Royal Navy. Crest of HMs/m Tempest.

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Joining HMs/m Tempest.

JX 113661 Chief Petty Officer T.G.M. Campbell - 1940's


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After a brief spell at HMS DOLPHIN ( This was a training base for submariners, Eric was here for one week), Eric was sent Cammell Laird's large complex at Birkenhead  on 1 October 1941.

                    Crest of HMs/m Tempest.

TEMPEST was a 'T' class submarine, one of the improved submarines of the day.  Capable of carrying seventeen torpedo's feeding eight forward tubes and three aft ones, this, together with a four inch gun, TEMPEST was one of the class 'above' other submarines.

Eric joined other officers (he was Petty Officer then), at Birkenhead and were present when 'the keel was laid' of the TEMPEST, and really watched the submarine take shape and 'grow'.  By being present at this time helped the crew to understand fully how the submarine worked, the layouts of various parts and compartments etc. 

HMS Forth with a brood of submarines.  Copyright has been actively saught to no avail, would the copyright owner contact me direct if need be.When HMs/m TEMPEST was finally completed, the sea trials began - then it was off to Dunoon and to become part of HMS FORTH's (Depot Ship for submarines - seen here on the left ) 'brood' of subs.  It was here the gunnery, torpedo and diving trials and testing was carried out.  Christmas leave was cancelled as TEMPEST had orders to sail for the Mediterranean on 1 January 1942.  At this point, Bob Appleton remembers how well the crew of 62 had become a team in such a short time, everyone knowing their duty and role on board.  (Bob has very kindly put his memories to this web site - click here to read it.)

Just literally hours before sailing, most of the crew were taken were taken off TEMPEST for 'other important duties' and a 'new' crew (very) hastily arrived.  Some even had to jump aboard as TEMPEST  set sail.  Mr Percie Cooke remembers well how the training had gone and HE was one of the crew taken off - despite his plea's to stay on board.  "I even tried hiding, then discussing it with the Captain, but as I had my promotion come through - Navy regulations say you must leave to take command of your new promotion on board another vessel."  Percie went on to say "It was Eddie Fiddes who came along to replace me, an old friend I knew where we served together our first submarine, HMs/m CACHALOT, at the beginning of the war.  It must have been fate that day because Eddie was not among the survivors after the terrible depth-charging. It could so easily have been me."HMS Tempest on the surface.   Copyright has been actively saught to no avail, would the copyright owner contact me direct if need be.

After continuous training of the new crew, and a brief patrol from Gibraltar, HMs/m TEMPEST (picture on the right) sailed for Malta, arriving early February, 1942.  During the night of the 10th February, TEMPEST  sailed for the Gulf of Taranto for a short patrol. 

During the evening of the 11th, TEMPEST  was on the surface charging it's batteries, when smoke appeared coming from the ventilation shaft.  The cause was an oilskin , hung up to dry, had fallen onto an electric fire.  To those unfamiliar with WWII submarines, (as I am!), when charging batteries, the forward part of TEMPEST  was isolated by two water-tight doors.  These compartments become prone to condensation, so an electric fire is left running in there to eradicate any damp preventing rust etc.  It was during a heavy roll of the sea that the oilskin fell onto the fire.

The result of this was that the fire spread to the Asdic dome, burning out the back of the dome and all it's wiring.  Despite the Electrical Artificer trying for over two days to repair it, it was not to be.  Really no blame could be placed on the rating as the seaman was still only partly trained - perhaps if the original crew had remained or taken off earlier...who knows!

With Asdics out of action, the distance and bearing, that is, the accurate location of the enemy, could not be plotted. In effect, a submarine is 'blind'.

Any boredom of continuous repetition of duties were suddenly shattered when the periscope watch-keeping officer spotted a ship on the horizon.  This was about 1,00 p.m, Thursday 12 February, once the captain confirmed the sighting, it was "Action Stations!"  The crew all went about the duties - this was what the training was all about.  Torpedoes were made ready, torpedo tubes were pumped from the Water Round Torpedo compensating tanks into the tubes.  (This action allowed just enough water to fill the tubes by just turning a wheel, and stops the submarine veering off it's path once a torpedo has been fired.)

The sighted ship was thought to have been a steamer of about 6,000 tons, with no escort.  When the captain used the attack periscope, he recognised it was an 'untouchable' - either a neutral or hospital ship.  In fact, records show it was the 8,106 tons LUCANIA 'safe conduct tanker.'  The crew stood down from action stations.

Roughly one hour later, there was an almighty thunderous explosion from outside TEMPEST  - the shock of a detonating warhead which had thrust through the water from close by and slammed past the hull.

Once more "Action Stations!" were in place again, the captain saw the 'untouchable' slowly sinking.  The TEMPEST's neighbouring submarine (later found out to be HMs/m UNA) in the patrol thought it fair game.


Crest of HMs/m Tempest.               



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