When we finally got to the surface, all except the skipper and Pat, I suddenly saw daylight and took a deep breath of air. We were appalled to see only one dinghy: the rest had gone down with the aircraft. It wasn’t easy getting seven of us into the two-man dinghy. Our Mae Wests had been riddled and didn’t keep us up. Some could not swim and their wounds made it dicult to hoist them aboard. The sea was rough and we were sick over the side, from swallowing so much salt water. We hadn’t beenin the dinghy more than an hour when we sighted smoke on the horizon. Somebody said, “Surely we’re not saved already,” and started to wave the telescopic flag. The smoke came nearer and we saw the shape of a vessel altering course towards us. We all started talking and cheering like wildfire as we thought we were going to be picked up and saved.
At the next lift of the almost imperceptible swell, the whole of the fore part of the submarine was abruptly under water, the dark shape of her swaying and dissolving into the sea’s amorphous grey, the bow wave dying and only the taut jumping-wire still cutting through the water, but slipping down until it, too, was out of sight. As the surface came gliding steadily up towards me I felt a ridiculous impulse to hold my breath like a man caught on a rock with the rising tide up to his nose.