- Contributed by
- People in story:
- William J Henry
- Location of story:
- Northern Ireland
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 February 2004
I was a navigator on Warwick aeroplanes, which were used for the specific purpose of searching out and destroying enemy submarines. These planes had lights underneath to search out the submarines they were known as Leigh Lights after the inventor and could be retracted into the fuselage when not in use. Obviously, submarines stayed underneath the water during the day and then surfaced under cover of darkness in order to recharge their batteries etc. There was only a certain number of hours they could stay under the water.
In December 1945, shortly after the war was over, my anti-submarine squadron based at St Eval in Cornwall were sent on an assignment to Ballykelly. The reason why we were sent there was to dispose of captured German submarines which had been towed into Lisahally, the naval base on the Foyle, at Londonderry
When we arrived we were told our job was to sink the submarines which had been towed out around 60 miles off the Donegal Coast in the Atlantic. The assignment was carried out just like a wartime operation and we were briefed before being sent out.
I remember vividly the scene — it was a bright Sunday morning just before Christmas the submarines were on the surface and wallowing in the water. There were around 60 in total. We dropped bombs on them in the hope they would sink on that spot.
We reported back to base at Bally Kelly for debriefing. We knew we had damaged many of them but successive planes were sent out until the last submarine had been sunk.
This was a week before Christmas and the English members of the crew, who were heading home for Christmas were delighted to find a good supply of Donegal turkeys which although not available in England were in plentiful supply at that time in Derry.
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