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.

POSTSCRIPT 2017

Good evening. My name is David Tall and I was privileged to command the Nuclear Submarine TURBULENT, named after her gallant forebear lost in 1943.

Trafalgar Class Fleet Submarine HMS Turbulent is pictured with the Merlin helicopter from Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans, during an anti-submarine exercise in the Gulf of Oman, 10 July 2011.

You may find the following information useful in your research. If anybody wants to access information relating to a relative who served in submarines then it is best for you to contact the National Museum of the Royal Navy archive team directly using the e mail: Library@nmrn.org.uk

Full Service Records for naval personnel from the WWII era can be obtained from Navy Records at Derby. Request an application form via e mail navysearchpgrc@tnt.co.uk or telephone 01283 227912.

They may ask for proof of identity and relationship and they will make a charge of £30 for this service.

I hope this helps.

I honour and salute those TURBULENTs who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

Good luck in your searches.

David Tall OBE

Captain Royal Navy

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.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Linton biographer August 8, 2017 at 7:20 pm

For one opinion as to the loss look here:
http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3505.html

John Deller May 9, 2017 at 11:09 pm

My Uncle after whom I was named was an AB Torpedoman aboard Turbulent. I have his letters sent to my father in NZ. I visited the Italian Naval Museum La Spezia Italy in 1992 and was given a multipage description of Turbulent,s last mission. They include 3 hypothetical summaries but the most convincing was attacking a mail Steamer Mafaldo off Bastia or Bonfacio Corsica (I need to check that) she was attacked by air and there existed numerous witnesses on the Italian surface vessel.

In 1965 when sailing master on the J Class Cambria in Med., I read newspaper article in Cote D,azur describing a Submarine resting in the opening of the estuary of one of the ports above.Turbulent,s telegraphist was a shipmate of my Uncle, he was George Svenson. George very kindly gave me his own log (diary) which covered all their actions. He survived, going ashore when Uncle John was returning onboard from sick leave in Alexandria accompanied by a young sailor on his first mission.

In 2006/7 a couple of days after a long discussion with my son about the above subject and enroute to an event in our racecar transporter at a stop in Belgium we awoke early on 17th March to extremely strong smell of vomit and like sweat, unbearable and left the accommodation in the big transporter to verify the source of the stench. Outside the air was pure, there was nowhere at this rural stop that such an odour could have emanated. I am satisfied it was a spiritual message giving the date of their fate.

Italian witness aboard the surface vessel said an explosion was noted at 0900 after the dive and flotsam surfaced.I believe the Corsica hypothesy. If any reader wishes to have a copy of the diarium of George Svenson and the Italian Naval Museum report, email me and I will oblige.

My Uncle John was nominated for the Olympics as gymnastic diver which were postponed until later and there are photos of him diving off capital ships mast in port, life cut short at 23. I always have his photo wherever I live.

I respect the efforts of warriors whoever they are but do not feel same about politicians or false politicians. In a letter John told my Father he was giving it his best.

All did their best for what they believed to be a good cause, though the UK is a shadow of its previous image today, important industries sold to aliens, no 40 hour guaranteed week and a fallen value of its previously strong currency.

John Deller
spiceracecars@outlook.com

MISSON March 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

HMS TURBULENT MAY BE SOON CONFIRMED LYING OFF TABARKA TUNISIA.
THE PRELIMINARY IDENTIFICATION IS FROM A SONAR IMAGE.

John caunter May 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Charles Pearce was also on the Turbulent at that time. Shortly after receiving notification missing presumed killed a photo appeared in the Daily Herald of HMS Turbulent birthing in Alexandria harbour after another successful trip . My father rang admiralty in Bath for verification of the situation . Was told the photo was printed to mislead the enemy

Karen Fearby February 6, 2016 at 3:40 am

My grandfather Roy Albert Lyfield served on HMS Turbulent and perished with the crew. I would like to find out any information especially on my grandfather.

Ian Morris June 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

My grandfather Frederick Charles Morris served with commander Linton and died with him on NMS Turbulent in March 1943.Can anyone provide any more information?

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