for The Umpire - remarkable new footage
next to the Sea in Norfolk is a magnet for holidaymakers and bird-watchers.
during the Second World War the waters just off its coast were some of the most
dangerous anywhere in the world.
The legacy of that time is a seabed littered
with wartime wrecks and some incredible tales of heroism.
But one of the
most extraordinary stories of them all happened on the night of the 19th June,
1941 when the Royal Navy's newest submarine - The Umpire - went down with the
loss of 17 men.
The submarine was just 15 miles offshore.
teamed up with diver James Holt to reveal what happened that night and film unique
underwater footage of the wreck of the sub, 60 sixty feet down on the seabed.
The team were also anxious to find out more about the actions of an unknown hero
whose fast-thinking saved many lives as the sub slid to the bottom.
What makes the Umpire story so fascinating is that its loss was
not a direct result of enemy action, but an accident.
The Umpire had just
left the builder's yard at Chatham in Kent and was on its way up the East coast
for sea trials in Scotland.
the submarine's wreck lies underwater in a watery grave|
of the fear of enemy attack it joined a convoy of ships heading northward up E-boat
At that time Allied shipping was being decimated by German torpedo
boats or E-boats that would race across from occupied Europe attack quickly and
For protection convoys would huddle together in a narrow channel
of water which was protected by mines - but this very system contributed to the
After diving to avoid an enemy aircraft and with a faulty
port engine, The Umpire began to drop back from its convoy.
It wasn't the
start the submarine's new captain, Mervyn Wingfield, had hoped for.
the Umpire found itself facing another convoy heading south and in the confusion
that followed, the Umpire collided with the armed trawler, the Peter Hendricks.
It sank rapidly.
Loss of life
Among the 17 men who died
that night was the First Lieutenant, Peter Banister.
After escaping from
the control tower his body was never found.
of the wreck of The Umpire|
He had only been married for just
over a year.
His widow, Rosemary Seccombe, now in her 80s, told Inside Out
how she was told that he was missing on the day of her 22nd birthday.
were many acts of courage and bravery that night, including the actions of an
unknown hero who found himself in the forward torpedo storage compartment.
that water gushing in from the collision would quickly fill the submarine, he
shut the hatch on himself from the inside, sacrificing his own life to give the
rest of the crew time to escape.
Today the wreck of The Umpire is a war
grave, so although it can be filmed nothing can be touched or moved.
lies as an eerie memorial to its brave crew and the horrors of war.
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