Of the 12 ‘S’ class submarines in service in 1939, only 3 were to survive the war, HMS Sealion, HMS Seawolf, and HMS Sturgeon. As the losses accumulated the S class became the subject of a defiantly morbid verse in submariners circles, based on a popular nursery rhyme:
I have just been outside. A clear, starry sky. What extra-ordinary people the Germans are, to go on killing one another up to the very last minute and to destroy their country with their own hands.
We were told that the SS man had accused the mayor of cowardice because he had hoisted a white ﬂag. He told him to get up against a wall and was going to shoot him, but then he changed his mind and took him, the Ortsgruppenleiter, the policeman and the parson off to another village. When they got there somebody suddenly shouted, ‘Here come the tanks!’ and they let all four of them go. They came back white as sheets.