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BRITISH ADMIRALTY REPORTS of WORLD WAR 2

 

HMS KHARTOUM - LOSS DUE TO DEFECTIVE TORPEDO AIR VESSEL, 23rd JUNE 1940

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Khartoum after her launch in February 1939 
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ADM 1/11210

 SECRET

H.M.S. LUCIA

24th June 1940

 

SECRET

 

No. 1570

 

Sir,

I very much regret to report that, as the result of the explosion of a torpedo air vessel, His Majesty's Ship KHARTOUM, under my command, sank in Perim Harbour at 1245 on 23rd June, after a serious fire followed by two heavy explosions.

 

2.  All times given in this report are Zone 3.

 

3.  At 1150, an explosion took place in the starboard wing tube of the after torpedo mounting.  The after body of the torpedo was seen later by Mr. W.J. Collier, Gunner (T), Royal Navy, to be forced back against the rear door, while the circumference of the tube abreast the air vessel was blown right out.  This was verified by Lieutenant Charles Edward Anthony Buckle, and Petty Officer Cyril Horace Heywood, Official number D/J 109856, Torpedo Gunner's Mate.  The air pressure in the torpedo had been taken the previous day.

 

4.  At the same time, the warhead was blown through the officers' galley, cutting the leads from the oil fuel gravity tank on No. 3 Gun Deck, and instantly starting a fire.  The warhead then passed through No. 3 Gun Support, through the power unit of No. 3 Mounting, and out onto the quarterdeck, finishing up against the starboard T.S.D.S. winch.  The warhead did not burst, proving the adequacy of the pistol safety arrangements.

 

5.  The fire spread almost at once throughout the after lobby, with dense smoke, and efforts to flood the after magazine and shellroom were frustrated by flames and smoke.  It is almost certain, however, that the flooding valves in the after lobby were destroyed by the warhead.

 

6,  All the fire extinguishers in the ship were used but with only temporary effect.  The after rising main was shattered by the warhead, while the hose connected to the starboard rising main abaft the searchlight platform was cut right through, the valve jammed open and the hand wheel blown off.  The following hoses were rigged:

 

(a).  From port rising main abaft searchlight platform to No. 3 Gun Dick, where the fire broke out at once.

 

(b).  From the starboard rising main (new hoses) abaft searchlight platform to seat of main fire.

 

(c).  From For'd cabin flat to main fire.

 

(d).  From rising main by port side of funnel.  This was used mostly gear used in efforts to get to the after flooding cabinet.

 

Pressure was not sufficient for more hoses, and indeed, the water had little or no effect in any case.  A further explosion, cause unknown, put the fire main out of action after, and the only available supply was (d) supplied by the 10 ton pump.

 

7.  At the time of the original explosion and immediate outbreak of the fire, His Majesty's Ship under my command was in approximate position seven miles  165 degrees from Perim Hight Light on patrol.  Wind was northwest, force 2, sea 11.  The ship was put stern to wind to reduce the draught, but after thirteen minutes when it reported to me by the Executive Officer that the fire could not be got under control, and that the after magazine and shellroom could not be flooded, I altered course for Perim Harbour at full speed on one boiler and signalled to the Police Station to send boats.  It was thought that the harbour would be reached before the magazine exploded, and preparations were made for throwing overboard in deep water Confidential Books and Secret matter on the bridge and in the Wireless Office, the boilers not being suitable for destruction by fire.  Endeavour was made to send a report by wireless.  One of the main aerials had been blown down and the emergency aerial was rigged.  The message was broadcast twice, but apparently never received.

 

8.  In the meantime, all torpedoes in the for'd mounting were fired to reduce topweight, and ammunition in the for'd guns thrown overboard.  The torpedoes in the after mounting could not be fired as the mounting was jammed.  Warhead pistols were removed.  All the depth charges on the upper deck was let go and thrown overboard with the exception of those against the after screen which could not be approached.

 

9.  I intended to beach the ship in Princes Shoal or further in if possible, but steam failed when passing the entrance to the harbour and electric power very shortly afterwards, thus putting the steering gear out of action.  An appeal by telephone to the never failing engineering department resulted in enough speed to carry the ship close past the buoy and both anchors were let go, and the order given to abandon ship.

 

10.  A very heavy explosion being imminent, I had considered the advisability of entering Perim Harbour, but in view of the small population, I decided to enter was prospects of salvage would thereby be greatly increased.  In fact, although some shells and many heavy fragments landed ashore after the subsequent explosion, I have not heard of any casualties among the population.

 

11.  I also considered means of flooding the after compartments, but no explosives could be got at.  After anchoring the ship, I ordered the rear room to be flooded, the intention being that as it would only flood to the level of the water outside, it would act as a buffer when the explosion took place venting through the searchlight tower.  I definitely decided against flooding the engine room and after boiler room, as experience has shown that this would result in the immediate capsizal of the ship, and negative any prospects of salvage.  I had previously refuses permission to flood No. 1 and No. 2 magazines and shell rooms, but immediately after anchoring, the Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander (E) Allan Collins Reed, Royal Navy, gave orders to flood them, quite correctly in my opinion, as the extent of the subsequent explosion could not be known.

 

12.  The abandoning of the ship was carried out in excellent order, and indeed, throughout, the conduct and bearing of the officers and ship's company was exemplary.  The motor cutter did, however, while being loaded at deck level with Signal Publications, cant over and the steel cabinet with half the W/T books was lost overboard.  The two badly injured, Lieutenant Commander (E) Reed, and Able Seaman J.W. Toms, official number not known  (D/JX 17063) were landed in the motor cutter, which returned for more and picked up men swimming ashore.

 

13.  I regret to report that due to a misunderstanding, the Key Memoranda A and D, and the No. 8 and 10 Small Ship Recyphering Tables, which were securely lashed by 1" line to a box of .303 rifle ammunition ready for throwing overboard in deep water, were lost overboard alongside in about six to seven fathoms.

 

14.  I gave orders to abandon the bridge and for all remaining personnel to muster on the forecastle, when about thirty were left onboard, and of these some ten who could swim were ordered to take to the water.  They also had lifebelts.

 

15.  Shortly after this, at 1245, there was a very heavy explosion aft, presumably No. 3 magazine and I regret to report that J. Thompson, Boy 1c, Official Number unknown (D/SSX 29413) was killed instantly by a heavy fragment which hit in the back of the head while swimming ashore.  His body was recovered later and buried at sea from H.M.S. KANDAHAR.  At the same time, Reginald Casson, Officers' Steward, Official Number unknown (D/LX 20422), was seriously injured on the forecastle by a fragment which passed though his upper leg, cut off half one thumb, and injured his head.  Otherwise only minor cuts were sustained.

 

16.  The ship settled aft and was felt to touch bottom.  I had thought that this would put out the fire, and that further danger was passed.  At about 1259, however, there was an even heavier explosion, either twenty nine depth charges in the warhead magazine or the remaining warheads on deck, or both.  Personnel on the forecastle were thrown several feet in the air, but no injuries of any importance were sustained except by Stanley G. Lace, Able Seaman, official number unknown (D/SSX 26549) on a Carley Float several hundred yards away, who was hit in the back by a small fragment.

 

17. The explosion must have blown off a considerable length of the stern, as the ship settled much more deeply aft, and heeled over about 25 to 30 degrees to port.  Subsequently, as air leaked suddenly from the fore compartments, the bows settled and the ship came on an even keep with No. 2 Gun Deck and the bridges just awash.

 

18.  The ship's company, still in excellent order, were mustered at the Police Barracks by messes, but no further casualties were discovered, and every man volunteered when a working party was called for to return to the ship to salvage valuable gear.  I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the deepest gratitude of myself, my officers, and ship's company for the reception and help accorded by the Police Inspector and his men.  Nothing was too much trouble, and water, tea, and even some clothing was forthcoming the whole time.  Great assistance was also given by the Perim doctor with his limited facilities.

 

19.  The Police Inspector had already reported by W/T that the ship was on fire in the harbour, and I made an amplifying report in code.  Communication was, however, very difficult, and aircraft which flew over low did not answer calls made by Aldis lamp.

 

20.  The Police Inspector organized boats quickly on receiving my first signal and these were of great assistance in recovering men swimming ashore.  His presence of mind and keenness to be of any assistance was a great help.

 

21.  Two salvage parties were sent off to the ship and recovered many articles of value, such as binoculars, telescopes, gyro repeaters, director sights, bombardment levels, V/C lantern, four of the six V/F lanterns, etc, etc.  Then the ship's company was evacuated, the First Lieutenant, Lieutenant James Wolferstan Rylands, Royal Navy, was left behind with ten men and two native boys to continue salvage work.  Tools, bedding, clothing, and provisions for this party were provided by H.M.S. KANDAHAR and the great help and sympathy accorded by the Captain, Officers, and ship's company of H.M.S. KANDAHAR will not easily be forgotten.  Again, nothing was too much trouble, and particular attention was lavished on the injured.  In this respect the skilled attention and kindliness of Surgeon Lieutenant Command W. Mc. O. MacGregor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, was beyond praise.

 

22.  I have reported briefly in paragraph 12 of this letter on the bearing and steadiness of my Officers and Ship's Company, but I feel that further mention of this subject is necessary.  One expects discipline in danger from the officers and men of the Royal Navy, but I submit that the circumstances in this case were peculiar.  From 1205 until 1245 then the first heavy explosion took place, every man onboard know that the after magazine, depth charges, and warheads must blow up very soon, and that, should this happed while the ship was still in deep water, she would almost certainly capsize.  Nevertheless there was, to my knowledge, no case of loss of nerve and all hands lived up to the highest traditions of the Service.  With reference to King's Regulations and Admiralty Instruction, Article 166, a list of recommendations for awards for gallantry and distinguished conduct is being submitted separately.

 

23.  A list of the casualties sustained in attached as Enclosure No.1 to this Letter.

 

                                                                        I have the honour to be, Sir

                                                                                    Your obedient Service.

 

                                                            (sgd).  D.T. Dowler, Commander, Royal Navy

 

The Rear Admiral Commanding,

4th Cruiser Squadron

H.M.S. LEANDER       

 

Copies to:

The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KANDAHAR

The Command Officer, H.M.A.S. HOBART.

 

 


 

ENCLOSURE No. 1 to COMMANDING OFFICER, H.M.S. KHARTOUM No 1570 of 24th June 1940

 

KILLED

 

J. Thompson, Boy 1c, Official Number Unknown (D/SSX 29413). Killed instantaneously by a fragment penetrating his skull consequent on the explosion of No. 3 magazine.       

 

INJURED

 

Lieutenant Commander (E) Allan Collins Reed, Royal Navy. Serious burns to the head, face, shoulders, body, arms and hands, and legs.  Surgical shock.

 

J.W. Toms, Able Seaman, Official number D/SSX 17063. Serious burns to face, hands, arms, and legs.

 

Reginald Casson, Officers Steward 3c, Official No. D/LX 20424, Perforated wound of leg and small head injury containing small piece of splinter.  Hand injury, loss of digital portion of thumb.

 

Stanley G. Lace, Able Seaman, Official number D/SSX 26509. Small wound of back punctured no splinter was yet discovered.

 

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

COPY OF NAVAL MESSAGE

 

IMMEDIATE

 

            From: .KANDAHAR

            Date: ..23rd June 1940

            To: : ..S.N.O.R.S.

 

KHARTOUM sank in Perim Harbour as a result of internal explosion caused by bursting of torpedo air vessel.  Consider salvage impossible.  Casualties one killed 3 seriously wounded.  Am embarking ship's company for Aden.  First Lieutenant and 10 remaining as dismantling party.  Request KINGSTON be sailed Perim patrol forthwith

 

(1702)

 

 

 

COPY OF NAVAL MESSAGE

 

            From: .KANDAHAR

            Date: ..23rd June 1940

            To: : ..S.N.O.R.S.

 

Amplifying KANDAHAR's 1702Z.23rd June.  There being no hope of extinguishing fire.  I attempted to beach ship on Prince's Shoal.  Lack of steam prevented accomplishment of this and ship is lying in about 7 fathoms between Prince's Shoal and Murray Point.  After magazine blew up about 10 minutes after abandoning ship followed about 5 minutes later by 29 depth charges in the War Head Magazine.  Spread of flames from Officers' Galley was so quick that there was no chance of flooding either magazine.  6 casualties, 1 killed, E.O. and 2 ratings badly injured.  Understand there are no casualties ashore in Perim.

 

2340

 

 

COPY OF SECRET DECYPHER

 

IMPORTANT

 

Captain KHARTOUM's  2340/23rd June.  Cause of accident torpedo discharged from after tube through after gun support and officers' galley which caught fire.  Ship on patrol at the time.

 

2.  Ship now upright B gun deck awash searchlight showing.  Confidential Books aft destroyed by explosion.  S.P.'s in bridge safe lost out of boat during abandon ship.  Day's recognition signals and S.P. 02175 (10) lashed to full .303 ammunition box accidentally jettisoned.  Both these alongside ship and LEANDER will dive for them at sunrise.

 

3.  Salvage almost impossible.  PROTECTOR will look see this week.  Foremost magazine is flooded forward torpedoes discharged at sea.  Work around the ship may soon be hindered by air attack but perhaps PROTECTOR can recover gun searchlight.

 

4.  Intend Board of Inquiry shortly if time permits before B.N.I.

 

(2330)

 

 

COPY OF NAVAL MESSAGE

 

                        From: : S.N.O.R.S.

                        Date: : .24th June 1940

                        To: : : .KANDAHAR's first Lieutenant

 

Please ask Police to make sure there are no C.B.'s or papers lying around the island as a result of explosion.

 

(0244)

 

 

 

COPY OF NAVAL MESSAGE

 

                        From: : .Perim Police

                        Date: : ..24th June 1940

                        To: : : ..S.N.O.R.S.

 

No books and papers found on shore; life belts, etc. found; any other thing if found should inform.

 

(1112)

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

                                                                                                H.M.S. LEANDER

                                                                                                26th June 1940

Sir

 

I have the honour to submit the following report concerning Diving Operations carried out by divers from H.M.S. LEANDER on wreck of H.M.S. KHARTOUM in Perim harbour on 24th June 1940.

 

Petty Officer McKean - Left surface at 0725 and searched starboard side of forecastle deck.  No books were found.  Diver returned to surface at 0805.

 

Leading Seaman Josey - Diving on bottom.  Shot rope between B gun and bridge.  Left surface at 0815.  Searched as shown.  Wreckage about six feet high.  No books were seen. Good vision.  Diver returned to surface at 0849.

 

Chief Stoker Smitheran - Boat was moved to position at foremost end of funnel.  Diver left surface at 0907.  Small wreckage was seen and large piece at after end.  Good vision reported, no books seen.  Diver came to surface at 0925 and considered diving abaft position as shown to be dangerous.

 

Chief E.R.A. Harris - Boat was moved to port side abreast B gun and forecastle deck searched.  Nothing found.  Diver left surface at 0935 and returned at 1003.

 

Leading Seaman McHugh - Left surface at 1017 and searched the bottom abreast B Gun Port Side nothing found so called to surface at 1025 and sent on upper deck from FX dick, reported that he could not move more than few years from the ladder owing to the wreckage and becoming foul, could not see any books called to surface again at 1045.  Boat returned to ship at 1100 as ordered. Boat left the ship again at 1150.

 

Petty Officer McKean - Left the surface at 1212 and was towed along the bottom on short rope from position about 60 feet from before the A gun to abaft the funnel on the 1st tow. 2nd tow diagonally to position about 10 feet from A gun. 3rd tow about ten feet from ships side to abreast funnel.  Shot rope fouled diver called up at 1240.  Shot rope was cleared the boat returned to ship, good vision being reported.

 

All the divers reported that oil fuel fumes were being inhaled.

 

The Services of Lieutenant Rylands, H.M.S. KHARTOUM, were available during the operations and his advise regarding the positions of the book was very very helpful.

 

It is regretted that no books or safes were found, but from divers reports, it is my opinion that they must be in the sand under the wreck.

 

                                                            I have,

 

                                                                        The Honour to be Sir

                                                                        Your obedient service

 

                                    (sgd) H.E. Horan

                                    Captain.

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

LOSS OF KHARTOUM

 

From: Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea Force

Date: 17th July 1940                                       No. 96

 

To: : Commander in Chief, East Indies Station.

 

Enclosure No. 1

 

Herewith is submitted the report of the Board of Inquiry held to investigate the circumstances attending the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM on 23rd June 1940

 

Enclosure No. 2

 

2.  I do not agree that the partial flooding of the gear room (para. 11 of KHARTOUM's report No. 1570 of 24th June) was at all beneficial but otherwise I concur generally in the reports of the Board dated 28th June and 3rd July, and particularly in those paragraphs referring to the action taken by Command D.T. Dowler, R.N. and to the magnificent spirit displayed by him, his officers and crew.  I attach a list received from Commander Dowler of officers and men who distinguished themselves by gallantry or exceptional conduct.  I strongly recommend the officers mentioned in para. 2 of his report and the ratings in para. 3 as deserving of an award.  The ratings in para. 4 are recommended for "mention in despatches."  Commander Dowler himself has also, I consider, clearly earned recognition by award.  His conduct and bearing were exemplary, and that he was under great stress was shewn by his (natural) reaction when I saw him subsequently.

 

Enclosure No. 3

 

3.  There is very considerable pitting in the air vessels of the torpedoes in the 28th Destroyer Division, the depth of which it has not been possible accurately to gauge (but of the order 0.01 inch).  A report on this matter is attached (KHARTOUM's No. 1586 of 9th July 1940).  Facilities have not allowed of an air vessel being opened up for internal examination.  The air vessel may have burst due to pitting alone, but possibly there was a manufacturing flaw in the air vessel as well.

 

4.  Since this destroyer division joined the Red Sea Force much of the rust which had accumulated on the air vessels at home has been removed.  Care and maintenance should now be easier.  As a precaution, air vessel pressures have been reduced in all Mark IXxx  torpedoes to 2900 lbs per square inch.  When opportunity offers 28th Division torpedoes due for annual overhaul will be sent in small batches to Colombo.

 

5.  As reported in Red Sea message 1843 of 13th July, the only S.P.'s known to have been issued to the V/S and W/T departments were recovered, except one copy of each of the S.P.'s 02191X (2), 02193 (4), and 02229.  The risk of compromise is very very small  All C.B.'s, etc in safes aft were destroyed in the explosion.  It is considered they are certainly compromised.  The recovered C.B's and S.P.'s which are still serviceable haven been sent to the Distributing Authority, Alexander, the remainder salvaged by divers were half burnt, covered with oil fuel and saturated.  They have been destroyed therefore and a destruction certificate rendered.

 

Enclosure No. 4

 

6.  Two photographs of the wreck were taken on 24th June are also attached.

 

                                                                                    (Sgd)  A.J.L Murray

                                                                                    Rear Admiral

 

 


 

SECRET

 

LOSS OF KHARTOUM

 

(Senior Officer Red Sea Force's No. 96 of 17th July 1940).

No. 885/E.I. 03192

 

THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(Copy to :  The Senior Officer, Red Sea Force.

 

Forwarded for the information of Their Lordships concurring in the remarks of the Senior Officer, Red Sea Force, and especially the officers (including Commander Dowler) and men referred to in paragraph 2 of his submission are worth of such recognition as Their Lordships may see fit to grant.

 

I have recommended Commander Dowler for Their Lordships' recognition of his part in the operations which resulting in the sinking of the Italian U boat "EVANGELISTA TORRICELLI" on 23rd June 1940 (see 888 E.I. 03246 of 21st August 1940).

 

Mr. W.J. Collier, Gunner (T) was strongly recommended for promotion in accordance with Admiralty Message 1544 of 6th July (vide my 0408/1st August).

 

2.  As the Mark IXxx  torpedoes are of recent manufacture, it is unlikely that excessive interval pitting would taken place, particularly as the Gunner (T) reports that on no occasion was any water found in the air vessels after charging.  (Answer to q.42).  I therefore incline to the view that the bursting of the air vessel was due to a flaw in the material.  It is observed on two days earlier (on 21st June) KHARTOUM fire two depth charges patterns in attack on the U boat referred to in paragraph 1 above.

 

3.  The loss of C.B.s and S.P.s is being dealt with separately.

 

4.  With reference to Admiralty Fleet Order 3348/39, I concurred in the proposal of the Senior Officer Red Sea Force to hold a Board of Inquiry.

 

                                                                        (sgd) R. Leatham

                                                                        Vice Admiral, Commander in Chief

 

East Indies.

21st August 1940.

 


 

 

1360    (Established March 1933)

 (Revised December 1939

 

                                                                                    Office of Senior Naval Officer,

                                                                                                Red Sea Force,

                                                                                                H.M.S. LEANDER

 

                                                                                                25th June 1940

 

MEMORANDUM

 

You are to assemble on board H.M.S. HOBART at 0900 on Thursday, 27th June 1940, as a board of inquiry whereof Captain Harry Leslie Howden, O.B.E., R.A.N. of H.M.S. HOBART is to be the president and hold a full and careful investigation into the circumstances attending the loss of His Majesty's Ship KHARTOUM on 23rd June, with particular reference to the cause of the discharge of a torpedo from the after mounting and of the internal explosion resulting therefrom and the disposal of the Confidential Books and Signals Publications.

 

Calling before you such witnesses as are necessary to enable you to form a correct conclusion.  Recommendations should be put forward, if appropriate, which might prevent similar occurrences in the further whether on account of failure of personnel or material.

 

2.  The inquiry is to be conducted in accordance with the directions contained n King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, Chapter XI.

 

3.  The report of the board is to be accompanied by the minutes of evidence taken, and is to contain an expression of opinion on the merits of the case as disclosed by the evidence, including a statement of the causes of the occurrence.

 

4.  The questions in the minutes are to be numbered consecutively, and the name and tank or rating of each witness are to appear at the head of each page of his evidence.

 

5.  The report and minutes are each to be signed by members of the board, and are to be in triplicate.

 

6.  Copies of relevant signals and a report from LEANDER are to be returned with the port of the board, together with this memorandum.

 

7.  The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. HOBART has been informed and directed to afford the board the necessary facilities.

 

8.  Unless the president has something to communicate he is to send the reports when completed, not to bring them.

 

9.  A shorthand writer has been detailed from H.M.A.S. HOBART

 

To:     Captain H.L. Howden, O.B.E., R.A.N.  H.M.A.S. HOBART

Commander J.H. Huntley, R.N.  H.M.S. FLAMINGO

Lieutenant T.K. Morrison, R.A.N. (through Commanding Officer, H.M.A.S. HOBART).

 

                                                                                                (sgd) A.J.L. Murray

                                                                                                Rear Admiral

 

N 100/33

N.L. 4616/37

Sta. 208A/39

 

 

 

                                                                                    H.M.A.S. HOBART

                                                                                                28th June 1940

 

Due to a misunderstanding in typing the minutes, space has been left for the members of the Board to sign after each witness' evidence, instead at the minutes in accordance with the correct procedure.

 

It is considered that to retype the minutes would only delay their being forwarded unduly long.                    

 

                                                                                                H.L. Howden

                                                                                                Captain

 

 

 


 

SECRET

 

Report of Board of Inquiry.

 

(Enclosure No. 1 to Red Sea No. 96 of 17th July 1940)

 

 

SECRET

 

EVIDENCE OF COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.

 

Commander Dowling cautioned

 

Q. 1.  We have read this report, but I think you would prefer to tell us what happened.

 

A.  While the ship was approximately 165 degrees about seven miles from Perim the position is not exact because we were frequently zig zagging on patrol, an explosion took place which, from the noise I thought was a depth charge that had been fired by mistake.  On going on to the upper bridge, I found a heavy cloud of black smoke coming from aft and I put the ship before the wind to reduce the draft, went to fire stations, and closed all watertight doors.  Shortly after that time the First Lieutenant reported to me that he could not flood the after magazine for which orders had been given because the flooding cabinet could not be reached.

 

Q. 2.  At this stage, did you know what was the cause of the explosion?

 

A.  I don't think I did then.  I knew then that the after lobby was in flames and that number three gun deck was also in flames.  I decided it was obvious that a very heavy explosion would take place sooner or later and the only thing to do was to get the ship into shallow water and somewhere where salvage operations would be able to take place and the Ship's Company would have a chance, and accordingly steamed at full speed for Perim Harbour.  I considered the possibility of casualties in Perim Harbour, but there were so few people there I considered that the probability of better salvage operations it was worth the risk.

 

The only evidence that a torpedo started the fire is from my Engineer Officer who was sitting in a deck chair just abaft the galley between the galley and number three gun support.  His evidence is that friction caused by the war head passing through the fire screen of the galley set fire to the paint work and that this was added to by the galley fire which was alight and the oil from the oil fuel gravity tank.  From his evidence and from other evidence the warhead then passed through number three gun support starboard of center line, but according to one man the whole of the force struck the side of number three gun support which was wrecked.

 

Q. 3   That was seen was it?

 

A.  Yes by the Engineer Officer about the only part that was seen.

 

Q. 4. That was more or less in the centre?  You do not think it was a glancing blow?

 

A.  I think it must have charged right through the starboard side of it judging by where it came out the other end.  It is my opinion that the war head would also have wrecked the flooding cabinet in the lobby.

 

Q.5.  That is between the gun support and your hatch?

 

A.  Yes.  That is on the starboard quarter of the gun support.  The war head then apparently went on through the gun unit and then out the other side and finished up against the starboard T.S.D.S. winch.  It was seen at one time to be broken open and I believe it caught fire later on.

 

Q.6.  And so someone saw this torpedo war head?

 

A.  Yes, the Depth Charge number.  He just stated that it was open.

 

Q.7.  Was any part of the body left on it?

 

A.  No, he did not say that he saw any body, the after part of the body of the torpedo was seen in the tubes, the rear end jammed up in the after part of the tube.  From the evidence of another man who is in hospital seriously burned, he confirmed what the Engineer Officer said about the friction setting fire to the paintwork.

 

My report actually gives details of how the explosion prevented in any way the use of hoses.  There is one hose fixed to the starboard rising main and new hoses by the searchlight platform.  I reason why it was jammed open was because that hose was already in use in wetting the decks to keep the decks cool over the engine room and also the fire main went out of action shortly afterwards, but I was told by the Chief Stoker that there appeared to be another minor explosion and the pressure on the fire main failed.  After that the only available supply as by a ten ton electric motor and of course in actual practice it is useless.

 

Q. 8. What depth charges were you able to fire?

 

A.  The forward torpedoes were fired to reduce top weight because it is well known in this class of ship if you lose buoyancy after the ship will capsize.  The torpedoes were fired for this reason and to lessen the risk of explosion, all the depth charges that could be were dropped and the port thrower fired.

 

Q. 9. Do you know what depth they were set at when they were fired?

 

A.  They were set for 500 feet.

 

Q. 10   At what speed were you going when they were dropped?

 

A.  Roughly twenty four knots.

 

Q. 11.  You say you were losing speed as you were entering Perim.  What was the cause of that?

 

A.  I am not quire certain on that point myself, but I think there was trouble with the oil fuel suction and I think someone passed the order for the stokers to leave the boiler room.  I think the main trouble was trouble with the oil fuel suction.

 

Q.12.  And then when the power finally failed?  Do you know the cause of that?

 

A.  I rang up the engine room when the speed of the ship dropped right down and said I must have some more revolutions to get the ship right in and they produced enough power to move the ship on.  I suppose I passed the Shell Tank at five knots.

 

Q.13.  How did you call the engine room?

 

A.  I stopped the engines by telegraph.  I actually got a few revolutions going astern.

 

Q.14.  So it was an electrical failure really?

 

A.  The steering?  Yes, Sir.

 

Q.15.  Did you actually hear this second minor explosion yourself?

 

A.  I am not certain about it.  There were a number of minor explosions.

 

Q.16.   The one before you got in?

 

A.  The Chief Stoker is the man who heard that.

 

Q.17.  After the ship had entered Perim you let go both anchors and after the ship was brought to rest?

 

A.  I have the order to abandon ship.  The ship's company were ready for this because they were actually working about the Carley Floats and boats the cutter and the whaler and two small skiffs.  The remainder were all on the forecastle, and of course we know perfectly well that everybody would not have a sea in the boat or float and orders were given by the First Lieutenant to jump over the side and swim ashore.  I had previously signalled as soon as I came in V/S touch with the Police Station for all available boats to be send out and they started appearing at this time and were useful in picking men out of the water.  When the main body of men had gone, I suppose there were about thirty or forty left on board, mostly in the wait.

 

Q.18.  What was the wind relative to the ship after you had grounded?

 

A.  I did not ground.

 

Q.19.  Oh no.  Well, after you had grounded.

 

A.  We left go the starboard anchor first and this swung her to the starboard with the wind to port, so we dropped the port anchor to check that and got going astern on the propellers, but by that time she had swung bows to wind, the wind being N.W.  I left out the fact that I had given orders for the Gear Room to be flooded.  That had no effect because it only floods very, very slowly, the idea being that it might act as a cushion.  When there were about thirty or forty left I had the bridge cleared and all the men mustered on the forecastle where everyone was waiting for the boats to come back.  Actually I gave orders for those who had lifebelts and who could swim to go over the side and about ten or fifteen went, and then about 1245 there was an exceedingly heavy explosion which I can only attribute to the after magazine going.  One man on the forecastle, Officers Steward Casson was very badly injured by falling fragments and Boy Thompson who was only about fifteen yards away from the ship was killed instantly by a fragment hitting him the back of the head.  I am not quite certain whether Able Seaman Lee as hit at that time of nor, but he was comparatively out of danger.  I then, about half a minute later the explosion, felt the ship touch aft, and I personally thought hat all we had to do then was wait until the fire burnt out, but I was quite wrong because about four minutes later there was a heavier explosion.  I am not sure what it was but I think it was the war head magazine, which contained twenty nine depth charges.

 

Q.20.  Do you mean the magazine and not the war heads on the after mountings?

 

A.  I put it down to the warhead magazines not the war heads on the after mountings.

 

Q.21.  Were the war heads above or below the water?

 

A.  I think they were just above the water but I did not go aft and look.

 

Q.22 After everybody was clear after the last explosion?

 

A.  After the last explosion, she heeled over about 25 to 30 degrees to port.

 

Q. 23.  Was everyone out by then?

 

A.  No, there was still about fifteen on the forecastle, including a badly injured man for one, and I did not think the situation called for any hurry as I thought the explosion had finished.

 

Q. 24.  You state that there was some depth charges remaining at the side of the after screen?

 

A.  I think there were five on each side of it and some were primed.

 

Q.25.  Were these depth charges set?

 

A.  The primers would not have been in and if they were they would not have been forward.

 

Q.26.  Was there any other form of ammunition in that part of the ship?

 

A.  The shells in number three gun deck were exploding, not properly exploding, just minor bangs.

 

Q.27.  And then what happened to those few that were left on the forecastle by that time when it was quiet?

 

A.  Except for the oil fuel burning on the surface of the water, the forward part of the ship was still not on fire.

 

Q.28.  Did the remainder leave the ship?

 

A.  I gave the order to abandon ship because the possibility of the fire spreading and working its way forward.

 

Q. 29.  Had everyone finally left the ship?

 

A.  Yes, and I did not allow anyone to come back on board until the fire had completely died out when I called for volunteers and the whole ship's company volunteered.

 

Q.30.  Have you got a separate pom pom magazine?

 

A.  Yes, forward.

 

Q.31.  Are the fire and the bilge pumps steam or electrical?

 

A.  Steam at least the one was that broke down.

 

Q.32.  You have not got the special type of foam producing machine?

 

A.  No.  Just the foam containers and they were all used.

 

Q.33.  Well now I would like to establish if you are quite clear in your own mind that the original cause was the bursting of the air vessel.

 

A.  Absolutely, there is no question about it.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF MR. WILLIAM JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)

 

Mr. Collier cautioned.

 

Q. 34.  In connection with the explosion in the KHARTOUM what do you consider the primary cause of it?

 

A.  The explosion of the air vessel.

 

Q.35.  And there is no doubt in your mind?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q 36.  Can you give any reason for the air vessel exploding?

 

A.  The only suggestion I can make is that the air vessel was either weak of due to the pitting, which was previously reported, weakening the air vessel.

 

Q. 37.  At what temperature do you maintain the air vessels at?

 

A.  We charged at 95 degrees or between 90 and 95 degrees that is, during the heat of the day and checked the pressure at 1100 daily.

 

Q.38.  I understand your stop valves leaked badly.  At what pressure do you attempt to maintain your air vessels at?

 

A.  3100 lbs.  The stop valves did not leak.  It is the first time I remember being in a destroyer with ten torpedoes with no leaky stop valves.

 

Q.39.  When was the last time you charged the air vessels?

 

A.  On our last topping up was when we came in from our patrol which was about fourteen days before the actual explosion

 

Q.40.  When were your gauges tested?

 

A.  At Falmouth about eight weeks ago.

 

Q. 41.  Now the charging arrangements.  Did you drain the air or did the Engineering Department drain the air.

 

A.  The Engineering Department.

 

Q. 42.  Did you on any occasion find water in the Air Vessel/

 

A.  No

 

Q.43.  How often did you blow down your Air Vessel?

 

A.  About every six weeks, opportunity occurring.  If we were at sea and the torpedoes could not be taken out, we did not do it.

 

Q.44.  Did you suspect any internal pitting at all?

 

A.  No

 

Q.45.  Only external pitting?

 

A.  Yes

 

Q.46.  What steps did you take to reduce the external pitting.  Did you report it at all?

 

A.  When I found out that the air vessels were pitting I reported to the Captain and when we fitted at Falmouth, I returned all my torpedoes to T.E.O. Devonport with the remark on the note that I sent in that the Air vessels were badly pitted and also requested that the six monthly overhaul on the torpedoes be carried out.  They did the six monthly overhaul and I made enquiries at the Torpedo Depot and they assured me there was nothing to worry about as worse torpedoes had been received in the Depot from sea.

 

Q.47.  After you left was your ship washing down much at sea?

 

A.  I do not think they ever washed down.  The last time we had the torpedoes out for fortnightly overhaul they were perfectly clean, the same as they had been when we left Devonport.

 

Q. 48.  When you did the fortnightly routine, did you only haul it back or did you take it right out of the tube?

 

A.  As far back as the side lugs and pulled them through the other end and wiped off the torp oil.  They did not require cleaning but just wiping off the oil.

 

Q.49.  Were you aware before you found pitting yourself that pitting had occurred in air vessels abreast the gas check ring?

 

A.  Yes sir, that is what made me check my own torpedoes.

 

Q. 50.  When was the last overhaul carried out?

 

A.  The six monthly routine of torpedoes was carried out at the Devonport Depot at the beginning of April.

 

Q. 51.  When were they actually in the Devonport Depot?

 

A.  Between the 10th march when we (word missing.  Disembarked ?) them until re embarked them on the 11th May.

 

Q.52.  When the torpedoes were returned from Depot after six months overhaul did you consider that they were returned in a satisfactory condition?

 

A.  Yes Sir.  The expert advise from the Torpedo Depot was satisfactory regarding the shell of the torpedo although in my own mind I reckoned that they were not so good as they were made out to be.

 

Q.53.  Were they pitted when they came back?

 

A.  They were clean, Sir, but still pitted.

 

Q. 54.  Did they not on the History Sheet of the torpedoes any measurements as to the depth of the pitting?

 

A.  No sir.

 

Q. 55.  Have you any idea how much it was?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.56.  Did you paint the shell of the torpedo around the Gas check ring?

 

A.  We had an order from D 5 that whenever opportunity offered , we should red lead with two coats all the torpedo covered by the gas check ring.

 

Q. 57.  And did you do that?

 

A.  We did it only once.  The Torpedo Depot would not comply with our request at the six monthly overhaul.  They said it was beyond them to issue torpedoes with paint on.

 

Q.58.  What part of the torpedo was the worst and where did it take place?

 

A.  Between the war head and the back of the gas check ring.

 

Q.59.  The other was fairly clear?

 

A.  Yes sir

 

Q 60.  When you made your original report were all the torpedoes in the same condition or were some worse than others?

 

A.  On the average about the same.  The torpedoes in the foremost most mounting were if anything the worst with the sea tending to break.

 

Q. 61.  There was no indication that the outer tubes were worse than the inner tubes?

 

A.  No sir.  They were always trained on the beam.

 

Q.62  Would you give us some idea of any difficulties you have had in carrying out fortnightly routines since sailing from Falmouth?  Have you always been able to do it?

 

A.  Except for the last one and that was because we at sea.  The last one we did was before we went on the last patrol.  The one before that was the day we were at Alexandria.  Before that was at Devonport.

 

Q.63.  You know each side of your screens you had five depth charges.  What was their state of readiness?

 

A.  Fitted but not primed.

 

Q.64.  Not primed but pistols fitted?

 

A.  Yes, pistols in and fitted.  We always had four patterns on the upper deck fitted, and one primed and set to safe.

 

Q.65.  In the after magazine, was there anything in that besides four inch charges?

 

A.  Yes Sir, our torpedo impulse charges.

 

Q.66.  Now what form of stowage were they in?

 

A.  In boxes sir.

 

Q .67.  In wooden boxes?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q. 68.  What was stored in the war head magazine?

 

A.  Depth charges and T.N.T. blocks.

 

Q.69. Is that a fitted stowage for depth charges.

 

Yes, sir, for depth charges and T.N.T. blocks.

 

Q.70.  Are the T.N.T. blocks exposed in any way?

 

A.  No sir they are in boxes.

 

Q.71.  Wooden boxes?

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

 

COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED

 

Q.72.  Will you state if your ship was under fire from the Italian submarine TORRICELLI that day?

 

A.  Well, I do not think that the shots were actually aimed at us, but they did definitely come right over our line.

 

Q.73.  I want to establish whether it is possible that any shots from the TORRICELLI could have in any way lodged in the torpedo tubes.

 

A.  Not in my opinion Sir, since the nearest shot was not less than six cables past the ship.

 

Q. 74.  So that there was no possibility of any fragments hitting the ship?

 

A.  There was no chance of any fragments from any shots hitting us, and I feel we would have noticed if a projectile hit us.

 

Q. 75.  You were certain that you were not hit by any fragments.

 

A.  Yes, quite, sir.

 

Q.76.  Will you please state all of what happened to your C.B.s carried at the time?

 

A.  The C.B.'s other than those on the bridge were directly over the magazine that blew up.

 

Q. 77.  What were they stowed in?

 

A.  In steel chests and sectional book cases.  They went up with the explosion.  The other C.B.'s consisted of S.P.'s issued to the Wireless and V/S Departments and such C.B.'s as I had on the bridge for reference and the cyphers and recognition signals which were kept locked up in my sea cabin.  In actual fact, instead of there being only one lot of Key Memoranda there was two, this being due to having been ordered on the Friday night to use Key Memorandum "A".  Owing to a misunderstanding of Admiralty Message 206A, T.O.O. 2259/20th June, we were ordered by KANDAHAR to use Key Memorandum "A".

 

After I had been informed that there was no possibility of putting the fire out or flooding the after magazine I gave instructions for all C.B.s and S.P.s on the bridge and in my cabin and the wireless office to be prepared for throwing overboard, as I did not consider there was much chance of the ship getting into shallow water.  In any case, the boilers in "K" class ships are not suitable for burning C.B.s in because they is no way of putting C.B.'s into the boiler and loose pages I have been informed by  my Engineering Officer would probably be blown out of the funnel without catching fire.  Also the forward galley fire was out.  In any case it would have only taken a very small number.  The books were prepared by the Yeoman of Signals and the Key Memoranda and numbers eight and ten of the recyphering tables instead of being placed in a weighted bag were lashed very securely to a .303 ammunition box.  As the ship was passing through the entrance to Perim Harbour, I gave orders for all the documents and C.B.s to be taken up to the Forecastle, because I considered it a sager place for them than the waist, where they could be embarked in boats.  All these papers were definitely sighted.  All these books, bags, and the .303 ammunition box with the papers attached reached the eyes of the ship and were sighted there by Lieutenant Buckle and at least two signalmen.

 

When the order to abandon ship was given after entering harbour, Lieutenant Buckle and the signalmen with him carried the chests and bags and .303 box after to put them in the boats, but the whaler had actually shot off.  The V/S steel box and V/S weighted back went into the motor boat and the W/T weighted bad into a carley float.  The W/T steel chest was placed on top of the canopy of the motor cutter on which was lying one of the casualties Able Seaman Tomms and one or two other ratings standing by him.  The weight of the steel chest proved too much for the canopy, and all the ratings, the canopy, and the steel box went over the side.  The steel box was actually seen to go into the sea by Stoker Petty Officer Hilsdon.  The ammunition box actually arrived from abreast the motor cutter's after davit where it was seen by Leading Seaman Jones and Boy Jones.

 

That is as far as I know or can trace the .303 box and I do not know why it was not actually put into the motor boat.

 

There is one other bit of evidence that has come to light.  Immediately on landing, Able Seaman Trigg informed me that he saw a rating, whose name he did not know, come on to the after part of the Forecastle carrying a box which was definitely not either of the W/T or V/S chests and when he asked the seaman what he was doing, he "highly confidential" and dropped it over the side.

 

Q.78.  The present position of the ship would enable a diver to at least walk round the upper deck?

 

A.  On yes Sir, but no one has.

 

Q.79.  Would you look carefully at these diagrams and see if diving has been carried out in the most probable placed to recover the lost documents?

 

A.  Yes, but I do not think, personally, that they have searched in the most likely place.  Nobody appears to have gone abaft the forecastle port side.  One of the Leading Signalman, Mathieson, informed me that he had been around the forecastle after the books had been put into the motor cutter just to make sure nothing had been left on the forecastle.

 

Q.80.  Do you know the name of the books that were attached to the .303 ammunition box?

 

A.  Key Memos. "A" and "B" and recyphering tables eight and ten.

 

Q.81. You say that you are quite certain on the following:  That the books stowed in the steel chests and sectional chests aft cannot become compromised except after extensive diving operations?

 

A.  I should think they are probably not in the vicinity of the original position of the Ship Sir.  Someone said that number three gun dropped over the side, and someone said it went two hundred feet into the air.

 

Q.82.  The position is that you do not know what has happened to the C.B.s stowed in the steel chests and sectional chests aft?

 

A.  I consider them destroyed by the explosion.

 

Q.83.  It is possible that they may have been blown ashore or into shallow water?

 

A.  It is possible.

 

Q.84.  The two weighted bags of books and one perforated chest have been recovered and one perforated steel chest has fallen over the side and those books lashed to the .303 ammunition box may be on the upper deck of the ship or may have fallen over the side?

 

A.  It may be on the upper deck of the ship or may, when the ship heeled over to port possibly have gone overboard, in which case the ship when she came back again and the bows sank she may have sat on it.  Or it is possible that if was thrown overboard from the forecastle as reported to me by Able Seaman Trigg.

 

Q. 85.  Were any steps taken to have the shores searched?

 

A.  the shore used by the boats was searched.  A party was sent ashore and the area around was searched by a search party.

 

Q.86.  But the search party did not continue to the Eastern side?

 

A.  Murray Point and the area to the pier N.E. of Murray Point was searched.

 

Q. 87. Were arrangements made for a watch to be kept in the event of documents coming to the surface some hours later?

 

A.  I entrusted the First Lieutenant to place a watch on board the ship during the dark hours and during the daylight hours they would be working on board the ship.  That was the situation when I left the place.  The Police Inspector informed me that he considered that he could keep a proper watch on the ship by day and night, but I adhered to my orders to the First Lieutenant as being on board at night.

 

Q.88.  And how long did that watch last for?

 

A.  In actual fact, I believe that work of evacuation had not been finished until one o'clock and there were no men on board that night.  Work recommenced early in the morning and the working party was evacuated by orders of S.N.O.R.S.

 

Q.89.  Have the native police been asked to continue to keep watch?

 

A.  I asked the Police Inspector at Perim to keep a lookout.

 

Q.90.  Did you arrange for a native boat to be kept in the vicinity?

 

A.  No sir.  He said his lookouts could see any boat approaching shore.

 

Q.91.  In your opinion it is highly improbable that the book have in any way been compromised.

 

A.  Most improbable.

 

Q. 92.  Was there any possibility of C.B.s being on loan to the Navigating Officer?

 

A.  They were the ones on the Bridge.  There was one other C.B. that was not actually in the bag:  "Handbook of 4.7 Mountings" issued on the charge of the Ordnance Artificer.  But he said it was blown out of his hand by the first and second explosion and was never recovered.

 

NOTE:  This book was recovered with others from the bridge.

 

Q.93.  What was the position of the motor boat?

 

A.  Abreast the funnel port side.  It is possible that the chest was at the after end of the motor boat.

 

Q.94.  They did not appear in their diving to have gone anywhere near the books?

 

A.  I sent ashore to N.O.I.C. Aden yesterday asking for divers to be sent with flame cutters and also flame cutting party in PROTECTOR with the idea of the divers searching in the vicinity of the funnel port side and on the bottom again and the cutting tools to be used by them for the possible salvage of guns and cutting away wreckage which I understand is lying against the funnel port side, so that they could see if there was anything under that.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF LIEUTENANT CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, Royal Navy

 

Buckle cautioned.

 

Q. 95  You carried out the duties of C.B. Officer in KHARTOUM?

 

A. Yes sir

 

Q.96.  Just state where the various chests and books were stowed.

 

A.  They were in the Captain's cabin after, two light steel chests and two heavier steel chests which contained most C.B.'s and in the ship's office one heavy chest in which I kept the  C.B's for destruction, and in the wireless office and the S.D.O. the publications required for the wireless office and two S.D.O. signal publications.

 

Q.97.  Were the two in the wireless office and signal D.O. perforated?

 

A.  They were perforated light steel chests.  The heavy ones were really safe chests.

 

Q.98.  Any bags of books?

 

A.  Yes sir. The wireless office had a bag and the S.D.O. had a bag for abandon ship.

 

Q.99.  Now what do you think has happened to these various chests and so on?

 

A.  The light steel chest and the canvas bag from the S.D.O., the canvas bag, and the light steel chest from the wireless office no I am not sure Sir about the light steel chest from the Wireless Office but the canvas bag from the wireless office and the S.D.O. have been saved and the light steel chest from the S.D.O.

 

Q.100.  Now what happened to the others?

 

A.  The others sir were taken down from the forecastle on the starboard side to go into the whaler but the whaler had already left so Leading Signalman Scott who was abaft the ladder said he would take them across to the motor cutter on the port side and the last I saw of them was going across to the cutter.

 

Q.101.  What books were they?

 

A.  These were the two bags one from the Wireless Office and one from the S.D.O. and two light steel chests from the S.D.O. and Wireless Office and a box of .303 ammunition.

 

Q.102.  Five packages

 

Yes sir

 

Q103.  And what happened to them.

 

A.  That was the actual last I saw of them.  I collected some of them from the Island.

 

Q.104.  What did you collect from the Island?

 

A.  Two canvas bags and one steel chest.  I think it was only one sir.

 

Q.105.  You do not know what has happened to the other steel chest?

 

A.  Only from what I have heard.

 

Q.106.  What do you think has happened to those that were in the after part of the ship?

 

A.  Disintegrated by the explosion.  The magazine was underneath them and the oil fuel tanks were underneath the ships office.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF YEOMAN OF SIGNALS JOHN MURPHY, JX 134463.

 

Murphy cautioned.

 

Q 107.  Were you given certain documents by your Captain to make fast to a .303 box of ammunition.

 

A.  Yes Sir.

 

Q.108.  Do you remember what documents they were?

 

A.  Yes, sir Key memoranda and recyphering tables.

 

Q.109.  How many key memoranda were there.

 

A.  At least eight.

 

Q.110.  What else?

 

A.  Recyphering Tables (8) and (10).

 

Q.111.  Anything else?

 

A.  That is all I was given to be tied to the ammunition box.

 

Q.112.  I want to establish whether these documents were securely lashed to this box.

 

A.  I rolled them up like you would roll a newspaper and tied them with cord and then tied the tables (8) and (10) together and lashed them to the box with cod line, carrying the line through the handles, and them lashed them round and round with a signal halyard.

 

Q.113.  When did you last see these documents lashed to the box of ammunition?

 

A.  Well I do not know the time sir.  The last I saw of them was when I called one of the lookouts and told him that he was responsible for the safety of the books, and the last thing I saw of them was one of the other lookouts giving him a hand to take them down from upper bridge to the lobby.

 

Q.114.  You saw them?

 

A.  Yes sir I saw them.  He could not manage them himself and another Able Seaman got hold of them with him.

 

Q.115.  Did you ask him what he did with them finally?

 

A.  No sir.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF S.P.O. ALFRED THOMAS HILSON, O.N. KX 76818

 

Hilson cautioned.

 

Q.116.  Did you at any time after the KHARTOUM blew up have anything to do with the handling of the C.B. chests?

 

A.  No sir, not with the handling of them.

 

Q.117.  Did you see them?

 

A.  I saw them Sir.

 

Q.118.  Where did you see them?

 

A.  Well I left the boiler room after "Abandon Ship" had been given and came up just as they were lowering them into the motor cutter and the motor cutter was just level with the upper deck of the ship and I was giving a hand on the cutter cable and they were passing in all the gear such as foodstuffs and I happened to see this galvanized covered tin passed in on the canopy.  The boat was lowered down and the canopy collapsed and all the gear including all the men on the canopy went over the side that was the last I saw (text says "was") of the box.  I assume it went into the water.

 

Q.119.  So you saw it on top of the canopy?

 

A.  Yes Sir.

 

Q.120.  Did you also see a small .303 ammunition box with documents lashed to it?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF ABLE SEAMAN HAROLD MCCOURT, O.N. DJX 143970.

 

McCourt Cautioned.

 

Q.121.  Did Yeoman of Signals Murphy give you a .303 box of ammunition with papers lashed to it after the ship had finally stopped?

 

A.  I do not know whether the ship had finally stopped, sir, but the Yeoman did pass Able Davis and myself a box of .303 ammunition with some books attached.

 

Q.122.  He gave it to both of you or to one of you?

 

A.  He gave it to both of us and told us to carry it down the ladder by the guard rail alongside the Petty Officers Mess near the starboard side.

 

Q.123.  Did you turn it over to anybody else?

 

A.  No sir.  Petty Officers and Leading Seaman and everybody in general was passing about us and they sent everybody forward.  I struck the First Lieutenant by the guard rail and asked him what we were to do with these confidential papers and he said "Well drop them and get for your life, " so we just left them where we were and cleared up forward.

 

Q.124.  That was the last you saw of them you say, near the break of the forecastle starboard side, on the upper deck?

 

A.  I was one of the volunteers who returned to the ship and I lookout along the starboard side of the forecastle and could not see any sign of them.

 

Q.125.  You made a definite point of looking for them?

 

A.  Yes, Sir.  I saw a bag with a zip fastener going into the whaler and it fastened in my memory and I went and had a look for this. 303 box.  I looked where I had left them, but the ship had lurched over and I thought that they may be up against the chiefs' mess or against the screens so I went and looked along there and couldn't see them.

 

Q.126.  So you had a good look around and could not see any sign of it?

 

A.  The ship heeled over a fair way after the explosion.  I looked along the screens and when I could not see it I thought the force of the explosion had blown it over the side.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF ABLE SEAMAN ALFRED CHARLES TRIGG, O.N. JX 131168

 

Trigg cautioned.

 

Q. 127.  Did you at any time see a box of .303 ammunition with some papers lashed to it?

 

A.  No sir I did not see a box, I saw a parcel thrown over the side sir.

 

Q.128. What did the parcel look like.

 

A.  A small parcel sir.  A fellow was carrying it and I asked him what he was doing with it and he said "confidential" and dropped it over the side.

 

Q. 129.  Who was that man?

 

A.  I do not know who he was.

 

Q.130.  Where were you standing?

 

A.  Starboard side just abaft "A" gun.

 

Q.131.  What time was that?

 

A.  About five minutes after "abandon ship" stations because when "abandon ship" stations went I went to get my wife's photographs and went to my Carley Float on "B" gun deck, and I went around the starboard side.

 

Q. 132. What direction was the man going who was carrying this parcel?

 

A.  Well, it looked like he was going from after Sir but I am not certain because I was going foreward and I was in a bit of a hurry.

 

Q.133.  When you say a parcel will you describe this parcel?

 

A.  No sir, I cannot.  It could not have been heavy because he was carrying it in his hand.

 

Q.134.  Did it sink immediately?

 

A.  I did not notice.

 

Q.135.  Did you notice whether he was carrying it one hand or with two hands.

 

A.  Two hands sir.

 

Q.136. Was there a big splash when it hit the water?

 

A.  I do not know sir.  I went to abandon ship stations of "B" Gun deck.

 

Q.137.  You have no idea what it was?

 

A.  No sir I have no idea.

 

 

ABLE SEAMAN TRIGG RECALLED

 

Q.138.  You say when you saw this parcel thrown over the side it was about five minutes after "Abandon Ship" stations?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q. 139.  Was the ship inside Perim Harbour?

 

A.  I think she was sir, just on the outskirts of Perim.

 

Q.140.  At high speed was she?

 

A.  I did not say, I did not say low.

 

Q.141.  Now the point is was she still moving through the water?

 

A.  Yes, slowly sir.

 

Q. 142.  As far as you know the ship was not anchored?

 

A.  As far as I know sir she hadn't.

 

 

COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED.

 

Q.143.  In view of Able Seaman Tripp's statement have you enquired among the ship's company as to whom it might be?

 

A.  Yes, I enquired of all of them, but his statement is entirely at variances with what he told me.  He told me that he knew it was something very heavy by the way it was being carried.  Five minutes after "abandon ship" stations must have been before we entered Harbour.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF LEADING SEAMAN BERTIE WILLIAM JONES, O.N. JX 143344.

 

Jones cautioned

 

Q. 144.  Did you at any time have the handling of a .303 box of ammunition with some documents lashed to it?

 

A.  I think I remember I did handle a box.

 

Q.145. What size box.

 

A.  It was an ammunition box but I cannot say what was in it, but it did have some rope around it.

 

Q.146.  Were the things on it securely lashed?

 

A.  I should say they were.

 

Q.147.  Where did you carry it?

 

A.  I helped Leading Signalman Scott get it down from the starboard ladder and last I saw of it was by the starboard ladder near the galley on the upper deck.

 

Q.148.  And did you turn it over to anybody?

 

A.  No sir, I helped get a skiff out and I was told to get out of it.

 

Q.149.  Where did you go then?

 

A.  Near the Carley Floats.

 

Q.150.  At what stage did you meet Leading Signalman Scott.  Where was he coming from.

 

A.  I was down trying to get a skiff out at the time and when I turned round Leading Scott was struggling with a box (text reads "gox) down the ladder.  He was half way down the ladder trying to get it down when I turned round to give him some help to get it down and then I tried to get the skiff out.  We then took it to the whaler.

 

Q.151.  The whaler is on that side of the ship?

 

A.  Yes sir, but the whaler was up foreward.

 

Q. 152.  But the whaler had left the ship.

 

A.  I did not know, I was told to carry the box around.

 

Q.153.  To the Whaler?

 

A.  Yes sir, I went with this box to take it to the whaler but I was told the whaler had gone and was told to get away from the forecastle so I left the box.

 

Q.154.  How many boxes were coming down the ladder?

 

A.  Only one, there was only one I saw.

 

Q.155.  Only one?

 

A.  The only one I saw was the .303 box because I carried it with Leading Seaman Scott to the whaler.

 

 

COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED

 

 

 

Q. 156.  Were you during the whole of the time between the first explosion and the final abandoning of the ship entirely satisfied with the conduct of the Officers and Ship's company?

 

A.  Entirely satisfied Shi except that I think possibly the ratings put in charge of the Wireless books did not realise their full responsibility.  I was actually very proud of the officers and ship's company as a whole because they did remain absolutely steady the whole time.  I could not see much of what was going on aft but I do know the Chief Stoker made a very gallant effort to get at the Flooding Cabinet and that the Gunner's mate also went on to number three gun deck where the corticene was burning and with a hose playing over him directed by the First Lieutenant threw overboard about two thirds of the cordite on number three gun deck.  In addition, I also know that the E.R.A.  of the watch remained down below until I gave the order "stop main engines" by himself.  He ordered the ratings to leave and remained there until the order stop main engines.

 

Q.157.  I understand you are forwarding a list of men whose conduct warrants special consideration?

 

A.  Sir.  The Engineering Officer was exceedingly badly burnt right at the very beginning, but he was carrying on with his duties the whole time until he was put into the motor cutter and he again showed a very fine spirit some time after he got ashore.  Half an hour after I left the ship he was still walking around joking till I have him a direct order to lie down.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF CHIEF E.R.A. DOUGLAS ROYSTON MATTHEWS, O.N. DMX 46196

 

Matthews cautioned.

 

Q.156.  I understand that shortly before the KHARTOUM anchored following the first explosion that the power largely failed on the main engines?

 

A,  Yes Sir.  The Engineer Officer gave the order actually that the additional hands down the Gear Room and the additional hands down the boiler room because we had two stokers down there whenever there much doing and one steamer when they were easy was to come up and the order was transmitted wrongly and they all came up and shut down the boiler.  Immediately, the ship lost way I ran after and practically met them as they left the boiler room and I got the chief stoker and rushed aft then I went down below and flashed up again.  By the time that happened Sir the anchors had gone down.  We actually lost power and the dynamos came off just a few seconds before the anchors went down.

 

Q.159.  The dynamos coming off the board was due to the loss of pressure in the boiler?

 

A.  Yes sir and when that happened I had two E.R.A.'s down the boiler room and started the diesel dynamos.  I myself went up on the forecastle because they had all been sent foreward and tried to get a L.T.O. to put the diesel dynamos but by that time the First Lieutenant said it did not matter so we stopped them again.

 

Q.160.  At what pressure did the dynamos come off the board?

 

A.  Actually sir, the dynamos would probably come off the board between 150 and 175 lbs pressure but we work the engines down to 50 lbs. Pressure.

 

Q.161.  What is your normal working pressure"

 

A.  300 per square inch.

 

I do not know whether I am supposed to say it but I have been giving the matter a lot of consideration and I wondered if the vent pipes from the oil fuel tanks had got blown away and seeing that they used water on blazing oil some of that water might have got carried down to the tanks.

 

Q.162.  Don't you think that some of the oil from the gravity tank would be sufficient to give it all that flame?

 

A.  Apart from that, there was 150 gallons of oil in the after gun hydraulics and they was smashed up.

 

Q. 163.  The vent pipes go deeper.

 

A.  They actually go deeper but they are inside the flat.

 

Q. 164 You are talking now between the magazine and the vent pipes?

 

A.  The magazine is here and the vent pipes from the oil fuel tanks are back there.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF CHIEF STOKER EDWARD MITCHELL, O.N. K 55471

 

Mitchell cautioned.

 

Q.165.  Can you suggest any reason why, first of all the power failed on the main engines after entering Perim Harbour and also why the electric steering motors failed?

 

A.  When I went down into the Boiler Room after they had given the order to get extra hands up out of the boiler room.

 

Q.166.  Where were you when that order was given?

 

A.  I was foreward. I tried to get from aft to foreward and they had cleared everyone from after foreward.

 

Q.167.  Where were you when the first explosion took place?

 

A.  Asleep on the forecastle.  After they had cleared everyone from aft I was foreward in the sick bay and I got the order from the Engineer officer of the watch to get the extra hands out of the boiler room.  I went foreward again and seen the ship stop and I sent down below because they was a second explosion and I expected it was the oil tanks and I went and changed from the after tanks to the foreward ones and I went down and got her underway and she got some extra revs up again and got under way.

 

Q.168.  You consider the reason for the failure was the mistaken order that the extra hands come up was taken as all hands?

 

A.  It must have been because when I went down and changed over the tanks to foreward and opened up the sprayers she started to pick up her revolutions again.

 

Q.169.  None of the sprayers had been left on?

 

A.  No sir.  When the Petty Officer came down I came up on top and I went and reported to the Engineer Officer, who was in the sick bay, and he gave me the order to flood foreward.

 

Q.170.  He was in the sick bay?

 

A.  Yes sir he was all burnt.

 

Q.171.  Do you know when the steering motors failed?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.172. Is it your opinion that the steam failed because of the failure of the oil supply from the after tanks?

 

They was number seven and eight tanks.  We had ten tons in each of the tanks and it is my estimation that the tanks caught fire because there was black smoke coming up.

 

Q.173.  You were not down in the flames?

 

A.  When is this sir?

 

Q.174.  Before the order that extra hands were to come out of the boiler room?

 

A.  I sat up top of the hatch.  There was two P.O.'s and a Leading Hand, but I went foreward again and I did not notice who came up until the Chief E.R.A. told me.  When I noticed the ship was stopping he said "they haven't all come up?"  I said "No, I don't think so."  I went down on my own.

 

Q. 175.  They did?

 

A.  Yes, they did.

 

Q.176.  And you went down?

 

A.  I went to the foreward oil tank.

 

Q.177.  When you got down the sprayers were all off and the Master valve shut?

 

A.  There were no sprayers on.

 

Q.178.  And you got them going as soon as you could"

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.179.  It has been stated that after the first explosion, there was another unidentified explosion.

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.180.  Have you any idea what it was?

 

A.  I have come to the conclusion that it was C.S.A.

 

Q.181.  Where was it stowed?

 

A.  Between the winches after.  We have a big C.S.A. tank and it had 1100 lbs of C.S.A. liquid in it.

 

Q.182.  Have you got any C.O.2 gas aboard?

 

A.  Not after.  That was in the Engineers charge down in the boiler room flat.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF LIEUTENANT JAMES WOLFERSTAN RYLANDS, ROYAL NAVY.

 

Rylands cautioned.

 

Q.183.  When the first explosion took place, where were you?

 

A.  In the Ward room.

 

Q. 184.  So that it took place almost over your head?

 

A.  Yes sir

 

Q. 185.  Will you tell me what steps were taken to seal with the fire that broke out?

 

A.  I went straight on deck and went forward to try and get some of the crew to come aft. I think the Captain had passed the word.  I found hoses coming along the foaments.  We saw the connection between the after tubes and the searchlight platform was only dribbling water and was jammed and would not open up.  I got a Chief Stoker with a foam first of all and tried to get up to the galley which had blown out by the torpedo head and got connected up all told a total of about five hoses one of which was actually put on the damaged connection and it was dribbling.  We were wetting canvas gear with this one.  The chief stoker and I both got foaments to start with.  He took one and tried to get into the after lobby but the smoke was much too thick and got in about five or six steps and had to come out.  He got a canvas bag and filled it with water and put it over his head and tried again but he had no chance of getting in.  We got foaments and put them through the hole in the foreward screen into the galley, then attacked the flames around the upper deck explosive locker but were both turned back by the heat.  Then the gunners mate went up on number three gun dick to try to get rid of the ammunition up there and I sprayed him and the ready use locker and the backs of the tanks.  The hoses were actually  were not long enough so I got the hose taken off the damaged connection and put on to one of the other and the end passed up on to number three gun deck, but it was getting a bit warm then.  We got up to the two foreward ready use lockers and got all the cordite out and ditched it.  The cortiscene caught fire and it was then just a mass of flames and I yelled to him to come down, so we went down and fought the flames for about five minutes more I suppose.  After that the place was getting such an inferno so I got everybody out.  I gave the order to clear away from aft, everybody up foreward.

 

Q.186.  Did you have a change to take in the strange track of this head?

 

A.  No I didn't, I just rushed on deck.  I was told by the Chief Stoker afterwards that the thing definitely hit the gun support as he had seen the gun support being smashed.

 

Q.187.  Do you consider that a war head could pass through two thicknesses of the gun support?

 

A.  I have never seen one doing it before.  The Chief Stoker announced that the gun support had been smashed.

 

Q.188.  From the first explosion to the final abandoning of ship were you entirely satisfied with the conduct of all concerned?

 

A.  Yes, certainly.  Even after I gave the order to clear away from aft, the chaps were anxious to go on with the fire.  When we were lowering the motor cutter the fall was jammed on the foreward cleat and when we got that clear and got it down about half way and were putting in the injured I asked another dozen chaps to get in and when we got her into the water and I said "right carry on in shore" not a single sailor tried to get down the falls.

 

Q.189.  You were left behind to dismantle?

 

A.  Yes sir, but only until next day about one o'clock.

 

Q.190.  And during that time did you keep a careful lookout for things coming from aft?

 

A.  Yes sir, two salvage parties were working around the ship and I do not remember anything coming up after, and next day anything on the water was recovered and brought back by two Police cutters, pinnaces, etc, all searching to see if they could find anything.  Divers were down and could not see anything.

 

Q.191. where are your boats now?

 

A.  The cutter has been discharged to KANDAHAR and the whaler is in LUCIA.

 

Q.192.  You were there when the diving operations were carried out?

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q. 193.  You were in the ship when diving operations were carried out.  Did you see a steel chest and .303 box"

 

A.  Yes sir

 

Q.194.  The perforated chest went over the port side?

 

A.  Yes sir, abreast the motor cutters canopy.

 

Q. 195.  Most of the diving did not take place in the vicinity where the books were dropped?

 

A.  I do not know.  I know this, that it did get to the motor cutter as I had been it in the starboard waist and I know that it laid there until the other one was brought down and disappeared again.

 

 

 

EVIDENCE OF MR. WILLIAM JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)  RECALLED.

 

Q.197.  You say when the torpedoes were sent in to Devonport Depot that you reported this pitting of the air vessel.

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.198.  Did you report in writing?

 

A.  I cannot say whether I reported in writing or spoke to the T.E. personally.

 

Q.199.  Did you yourself write a letter through the Commanding Officer reporting the matter?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.200.  You did not?

 

A.  I reported to the Captain that they were badly pitted and that I considered they should go in for overhaul.

 

Q.201.  So you reported it verbally to the Captain?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q.202. And you reported it verbally to the T.E.O. at Devonport.

 

A.  Yes.

 

Q. 203.  Well when the torpedoes were returned did you get anything in writing from anybody that they considered that although they were pitted they were alright?

 

A.  No nothing in writing at all sir.

 

Q.204.  And no notation was made on the history sheets?

 

A.  Not as far as I know.

 

Q.205.  Did you look especially to see if any notation was made?

 

A.  I looked at two or three, I did not look through the whole lot because they were all the same.

 

Q.206.  Those ones that you looked at?  Did you see any notation?

 

A.  I never did.  They sent back the same torpedoes as I sent in and they convinced me that they were alright and had nothing to worry about.

 

Q.207. When you are talking about the T.E.O. do you mean the Torpedo Engineer Officer?

 

A.  Yes sir

 

Q. 208.  Did you make any notation on the return notes.

 

A.  No

 

Q. 209.  Did you return them on loan?

 

A.  No returned them by return notes.

 

Q,210.  On your return notes did you say badly pitted?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.211.  Did you make any remarks at all?

 

A.  No sir, I cannot remember rightly whether a letter was sent about it but if there was there should be a copy of it in the Torpedo

 

Q.212.  You have no other correspondence that you know of?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.213.  In verbally reporting to Captain (D) did you say what state your torpedoes were in?

 

A.  I think KANDAHAR when they had experts from Greenwich about it were told that they had nothing to worry about.

 

 

COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.  RECALLED.

 

Q.214.  Will you please say if your recall your Gunner (T) informing you of the pitted state of the air vessels?

 

A.  Yes, I can remember him reporting it but I cannot remember the date.

 

Q.215.  Was it previous to the torpedoes going in for their six month overhaul?

 

A.  I can remember reporting, I cannot remember the approximate date.  I do not think I reported it in writing because I knew the matter was already in the hands of D 5's staff who were perfectly aware of it and were told that our ship had been running a very short time compared with others and there torpedoes were presumably in a worse condition.  Instructions were received on a date I cannot remember to give the air vessels two coats of red lead, but opportunity did not occur previous to refit.

 

                                                (sgd).  H.L. Howden, Captain

                                                (sgd)  J.H. Huntley, Commander

                                                (sgd)  T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant

 

 


                                                                                

    H.M.A.S. HOBART

At Aden

 

                                                                                                            28th June 1940

 

SECRET

 

Sir,

 

We have the honour to report that in accordance with the instructions contained in your Form S. 1360 dated 25th June 1940,  we have this day assembled as a Board of Enquiry, and have held a full and careful investigation into the circumstances attending the loss of His Majesty's Ship KHARTOUM on 23rd June 1940 and have to report as follows:

 

1.  We are of the opinion that the primary cause of the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM was the exploding of the Air Vessel of the starboard wing torpedo in the after mounting.  The explosion caused the after body of the torpedo to be jammed into the rear end of the tube, the tube to be burst open, and the warhead to be discharged after with great velocity.  The head passed through the after galley, severing the feed pipe from the 80 gallon gravity Oil Fuel tank for the galley, through, or past the after gun support, through the after gun power unit compartment, through the after bulkhead of the after superstructure, and came to rest against the starboard winch of the Two Speed Destroyer Sweep gear.  The warhead did not explode, but was split open.

 

2.  Fire broke out instantaneously in both the after galley and in the after Power Unit compartment.  The fire is considered to be due to the paint on the bulkhead catching fire owing to friction, and this together with the fire in the galley, set alight to the oil flowing from the gravity tank through the severed oil pipe, and in the case of the after Power Unit, set alight to the waste oil in the compartment, and possibly oil exuding from the plant itself, which was probably fractured by the warhead during its travel.

 

3.  We consider that every possible step was taken to control expeditiously the fire, but that conflagration was of such proportions that it was quite impossible to control or extinguish it.

 

4.  We are of the opinion that Commander D.T.Dowler, R.N. of H.M.S. KHARTOUM acted wisely in taking the steps he did to attempt to beach the ship in shallow water, and the fact that this was not successfully accomplished was due to a failure of electrical power which caused the steering motors to go out of action.  The failure of the electrical supply was caused by an order to clear the boiler room of "Additional Hands" being incorrectly received as an order to clear the boiler room of "All Hands".  Before evacuating the boiler room, the main fuel supply to the sprayers was shut off, and due to the loss of steam, the dynamo came off the board.  The incorrect receipt of the order was realised without undue delay and steps were taken to send a steaming watch back to the boiler room.  The boiler was flashed up again and sufficient steam raised to manoeuvre the main engines at slow speed, but not to run the dynamo.

 

NOTE:             50 lbs per sq. inch of steam is sufficient for Main Engines, but 175lbs per sq. inch is required for the steam dynamo.

 

5.  The result is that the ship was not beached on Princes' Shoal as was intended, but is on an even keel in position 12-38-52 North, 43-24-55 East, in 4 to 6 fathoms of water at Mean Low Water Springs.

 

6.  It appears evident that it was quite impossible to approach the flooding valves of the after magazine due to the terrific heat and the extensive nature of the fire, and therefore it was quite beyond human power to prevent the subsequent explosions of the after magazine and the warhead magazine containing twenty nine depth charges.

 

7.  We are of the opinion that Commander Dowler's action as outlined in paragraph 11 of his report No. 1570, dated 24th June 1940, was a correct one, and also his action in firing the torpedoes from the forward tubs, and generally taking every possible precaution to limit the extent of the explosion.

 

8.  Concerning the disposal of the Confidential Books and Signal Publications, it appears that three steel chests and two steel sectional bookcases are either amongst the wreckage after or may have been blown by the force of the explosion, some distance from the ship and may have even reached the shore or shallow water.  We are of the opinion that up to date an insufficient search has been made ashore and in the shallow water of Perim Harbour for these books and recommend that an extensive search be made without delay.  It is evident that one light steel perforated chest containing confidential books and signal publications has fallen overboard on the port side abreast the funnel, in an area which was not searched by divers from H.M.S. LEANDER during the diving operations on 24th June 1940.  It is also evident that Key Memoranda A' and D' and Small Ships re-cyphering Tables 8 and 10, which had been weighted by securely lashing them to a full box of .303 ammunition, are either on the starboard side of the upper deck in the vicinity of the break in the forecastle, on the forecastle deck, or on the seabed in the vicinity of the ship.  It would appear highly improbable that any of the confidential books or Signal Publications carried in H.M.S. KHARTOUM have been compromised.

 

9.  We are of the opinion that the care and maintenance of the torpedoes was efficiently carried out in accordance with the Regulations.  The only cause of weakness of the Air Vessel and possible cause of the explosion that we have been able to trace, has been the external pitting which apparently occurred during the service of the ship in the North Sea.  When these torpedoed were subsequently sent in to the Torpedo Engineer Officer, Devonport, for inspection and six monthly overhaul, the Gunner (T) of the KHARTOUM states he verbally informed the Torpedo Engineer Officer of the pitting.  The same torpedoes were returned to the KHARTOUM, and it is therefore assumed that they were considered serviceable by the Torpedo Engineer Officer.  Should it be considered that this external pitting was the cause of the explosion, it is recommended that further extensive investigation is advisable with a view to establishing to what extent the pitting reduces the factor of safety of the Air Vessel.

 

10. It is not known whether H.M.S. VERNON has under consideration methods for guarding torpedoes against the deleterious effect of spray in the above water tubs, but this board is of the opinion that consideration might with advantage, be given to this matter.

 

11.  During our investigation we have been much impressed by the magnificent spirit displayed by Commander Dowler, the Officers, and the Ship's Company of H.M.S. KHARTOUM under most trying circumstances, and we are firmly convinced that they upheld the highest traditions of his Majesty's Naval Service, and we consider that great credit is due to all concerned.

 

12.  The following documents are enclosed"

 

(i).  Form S. 1360 together with copies of relevant signals and a report from LEANDER as received.

 

(ii).  The minutes of the Board of Inquiry in triplicate.

 

(iii).  A copy of the report of Commander D.T. Dowler, R.N. No 1570 dated 24th June 1940 reporting the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM.

 

(iv).  Sketch showing sounding in fathoms in the vicinity of the wreck of H.M.S. KHARTOUM.

 

                                                (sgd).  H.L. Howden, Captain

                                                (sgd)  J.H. Huntley, Commander

                                                (sgd)  T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant

 

 


 

 

                                                                        H.M.A.S. HOBART

At Aden

 

                                                                                                3rd July 1940

Sir,

 

We have the honour to report that in accordance with your Signals 3023/2nd July and 2353/2nd July, we have this day re assembled as a Board of Inquiry and have held and full and careful investigation with the object of establishing:

 

1.  The Mark of the torpedoes which exploded or other facts from which it could be identified.

 

2.  The possibility of sabotage.

 

3.  The possibility of a local fire prior to the explosion.

 

4.  A full description of the damage to the tube and of the condition of the rear end of the torpedo in the tube.

 

We wish to report as follows:

 

1.  The torpedo was a Mark IXxx, but it has not been possible to establish the number of the torpedo which exploded.

 

2.  The possibility of sabotage, either within or without the ship, can be safely discounted.

 

3.  There was no local fire in the vicinity of the tube prior to the explosion in the torpedo.

 

4.  The eye witnesses' description of the damage caused to the torpedo tube varies, but we consider that its condition was as follows:

 

From the lip to the gas check ring the rube was complete; from the gas check ring to the Tripper the outboard side and the top of the tube completely blown away.  Immediately abaft the Tripper to within approximately three feet of the rear door the side of the tube was torn open.  The after three feet below the cordite combustion chamber was again complete.  The rear door slightly bulged with the after propeller hoses and a portion of the after propeller blades protruding.

 

The Torpedo Gunner's Mate, whose evidence appears to be very reliable stated that the whole of the after body of the torpedo including the engine was jammed in the rear end of the tube.

 

5.  A list is attached of the C.B.'s and S.P.'s and other secret and confidential documents recovered.  These were mustered on board H.M.S. LUCIA by Lieutenant Buckle and were later returned to the C.B. Officer, Naval Office, Aden, on 2nd July.

 

An approximate list of W/T books lost from H.M.S. KHARTOUM is attached.  As the register was in the after part of the ship when the explosion took place and has been lost it has not been possible to compile a list of books lost.  The present C.B. Distributing Authority to KHARTOUM is D.A. Malta.  This "Approximate List of W/T Books lost from H.M.S. KHARTOUM was compiled from memory by P.O. Telegraphist J. Devlin after landing, the Muster Board having been lost in the perforated steel chest that went overboard.

 

Commander Dowler states that a report of the loss of the books has only been verbally to the Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea, and that he (Commander Dowler) has not reported to the Admiralty in accordance with C.B. Form U2D articles 81-82.  Commander Dowler also states that he has informed by the Secretary to the Senior Naval Officer, Red, Sea, that the los of Key Memos. "A" and "B" and recyphering Tables S.S. (8) and (10) has been reported to the Commander in Chief, East Indies Station.

 

6.  The Board did not consider it necessary to take the evidence of divers before H.M.S. LEANDER sailed observing that the Board had received a very comprehensive report of all diving operations carried out by LEANDER signed by Captain H.E. Horan, D.S.C. R.N., Commanding Officer, H.M.S. LEANDER.  This report of diving operations was forwarded as an enclosure to our previous report.

 

                                                (sgd).  H.L. Howden, Captain

                                                (sgd)  J.H. Huntley, Commander

                                                (sgd)  T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant

 

 

SECRET

 

EVIDENCE OF COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY

 

Commander Dowler recalled and cautioned.

 

Q.1.  Have you any reason to suppose that the explosion of this torpedo may have been due to sabotage, within or without the ship?

 

A.  None whatsoever Sir.  The ship had been to Djbouti for about five hours on the previous Thursday, the 20th June, but only lay out at the Oiling Berth.  Previous to that we had been at sea for six days.  At no time was anybody allowed on board without any parcels being examined by the Quartermaster.

 

Q.2. When was the last time that the torpedo was blown down?

 

A.  I am not aware of the last definite date.

 

Q.3.  Is it some days or some weeks ago?

 

A.  I think the Gunner (T) has already given this evidence.

 

Q.4.  In fact you think it quite impossible for any form of sabotage to have taken place.

 

A.  Quite impossible if my orders were carried out and I have no reason to suspect that they were not carried out.

 

Q.5.  Did you rescue any prisoners from the Italian U Boat TORRICELLI?

 

A.  Sixteen were originally rescued of whom fourteen were transferred to KINGSTON also immediately, one died, and the other one remained on board under guard the whole time.  The only time he was in the vicinity of the mounting was at the funeral of the other prisoner and it was not possible for him to carry out any act of sabotage observing that he had been rescued from the sea and had only one pair of shorts on and was rather weak himself.

 

Q.6.  Did the other fourteen that were finally transferred to the KINGSTON ever come on board?

 

A.  Yes, they were on board for about ten minutes, but guards were present.  They were also rescued direct from the sea.

 

Q.7.  Can you tell me for what reason the one man was kept on board?

 

A.  He had been suffering from partial drowning and the Doctor considered he needed further medical attention.

 

Q.8.  Were any hands employed working about the part of the ship and especially on the mounting?

 

A.  Not to my knowledge and the hands had gone to dinner three quarters of an hour beforehand as I was keeping zone minus four time for routine convenience.

 

Q.9.  Is there any doubt in your mind that the fire that broke out may have been due to any cause other than the explosion of the torpedo.

 

A.  None whatsoever. The fire was removed by some twenty feet from the lobby end of the tube and the Engineer Officer was sitting close to the Galley.

 

Q.10.  Are you quite certain that no fire had started in the vicinity of the tubes prior to the explosion of the torpedoes?

 

A.  In my opinion if there had been a fire there ratings passing along the upper deck, and particularly those relieving watches short before, could not have failed to observe if there had been a fire.

 

Q.11.  The same thing applies to the Engineer Officer presumably?

 

A.  Yes.

 

Q.12.  Would the Cooks in the after Galley be looking out on the aft mountings?

 

A.  His scuttle does open out directly to that particular tube, but he had left the galley before the explosion occurred.

 

Q.13.  after the explosion did you personally see the exploded tube?

 

A.  No.

 

Q.14.  Do you know who did?

 

A.  Lieutenant Buckle, the Gunner (T), I think the First Lieutenant and I think the Torpedo Gunners Mate.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF MR. WILLIAM JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)

 

Mr. Collier recalled and cautioned.

 

Q.15.  Do you consider that it would have been at all possible for the explosion of the torpedo tubes to have been the result of sabotage within or without the ship?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q.16.  Were you working in the vicinity of the tubes that day at all?

 

A.  No Sir.  I was the Officer of the Watch.

 

Q.17. Was anyone working in the vicinity of the tubes?

 

A.  The Torpedo Gunner's Mate.

 

Q.18.  Was the T.G.M. in the vicinity at the time.

 

A.  No sir it happened just after I came off forenoon watch.

 

Q.19.  So did you walk past the tubes coming aft?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q.20. Did you see anyone in the vicinity?

 

A.  No sir.

 

Q.21.  Did you see anybody in the vicinity?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.22. Do you consider it possible that a fire might have broken out before the explosion?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.23.  Are you quite certain in your own mind that the fires that broke out were caused by the explosion?

 

A.  Definitely Sir.

 

Q.24.  Did you see the tube after the explosion?

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.25.  Just describe the condition of it.

 

A.  The tube from the top stop to about a position half way to the buoyancy chamber was blown completely out.

 

Q.26.  Do you mean opened out or the complete side blown away?

 

A.  The complete side blown away.

 

Q.27.  Were any of the pieces of the tube seen on deck?

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.28.  What size fragments?

 

A.  The only part I remember being on the upper deck was one racer wheel.

 

Q.29.  You did not see any fragments of the tube?

 

A.  There were pieces but I could not tell whether it was fragments of the torpedo tube or the torpedo.

 

Q.30.  Would you go on and describe what you saw in the rear end of the tube?

 

A.  The rear end of the torpedo from the buoyancy chamber to the tail part appeared to be squashed against the rear door.

 

Q.31.  Could you see any signs of the torpedo engine?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.32.  Did you at any time suspect that the engine had blown up and not the air vessel?

 

A.  Definitely not Sir.  The explosion appeared to be far too near the air vessel for it to be anything to do with the engine at all.

 

Q.33.  You referred earlier to the buoyancy chamber.  Did you mean buoyancy chamber or the balance chamber.?

 

A.  Balance chamber.

 

Q.34.  Would you tell us about the torpedoes you carried?

 

A.  We carried ten Mark IXxx

 

Q.35.  Do you know the number of the torpedo that exploded?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q.36.  Do you know the numbers of the torpedoes that you carried.  Were they consecutive numbers?

 

A.  No sir, they were consecutive from 471, missed 472, 273, and 474, started again at 475, 476, 477, 478, 479, 480 and then we carried a 468 and 293.  That is as far as I can remember off hand.  I cannot remember the number of the ten torpedo and the above numbers are from memory.  The duplicate copy of supply note with Nos. of torpedoes is held by T.E.O. Devonport.

 

Q.37.  Could you divide the numbers into the two mountings?

 

A.  No sir

 

Q.38.  Do you know any other way in which you could identify the torpedo that exploded?

 

A.  No, sir, only by getting a piece of it back.

 

Q.39.  Can you tell us the date that the air vessel was last blown down?

 

A.  They were new torpedoes on the 11th May, issued by the Torpedo Depot on the 11th May.

 

Q.40.  Did you charge them immediately?

 

A. Yes sir, or rather they were charged with 1500 before we got them from the Torpedo Depot because we were in a hurry to get away at that particular time and we asked for the torpedoes to be charged 1500 to enable us to get torpedoes ready for action.

 

Q.41.  What parts of the torpedo did you recognize or thought were jammed into the rear end of the torpedo tube?

 

A.  Both propellers and nearly all the tail.

 

Q. 42.  By the tail you mean the shell?

 

A.  Yes sir, that was all right up together.  I could not tell what was inside it, but I did definitely recognize two propellers.'

 

Q.43.  Did you recognize any parts of the engine or the air blast gyro?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.44. I want to confirm that the tube from the top stop to the tripper was blown completely out and that from the tripper as far as the rear door was opened out.  Is it considered therefore that the parts of the engine and gyro were blown out of that opening, which left the engine, the propellers and part of the tail to be jammed against the rear door?

 

A.  Yes Sir.

 

Q.45.  What was the condition of that part of the tube from the top stop to the end of the lip?

 

A.  It appeared to be alright.

 

Q.46.  Do you think or was there any suggestion of the air vessel explosion being preceded by a smaller explosion?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q. 46. (two questions numbered Q.46) Despite the fact that you failed to recognize any parts of the engine on the deck or in the damaged tube, you do not think that there was any chance of an engine explosion?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.47.  What do you consider could have happed to the engine?

 

A.  The only thing I can say has happened to the engine is that it has been blown over the side.

 

Q.  48.  Bodily?

 

A.  Bodily.

 

Q. 49.  Your description of the suffering of the after end of the tube is that confined to the outboard side of the tube?

 

A. Yes Sir, the inboard side as far as I could see appeared to be intact.

 

Q.50.  The inboard side next to the next tube appeared to be intact?

 

A.  It appeared to be.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF CYRIL HORACE HEYWOOD POOLE, PETTY OFFICER, O.N. DJ 109856

 

Poole cautioned.

 

Q.51.  Were you on the morning of the explosion in the vicinity of the tubes?

 

A.  No sir, not at the time of the explosion.

 

Q.52.  But during the time before that?

 

A.  During the forenoon, yes sir.

 

Q.53.  You were working about the tubes during the forenoon?

 

A.  Yes sir.

 

Q.54.  Was there at any time any of the prisoners from the TORRICELLI in the vicinity of the tubes?

 

A.  Yes, sir, they came in the starboard side abreast the tubes.

 

Q.55.  But I understand that they were under guard?

 

A.  Yes Sir.

 

Q.56.  Do you consider it would have been possible for any of them to have caused this explosion by some form of sabotage?

 

A.  I do not think it was possible.

 

Q.57.  Do you mean that during the whole time they were on board they were securely guarded?

 

A.  Yes Sir, they were sent foreward on the fore mess deck and when they left the ship in the boats to go directly over the KINGSTON two remained on ship.  One was having artificial respiration and the other one was under guard on the starboard side of the forecastle.  One died.

 

Q.58.  The Gunner (T) gave us numbers of the torpedoes you carried.  Do you know the number of the torpedo which exploded?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.59.  Do you know the numbers of the torpedoes in the after mountings?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q.60.  Did you see the damaged tube after the explosion?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q. 61.  Describe the damage.

 

A.  I only stopped to have a fleeting glance at it sir and I should imagine just abaft the gas check ring to the lip end of it the combustion chamber was blown out the side and the top.  The right hand side, that is the port side seemed to be alright.  The after body was blown through the rear door, or partly through the rear door.

 

Q. 62.  Though the rear door?

 

A.  Not right through.

 

Q.63.  Would you describe that happened to the rear end of the tube underneath the cordite combustion chamber.

 

A.  The after part seemed to be complete.  The tube itself seemed to be complete up to the fore end of the combustion chamber.  The after body of the torpedo was blown back and the after propeller was protruding through the rear door.

 

Q.64.  Did you not see part of the tube from the position where the side and top had been completely blown away, did you not see that opened up?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q.65.  I would like you to describe again what portion was completely blown out, what portion of it was opened up and what portion of it remained intact.?

 

A.  From the lip end to the after end of the Gas Check ring appeared to be complete; from there to the fore end of the combustion  chamber was blown out top and outboard sides, the training gear was blown away and from the fore end below of the combustion chamber directly below and outboard side seemed to be opened out.  From there to the rear door was complete.

 

Q. 66.  What part of the after body did you recognize jammed in the tube?

 

A.  From the engine aft.

 

Q. 67.  Do you consider you actually saw part of the engine jammed up against the after end of the tube?

 

A.  The propellers were sticking through the rear door and the engine could be seen in the aft part of the tube.

 

Q. 68.  In other words the break appeared to be at the balance chamber?

 

A.  Yes sir at the after body joint.

 

Q.69.  Where were you at the time the explosion occurred?

 

A.  In the forecastle lobby sir?

 

Q.70.  Where did you go when the explosion occurred?

 

A.  I ran aft, starboard side, near the tubes.

 

Q.71.  Did you see any fire in the vicinity of the tube other than the fire that broke out in the galley?

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q. 72.  So that you do not consider it possible that any fire broke out in the vicinity of the tube prior to the explosion taking place?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q. 73.  Were they any torpedomen who could confirm that you saw?

 

A.  I could not say Sir.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF LIEUTENANT CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, ROYAL NAVY

 

Buckle recalled.

 

Q. 74.  Do you consider that it is possible that this explosion could have been due to sabotage within or without the ship?

 

A.  In view of what I saw I do not think it is likely.

 

Q. 75.  Was it possible for any unauthorized person to have been in the vicinity of the tubes?

 

A.  No, Sir.  The Italian prisoners passed the tubes sir, but they were under guard the whole time.

 

Q.76.  Where were you at the time of the explosion?

 

A.  In my cabin which in the Ward Room flat.

 

Q.77.  As far as your knowledge goes there is no question of a fire having broken out prior to the explosion.

 

A.  No Sir

 

Q. 78.  After the explosion did you see the torpedo tube?

 

A.  Yes Sir, I did.

 

Q.79.  Will you describe its condition commencing from the lip aft?

 

A.  The tube was whole from the lip to the gas check ring.  From there aft, the whole of the tube appeared to have been blown out sideways and upwards leaving about three feet of the after end of the tube.  The rear door had been partially forced backward and I could see the propellers boss protruding through the gap.  There was a crack in the rear door just left of centre.

 

Q.80.  Did you look inside this after part of the tube?

 

A.  No Sir.  I noticed scattered around the tube various pieces of brass, bolts, fittings, etc. of the tube.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.  RECALLED.

 

Q.81.  this list of C.B.'s and S.P.'s ex KHARTOUM that you have laid before the Board, when was that compiled.

 

A.  That was finally compiled on board LUCIA.  The books were kept together the whole time once they had been collected after the ship was abandoned.

 

Q.82.  So that all the books were brought back on board LUCIA and what Officers mustered them?

 

A.  Lieutenant Buckle.  I told him to take another officer and I think it was Sub Lieutenant James, R.N.V.R.

 

Q.83.  The other list that you have laid before the board headed "approximate list of W/T books from KHARTOUM, will you please say how that list was compiled.

 

A.  It was compiled by the Wireless staff from memory of all the books they originally had after taking into the consideration the wireless books that were brought shore.  The Muster board was actually in the chest that was lost.

 

Q.83.  (n.b. two questions number Q.83)  Was the Register Lost?

 

A.  The Register was blown up with the other C.B.'s in the after part of the ship.

 

Q.84.  So that all the C.B.'s and S.P.'s with the exception of the list you have forwarded plus Key Memos "A" and "B" and Small Ships recyphering tables (8) and (10) have been lost with the ship.

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q.85.  Where are the C.B.'s and S.P.'s that were saved?

 

A.  They were returned to the C.B. Officer, Naval Office, Aden, yesterday, 2nd July, with the exception of one C.B. "Handbook of 4.7 Guns" which was retained by the Executive Officer to assist in Salvage Operations at Perim.

 

Q.86.  I assume that due to the loss of the Register, it has not been possible to compile a light of books lost?

 

A.  No.

 

Q.87.  Who is the C.B. Distributing Authority?

 

A.  The Distribution Authority Malta, previously the Admiralty, previously Captain (D) 5, and on commissioned on October 31st 1930, the Admiral Commanding Western Approaches.

 

Q.88.  The C.B.'s that have been recovered, are they in good condition or have they suffered from being immersed in water?

 

A.  There was one set of S.P.'s in a bag slightly damped.  I do not think that there is any permanently damaged and the "Handbook of 4.7 Guns" was also damaged by water, but it serviceable.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF LIEUTENANT CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, ROYAL NAVY.  RECALLED.

 

Q.89.  Did you muster the C.B.'s and S.P.'s and other Secret and Confidential documents that were recovered from KHARTOUM/

 

A.  Yes sir

 

Q. 90.  Where did you muster them?

 

A.  In LUCIA.

 

Q.91. And so that this list was compiled by yourself?

 

A.  The Yeoman of Signals helped in compiling it.

 

Q.92.  Did any other officer do it with you?

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q.93.  Can you tell me whether the Register was lost?

 

A, Yes Sir it was.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF PETTY OFFICER CYRIL HORACE HEYWOOD POOLE, DJ 109856.  RECALLED

 

Q.94.  In your work book did you keep a note of the number of the torpedoes in each tube?

 

A.  Yes Sir

 

Q.95.  What has become of your work book?

 

A.  The work book was in the low power room, and has been lost.

 

Q.96.  Your workbook was the only record of where the torpedo was?

 

A.  No Sir, in the Log and Progress Book as well.

 

Q.97.  And that has also been lost?

 

A.  Yes Sir.

 

Q. 98.  You have no idea which torpedo it was at all.

 

A.  No Sir.

 

Q.99.  You could not even say it was one of two or three.

 

A.  No Sir.

 

 

COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.  RECALLED

 

Q.100.  Did you report the loss of the C.B.'s and S.P.'s and other Confidential documents to Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea?

 

A.  It was reported verbally to S.N.O.R.S.

 

Q.101.  When?

 

A.  I think on board the KANDAHAR the same night.  The loss the Key Memos and Recyphering Tables has been reported to C. in C. , E.I.

 

Q.102.  Did you report to the Admiralty in accordance with C.B. Form U2D articles 81 and 82.

 

A.  I could not because the book was destroyed.

 

                                                (sgd).  H.L. Howden, Captain

                                                (sgd)  J.H. Huntley, Commander

                                                (sgd)  T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant

 

 


 

APPROXIMATE LIST OF W/T BOOKS LOST FROM H.M.S. KHARTOUM

 

 

S.P. NO.

TITLE

02191 (2)

Fleet Signal Book

02192 (2)

Naval Aircraft Code No. 2

02191 X (2)

A.B.C. Tables (two copies)

02193 (4)

Administration Code. Fleet Code.

02048 AV

Cover for Fleet Code

02194 (4)

Cover for Fleet Decode

02193 (3) G

Geographic Appendix No. 3 (two copies).

02229

Syko Machine. War Call Signs.

 

                                                            (sgd).  J.T. Dowler

                                                            Commander

 

 

 

From: The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KHARTOUM

 

Date: 11th July 1940                                               No. 1588

 

To: The Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea.

 

The following additional books have been recovered from H.M.S. KHARTOUM.

 

 

Copy No.

02192 (2)

3926

02191 (2)

533

02191 X (2)

1380

02048 AV

NN

02193 (4)

895

02193 (3) G

839

02049 V

NN

Cover for Auxiliary Code

NN

02205 B

2226

02206

2318

02131 V

NN

02198 (7)

74

02151 V

NN

02219 R (8)

57

02219 (8)

55

02218 (8) D

61

02175 (8)

Number obliterated

02175 (10)

1134

02296 A

244

02292 A

366

02293 A

370

02294 A

366

02293 D

44

02291 D

44

02295 D

44

02294 D

44

92291 A

370

 

Forms for Recognition Signals.

 

2.  All the above books have been rendered unfit for further use by oil fuel and have been destroyed, certificates of destruction being rendered to the Distributing Authority.

 

                                                (sgd)  D.T. Dowler

                                                Commander

 

 

LIST OF C.B.'s and S.P.'s ex KHARTOUM.

 

S.P. No.

Title

Copy No.

2310

Merchant Navy Code

519

2311

Merchant Navy Decode

519

02248

Cover for action and alarm signals.

 

02248 (2)

Action and Alarm Signals No. 2

1520

02255 (J)

Naval Syko cards

2015

02266 (J)

R.A.F. Syko cards

2015

02229

Syko machine

669

02191 (2)

Fleet Signal Book

532

02192

Naval Aircraft Code No. 2

3927

02191 X (2)

A.B.C. Tables

1382

0532

Cover for Air Codes

 

02048 AV

Cover for Fleet Code

 

02193 (4)

Fleet Code No. 4

894

02193 (3) G

Geographic appendix to Fleet Code No. 3

840

02191 X (2)

Cover for Fleet Decode

 

02194 (4)

Fleet Decode

894

02194 (3) G

Geographic Appendix to Fleet Decode No. 4

840

02226

A.V.S.B.

3191

02226 N (1)

Addendum No. 1 to A.V.S.D.

3940

02275

Minesweeping appendix 1939

204

02159

Distribution and control of Gunfire Signals

900

02159 XB

Fire Control Code

1008

02201

Signalling Instructions

1611

02201 (N)

Addendum No. 1 to Signalling Instructions

1072

02227

Auxiliary vessels signalling instructions

864

02200

Signal Manual

1629

02281 V

Cover for Anglo French Code

136

02281

Anglo French Code Part 1

136

02281 A

Anglo French Code Part 2

136

02282 V

Cover for Anglo French decode

136

02282

Anglo French decode Part 1

136

02282A

Anglo French Decode Part 2

136

 

All of the above were issued to V/S Department

 

02201

Signalling Instructions

1610

02201 (N)

Addendum No. 1 to Signalling Instructions

1071

02182

Mercantile Secret Call Signs

1199

S.P. Form A2C

Establishment of Signal Publications, Etc.

1071

02159

Distribution and control of Gunfire Signals

899

02159 XB

Fire Control Code

1007

02266 (J)

R.A.F. Syko Cards

2016

02255 (J)

Naval Syko Cards

2016

02241

Instructions for use of Syko Machine

794

2144

Instructions for the Stencil cypher

1582

2310

Merchant Navy Code

518

2311

Merchant Navy Decode

518

02226

A.V.S.B.

3190

02226 N (1)

Addendum No. 1 to A.V.S.B.

3939

2203

Wireless signalling instructions

1368

02254

Secret W/T Call signs for Small Auxiliary Vessels, Part II

1537

02183 (3)

General Recoding Table No. 3 (Int. Code)

662

02308 (3)

Recoding Table No. 3 for Anglo French Code

111

02306

Instructions for W/T Communications between British and French Fleets

387

2145 (10)

Inter Service Stencil No. 10

432

02146 K

Key Memorandum K for inter service Stencil

352

02253 (2)

W/T Call Signs No. 2 for small auxiliary vessels Part 1

1768

02304

Naval appendix to G.T.C.

236

02300

Naval Recoding Table for use with G.T.C.

504

02200

Signal Manual

1628

02211 (17)

Recoding Table No. 17 for Administrative Code 

1454

02213

Practice Recoding Table

642

02169

Indicating Groups for Recyphering Tables

347

02196

Administrative Decode

1133

 

Above S.P.s were issued to W/T Department

 

 

S.P. No

 

02274 (3)

Tables of Lettered Coordinates

1226

02184

Naval Cypher No. 1

535

02185

Naval Decypher No. 1

535

02180

(V.C. and V.F. Box)

364

02220

Recognition manual

333

 

C,B. No.

 

3000 (38)

Manual of Naval Intelligence

562

3012

Notes on maritime International Law

947

3039

Handbook of plotting

1771

3034

Instructions for organisation of H.M. Ships for battle

594

3044

Manual of A/S Warfare

875

3041

List of contraband in time of war

542

3042

Manual of combined operations

469

1937

Minesweeping tactics

195

04033

A.M.O.S.

167

1978

Asdic operating procedure for surface craft

163

04032

Air Defence Instructions

338

1756 (Feb 1937)

W/T Board List

267

01957

Protection of shipping at sea

367

1815 (Oct 39)

Particulars of foreign Major War Vessels

394

04027 (39)

Fighting Instructions

529

01986

Destroyer Fighting Instructions

195

3043

Cover for D.M.S.

886

3043 A

D.M.S.

886

4047

Handbook for 4.7" guns

199

1791 (37)

Masthead heights

697

4016 A (Jan 40)

Performance tables for Foreign Service Aircraft

552

4016 A (1)

Ditto

1263

01764 (A) 39

Protection of shipping at sea

123

01618 L (1936)

Information about navigational dangers, etc

1000

04024

Mercantile Convoy Instructions

553

01764 (39)

Protection of shipping at sea, Provisional issue 1939

615

1618 (Q)

Entry into defended ports

593

4045

Textbook of torpedo control

57

 

B.R.s and O.U.s

 

Flags of all nations

Signal Training instructions

Silhouettes of Italian aircraft

Visual Signalling Instructions

N.S.O. Code

Janes Fighting Ships

International Code

Sketch cards of Italian War Vessels

Pendant List

Search and patrol by Surface Craft.

Red Sea Force orders (two copies)

Perim Patrol Memo

E.I. Searched channel forms

Memos on A/S Warfare.

E.I. Operational orders and appendices

E.I. War Memoranda

E.I. Temporary Memoranda

Aden Naval Orders

Cypher log

 

                                                                        (sgd)  C.S. Buckle

                                                                        Lieutenant

 

 


 

SECRET

 

List of officer and ratings who distinguished themselves at loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM

(Enclosure No. 2 to Red Sea No. 906 of 17th July 1940)

 

H.M.S. LUCIA

 

                                                                                                                   26th June 1940

 

SECRET

 

No. 1574.

 

Sir,

 

With reference to my report No. 1570 of 24th June 1940, I have the honour to submit the following list of officers and ratings who distinguished themselves by gallantry or exceptional conduct on the occasion of the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM on 23rd June 1940.

 

2.  OFFICERS

 

Lieutenant Commander (E) Allan Collins Reed, Royal Navy

 

This officer was very seriously burnt about the head, shoulders, arms, body, and legs by the initial explosion.  Notwithstanding this, after some temporary dressing had been applied, he continued to carry out his duties with his usual efficiency, inspiring all those under him by his conduct.  Even after the ship had been abandoned, he carried on until ordered by me to lie down, and throughout shewed great fortitude and cheerfulness despite the nature of his injuries.

 

Lieutenant James Wolverstan Rylands, Royal Navy

 

As Executive Officer, he was unremitting in his efforts to extinguish the fire, and set a fine example of steadiness, which was most helpful in sustaining the high morale of the Ship's Company throughout.  He is strongly recommended for command of a destroyer.

 

Mr. William James Collier, Gunner (T), Royal Navy

 

This officer was also unremitting in his efforts to extinguish the fire and shewed initiative in jettisoning depth charges and five torpedoes and removing the pistols from those that could not be discharged.  He displayed throughout a fine example of steadiness and devotion to duty.

 

I have previously recommended Mr. Collier most strongly for immediate promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, and consider that his conduct on this occasion combined with other officer like qualities, merits recognition in this manner.

 

Surgeon Lieutenant John McDowell Teasdale, R.N.V.R.

 

This officer was unremitting in his skillful attention to the injured and was quite unmoved by the violence of the two main explosions.  He remained on board with a badly injured rating to the end and assisted him down a rope's end into a boat.  Due to his forethought, sufficient medical supplies were available ashore after the ship had been abandoned.

 

3.  RATINGS

 

Petty Officer Edward Sweeney, Official No.  D/JX 131842

 

This rating was well to the fore in attempts to extinguish the fire, and when the pitch, wundergrip, and paint was well alight on No. 3 Gun Deck went up there on his own initiative and with great gallantry jettisoned the majority of the cordite in the ready-use lockers without regard to his own safety.

 

Chief Stoke Henry Mitchell, Official Number D/K 55471

 

This rating made three very gallant attempts to get to the Flooding Cabinet in No. 3 Magazine despite the intensity of the heat, flames, and smoke, without regard to his own safety.  Subsequently, he was largely responsible for steam being available again after the Boiler Room had been abandoned due to a mistake in communication.

 

E.R.A. 3c Sidney George Dimond, Official Number D/MX 46518

 

This rating remained on watch in the Engine Room until he received the order "Finished with Main Engines."  Knowing the imminence of a very heavy explosion, he ordered all other ratings from the Engine Room and remained himself to carry out orders received coolly and promptly.

 

4.  The following ratings are also worthy of mention for general devotion to duty under most trying circumstances.

 

Chief E.R.A. Douglas Royston Matthew, Official No. D/M 46196

 

Stoker Petty Officer Peter Hutton, Official No  D/K  (page torn.  Number not available.)

 

Petty Officer Reginald Samuel John Ladlow, Official No. D/J 95990

 

Yeoman of Signals John Murphy, Official No. D/JX 134463

 

                                                I have the Honour to be, Sir

                                                            Your Obedient Servant

 

                                                            (sgd).  D.T. Dowler

                                                            Commander, Royal Navy

 

Rear Admiral, 4th Cruiser Squadron

 

(copies to :

            Captain (D) 14th Destroyer Flotilla.

            Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KANDAHAR.

 

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

REPORT OF PITTING OF AIR VESSELS

 

(Enclosure No. 3 to Red Sea No. 96 of 17th July 1940)

 

Subject:

 

PITTING OF AIR VESSELS

 

From:    Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KHARTOUM

Date:    9th July 1940                                                                           No. 1586

To:       Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea.

 

The following report is submitted in accordance with Senior Naval Officer's Red Sea's No. 2030/2/7 and KANDAHAR's 0951/4.

 

2.  Four torpedoes were inspected in KIMBERLEY.  All torpedoes were pitted to the same extent in a similar position to torpedoes in KANDAHAR and KHARTOUM.  The torpedo inspected on board LUCIA from KANDAHAR was the most deeply pitted, due to longer periods at sea in bad weather when the torpedoes could not be hauled back and cleaned.  Severe pitting on KANDAHAR's torpedo was observed commencing 2 feet 10 inches from the forward end of Air Vessel, about 10 inches on each side of bottom centre line extending for a distance of 2 feet and 6 inches.  Also shallow pitting was observed for 6 inches on either side of the Air Vessel from the forward end for a distance of 2 feet.  Maximum depth of pitting of KANDAHAR' torpedo was 6/1000 inch and KIMBERLEY's 5/1000 inch.  These measurements were taken with a depth micrometer,  but owing to the diameter of the anvil being approximately 1/10 inches, the deepest pit could not be accurately measured.  The pitting on these torpedoes is very deceptive, for a pit which appears shallow, if scraped with a knife appears much deeper.

 

3.  KINGSTON's torpedoes have not been inspected this time but from observations while KHARTOUM and KINGSTON were refitting, KINGSTON's torpedoes are pitted to the same extent as the remainder of the division.

 

                                                (sgd)  D.T. Dowler

                                                            Commander

 

 

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