they later transferred to India. A Consolidated Liberator GR Mark VI of No. 200 Squadron RAF is marshalled from its dispersal at St Thomas Mount, India, for a maritime patrol.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor August 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

David

Thanks for pointing that out. It is be important to get it right …

http://muse.aucklandmuseum.com/databases/Cenotaph/20002.detail

Dave Shiraw August 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Can you please reverse Trigg photo as it is reversed. Excellent story.

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