Veteran Stories:
Ken Gray

Navy

  • HMS Lochy

    Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/content/articles/2008/04/09/george_burt_feature.shtml

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"But you can spend a lot of time just looking at the sea and watching wind breaking the waves just as though there’s a torpedo coming, you know. It’s heartbreaking sometimes because sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t."

Transcript

Yeah, I joined up November 1943. Now, I did a month’s training for the gun layer [controlled the ship’s gun barrels], I passed out as a gun layer third party which was LR3. I showed up in Lamlash in Scotland and then I was drafted to HMS Lochy. This ship became part of Captain [Frederic John] Walker’s group, which was Escort Group No. 2. I believe we spent something like four months with her, with Captain Walker, and if you’ve ever heard of Captain Walker, well he devised an idea on how to ping u-boats. When you get a ping on a u-boat, and you try to depth charge, it can either go to the starboard or port, if one ship is using his depth charger. Well, Walker devised an idea that if one ship in the flotilla stopped and kept his ASDIC [anti-submarine sonar detection] on the u-boat, it would send two pips, one on the right on the starboard and one on the port side. And the idea was that the captain of the u-boat would be so engrossed in watching the one with the ASDIC. And unknown to him, the ship that had a ping on the u-boat itself, would direct the two ships on either port or starboard side to where it might be. So no matter what way he turned, right or left, starboard or port if you want, you could catch him better that way. One ship would just be still in the middle. He would have a ping on the u-boat. And the u-boat captain knew very well that the ship would have a ping on it because there’s a ... But he would be so engrossed in watching the one with the ping, that had the ASDIC on it, that he would watch that and not keep an eye on his port or starboard side. But you can spend a lot of time just looking at the sea and watching wind breaking the waves just as though there’s a torpedo coming, you know. It’s heartbreaking sometimes because sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. You’ve got to be very, very careful. We was upgrading our … off the French coast and we got this u-boat. And this mine must have broken away from its mooring. And I was the guy that was on the port side of the bridge keeping lookout. And I saw this about 500 feet away, it was probably a bit more than that, coming. I turned to the officer of the watch and I tried to tell him there was a mine ahead, and nothing come out of my mouth at all. So I tried a second time, and nothing came out. And I tried the third time and nothing happened. This mine went sedately past the side of us. And I think if I’d have said something, it would have probably been blown sky high. The nose pushed the water forward and took the mine away from the ship itself.
Follow us