H. M. Submarines Seraph, Thorough and Truant.

4 Mar

In 1949 I attended the Walney Island secondary school. The houses of the school were split into three, the Seraph, Thorough and the house my sister, brother and I were in, Truant. These were three submarines that were launched at Barrow-in-Furness Shipbuilding yard at the start of World War Two. All pupils and teachers of the school were very proud to be associated with these submarines and their brave crews.
Seraph was one of the third batch of S-class submarines, built by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness. Launched on 25 October 1941 and commissioned on 27 June 1942. I have to mention too build these Submarines in such a short time indeed speaks so highly of the Barrow-in-Furness workforce. The Seraph sailed on many dangerous patrols, but is most remembered for Operation Mincemeat. This operation was carried out to fool the Germans that there would be an invasion of Greece and Sardinia not Sicily. The Seraph set sail in April 1943 carrying the corpse of a dressed up Royal Marine officer packed in a sealed canister of dry ice, attached to the wrist of the corpse, was a briefcase containing fake documents to fool the Germans. In the early hours of 30 April Seraph surfaced off the coast of Spain, near the port of Huelva. The Skipper Lt Jewell and his officers removed the corpse from the canister and launched the body and briefcase into the sea. Lt Jewell then radioed back to headquarters the signal “MINCEMEAT completed.” The body was picked up by the Spanish, who decided it was a courier killed in an aircraft accident. The false documents were passed to the Germans and led them to divert forces from the defence of Sicily and the rest is history. The Seraph remained in active service throughout the war. In 1955 she was fitted with armour plating and used as a torpedo target boat. She was attached to a squadron commanded by none other than her first skipper, now Captain Jewell. She remained in commission until 25 October 1962, 21 years to the day after her launching and was scrapped.
The Submarine HMS Thorough was in the third group of the of T Class submarines being built by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness. She was built and launched on 30 October 1943, commissioned for service on the 1st March 1944. The Thorough served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank twenty seven Japanese sailing vessels, seven coasters, a small Japanese vessel, a Japanese barge, a small Japanese gunboat, a Japanese trawler, and the Malaysian sailing vessel Palange. In August 1945, along with HMS Taciturn attacked Japanese shipping and shore targets off North Bali. The Thorough sank a Japanese coaster and a sailing vessel with gunfire. The Thorough survived the war and continued in service with the Navy, until finally being scrapped at Dunston on Tyne on 29 June 1962.
The Submarine HMS Truant was a T-class Submarine of the Royal Navy She was laid down by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness, launched on the 5 May 1939 and Commissioned on October 1st 1939. The Truant had a very active service in many theatres of the war, in home waters, the Mediterranean and Pacific Far East. The Truant’s first victory was when she torpedoed the German light cruiser Karlsuhe off Norway. The ship was so disabled that a German motor torpedo boat had to sink it. Later after many operations the Truant was sent to the Mediterranean theatre of war in the mid 1940’s. During the assignment in the Mediterranean, Truant went on to sink a number of enemy ships, including the Italian merchants Providenza, Sebastiano Bianchi and the Multedo. Also two oil tankers were sunk by the Truant’s torpedoes, the Bonzo and Meteor. The Truant was not finished there; she also sunk the Italian auxiliary submarine chaser Vanna and the Italian Cargo ship Bengasi. That was some record for such a gallant submarine as the Truant.
After her gallant service in the Mediterranean the Truant was sent on operations in the Far East in late 1942, to disrupt and sink Japanese shipping. She torpedoed and sunk the Japanese Merchant cargo ships Yae Maru and Sunshei Maru. Also with torpedoes, the Truant sent to the bottom the Japanese Army cargo ship Tamon Maru. With many more exploits the Truant survived the war and was sold for scrap. During December 1946 whilst en- route to the ship breakers, true to her name the Truant broke loose her cables and was wrecked.
Walney Modern Secondary School has now been demolished. As you the reader will certainly understand, all ex-pupils who were members of the houses Seraph, Thorough and Truant were very proud pupils indeed. I know because I was one of those proud pupils.

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