HM Submarine Salmon successfully attacks German cruisers

The German light cruiser Nurnberg

From the Patrol Report of Lieutenant-Commander Edward Bickford, on HM Submarine Salmon:

0945. My First Lieutenant called me to the periscope and I observed enemy forces to the northward, steering to westward at a range of about 12,000 yards. At ten o’clock, by coming up to 28 feet on the gauge, I was able to identify the enemy as two or possibly three heavy ships from the following: Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Admiral Scheer, Graf Van Spee and four cruisers who were two Hipper class, the Leipzig and a Konigsberg class.

1030. Blucher, Leipzig and Hipper, in that order, turned to the south in line ahead. Salmon turned to the westward to attack.

1036. Fired spread salvo at eleven-second firing intervals. At this moment Leipzig was on a 90 degrees track, range 5,000 yards and Hipper appeared slightly out of station on the starboard quarter of Leipzig. I gave their speed as twenty knots, but on further consideration I now think that that was an under-estimation. I fired a spread salvo with point of aim just ahead of Leipzig’s bow with the object of winging two ships rather than sinking one, hoping thus to provoke a fleet action. Went deep and altered course to 90 degrees from firing course at full speed.

1040. Heard a loud explosion and said, ‘That’s the Leipzig.’

1041. Heard two loud explosions which were either hits on the third ship or the commencement of depth charging.
Until this moment I had been attempting to regain trim for a periscope observation, being very heavy forward after firing (I had flooded ‘1’ to keep her down). Now, however, I considered it unwise to return to periscope depth as I was still not under slow speed control. I continued at full speed.

1046. Heard three explosions which were considered to be remainder of the salvo hitting the bottom…

1050. Took evading action… Salmon was subsequently depth charged until noon …

See TNA ADM199/1839

Salmon had hit and damaged the light cruisers Nurnberg and Leipzig, the latter so badly damaged that she was only used as a training ship, even after repairs.

Lieutenant-Commander Edward Bickford was promoted to Commander and awarded the DSO for leading this “epic” patrol.

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