submarines

Feb

19

1944

Walker gets another U-Boat – U-264 and crew

HMS STARLING, leader of a group of British sloops under the command of Captain Walker.

“U 264″ remained submerged for some time after her contact with the convoy. At about noon on 19th February, she came to a depth of about 20 m. (65 ft.) in order to signal Control. She was then discovered by a group of destroyers which immediately began a prolonged attack. The U-Boat immediately submerged to a greater depth and, taking evasive action, released several S.B.T. charges. She was unable to shake off her pursuers and depth-charges continued to rain down on her.

Feb

12

1944

Troopship Khedive Ismail sunk with 1,296 souls lost

Artists impression of the sinking of the SS Khedive Ismail, copyright unknown.

Survivors and crew went about the ship throwing everything moveable over the side to lighten her. I dumped loads of 4 inch shells from ready use lockers. Both sets of quadruple torpedo tubes were turned outboard by hand and fired to lighten ship. On board Petard, six torpedoes were fired at the Japanese submarine, but they all missed, the seventh was fired by local control and did the trick. It blew the submarine in half; I watched the two halves upend and sink with no survivors.

Feb

9

1944

Captain Walker RN closes in for third kill of the day

HMS Kite (U87) on anti-submarine patrol with the 2nd Escort Group. HMS Kite joins in the depth charge attack and is dwarfed by the column of water which rises six-times her height. Captain Walker's 2nd Escort Group, consisted of the sloops, HMS Starling (U66), Kite, HMS Wild Goose (U45), HMS Magpie (U82) and HMS Woodpecker (U08), with the escort carriers HMS Activity (D94) and HMS Nairana (D05). In January 1944 it left from Liverpool with orders to protect convoys and intercept U-Boats in the Atlantic just southwest of Ireland. By their return in February 1944 they had managed to sink 6 U-boats.

Walker wrote: ‘I was highly tickled by this hedge-hoggery. Complicated instruments are normally deemed essential to score even occasional hits with this weapon; to get two bull’s eyes first shot with someone else’s Hedgehog 1000 yards away was of course a ghastly fluke.’

Dec

16

1943

US Destroyers sink U-boat U-73

The USS Woolsey after her completion in 1942.

The destroyer dropped a pattern of depth-charges which exploded below the U-Boat, inflicting considerable damage. There was water entry forward between the bow torpedo tubes. A sea inlet valve of the Diesel cooling system was fractured causing water to flow into the motor room. “U 73″ lost trim and sank to a depth that was variously estimated to have been between 160 and 230 m. (524.8 and 754.6 ft.).

Nov

19

1943

Captain Cromwell goes down with USS Sculpin

USS Sculpin (SS-191) off San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943, following an overhaul.

Undertaking this patrol prior to the launching of our first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Captain Cromwell, alone of the entire Task Group, possessed secret intelligence information of our submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements and specific attack plans. Constantly vigilant and precise in carrying out his secret orders, he moved his underseas flotilla inexorably forward despite savage opposition and established a line of submarines to southeastward of the main Japanese stronghold at Truk.

Nov

11

1943

Polish submarine sinks German ship in Mediterranean

Polish submarine DZIK, originally British U class submarine P-52, underway in coastal waters.

Two demolition charges were fired with 10-minute fuze, and boarding party hurried on board. At this moment, securing line broke, schooner started to drift away and the last two of the boarding party, including S/Lieutenant Fritz carrying charts, books and signals, had to jump overboard and swim a few yards. Of course, none of the panicky-sighted targets materialised, but now the fuze was set and the chance of a considerable prize was lost.

Sep

23

1943

Another tragic night for Convoys ONS 202 and 18

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Express underway. She was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Gatineau in 1943.

There was a splash and I could hear voices. I looked and there was a freighter [SS Waleha] which had dropped one of its floats, I tried to swim to it but I was too weak, so I hollered at them and they said they were coming. It was good news, I saw a light but it seemed far off, then I heard the sound of a motor boat. I could hear voices but couldn’t see a thing except the light. Then I felt something hit my face and heard somebody say grab the rope. Then I saw the motor boat when it was nearly on top of me.

Sep

22

1943

X craft – midget submarine – attack on the Tirpitz

X-Craft 25 underway in Loch Striven, near Rothesay with Lieut J E Smart, RNVR, the Commanding Officer on deck by the conning tower.

We actually hit the target’s side obliquely at twenty feet and slid underneath, swinging our fore-and-aft line to the line of her keel. The first charge was let go – as I estimated, under the Tirpitz’s bridge – and X7 was taken about 200 feet astern to drop the other charge under the after turrets. The time was 0720. It was just as we were letting go the second charge that we heard the first signs of enemy counter-attack – but, oddly enough, we were wrong in assuming they were meant for us.

Sep

2

1943

Shot down off Spain and ‘In the drink’

Catalina Mark I, Z2147 ‘AX-L’, of No. 202 Squadron RAF based at Gibraltar, in flight approaching Europa Point on returning from an anti-submarine patrol. While serving with the Squadron, Z2147 was credited with nine successful attacks on enemy submarines.

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.

Aug

21

1943

HMS Storm becomes a submarine

An early image of HMS Storm, probably taken during her 'working up'.

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.