British Submarines ~ Were They 'All' Such Relics?!

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Steve G, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    :huh: I have a rellie ~ forgive me if I can't recall chapter and verse off the top of my head at this hour ~ but, he served on L69. He was then lost with another 'WW1 vintage' sub' (Could've been another 'L'. I can check 'tomorrow', if need be) which was caught up in a Depth Charge fest, off the coast of Texal, within about twenty four hours of getting there.

    From what sparse details I've yet been able to find and understand, it seems like the old girl was simply unable to evade the 'Trawlers' that showered her till she spewed oil. One man survived. (How? God knows!)

    So this came up tonight, in an on line conversation, with a former RN chap. His opinion was, basically, that guys volunteered, in those days, to serve on Sub's and it wasn't something every man would be keen to step forward for. And that, yes; Much of the sub fleet was pretty aged.

    My broad question is then; What was the craic? Anyone able to give me a potted over view, please? Just so I can better get a handle on why the RN seemed to be putting guys to sea in vessels which most likely would have been scrapped in short order otherwise. Were sub's in such desperately short supply?

  2. Sadsac

    Sadsac Senior Member

    Steve, yes, submarines & destroyers were in desperately short supply.
    The boat you refer to should be HMS/m H.49 lost off TEXEL Island, Holland 18 October, 1940. What was the name of your relative ?? Cannot come up with anyone lost H49 that also served on L69 !! Survivour lucky - yes !!! H boats were good well found boats and well thought of to serve in, but getting a little old (20 years).
    Admiralty wanted them withdrawn from the area of Texel, but CHURCHILL insisted they stay patrolling the area. On loss of H49 they were withdrawn !!!!!!!!!!

  3. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    H49! That's her, Sadsac. Cheers. Yeppers, and my man was Frederick William Goffe - Wood. He's on the casualty list. Stoker, I believe?

    Here he is with his L69 hat on. Poor sod :(

    James S likes this.
  4. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    L69 was scrapped in February 1939 so your relative presumably then transferred to H49. Additionally, for security reasons the cap tally (the band round the hat with the ship's name on it) generally said just HMS or HM S/M during the war, therefore the photo will be pre-war.

    The RN still possessed 9 H class and 3 L class submarines, which had been built in 1918-9, at the outbreak of WWII. Two were lost, the other one being H31 of unknown cause in the Bay of Biscay on 24/12/41
  5. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    Cheers for that, Gibbo. Great bit of insight :)
  6. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    The L and H class subs were a high proportion of those in home waters in 1939. The RN had, according to Warships of World War II by H.T. Lenton and J.J Colledge, 53 operational submarines at the outbreak of war; I have seen slightly higher numbers elsewhere but perhaps they included boats under refit. 26 of these, including all the H and L class boats, were in home waters. Moreover, the 5th Flotilla at Portsmouth included 8 H class, 1 L class and 2 others, with the other H and 2 Ls being amongst the 6 subs of the 6th Flotilla at Blyth. The 2nd Flotilla at Dundee had no WWI vintage boats amongst its 10 subs. Thus, a high proportion of those subs available for operations in the English Channel, Bay of Biscay and North Sea were elderly.

    As Britain built 167 submarines during the war (The World War II Databook by John Ellis), the old ones were eventually relegated to training duties.
  7. Sadsac

    Sadsac Senior Member

    STEVE, find here details of Goffe-Wood ; note that he never SERVED L69. From my records which I will post later you will see. The wearing of the hat was probably lent by shipmate for photo !! Clue - see by the angle of Submarine L69 - wrong - never worn as such (chargable offence) - Submarine L69 would have been to the FORE of the head. Have full list & details of H49 (my father was Coxswain of H49 & lost with her). Have been looking / searching for relations of G.WOOD for 24 years !!!!!
    MORE LATER - please keep `in touch'. DAF

    C PLYMOUTH 4 - 250
    Son of Edmund Thomas and Caroline Goffe-Wood ; husband of Edith Ellen Goffe-Wood, of Tooting, Surrey.
    H.M. Submarine "H.49" was sunk off Texel Island, Holland, by U-J├Ągers 116 (KL W. Kaden), 111, 118.
    There was one survivor of the sinking, Stoker George Oliver, who was rescued and made Prisoner of War. Petty Officer G. Oliver died in 1998.
    DD SM H.49 27.10.40 33
    PLYMOUTH 41 - 1 PLYMOUTH 4 - 250
    dbf likes this.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  9. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    Good god! I'm staggered. Sadsac! That's just amazing :D

    Well, I'm just the acting records clerk in all this, really. But I'll have to get ye onto my cousin. She's in the habit of chatting directly to Fred's daughter! That's where the photo came from.
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    A great story and just shows the power of the internet when used correctly.

  11. Sadsac

    Sadsac Senior Member

    STEVE, find further details of GOFFE-WOOD Submarine Service.
    Note dates of service are ; SC (Spare Crew) 400224 = 24 February 1940 & so on.
    That is date he joined RN / Subs.
    Ships - MAIDSTONE etc Submarine Depot Ships. DOLPHIN was Sub Base, Gosport.
    DD SM H.49 27.10.40 33
    PLYMOUTH 41 - 1 PLYMOUTH 4 - 250
    SC 400224 MOBILISED
    ADDL 400229 DOLPHIN
    SC 400326 CYCLOPS
    SC 400501 MAIDSTONE
    H49 400714 MAIDSTONE
    H49 400912 TITANIA
    DD 181040 AGED 33

    I have been researching H49 since discovery of the wreck of the boat in 1983.
    Please, if they wish, ask your relations to contact me. Will contact you later for reply. Do not wish to cause any concern / distress to any relations. I have managed to contact now 25 0f the relations of crew H49 !! I hav ethe FULL story of the sinking. As I was late in being informed of the finding of wreck (1984) I realised that other crew relations would also like to be informed. I live in March, Cambs.

    SMUDGER (Cookie I presume !!) yes great stuff this & GWF site.
    OWEN, yes, painting / print correct - I commissioned them from the artist.

    Sadsac / Dennis
    Owen likes this.
  12. WoodA&N

    WoodA&N member

    I appreciate that it's more than two years since this post ... but I was amazed to come across it. Frederick William Goffe Wood was my fathers' first cousin. According to a family letter, Frederick was transferred to Submarine Service from HMS Hood. The photo shown here was inscribed to his paternal grandmother.


  13. robin bird

    robin bird Well-Known Member

    I have just come across H49 during recent research into RAF Saul during WW11.please see attached:

    Attached Files:

    • h49.JPG
      File size:
      56.1 KB
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  14. Sadsac

    Sadsac Senior Member

    Robin, thanks for inserting the pic of H49 on the Canal. Please note ; Collett was NOT the captain of H49, but 1st Lt. His father was chairman of the Gloucester Docks Company.
    Regards Sadsac

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