Firstly, Bob Appleton, actually served on HMs/m Tempest (one of five surviving crew members alive to day) with Eric, AND has become a very dear friend.
Bob agrees totally with Charles Anscomb's book, submariner, and the story of TEMPEST's fateful patrol, as it is written. Bob was among the first group of submariners to leave TEMPEST, here Bob explains in further detail the events from the shout of "Abandon ship!"
"As we were surfacing, the Captain said, 'Abandon Ship' and prepared to climb the conning tower ladder. The gunlayer - I think it was young Hugh Pritchard - stood on the gun tower ladder ready to open the gun tower hatch. George Milward was behind him and I was as close to the gun tower ladder as I could get! As soon as we broke surface, the gunlayer opened the hatch and water poured down into the boat. I was knocked off my feet by it and George had to hang on for his life.
"I scrambled back to the ladder and started to climb up it. As I looked upwards to daylight, I could see Pritchard on the gun, looking downwards screaming out for 'AMMO!!' To everyone else, 'Abandon Ship' meant abandon ship, or, go for your life! Sadly, Pritchard, whilst carrying out a brave move, did so without authority, without support and without ammo. The saddest thing was that, whilst yelling for ammo, he started to train TEMPEST's gun on the enemy ship.
"That is when they opened fire. More in self defence I guess. One of the first to be hit was Pritchard who was killed outright. Naturally, enemy was not to know the gun was harmless and kept firing killing several men as they scrambled over onto the casing and the saddle tanks. Quite a number of men came out of the boat the same way (via the gun tower) onto the saddle tanks where we lingered a bit, sheltered from the enemy by the conning and the gun towers, before we slid into the (bl**dy) cold and quite rough sea.
"It's possible that the gun tower hatch was opened before the conning tower hatch therefore letting the sea in, an it's possible that the gun being trained onto the CIRCE as the first heads appeared on the bridge at the top of the conning tower. Hence the early killings.
"I can remember when arriving on the gun tower, having a brief look at the CIRCE, then a quick look forward before clambering down the outside of the tower. The forward hydroplanes were sort of screwed up as though they had been grabbed in a giant fist. Caused by the fury of the depth charges I guessed. No wonder we had difficulty in surfacing and even maintaining an even depth during the attack. The noise was deafening as shots hit the boat.
"Once in the water, we collected in groups to gather our thoughts and to prevent anyone drifting away. Strategy was discussed and instructions passed to those unsure of how to handle their DSEA sets."
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