HMS G9


HMS G9

HMS "G9" was a British G class submarine, one of eight Royal Navy submarines lost to friendly fire in World War I. The second of her class built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness, [ [http://www.submariners.co.uk/Boats/DB/index.php Barrow Submariners Association] ] she was launched on 15 June 1916, and commissioned on 22 August that year.

Commanded by Lieutenant Commander The Hon. Byron Plantagenet Cary, Bt., [ [http://www3.dcs.hull.ac.uk/cgi-bin/gedlkup/n=royal?royal30199 Information on Cary, Byron Plantagenet, Lieut.-Cmdr ] ] "G9" was sunk by the destroyer HMS "Pasley" [HMS "Petard" is often named in error as the destroyer involved; "Petard" was nowhere near the scene of the incident. ] after mistaking "Pasley" for a U-boat in foul weather on the night of 16 September 1917 and firing two torpedoes at her. The first struck "Pasley" on her starboard quarter, but too acutely to detonate; the second passed astern. On seeing the submarine’s wash "Pasley"’s officer of the watch, Midshipman Frank Wallis, put his boat hard to starboard and rammed "G9" just aft of amidships all but cutting her in two, and she sank scarcely two minutes later with the loss of all but one of her crew, Stoker William Drake.

"G9" had sailed Scapa Flow on 9 September to patrol an area between the Shetlands and Norway. On 15 September, she was ordered north to between latitudes 60.30 N and 61.30 N to keep her clear of the fleet on exercises en route from Rosyth to Scapa. Meanwhile, "Pasley" was attempting to locate merchantmen detached from the convoy she was escorting in appalling weather from Aspö Fjord [http://www.traveljournals.net/explore/norway/map/m383554/aspo_fjord.html] in Norway to Lerwick, and had resorted to displaying a white light halfway up the mast by night. to signal the destroyer. The signal was recognized aboard "Pasley"; Commander Ramsey ordered 'Full Astern', but it was too late to prevent his ship ramming the submarine. After the collision, the crew on "G9" were ordered to assemble beneath the conning tower. Stoker William Drake saw one man climb the ladder above him, and followed. Although caught in the stomach by the lower conning tower door, which had probably been ordered shut in the hope of keeping the boat buoyant, Drake managed to struggle free and reach the bridge, only to be swept off as the boat sank beneath him. Of the five men in the water, Drake was the only one to reach "Pasley", which had stopped to pick up survivors. Weakened by the effort and numbed by the cold water, Drake was unable to pull himself up on the lifeline lowered, and was only rescued after Able Seaman Henry Old clambered over the side of the destroyer to secure a running bowline around him; he was then hauled aboard and taken below. Still unconvinced of his attacker's identity, Commander Ramsey went to question the survivor. Finding Drake laid on his stomach to help rid his lungs of seawater, Ramsey kicked the soles of his feet and demanded to know his nationality. at Scapa, it was decided no blame could be attached to "Pasley", concluding "that the process of reasoning which led the captain of HM Submarine "G9" to mistake HMS "Pasley" for a U-boat is, and must remain, unexplained".

The findings were forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Grand Fleet, Admiral David Beatty, who remarked that the incident was "...one of those that are inseparable from war", but deplored the delay in introducing improved signalling facilities on submarines, particularly the substitution of the slow, unreliable and cumbersome cruiser arc lamp [ [http://www.gwpda.org/naval/rmgf1916.htm Grand Fleet Signalling Procedure, 1916 ] ] with Aldis lamps.

Drake remained in the submarine service until the 1930s, and served aboard HMS "Swale" in World War II; he died in 1974 aged 80. Commander Charles Gordon Ramsey rose to the rank of Admiral, was knighted, and served as aide-de-camp to King George VI; he died in 1966 aged 84. Ramsey's portrait, by Bassano, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

ee also

*List of submarines of the Royal Navy
*List of submarine classes of the Royal Navy

References

*Evans, A. S. (1986). "Beneath the Waves - A history of British submarine losses". Kimber, London. ISBN 0-7183-0601-5
*Colledge

Notes


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