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Taking of a ship's bell

by Dunmow_Library

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
Dunmow_Library
People in story: 
Ken Borley
Location of story: 
Eastern Mediterranean
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A4479951
Contributed on: 
18 July 2005

Bell from German ship captured in waters around Crete in 1943.

This took place sometime in 1943. My codename was junior ken. I was an engineer in the Royal Navy.

We were returning from a sailing boat trip to German occupied Crete. We had delivered goods and were sailing back to home base. The weather was very good. Suddenly an enemy aircraft appeared. It was getting dark, the plane flew low over our boat, we continued to act normal. He must have run out of ammunition. He just flew away into the coming sunset, which could not come quickly enough for my crew and myself.

Not long afterwards a small Italian sub-chaser appeared doing about 40 knots. It was armed with a small cannon plus small arms. I said to the crew of six, “Get ready, I jolly well think we are in for it,” or word to that effect.

Our flame thrower was positioned in the stern of the boat. We also had a Piat gun, which we had not fired at all ad a few small guns. These were all prepared for action. We did not stand a chance in hell. My duty was to avoid the enemy, not to take him on; this was to be left to the royal navy. We expected to be blown out of the water at any moment, but fortunately he was being curious. He crept closer to about 200 yards and suddenly stopped. Being a flat bottomed boat, it settled low in the water. Something was wrong with his engines.

We turned about with our flame throwers at the ready. We fired one blast somewhere near their boat, however we were out of range, 100 yards being the best we could achieve. The enemy put up a white flag and surrendered. I went aboard the boat. There was an Italian crew and a German Captain. The boat was taken in tow, the top speed for my boat was 8-10 knots but with the towing it was now down to 1-1.5 knots. Back on my own boat, with the captive German skipper I radioed for assistance hoping there might be a royal Navy submarine in the vicinity. After 2/3 hours one appeared and towed the enemy ship into Haifa.

The ship’s bell was given to me by the German captain, which I have to this day. The engines of the boat had failed because partisan sabotage had taken place — water had been put in the fuel tanks.

After this successful mission, we docked in Haifa, we flew the Jolly Roger flag (crossed swords with crown on a blue background).

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