Royal Navy.            

HMs/m Tempest - 
Catches The Italian Wrath.

Crest of HMs/m Tempest.

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

The is continued from the previous page of HMs/m Tempest - is page two of four.  PLEASE NOTE there are extracts printed below from the book "SUBMARINER" by Charles Anscomb. The Copyright holder has been untraceable - but please contact me if you wish to claim copyright. 

Crest of HMs/m Tempest.                              Crest of HMs/m Tempest.

Once the supposedly 'untouchable' ship had been hit, it was not long before the anti-submarine vessels came out searching for the culprit.  After a short time, all was quiet, although the boats were still in the Gulf, the captain decided to recharge the batteries before continuing the patrol.  It was on these occasions when the crew on watch grabbed the chance to breathe in some fresh air, after the smell of diesel and sweat contained in a confined space.

The Coxswain, Charles (Nutty) Anscomb recalls in his book, 'Submariner', "I was just drifting off for the umpteenth time when the klaxon screeched and shocked me instantly awake. It was 3 a.m. We rushed to action stations.  The lookouts had sighted an enemy destroyer."

The following paragraphs are taken from Anscomb's book as they best describe the actions and life at the time: "We did not dive, although the enemy was fairly close to us.  The captain thought of those above-water tubes and made up his mind on the instant to get an attack in first. We began to manoeuvre for attack. Then the captain must have seen the destroyer suddenly alter course and her gentle bow-wave increase to a furious boiling of white foam rushing in our direction.

"She had seen us and was coming straight at us - to ram.  It was a crash-dive. It had to be. We went down steeply and heard the thumping of his engines. He was on us. My stomach went cold. Then I almost gasped with sudden intense relief as I heard the noise dying away again. He had missed us on the first pass.  Action always gave me an uneasy lurch in the pit of my stomach. I had it now all right. That destroyer was really going for us, no doubt about that. We were in for a very bad time.

"It would be the first time for most of our green ship's company.  Those kids must have had that sick feeling, that thumping heart I knew so well, but if they had they certainly did not show it as they went quietly and smoothly about their jobs like veterans.  Of course, they didn't know what was coming.  Being depth-charged is something which cannot be imagined. It is a terror which has to be experienced.  Any minute now we were going to get it, and when we did it wouldn't be just the distant booming of a formal search. That Eyetie knew exactly where we were. There he is now - on top of us. My heart bumped as I watched the depth gauge, sitting in my action station, at the after-hydroplanes.

"The captain gave an order.  150 feet! I turned the wheel. Rapidly we gained depth. ....I had my eyes on the pointer. It was passing fifty feet. We'd never do it... The dial shook and the pointer danced before my eyes. There was a tremendous, gathering surge of clanging, wheel, hands, brain, dials, deck, bulkhead, deckhead, everything shook  like an earthquake shock as if every atom in the ship's company were splitting.  Then it was dark, nearly all the lights gave out.  Instruments were shattered, wheels locked, glass tinkled over the deck.

"We were still going down. I watched the pointer... 150... 155... 160... 165...  We were out of control.  We fought her, second cox'n Burns and I.  The pointer reached 350 feet. There at last, we steadied her and managed to bring her back to 150 feet. Swiftly the damage reports came in.  Nearly all the instruments and lights throughout the boat had been put out of action.  The fore-hydroplanes and hydrophones were damaged beyond repair. Worst of all, one of the propeller shafts had shifted in its housing.  That accounted for the loud continuous knocking sound we could hear.  We had had trouble with this shaft before leaving England and it had been put right.  Now the depth-charging had thrown it out of true again.

"The boat was trimmed at a hundred and fifty feet and we maintained her level in the stop position with just the slightest movement of the motors or adjustment of the ballast.  All ship's company not actually needed now were told to lie down at their stations and to move as little as possible so as to conserve the limited oxygen supply in the boat and reduce tell-tale noise to try and cheat his hydroplanes.

"That was the only 'evasive action' we could take now.  Asdics and hydrophones were out of action, so we had no means of finding the bearing of our attacker.  We didn't know where he was coming from next and we couldn't dodge what he was throwing at us.  We just had to sit and take what was coming - until he finished us off for good and all.  I began to get that  this can't be happening to me feeling.  So many times I had seen shipmates and chummy ships go out and never return - just, unbelievably, cease to exit, as if atomised into nothing.  'Failed to return from patrol'. That was the official phrase. Wives and mothers sat at home and heard it over the B.B.C. Now  our wives and mothers were going to hear it... 'The Admiralty regret to announce that His Majesty's submarine  Tempest has failed to return from patrol...'  Now it was our turn.

"...after the first pattern had done it's worst my stomach settled down and we carried on as if all this were just a practice run.  There were no more explosions for the moment.  The moments lengthened and still we went free.  After a little while the cook made some tea and cocoa, and this hot brew with biscuits was passed round the boat.  It made us all feel a lot better, even though we could hear that destroyer's engines as he passed and re-passed above us, stalking us still, hour after hour.  But they dropped no more depth-charges. In fact by 7 a.m. we were beginning to have hopes that they had really lost us when we heard engines very close overhead once more and then another series of shattering crashes as a pattern went off right alongside us.  After that they came again and again, dropping pattern on pattern and all of them so close you could smell them.  Dazed and shaken and scared we hung on and hoped against hope.  You couldn't tell where he was coming from until you actually heard him."






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