HMS Turbulent fails to return

HMS Turbulent was one of the most successful Royal Navy submarines during her short career 1942-43.

HMS Turbulent was one of the most successful Royal Navy submarines during her short career 1942-43.

Portrait of John Wallace Linton, (right) awarded the Victoria Cross: HM Submarine TURBULENT, Mediterranean, 1942-1943. The other officer is unidentified.

Portrait of John Wallace Linton, (right) awarded the Victoria Cross: HM Submarine TURBULENT, Mediterranean, 1942-1943. The other officer is unidentified.

All too often the fate of a lost submarine was never fully discovered. Once on patrol they operated with minimal communication with other ships or their shore base. The only sign that anything was amiss was when a boat failed to return to port on the expected day. So it was with HMS Turbulent, which failed to return on 23 March 1943. She had been, under the command of Commander John Linton, one of the most successful Royal Navy submarines of the whole war.

Commander Linton, and by reflection the crew of HMS Turbulent, were recognised with the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross:

The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross for great valour in command of HM Submarines to Commander John Wallace Linton, DSO, DSC, Royal Navy.

From the outbreak of war until HMS Turbulent’s last patrol, Commander Linton was constantly in command of submarines, and during that time inflicted great damage on the enemy.

He sank one cruiser, one destroyer, one U-boat, twenty-eight supply ships, some 100,000 tons in all, and destroyed three trains by gunfire.

In his last year he spent two hundred and fifty-four days at sea, submerged for nearly half the time, and his ship was hunted thirteen times and had two hundred and fifty depth-charges aimed at her.

His many and brilliant successes were due to his constant activity and skill, and the daring which never failed him when there was an enemy to be attacked.

On one occasion, for instance, in HMS Turbulent, he sighted a convoy of two merchantmen and two destroyers in mist and moonlight. He worked round ahead of the convoy and dived to attack it as it passed through the moon’s rays. On bringing his sights to bear he found himself right ahead of a destroyer.

Yet he held his course ’till the destroyer was almost on top of him, and, when his sights came on the convoy, he fired. His great courage and determination were rewarded. He sank one merchantman and one destroyer outright, and set the other Merchantmen on fire so that she blew up..

The ultimate fate of HMS Turbulent may never be firmly established. The suggestion that she was depth charged on the 12th March are discounted by some authorities because there is no wreck in the vicinity of the attack. It may be more likely that she hit a mine.

Forward view from the conning tower of HMS TRIBUNE running on the surface in Scottish waters. A boat of the same class as HMS Turbulent.

Forward view from the conning tower of HMS TRIBUNE running on the surface in Scottish waters. A boat of the same class as HMS Turbulent.

The Second Coxswain of HMS TRIBUNE, Petty Officer Hedley Charles Woodley, at his diving station on the forward hydroplanes.

The Second Coxswain of HMS TRIBUNE, Petty Officer Hedley Charles Woodley, at his diving station on the forward hydroplanes.

The engine room on board HMS TRIBUNE, the same class as HMS Turbulent.

The engine room on board HMS TRIBUNE, the same class as HMS Turbulent.

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