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How [Royal] Navy let sailors die to avoid damaging sunk sub

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How [Royal] Navy let sailors die to avoid damaging sunk sub

Postby U-5075 » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:55 pm

I don't know. This story seems a bit too strange, exaggerated. ... n-sub.html
Two photos

REVEALED: How Navy let 99 sailors die to avoid damaging stricken sub
By Nigel Blundell
Last updated at 10:18 PM on 04th April 2009

The crew of a Royal Navy submarine were condemned to an agonising death because the Admiralty decided it was more important to save the vessel than the 99 men trapped on board, a newly unearthed official document proves.

HMS Thetis partly resurfaced with the men still alive inside and rescuers could have saved them in just five minutes by cutting air holes through the 5⁄8in-thick steel hull. A larger hole could then have been cut to let them out.

But the Admiralty refused to allow the rescue because the hull would have been permanently weakened.

At the time – June 1939 – with the Second World War looming, saving the submarine was deemed more important. After 50 hours trapped inside their metal tomb in Liverpool Bay, all the crew were dead of carbon dioxide poisoning, killed by the breath they had exhaled. It was the Royal Navy’s worst peacetime submarine disaster.

The new document was uncovered by author Tony Booth while researching Thetis Down: The Slow Death Of A Submarine. He found a memo at the National Archives in Kew signed by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s private secretary Sir John ‘Jock’ Colville and dated February 9, 1940.

Referring to the cutting of a hole, Colville wrote: ‘This was not attempted until matters became desperate, in order that the submarine might be as little damaged as possible.’

Mr Booth said: ‘It proves that the men were condemned to death by the decision “to protect the integrity” of the vessel.

'Salvage experts were prevented from drilling air holes, which they said would have taken only five minutes, followed by the cutting of a larger hole.

'Opening an escape route would have permanently weakened the structure of the submarine. She could have been repaired but the fear was that she would be more susceptible to damage from depth charges. That decision cost 99 men their lives.

‘Carbon dioxide poisoning brings on an agonising end. Eyes bulging, gagging like dying fish out of water, the men huddled together for a little human comfort until a welcome death ended their suffering.’

An official inquiry has long been regarded as a whitewash as it effectively made it a ‘no blame’ accident, thereby denying the families of the dead any compensation.

Now, as the 70th anniversary of the disaster approaches, the fresh evidence has angered

Joyce Bentley, 76, whose brother, 24-year-old Able Seaman John Turner, died inside the Thetis, said yesterday: ‘I am still angry at the cover-up over my brother’s death. It’s a disgrace that the true cause was hushed up. The Navy has blood on its hands.’

The T-class submarine had been launched a year before the tragedy from Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead. It was a rushed job with much cost-cutting by the Admiralty.

Final sea trials began almost a year later, and on the morning of June 1, 1939, she sailed with her complement of 51 regular crew doubled by Admiralty overseers, extra training officers and civilian technicians.

Out at sea, she submerged and instantly sank 130ft to the seabed. Seawater had burst through a rear torpedo tube and flooded half of the vessel.

It took 17 hours before the skipper, Lieutenant Commander Guy Bolus, and the other most senior officer, Captain Harry Oram, devised a way to rework the air pumps and lighten the aft section.

The stern of the 275ft-long submarine broke surface, her rudder sticking 18ft into the air. With an escape hatch now only 20ft below the waves, four crewmen, led by Captain Oram, donned breathing apparatus and, in pairs, rose to the surface. Then the hatch cover jammed.

The four escapees, hauled aboard the destroyer HMS Brazen, begged for an urgent rescue. Some 26 vessels were circling the submarine, crammed with Navy personnel, salvage experts and heavy cutting equipment. But they were ordered to wait, and eventually the knocking from inside the submarine faded away.

One of the oldest of the 99 was Cammell Laird’s chief engineer, Arthur Robinson, 45. His daughter, Barbara Moore, now 80, of Bebington, Wirral, was ten at the time.

She said yesterday: ‘I am still deeply bitter about how I lost my father and I firmly blame the Navy top brass for his death. Cammell Laird’s divers and rescuers were desperate to act but the Navy insisted the submarine had been officially handed over to them. The naval authorities forbade the rescuers from cutting into it.’

Mrs Bentley, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, campaigned with other relatives to force a judicial review of the tribunal findings, forming a group, the Thetis Families Association, ten years ago ‘because those guilty were never named’.

She said: ‘I hope new information can help reopen the case.’

One verdict of the tribunal particularly inflamed one of the four survivors, leading stoker Walter Arnold. His son Derek, now 69, of Bebington, said yesterday: ‘The inquiry reported the great loss of life was due to “the failure of those inside to escape”. They made it sound like suicide.

‘It’s like being shot and being found guilty of not dodging the bullet.’

Thetis Down: The Slow Death Of A Submarine, by Tony Booth, is published by Pen & Sword at £19.9
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Postby raalst » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:44 am

I believe I read a story that said that cutting holes in the surfaced aft of the sub whould have caused the air pocket keeping it afloat to escape and that that would cause the whole sub to sink to the seabed again.

Seems a far more reasonable explanation to me..

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Postby Darksheer » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:46 pm

the photo also looks like its been photoshopped
and this is the daily mail newspaper
the Uks version of the tabloids so i wouldnt believe a word of it
they also usually show the "documents" for added proof of misdoing
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Postby junglelord » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:37 pm

So the documents are fake?
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Postby Darksheer » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:24 am

junglelord wrote:So the documents are fake?

im sayingthey did not actually produce the documents but quoted someone who had "seen" them usually when reputable news agencies release stories like this they have the documents in the article to provide the proof
this is not the case here

it may all be true i do not know the destroyer named in the story was sunk in 1940 so the time frame is correct
the photo doesnt look real to me is all
and this news paper is not the most reliable source of news
kind of like america's fox news

it might be true who knows based on the photo alone i cannot see how they could have gotten the men out as the area is quite small not to mention the amount of cutting through multiple layers of metal would have been possible
the rear of a submarine is quite cramped with machinery and what not in the stern
I am sure one of the people who have actually served on one could confirm or deny my theory

my theory
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