Remembering today - HM Submarine Saracen

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by vitellino, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Remembering today 14 August, the scuttling of HM Submarine Saracen by her Captain Lt. Michael Geoffrey Rawson Lumby, off Bastia, Corsica following fatal depth-charge attacks by the Italian corvettes Minerva and Euterpe.

    A/Stoker P.O. (Ty) Ronald George Ward
    and A.B. James William Dowen lost their lives during 'Abandon ship'.

    Subsequently four other crew members died as prisoners of war :

    James Gordon Hibbert, (by a land mine in unknown circumstances and in an unknown location, on 6 April 1944)
    Ldg.Tel. Victor James Crosby
    (shot by the Germans at Fontana Liri to the north of Cassino, on 12 December 1943)
    Sto.1 William Holt (of influenza in the work camp at Uttendorf, Austria, after having spent time in Dachau and Buchenwald on 1 March 1944)
    Thomas Herbert Barber (during the bombing by the USAAF of a pow train at Allerona in Umbria, on 28 January 1944)

    In addition, having reached safety in the Vatican, A/Sub. Lt. Roy Charlton Elliott was killed when falling from a window on 15 March 1944.

  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    In 2015, when Saracen was discovered, I was dismayed to read the Friday 13th story in the above article, given that our book on Saracen 'Twixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' (pub had come out the previous December and had sought to put the record straight:

    Newspaper article above

    Lt Michael Lumby, captain of the Saracen, deliberately waited a day because he did not want to sink his boat on the 'unlucky' Friday 13. This meant his entire crew staying underwater until 2am on the Saturday before he ordered his chief engineer to open the vents with the submarine's engines still running.

    This is a downright distortion of the truth, according to Lt. Lumby himself and his counterpart, Italian Captain Lt. Mario Baroglio of the 'Minerva'.

    EXERPT FROM Lt. Lumby's report to the Admiralty on the loss of his submarine, dated 13 May 1945 after he returned from Marlag und Milag nord (full version attached)

    Surfaced 8' N.E. of Bastia at about 2300 and patrolled up and down the moon, which was full and bearing south.

    At 0000/14 sighted 2 small objects to the northward. As we were silhouetted against the moon, dived immediately.

    It was thought at the time that these were E-boats. Shortly afterwards two E-boats passed overhead and one disappeared to the southward. At about 0020 loud Asdic impulses were heard from two vessels making slow motor H.E. They obtained contact and maintained it in spite of all manner of depth and course alterations. At 0100 motor H.E. suddenly changed to loud diesel H.E. and I realised that our pursuers were certainly not E-boats. A pattern of 30 to 36 fell very accurately around us while we were at 220 feet. One charge which exploded out of phase with the remainder of the pattern caused the submarine to whip violently.

    Damage did not appear to be any greater than that received the previous patrol and the pattern did not appear to be quite so accurate. However, shortly afterwards. I was informed that the pressure hull in the after ends had split for a length of 4 feet and that the compartment was flooding up rapidly and had been shut off. For the next quarter of an hour depth varied from 100 to 400 feet and every effort was made to trim on main ballast. This was a failure and as H.P.1 air was getting low I decided to surface. On reaching the surface, Saracen was floating very low in the water and the order was given to abandon ship. Shortly afterwards I opened main vents and Saracen sank in very deep water.

    EXCERPT FROM the day book of Lt. Mario Baroglio:

    14 /0046 I start the bombardment and execute 4 volley of 8 bombs, plus two more volleys of 4 bombs each.

    Both reports are held in the Royal Submarine Museum, Gosport.



    Attached Files:

    Chris C, Tricky Dicky and timuk like this.

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