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Peterhastie

Sub found off seahouses

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MAW

Thank you for posting this.

'The J6 was sunk by another British ship in a friendly fire incident on October 15, 1918 – only a month before the end of the war.

The sub had left Blyth when it was spotted by an armed Q ship, the Cymric. Mistaking the J6 for German, it opened fire and sank it, killing 15.'

Does anyone know how many British submarines were sunk by British Q-Ships?

Mark

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Peterhastie

Thats too easy !

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Wrecktec

Type: British ‘J’ Class Admiralty, Fleet patrol, Group I. Pennant No: J6.

Builders: HM Dockyard, Devonport for Royal Navy. Ordered: J5 & J6 for 1915 Emergency War programme. Keel laid: on 26 April 1915. Launched: on 9 September 1915

Commissioned: on 25 January 1916 by Commander Max Horton D.S.O., who was appointed to supervise her building and remained in command for 18-months. Completed: on 31 July 1916.

Technical specifications:

Surface Displacement: 1,210-tons U/Dt: 1,820-tons LBD: 83.75m × 7.19m × 4.27m. Props: 3 bronze. (Only triple screw British submarines ever built). Machinery: 3 × 1,200hp 12cyl. Admiralty type Diesels by Vickers. (1/3 of boat’s space taken up with two engine-rooms.)

S/Sp: 19kts. Op/R: 38-days endurance & 5,000-n.miles @ 12.5kts. Fuel/cap: 80-tons & max. 91-tons. Batteries: lead/acid. U/Power: 3 × 675hp General Electric Motors gave 9.5kts.

Armament: 6 × 45.72cm (18in) torpedo tubes (4 × bow & 2 × beam). Guns: 1 × 12-pounder HA (5,44k) & 1 × 2-pounder (0.9k) Torpedoes: 12. Complement: 44 (5 officers & 39 ratings).

J6 was part of 11th Flotilla HMS TITANIA and she had two commanders:

Cdr. Max Horten and Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton from 1 December 1917 to 15 October 1918.

During a patrol in the North Sea on 30 May 1917, J6 fired a torpedo at the Imperial German U-boat U 61, which narrowly missed. The commander of U 61, Kapitänleutnant Vicktor Dieckmann had been on a patrol from Heligoland around the Orkney Isles, to the southwest coast of Ireland and down to the Western Channel and had returned via the Shetlands. Dieckmann was on the final leg of his voyage home, when the incident happened.

Final patrol:

J6, 15th Oct. 1918 - Friendly Fire:

‘The essence of a ‘Q’ ship attack lay in rapid and overwhelming attack at close range’, so wrote Gibson and Prendergast in ‘The German Submarine War 1914-1918’. Unfortunately the victim of the ‘Q’ ship CYMRIC, 26 - 30-n.miles east of Beadnell in Northumberland, was J6, a British submarine of the 11th Flotilla.

Conditions were clear on that day, there was a slight breeze and the sea was smooth as the Granton (Firth of Forth) based CYMRIC had proceeded down the swept channel as far as St. Abbs Head before pursuing a more south easterly course, which took her outside of the war channel. Lt Peterson the commander of CYMRIC had not been warned to expect any allied submarine movements, even though his course would bring him close to Blyth, home of the 11th Submarine Flotilla.

Evidence of Lt. F. Peterson DSO, DSC RNR

“At about 15.30 on the 15th October a submarine was spotted on the surface steaming towards CYMRIC. Visibility at this time was about 6000-yards and when first spotted the submarine was from two and a half to three miles off. She continued on an opposite course to CYMRIC and I decided she was a friendly submarine...I recognised the bow of the ship as typical of the ‘J’ Class. When first sighted ‘action stations’ were sounded, but when I decided this submarine was friendly I told the gun crews, but ordered them to ‘stand by’.”

There was no obvious evidence that the submarine was hostile, because her gun was unmanned and men could be clearly seen on the bridge. Yet, Lt. Peterson was disturbed by the position of the gun, as it did not correspond to any of the friendly submarine silhouettes he had been issued with for training purposes. As the lettering on the submarine’s conning tower became clearer, suspicion grew that the submarine was an enemy. Some eyewitnesses from CYMRIC claimed that an object was partly obscuring the lettering on the conning tower.

Lt Peterson describes what happened next:

“Shortly after this, when the submarine’s letter and number could be seen clearly, it appeared to me to be ‘U 6’; the submarine at that time was still on the bow: I waited until the submarine was on the beam and still being convinced she was ‘U 6’, I gave the order for action. The White Ensign was hoisted on the mizzen truck of CYMRIC. There was a pause, but no recognition was shown by the submarine at that time.”

Lt Peterson (erroneously) believed that it was the responsibility of a British submarine to make the initial challenge to a surface craft. The failure of J6 to respond convinced him that the submarine must be German. Enemy submarines regularly struck in the swept channel and one had been reported just days earlier.

J6 was outward bound from Blyth on a north, easterly track designed to keep her clear of the swept channel (where collision with a merchant was an ever present danger). At 1520hrs one of the lookouts, AB Luff, reported a sailing ship on the beam without an ensign. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, peered at CYMRIC, but saw nothing to give alarm.

Meanwhile, over on CYMRIC, Lt. Charles Mutch shared his captain’s belief that the submarine was a U boat:

“After a short pause, the order was given, ‘Drop the bulwarks and open fire!’. By this time the submarine was well abaft the beam and the range given to the starboard 12-pounder was 1800-yards. The first two shots were short, but the third hit the submarine near the after end of the conning tower. The order ‘independent fire’ was made and our guns made several hits”.

The result was devastating as the evidence of Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton DSO, skipper of J6 testifies:

“As I got out of my bunk, the messenger rushed forward shouting, ‘a Q ship firing!’ and I heard the reports. I shouted out ‘full speed on the engines’, as I thought from the sound that one engine had stopped. When I arrived up on the conning tower we were stern on to the barquentine (which was) firing fast. Signalman Field fell down with a rifle in his hand without firing and the (recognition) grenade rolled out over the side. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, had his jaw blown off. I fired six grenades which all went off correctly.”

Crucially, due to the smoke made by their own guns, the crew of CYMRIC did not spot these recognition grenades fired by Lt.Cdr. Warburton.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton:

“During this time we were hit repeatedly, the telegraph being knocked out and a large hole blown in the starboard side of the forward engine room. The gun tower was hit abaft the gun and the conning tower was also hit but not perforated. The ship was now listing heavily to port, because the external main ballast tanks were holed. Lt Robbins having arrived up, I ordered him to get the hands fallen in on the disengaged side and to take of his shirt and wave it. The Coxswain was then at the wheel and zigzagging. During this time our Ensign was streaming out astern from the W/T mast”.

Although several witnesses on CYMRIC observed a flag flying from a mast abaft the conning tower, only one recognised it as a White Ensign.

Below, Lt. Edward Loly was in his bunk when the first shell hit J6:

“As I turned out a shell hit the port side of the control room forward and blew up the switch board. This must have been the shell, which hit the gun tower. At the same time the boat began to list to starboard. I was about to start the blowers when the order came ‘go full speed’…the blowing was having no effect. The engine room was reported to be making water very fast and by this stage the engines had stopped. I got the men out and sent up all available woodwork. Leading Tel Wickstead and ERA Robertson remained below”.

CERA Robertson was in the engine room:

“I got the order to stop all engines from the captain and called through the voice pipe to the after engine room but received no answer. I stopped the starboard engine and received an order to ‘close bulkhead doors’. I went into the motor room to find out if anyone was there. One stoker came out but I was forced away because of the fumes and smoke. I tried once again but there was no answer. I was able to close the forward bulkhead of the motor room”.

In fact eight men were missing (two engine room artificers, two stokers and four able seamen) either knocked out by the shelling, or trapped within the after engine-room. Either way the closing of the bulkhead door sealed their fate.

When the crew of CYMRIC spotted the white ‘flag’, the order was given to ceasefire. At this time Lt. Mutch observed signal smoke of an indeterminate colour, which convinced him more than ever that this was an enemy submarine, as the Germans were known to copy British signals. Equally damning in the eyes of CYMRIC’s crew was the failure of the submarine to stop engines. Unfortunately J6 was unable to stop. The submarine maintained her course and speed. CYMRIC’s gunners now brought their howitzer into operation as they pursued the stricken submarine into a bank of haze. By the time CYMRIC caught up with J6, the submarine was clearly sinking.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton was below:

“I went aft to the engine room. There was about three feet of water above the engine room plates and water was coming in very fast from the starboard group exhaust valve. Chief Stoker Joyner was closing the motor room door and clipped up the beam tube door. I then went forward and closed the foremost door and gave orders to Leading Tel Wickstead to make an urgent morse-code signal for help, which he did. By this time water was coming through the beam tube door. There was no chance of saving the boat and I sent everybody on deck. The Coxswain urged me to come up too and she sank about 20 seconds later.

There were about 20 men in the berthon boat (portable boat) with the rest holding on to the woodwork. I saw Lt Brierley in the water and exchanged waves with him. Shortly afterwards he disappeared. CYMRIC came up in about 20 minutes and lowered boats”.

On realising their dreadful mistake, Lieutenants Peterson and Mutch dived into the water in order to save the submariners in the water.

One of the crew of CYMRIC later wrote:

“The first thing I noticed was the marking ‘HM Submarines’ on the bands of the men’s hats. We had sunk a British submarine by mistaking the ‘J’ for a ‘U’. I can remember a big red headed chap who was badly wounded shouting at us from the boat ‘Come on you stupid ##### these are your own ###### side! Give them a hand’.

We pulled over to the sinking men. One man was holding up his commanding officer. He yelled come and help me save Mr Warburton. Others were drowning. We dived in and rescued all that we could. One we took out of the water was too far gone and died on board...We sent a signal to Blyth that we were making for the port with the survivors of J6 aboard. I will never forget entering the port. As we rounded the pier and worked our way into the basin where the depot ship TITANIA and the other submarines were moored, we could see the wives and children of the submarine gazing with anxious eyes to see if those dear to them were among the survivors”.

That night CYMRIC anchored in the South Harbour behind the J-boats where there was ‘much emotion’ from the gathered submariners, while just outside of the gates, the wives and dependants of J6’s crew had also gathered, drawn to the harbour by the rumours of disaster. T.M. Jones in ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ claimed that some of the crew of J6 had felt a premonition of disaster prior to the boat’s departure. Jones knew the crew of J6 personally and was present when the survivors were landed at Blyth.

Sadly nothing could be done for Artificer Engineer Bright, despite frantic attempts at resuscitation. Artificer Engineer Bright died of shock and was buried at the Beach Cemetery, Blyth, where his grave may still be seen. Of the fifteen men who were lost, his was the only body recovered. The remainder are commemorated on the Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Memorials.

The Inquiry into the loss of J6 was held at Blyth on the submarine depot ship TITANIA on the

16 October 1918. The officers presiding decided that it would be inappropriate to take any further action against Lt. Peterson.

In a hand written note to Admiral David Beatty (First Sea Lord) after the war, Commodore S.S. Hall (Senior Officer in Command of the Submarine Service) made the following observations:

“It does not appear reasonable that an officer whose particular business it was, should be capable of mistaking the silhouette of J6 for ‘U 6’ even if he did not know that U 6 had been sunk 3 years ago…The C/O of CYMRIC seems to have expected J6 to challenge and to be unaware that it is clearly laid down that the surface craft should challenge and submarines only to reply. To expect a German submarine in this position to have mast up and colours flying, gun unmanned and men on deck in low visibility shows a further want in judgement - particularly in an area where he must have known that British submarines are constantly on passage…it is not known what other action could have been taken by J6”.

(U 6 was sunk in the Arctic off Stavanger by the British submarine E16, under the command of Lt.Cdr. E. Talbot D.S.O., on 15 September 1915.)

It hardly needs adding that this was the perspective of a land-based senior officer living in post war comfort. It was not the opinion of the group that one might expect to have been Lt Peterson’s harshest critics, the crew of J6. So impressed were they by Lieutenant Peterson, that as he turned to leave the courtroom, to a man, the survivors stood smartly to attention, saluted and cheered him. Surely the supreme accolade, hardened submariners could bestow, and perhaps implicit recognition between submariner and ‘Q’ ship sailor a shared knife-edge existence.

The loss of HM s/m J6 and the Court of Inquiry was classified for 75 years, following the hearing and it makes fascinating reading:

ADM. 156/131, Court of Enquiry into sinking of HMS/M J6 by Special Service Vessel CYMRIC under LT. FH Peterson D.S.O. DSC RN, 156/147 & 131 156/172 were only opened in 1997, presumably to protect the reputation and identity of Lt. Petersen. Until that point there were only two sources available in the public domain, ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ written by a Royal Navy rating and ‘By Guess and by God’ written by a navigating officer using an interview with an unnamed CYMRIC officer.

Following her loss, the signalling flare-pistol was mounted next to the periscope, this being one of the reasons why J6 was fired upon, because the crew didn’t get their flares away in time to signal that the boat was ‘friendly’.

The following were the fifteen men lost with HM S/M J6:

Armstrong, Ernest William M/12905 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Brierley, James Roger Ingham, Sub-Lieutenant

Bright, C.T. Artificer Engineer

Burwell, Herbert Edward Philip M/3779 E.R.Artificer.4th

Hill, Arthur Herbert J/5428 Able Seaman

Lamont, Athol Davaar M/14927 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Rayner, Edward George J/5764 Leading Seaman

Russell, William Thomas J/28769 Able Seaman

Savidge, Albert Edward K/19992 Stoker.1st

Stevenson, Percival James P/K 1628 L/Stoker

Tachon, Philip K/20794 Stoker 1st Class

Thompson, William Piper K/23871Stoker.1st

Tyler, Frank Andrew J/2116 Able Seaman

White, Henry Thomas J/13130 Able Seaman

Wickstead, George Herbert J/31563 Leading Telegraphist

Sexton, Henry Percy Boy Telegraphist, J/58647 was born in Portsmouth on 8th March 1901. He joined HM s/m G2 on 23 October 1917 and then on 1st July 1918 joined J4 before joining J6, but that date is unknown, his previous occupation being an Errand boy - Ship messenger.

(CYMRIC (Official No.101751) was an iron-hulled 228-ton auxiliary-engined, topsail schooner or barquentine, that had dimensions of 37.49m by length, a 7.32m-beam & 3.25m-draught. William Thomas shipyard built and launched CYMRIC at Amlwch in 1893, just six days before Captain William Thomas, the owner, died. She was powered by sail, but fitted with a 52hp 3-cylinder triple expansion auxiliary steam engine that used one boiler. The vessel was used in the Thomas fleet and within three months of her launch on 25 June 1893, she sailed the Atlantic, visiting Porto Alegre in Brazil. The vessel was later bought by the Admiralty and visited Boston, USA in 1912. In 1914 the vessel was converted into one of the cloak and dagger Q-ships.

Mrs Sarah L. Hall of Arklow owned her in 1920 and she was registered at Beaumaris. (The Halls and the Tyrrells were the two leading Arklow schooner owners. Old CYMRIC survived WWI, but while carrying coal to Lisbon on 24 February 1944, she sank in the Bay of Biscay, during heavy weather. All of her crew of eleven were lost.)

Cheers Ron

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centurion

Thank you for posting this.

'The J6 was sunk by another British ship in a friendly fire incident on October 15, 1918 – only a month before the end of the war.

The sub had left Blyth when it was spotted by an armed Q ship, the Cymric. Mistaking the J6 for German, it opened fire and sank it, killing 15.'

Does anyone know how many British submarines were sunk by British Q-Ships?

Mark

G.9 was rammed and sunk in error in the North Sea on Sunday, 16 September 1917 but what by I can find no record

The sailing barque Cymric is the only definitely recorded blue on blue incident by a Q ship.

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Northern Soul

G.9 was rammed and sunk in error in the North Sea on Sunday, 16 September 1917 but what by I can find no record

She was sunk by the destroyer HMS Pasley after she had fired two torpedoes at her by mistake. All crew bar one were lost.

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Signals

Another hidden one is H12, one man killed, set upon by a group of vessels, strangely not a word mentioned in her log, only an inquiry. C10 was another, it was more common than we think as there are just so many cases where submarines were attacked by their own, such as C20 being towed by trawler attacked a U-Boat, woops only to find it was E16, D3 or D4 i think it was attacked E48, L2 was nearly sunk with depth charges by US Destroyers, French attacked & were successful with D3, D4 was attacked by British ships in the English Channel in 1918. J6 was only one that went too far as many ships, shame they did not know U6 went down a few years before this. The British did even have a good identication process in place with water cannons & certain coloured flares for a challenge & reply system.

Seem everything was a U-Boat.

I also have never seen a full list of J6 survivors.

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sotonmate

Thank you for posting this.

'The J6 was sunk by another British ship in a friendly fire incident on October 15, 1918 – only a month before the end of the war.

The sub had left Blyth when it was spotted by an armed Q ship, the Cymric. Mistaking the J6 for German, it opened fire and sank it, killing 15.'

Does anyone know how many British submarines were sunk by British Q-Ships?

Mark

Mark

No sinking, but an incident causing loss of life.

Submarine H12 on patrol off Ireland 6.6.1918,in misty conditions,challenged by HYDERABAD (Q Ship aka NETLEY) or vice versa if you prefer.

H12 fired total of 6 signal grenades as recognition signal but Hyderabad took them as gunfire smoke,opened fire,but soon realised that it was one of ours.However,one of the attendant armed trawlers did not see it that way and continued firing,hitting the ship through the Conning Tower and killing PO Coxswain TH Evans and wounding the captain and an AB. H12 returned to an Irish port for repairs. THe read can be had in Kew file ADM137/3439.

Sotonmate

Edit:Pardon me,Darren I missed yours ! At least you have the file ref now.

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Signals

Hi Sotonmate,

yes seen the file & have copied it. Have her logs as well, nothing about the incident in it?

But all I can say after going through the logs of so many S/Ms, what happened to J6 was very common, only she took some serious hits.

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Guest jimbocan

Many thanks for that interesting information Ron, a great post

jimbo

Type: British ‘J’ Class Admiralty, Fleet patrol, Group I. Pennant No: J6.

Builders: HM Dockyard, Devonport for Royal Navy. Ordered: J5 & J6 for 1915 Emergency War programme. Keel laid: on 26 April 1915. Launched: on 9 September 1915

Commissioned: on 25 January 1916 by Commander Max Horton D.S.O., who was appointed to supervise her building and remained in command for 18-months. Completed: on 31 July 1916.

Technical specifications:

Surface Displacement: 1,210-tons U/Dt: 1,820-tons LBD: 83.75m × 7.19m × 4.27m. Props: 3 bronze. (Only triple screw British submarines ever built). Machinery: 3 × 1,200hp 12cyl. Admiralty type Diesels by Vickers. (1/3 of boat’s space taken up with two engine-rooms.)

S/Sp: 19kts. Op/R: 38-days endurance & 5,000-n.miles @ 12.5kts. Fuel/cap: 80-tons & max. 91-tons. Batteries: lead/acid. U/Power: 3 × 675hp General Electric Motors gave 9.5kts.

Armament: 6 × 45.72cm (18in) torpedo tubes (4 × bow & 2 × beam). Guns: 1 × 12-pounder HA (5,44k) & 1 × 2-pounder (0.9k) Torpedoes: 12. Complement: 44 (5 officers & 39 ratings).

J6 was part of 11th Flotilla HMS TITANIA and she had two commanders:

Cdr. Max Horten and Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton from 1 December 1917 to 15 October 1918.

During a patrol in the North Sea on 30 May 1917, J6 fired a torpedo at the Imperial German U-boat U 61, which narrowly missed. The commander of U 61, Kapitänleutnant Vicktor Dieckmann had been on a patrol from Heligoland around the Orkney Isles, to the southwest coast of Ireland and down to the Western Channel and had returned via the Shetlands. Dieckmann was on the final leg of his voyage home, when the incident happened.

Final patrol:

J6, 15th Oct. 1918 - Friendly Fire:

‘The essence of a ‘Q’ ship attack lay in rapid and overwhelming attack at close range’, so wrote Gibson and Prendergast in ‘The German Submarine War 1914-1918’. Unfortunately the victim of the ‘Q’ ship CYMRIC, 26 - 30-n.miles east of Beadnell in Northumberland, was J6, a British submarine of the 11th Flotilla.

Conditions were clear on that day, there was a slight breeze and the sea was smooth as the Granton (Firth of Forth) based CYMRIC had proceeded down the swept channel as far as St. Abbs Head before pursuing a more south easterly course, which took her outside of the war channel. Lt Peterson the commander of CYMRIC had not been warned to expect any allied submarine movements, even though his course would bring him close to Blyth, home of the 11th Submarine Flotilla.

Evidence of Lt. F. Peterson DSO, DSC RNR

“At about 15.30 on the 15th October a submarine was spotted on the surface steaming towards CYMRIC. Visibility at this time was about 6000-yards and when first spotted the submarine was from two and a half to three miles off. She continued on an opposite course to CYMRIC and I decided she was a friendly submarine...I recognised the bow of the ship as typical of the ‘J’ Class. When first sighted ‘action stations’ were sounded, but when I decided this submarine was friendly I told the gun crews, but ordered them to ‘stand by’.”

There was no obvious evidence that the submarine was hostile, because her gun was unmanned and men could be clearly seen on the bridge. Yet, Lt. Peterson was disturbed by the position of the gun, as it did not correspond to any of the friendly submarine silhouettes he had been issued with for training purposes. As the lettering on the submarine’s conning tower became clearer, suspicion grew that the submarine was an enemy. Some eyewitnesses from CYMRIC claimed that an object was partly obscuring the lettering on the conning tower.

Lt Peterson describes what happened next:

“Shortly after this, when the submarine’s letter and number could be seen clearly, it appeared to me to be ‘U 6’; the submarine at that time was still on the bow: I waited until the submarine was on the beam and still being convinced she was ‘U 6’, I gave the order for action. The White Ensign was hoisted on the mizzen truck of CYMRIC. There was a pause, but no recognition was shown by the submarine at that time.”

Lt Peterson (erroneously) believed that it was the responsibility of a British submarine to make the initial challenge to a surface craft. The failure of J6 to respond convinced him that the submarine must be German. Enemy submarines regularly struck in the swept channel and one had been reported just days earlier.

J6 was outward bound from Blyth on a north, easterly track designed to keep her clear of the swept channel (where collision with a merchant was an ever present danger). At 1520hrs one of the lookouts, AB Luff, reported a sailing ship on the beam without an ensign. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, peered at CYMRIC, but saw nothing to give alarm.

Meanwhile, over on CYMRIC, Lt. Charles Mutch shared his captain’s belief that the submarine was a U boat:

“After a short pause, the order was given, ‘Drop the bulwarks and open fire!’. By this time the submarine was well abaft the beam and the range given to the starboard 12-pounder was 1800-yards. The first two shots were short, but the third hit the submarine near the after end of the conning tower. The order ‘independent fire’ was made and our guns made several hits”.

The result was devastating as the evidence of Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton DSO, skipper of J6 testifies:

“As I got out of my bunk, the messenger rushed forward shouting, ‘a Q ship firing!’ and I heard the reports. I shouted out ‘full speed on the engines’, as I thought from the sound that one engine had stopped. When I arrived up on the conning tower we were stern on to the barquentine (which was) firing fast. Signalman Field fell down with a rifle in his hand without firing and the (recognition) grenade rolled out over the side. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, had his jaw blown off. I fired six grenades which all went off correctly.”

Crucially, due to the smoke made by their own guns, the crew of CYMRIC did not spot these recognition grenades fired by Lt.Cdr. Warburton.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton:

“During this time we were hit repeatedly, the telegraph being knocked out and a large hole blown in the starboard side of the forward engine room. The gun tower was hit abaft the gun and the conning tower was also hit but not perforated. The ship was now listing heavily to port, because the external main ballast tanks were holed. Lt Robbins having arrived up, I ordered him to get the hands fallen in on the disengaged side and to take of his shirt and wave it. The Coxswain was then at the wheel and zigzagging. During this time our Ensign was streaming out astern from the W/T mast”.

Although several witnesses on CYMRIC observed a flag flying from a mast abaft the conning tower, only one recognised it as a White Ensign.

Below, Lt. Edward Loly was in his bunk when the first shell hit J6:

“As I turned out a shell hit the port side of the control room forward and blew up the switch board. This must have been the shell, which hit the gun tower. At the same time the boat began to list to starboard. I was about to start the blowers when the order came ‘go full speed’…the blowing was having no effect. The engine room was reported to be making water very fast and by this stage the engines had stopped. I got the men out and sent up all available woodwork. Leading Tel Wickstead and ERA Robertson remained below”.

CERA Robertson was in the engine room:

“I got the order to stop all engines from the captain and called through the voice pipe to the after engine room but received no answer. I stopped the starboard engine and received an order to ‘close bulkhead doors’. I went into the motor room to find out if anyone was there. One stoker came out but I was forced away because of the fumes and smoke. I tried once again but there was no answer. I was able to close the forward bulkhead of the motor room”.

In fact eight men were missing (two engine room artificers, two stokers and four able seamen) either knocked out by the shelling, or trapped within the after engine-room. Either way the closing of the bulkhead door sealed their fate.

When the crew of CYMRIC spotted the white ‘flag’, the order was given to ceasefire. At this time Lt. Mutch observed signal smoke of an indeterminate colour, which convinced him more than ever that this was an enemy submarine, as the Germans were known to copy British signals. Equally damning in the eyes of CYMRIC’s crew was the failure of the submarine to stop engines. Unfortunately J6 was unable to stop. The submarine maintained her course and speed. CYMRIC’s gunners now brought their howitzer into operation as they pursued the stricken submarine into a bank of haze. By the time CYMRIC caught up with J6, the submarine was clearly sinking.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton was below:

“I went aft to the engine room. There was about three feet of water above the engine room plates and water was coming in very fast from the starboard group exhaust valve. Chief Stoker Joyner was closing the motor room door and clipped up the beam tube door. I then went forward and closed the foremost door and gave orders to Leading Tel Wickstead to make an urgent morse-code signal for help, which he did. By this time water was coming through the beam tube door. There was no chance of saving the boat and I sent everybody on deck. The Coxswain urged me to come up too and she sank about 20 seconds later.

There were about 20 men in the berthon boat (portable boat) with the rest holding on to the woodwork. I saw Lt Brierley in the water and exchanged waves with him. Shortly afterwards he disappeared. CYMRIC came up in about 20 minutes and lowered boats”.

On realising their dreadful mistake, Lieutenants Peterson and Mutch dived into the water in order to save the submariners in the water.

One of the crew of CYMRIC later wrote:

“The first thing I noticed was the marking ‘HM Submarines’ on the bands of the men’s hats. We had sunk a British submarine by mistaking the ‘J’ for a ‘U’. I can remember a big red headed chap who was badly wounded shouting at us from the boat ‘Come on you stupid ##### these are your own ###### side! Give them a hand’.

We pulled over to the sinking men. One man was holding up his commanding officer. He yelled come and help me save Mr Warburton. Others were drowning. We dived in and rescued all that we could. One we took out of the water was too far gone and died on board...We sent a signal to Blyth that we were making for the port with the survivors of J6 aboard. I will never forget entering the port. As we rounded the pier and worked our way into the basin where the depot ship TITANIA and the other submarines were moored, we could see the wives and children of the submarine gazing with anxious eyes to see if those dear to them were among the survivors”.

That night CYMRIC anchored in the South Harbour behind the J-boats where there was ‘much emotion’ from the gathered submariners, while just outside of the gates, the wives and dependants of J6’s crew had also gathered, drawn to the harbour by the rumours of disaster. T.M. Jones in ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ claimed that some of the crew of J6 had felt a premonition of disaster prior to the boat’s departure. Jones knew the crew of J6 personally and was present when the survivors were landed at Blyth.

Sadly nothing could be done for Artificer Engineer Bright, despite frantic attempts at resuscitation. Artificer Engineer Bright died of shock and was buried at the Beach Cemetery, Blyth, where his grave may still be seen. Of the fifteen men who were lost, his was the only body recovered. The remainder are commemorated on the Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Memorials.

The Inquiry into the loss of J6 was held at Blyth on the submarine depot ship TITANIA on the

16 October 1918. The officers presiding decided that it would be inappropriate to take any further action against Lt. Peterson.

In a hand written note to Admiral David Beatty (First Sea Lord) after the war, Commodore S.S. Hall (Senior Officer in Command of the Submarine Service) made the following observations:

“It does not appear reasonable that an officer whose particular business it was, should be capable of mistaking the silhouette of J6 for ‘U 6’ even if he did not know that U 6 had been sunk 3 years ago…The C/O of CYMRIC seems to have expected J6 to challenge and to be unaware that it is clearly laid down that the surface craft should challenge and submarines only to reply. To expect a German submarine in this position to have mast up and colours flying, gun unmanned and men on deck in low visibility shows a further want in judgement - particularly in an area where he must have known that British submarines are constantly on passage…it is not known what other action could have been taken by J6”.

(U 6 was sunk in the Arctic off Stavanger by the British submarine E16, under the command of Lt.Cdr. E. Talbot D.S.O., on 15 September 1915.)

It hardly needs adding that this was the perspective of a land-based senior officer living in post war comfort. It was not the opinion of the group that one might expect to have been Lt Peterson’s harshest critics, the crew of J6. So impressed were they by Lieutenant Peterson, that as he turned to leave the courtroom, to a man, the survivors stood smartly to attention, saluted and cheered him. Surely the supreme accolade, hardened submariners could bestow, and perhaps implicit recognition between submariner and ‘Q’ ship sailor a shared knife-edge existence.

The loss of HM s/m J6 and the Court of Inquiry was classified for 75 years, following the hearing and it makes fascinating reading:

ADM. 156/131, Court of Enquiry into sinking of HMS/M J6 by Special Service Vessel CYMRIC under LT. FH Peterson D.S.O. DSC RN, 156/147 & 131 156/172 were only opened in 1997, presumably to protect the reputation and identity of Lt. Petersen. Until that point there were only two sources available in the public domain, ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ written by a Royal Navy rating and ‘By Guess and by God’ written by a navigating officer using an interview with an unnamed CYMRIC officer.

Following her loss, the signalling flare-pistol was mounted next to the periscope, this being one of the reasons why J6 was fired upon, because the crew didn’t get their flares away in time to signal that the boat was ‘friendly’.

The following were the fifteen men lost with HM S/M J6:

Armstrong, Ernest William M/12905 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Brierley, James Roger Ingham, Sub-Lieutenant

Bright, C.T. Artificer Engineer

Burwell, Herbert Edward Philip M/3779 E.R.Artificer.4th

Hill, Arthur Herbert J/5428 Able Seaman

Lamont, Athol Davaar M/14927 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Rayner, Edward George J/5764 Leading Seaman

Russell, William Thomas J/28769 Able Seaman

Savidge, Albert Edward K/19992 Stoker.1st

Stevenson, Percival James P/K 1628 L/Stoker

Tachon, Philip K/20794 Stoker 1st Class

Thompson, William Piper K/23871Stoker.1st

Tyler, Frank Andrew J/2116 Able Seaman

White, Henry Thomas J/13130 Able Seaman

Wickstead, George Herbert J/31563 Leading Telegraphist

Sexton, Henry Percy Boy Telegraphist, J/58647 was born in Portsmouth on 8th March 1901. He joined HM s/m G2 on 23 October 1917 and then on 1st July 1918 joined J4 before joining J6, but that date is unknown, his previous occupation being an Errand boy - Ship messenger.

(CYMRIC (Official No.101751) was an iron-hulled 228-ton auxiliary-engined, topsail schooner or barquentine, that had dimensions of 37.49m by length, a 7.32m-beam & 3.25m-draught. William Thomas shipyard built and launched CYMRIC at Amlwch in 1893, just six days before Captain William Thomas, the owner, died. She was powered by sail, but fitted with a 52hp 3-cylinder triple expansion auxiliary steam engine that used one boiler. The vessel was used in the Thomas fleet and within three months of her launch on 25 June 1893, she sailed the Atlantic, visiting Porto Alegre in Brazil. The vessel was later bought by the Admiralty and visited Boston, USA in 1912. In 1914 the vessel was converted into one of the cloak and dagger Q-ships.

Mrs Sarah L. Hall of Arklow owned her in 1920 and she was registered at Beaumaris. (The Halls and the Tyrrells were the two leading Arklow schooner owners. Old CYMRIC survived WWI, but while carrying coal to Lisbon on 24 February 1944, she sank in the Bay of Biscay, during heavy weather. All of her crew of eleven were lost.)

Cheers Ron

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roel22

Checking the casualty lists on naval-history.net it's unbelievable to see how many men died of "illness"...

Roel

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Wrecktec

Yes, it was the Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed thousands in the army and navy during 1918

Cheers Ron

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Markus Robinson

Sir,

Would you be so kind as to provide the source for your assertion at the bottom of your post that the crew of the J6 saluted the captain of the Q-ship which sunk them in a friendly fire incident killing 16 of their crew mates the day before.

... It was not the opinion of the group that one might expect to have been Lt Peterson’s harshest critics, the crew of
J6
. So impressed were they by Lieutenant Peterson, that as he turned to leave the courtroom, to a man, the survivors stood smartly to attention, saluted and cheered him...

I have trouble believing that this would have been the case.

I am a naval historian, not a military veteran. However, in the course of my research about WWI submarines I have had the opportunity to become acquainted, and friends with a number of submariners, active and retired, in the United States, England, France and Germany, (a true brotherhood) and I have asked some of them whether they believe this possible. One veteran British submariner wrote me

"
I thought it might have been just me being a miserable old sod Markus but in my opinion (as an ex serving Royal Navy sailor of 12 years) I'd have probably tried to have punched the man's light's out rather than stand to attention and salute or cheer him!

I can't get my head round this idea that Mr. Young puts forward I'm afraid - - I'd love to know where he got this information from...

A salute is given as a mark of respect for someone, during my time in the forces we HAD to salute otherwise we would have been up on a charge for insubordination. These days first and foremost I am a civilian now - I wear my "uniform" with pride on Remembrance Day in London but at the end of that day I am just a civilian - I get to pick and choose who I salute or don't - We ALL have that freedom of choice now.

I'm looking at people's attitudes with this Markus, people don't forget and they certainly don't forgive, not with something like this. So for those guys of the J6 to salute and cheer that officer? Hmmmmmm?????

I remain skeptical sir"

Of course it could be true... Then on the other hand, in so many second hand accounts of military affairs, like propaganda during a conflict, there can lots of patriotic liberties taken with the facts. It is a little hard for me to believe that less than 24 hours after 16 of their friends and crewmates had been killed in a friendly fire incident, that the surviving crewmen would cheer the man responsible.

Please provide your source.

Thank you, Markus Robinson

Naval Historian

Type: British ‘J’ Class Admiralty, Fleet patrol, Group I. Pennant No: J6.

Builders: HM Dockyard, Devonport for Royal Navy. Ordered: J5 & J6 for 1915 Emergency War programme. Keel laid: on 26 April 1915. Launched: on 9 September 1915

Commissioned: on 25 January 1916 by Commander Max Horton D.S.O., who was appointed to supervise her building and remained in command for 18-months. Completed: on 31 July 1916.

Technical specifications:

Surface Displacement: 1,210-tons U/Dt: 1,820-tons LBD: 83.75m × 7.19m × 4.27m. Props: 3 bronze. (Only triple screw British submarines ever built). Machinery: 3 × 1,200hp 12cyl. Admiralty type Diesels by Vickers. (1/3 of boat’s space taken up with two engine-rooms.)

S/Sp: 19kts. Op/R: 38-days endurance & 5,000-n.miles @ 12.5kts. Fuel/cap: 80-tons & max. 91-tons. Batteries: lead/acid. U/Power: 3 × 675hp General Electric Motors gave 9.5kts.

Armament: 6 × 45.72cm (18in) torpedo tubes (4 × bow & 2 × beam). Guns: 1 × 12-pounder HA (5,44k) & 1 × 2-pounder (0.9k) Torpedoes: 12. Complement: 44 (5 officers & 39 ratings).

J6 was part of 11th Flotilla HMS TITANIA and she had two commanders:

Cdr. Max Horten and Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton from 1 December 1917 to 15 October 1918.

During a patrol in the North Sea on 30 May 1917, J6 fired a torpedo at the Imperial German U-boat U 61, which narrowly missed. The commander of U 61, Kapitänleutnant Vicktor Dieckmann had been on a patrol from Heligoland around the Orkney Isles, to the southwest coast of Ireland and down to the Western Channel and had returned via the Shetlands. Dieckmann was on the final leg of his voyage home, when the incident happened.

Final patrol:

J6, 15th Oct. 1918 - Friendly Fire:

‘The essence of a ‘Q’ ship attack lay in rapid and overwhelming attack at close range’, so wrote Gibson and Prendergast in ‘The German Submarine War 1914-1918’. Unfortunately the victim of the ‘Q’ ship CYMRIC, 26 - 30-n.miles east of Beadnell in Northumberland, was J6, a British submarine of the 11th Flotilla.

Conditions were clear on that day, there was a slight breeze and the sea was smooth as the Granton (Firth of Forth) based CYMRIC had proceeded down the swept channel as far as St. Abbs Head before pursuing a more south easterly course, which took her outside of the war channel. Lt Peterson the commander of CYMRIC had not been warned to expect any allied submarine movements, even though his course would bring him close to Blyth, home of the 11th Submarine Flotilla.

Evidence of Lt. F. Peterson DSO, DSC RNR

“At about 15.30 on the 15th October a submarine was spotted on the surface steaming towards CYMRIC. Visibility at this time was about 6000-yards and when first spotted the submarine was from two and a half to three miles off. She continued on an opposite course to CYMRIC and I decided she was a friendly submarine...I recognised the bow of the ship as typical of the ‘J’ Class. When first sighted ‘action stations’ were sounded, but when I decided this submarine was friendly I told the gun crews, but ordered them to ‘stand by’.”

There was no obvious evidence that the submarine was hostile, because her gun was unmanned and men could be clearly seen on the bridge. Yet, Lt. Peterson was disturbed by the position of the gun, as it did not correspond to any of the friendly submarine silhouettes he had been issued with for training purposes. As the lettering on the submarine’s conning tower became clearer, suspicion grew that the submarine was an enemy. Some eyewitnesses from CYMRIC claimed that an object was partly obscuring the lettering on the conning tower.

Lt Peterson describes what happened next:

“Shortly after this, when the submarine’s letter and number could be seen clearly, it appeared to me to be ‘U 6’; the submarine at that time was still on the bow: I waited until the submarine was on the beam and still being convinced she was ‘U 6’, I gave the order for action. The White Ensign was hoisted on the mizzen truck of CYMRIC. There was a pause, but no recognition was shown by the submarine at that time.”

Lt Peterson (erroneously) believed that it was the responsibility of a British submarine to make the initial challenge to a surface craft. The failure of J6 to respond convinced him that the submarine must be German. Enemy submarines regularly struck in the swept channel and one had been reported just days earlier.

J6 was outward bound from Blyth on a north, easterly track designed to keep her clear of the swept channel (where collision with a merchant was an ever present danger). At 1520hrs one of the lookouts, AB Luff, reported a sailing ship on the beam without an ensign. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, peered at CYMRIC, but saw nothing to give alarm.

Meanwhile, over on CYMRIC, Lt. Charles Mutch shared his captain’s belief that the submarine was a U boat:

“After a short pause, the order was given, ‘Drop the bulwarks and open fire!’. By this time the submarine was well abaft the beam and the range given to the starboard 12-pounder was 1800-yards. The first two shots were short, but the third hit the submarine near the after end of the conning tower. The order ‘independent fire’ was made and our guns made several hits”.

The result was devastating as the evidence of Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Warburton DSO, skipper of J6 testifies:

“As I got out of my bunk, the messenger rushed forward shouting, ‘a Q ship firing!’ and I heard the reports. I shouted out ‘full speed on the engines’, as I thought from the sound that one engine had stopped. When I arrived up on the conning tower we were stern on to the barquentine (which was) firing fast. Signalman Field fell down with a rifle in his hand without firing and the (recognition) grenade rolled out over the side. Lt. Brierley, the officer on watch, had his jaw blown off. I fired six grenades which all went off correctly.”

Crucially, due to the smoke made by their own guns, the crew of CYMRIC did not spot these recognition grenades fired by Lt.Cdr. Warburton.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton:

“During this time we were hit repeatedly, the telegraph being knocked out and a large hole blown in the starboard side of the forward engine room. The gun tower was hit abaft the gun and the conning tower was also hit but not perforated. The ship was now listing heavily to port, because the external main ballast tanks were holed. Lt Robbins having arrived up, I ordered him to get the hands fallen in on the disengaged side and to take of his shirt and wave it. The Coxswain was then at the wheel and zigzagging. During this time our Ensign was streaming out astern from the W/T mast”.

Although several witnesses on CYMRIC observed a flag flying from a mast abaft the conning tower, only one recognised it as a White Ensign.

Below, Lt. Edward Loly was in his bunk when the first shell hit J6:

“As I turned out a shell hit the port side of the control room forward and blew up the switch board. This must have been the shell, which hit the gun tower. At the same time the boat began to list to starboard. I was about to start the blowers when the order came ‘go full speed’…the blowing was having no effect. The engine room was reported to be making water very fast and by this stage the engines had stopped. I got the men out and sent up all available woodwork. Leading Tel Wickstead and ERA Robertson remained below”.

CERA Robertson was in the engine room:

“I got the order to stop all engines from the captain and called through the voice pipe to the after engine room but received no answer. I stopped the starboard engine and received an order to ‘close bulkhead doors’. I went into the motor room to find out if anyone was there. One stoker came out but I was forced away because of the fumes and smoke. I tried once again but there was no answer. I was able to close the forward bulkhead of the motor room”.

In fact eight men were missing (two engine room artificers, two stokers and four able seamen) either knocked out by the shelling, or trapped within the after engine-room. Either way the closing of the bulkhead door sealed their fate.

When the crew of CYMRIC spotted the white ‘flag’, the order was given to ceasefire. At this time Lt. Mutch observed signal smoke of an indeterminate colour, which convinced him more than ever that this was an enemy submarine, as the Germans were known to copy British signals. Equally damning in the eyes of CYMRIC’s crew was the failure of the submarine to stop engines. Unfortunately J6 was unable to stop. The submarine maintained her course and speed. CYMRIC’s gunners now brought their howitzer into operation as they pursued the stricken submarine into a bank of haze. By the time CYMRIC caught up with J6, the submarine was clearly sinking.

Lt.Cdr. Warburton was below:

“I went aft to the engine room. There was about three feet of water above the engine room plates and water was coming in very fast from the starboard group exhaust valve. Chief Stoker Joyner was closing the motor room door and clipped up the beam tube door. I then went forward and closed the foremost door and gave orders to Leading Tel Wickstead to make an urgent morse-code signal for help, which he did. By this time water was coming through the beam tube door. There was no chance of saving the boat and I sent everybody on deck. The Coxswain urged me to come up too and she sank about 20 seconds later.

There were about 20 men in the berthon boat (portable boat) with the rest holding on to the woodwork. I saw Lt Brierley in the water and exchanged waves with him. Shortly afterwards he disappeared. CYMRIC came up in about 20 minutes and lowered boats”.

On realising their dreadful mistake, Lieutenants Peterson and Mutch dived into the water in order to save the submariners in the water.

One of the crew of CYMRIC later wrote:

“The first thing I noticed was the marking ‘HM Submarines’ on the bands of the men’s hats. We had sunk a British submarine by mistaking the ‘J’ for a ‘U’. I can remember a big red headed chap who was badly wounded shouting at us from the boat ‘Come on you stupid ##### these are your own ###### side! Give them a hand’.

We pulled over to the sinking men. One man was holding up his commanding officer. He yelled come and help me save Mr Warburton. Others were drowning. We dived in and rescued all that we could. One we took out of the water was too far gone and died on board...We sent a signal to Blyth that we were making for the port with the survivors of J6 aboard. I will never forget entering the port. As we rounded the pier and worked our way into the basin where the depot ship TITANIA and the other submarines were moored, we could see the wives and children of the submarine gazing with anxious eyes to see if those dear to them were among the survivors”.

That night CYMRIC anchored in the South Harbour behind the J-boats where there was ‘much emotion’ from the gathered submariners, while just outside of the gates, the wives and dependants of J6’s crew had also gathered, drawn to the harbour by the rumours of disaster. T.M. Jones in ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ claimed that some of the crew of J6 had felt a premonition of disaster prior to the boat’s departure. Jones knew the crew of J6 personally and was present when the survivors were landed at Blyth.

Sadly nothing could be done for Artificer Engineer Bright, despite frantic attempts at resuscitation. Artificer Engineer Bright died of shock and was buried at the Beach Cemetery, Blyth, where his grave may still be seen. Of the fifteen men who were lost, his was the only body recovered. The remainder are commemorated on the Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Memorials.

The Inquiry into the loss of J6 was held at Blyth on the submarine depot ship TITANIA on the

16 October 1918. The officers presiding decided that it would be inappropriate to take any further action against Lt. Peterson.

In a hand written note to Admiral David Beatty (First Sea Lord) after the war, Commodore S.S. Hall (Senior Officer in Command of the Submarine Service) made the following observations:

“It does not appear reasonable that an officer whose particular business it was, should be capable of mistaking the silhouette of J6 for ‘U 6’ even if he did not know that U 6 had been sunk 3 years ago…The C/O of CYMRIC seems to have expected J6 to challenge and to be unaware that it is clearly laid down that the surface craft should challenge and submarines only to reply. To expect a German submarine in this position to have mast up and colours flying, gun unmanned and men on deck in low visibility shows a further want in judgement - particularly in an area where he must have known that British submarines are constantly on passage…it is not known what other action could have been taken by J6”.

(U 6 was sunk in the Arctic off Stavanger by the British submarine E16, under the command of Lt.Cdr. E. Talbot D.S.O., on 15 September 1915.)

It hardly needs adding that this was the perspective of a land-based senior officer living in post war comfort. It was not the opinion of the group that one might expect to have been Lt Peterson’s harshest critics, the crew of J6. So impressed were they by Lieutenant Peterson, that as he turned to leave the courtroom, to a man, the survivors stood smartly to attention, saluted and cheered him. Surely the supreme accolade, hardened submariners could bestow, and perhaps implicit recognition between submariner and ‘Q’ ship sailor a shared knife-edge existence.

The loss of HM s/m J6 and the Court of Inquiry was classified for 75 years, following the hearing and it makes fascinating reading:

ADM. 156/131, Court of Enquiry into sinking of HMS/M J6 by Special Service Vessel CYMRIC under LT. FH Peterson D.S.O. DSC RN, 156/147 & 131 156/172 were only opened in 1997, presumably to protect the reputation and identity of Lt. Petersen. Until that point there were only two sources available in the public domain, ‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ written by a Royal Navy rating and ‘By Guess and by God’ written by a navigating officer using an interview with an unnamed CYMRIC officer.

Following her loss, the signalling flare-pistol was mounted next to the periscope, this being one of the reasons why J6 was fired upon, because the crew didn’t get their flares away in time to signal that the boat was ‘friendly’.

The following were the fifteen men lost with HM S/M J6:

Armstrong, Ernest William M/12905 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Brierley, James Roger Ingham, Sub-Lieutenant

Bright, C.T. Artificer Engineer

Burwell, Herbert Edward Philip M/3779 E.R.Artificer.4th

Hill, Arthur Herbert J/5428 Able Seaman

Lamont, Athol Davaar M/14927 E.R. Artificer.3rd

Rayner, Edward George J/5764 Leading Seaman

Russell, William Thomas J/28769 Able Seaman

Savidge, Albert Edward K/19992 Stoker.1st

Stevenson, Percival James P/K 1628 L/Stoker

Tachon, Philip K/20794 Stoker 1st Class

Thompson, William Piper K/23871Stoker.1st

Tyler, Frank Andrew J/2116 Able Seaman

White, Henry Thomas J/13130 Able Seaman

Wickstead, George Herbert J/31563 Leading Telegraphist

Sexton, Henry Percy Boy Telegraphist, J/58647 was born in Portsmouth on 8th March 1901. He joined HM s/m G2 on 23 October 1917 and then on 1st July 1918 joined J4 before joining J6, but that date is unknown, his previous occupation being an Errand boy - Ship messenger.

(CYMRIC (Official No.101751) was an iron-hulled 228-ton auxiliary-engined, topsail schooner or barquentine, that had dimensions of 37.49m by length, a 7.32m-beam & 3.25m-draught. William Thomas shipyard built and launched CYMRIC at Amlwch in 1893, just six days before Captain William Thomas, the owner, died. She was powered by sail, but fitted with a 52hp 3-cylinder triple expansion auxiliary steam engine that used one boiler. The vessel was used in the Thomas fleet and within three months of her launch on 25 June 1893, she sailed the Atlantic, visiting Porto Alegre in Brazil. The vessel was later bought by the Admiralty and visited Boston, USA in 1912. In 1914 the vessel was converted into one of the cloak and dagger Q-ships.

Mrs Sarah L. Hall of Arklow owned her in 1920 and she was registered at Beaumaris. (The Halls and the Tyrrells were the two leading Arklow schooner owners. Old CYMRIC survived WWI, but while carrying coal to Lisbon on 24 February 1944, she sank in the Bay of Biscay, during heavy weather. All of her crew of eleven were lost.)

Cheers Ron

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Wrecktec

It may sound a strange account but the information was extracted from our book "Silent Warriors - Volume One", published by Tempus Publishing in 2006 and written by myself (Ron Young) and Pamela Armstrong. All of the information came from the UK Public Records Office at Kew, the British Submarine Museum and the CWGC and Starke Schell Registers - hope that helps

Cheers Ron

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TeeCeeCee

Would you be so kind as to provide the source for your assertion at the bottom of your post that the crew of the J6 saluted the captain of the Q-ship which sunk them in a friendly fire incident killing 16 of their crew mates the day before.

... It was not the opinion of the group that one might expect to have been Lt Peterson’s harshest critics, the crew of
J6
. So impressed were they by Lieutenant Peterson, that as he turned to leave the courtroom, to a man, the survivors stood smartly to attention, saluted and cheered him...

I have trouble believing that this would have been the case.

Aye, doesn't seem to fit that they are distressed one day and saluting the cause the next. But the above submariner is talking with hindsight.

Tthe crew back in 1918 may have put it down to 'fortunes of war', people make mistakes in good faith.

The saluting buisness may have been their recognition of his sincere life-saving efforts?

That said, it's a shocking incident [inc. Lt Brierleys jaw] and shows almost criminal decision making and lack of thought.

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josquin

The reach and efficacy of the British wartime propaganda effort is well-documented, and I believe Markus rightly flags the improbability of this alleged accolade for Lieutenant Peterson. Of course, we can only speculate and rely upon the reports of the participants. But, consider: the war was still in progress, men had died, and ample fault was present--as the admiral's postwar evaluation indicates. Given all of that, I agree with Markus that the account of Peterson's festive exit is so unlikely as to be more in the realm of the fanciful rather than the probable. In other words, grist for the wartime propaganda mill and a confusion for reputable historians, like Ron, who attempt to discover what really happened almost a century after the fact. Whether the incident is documented or not, I applaud Markus for raising the question and grounding it in his knowledge of those who served. While Ron's charitable assessment is commendable, I found Peterson's and Mutch's incompetence to be stupefying--utterly unpardonable. The admiral seemed similarly disposed in his implications regarding what Peterson seemed to expect of U-boat crews for rules of engagement.

Trelawney

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Markus Robinson

To the best of my knowledge, the "source" for the assertion that the J6's crew unanimously saluted Lt Peterson appears to be the anonymous account published in the 1930 "thriller" By Guess and By God - The Story of the British Submarines in the War. U-boat.net (http://uboat.net/books/item/1899) describes the book as "A real bestseller from this period of time which covers almost the complete submarine war from the British side in World War I. It reads like a novel but is not always completely accurate." With respect to events surrounding the J6, I quote

(page 189) "It was eleven years later before I heard the story of how J-6 met her end. In Toronto one evening, while visiting the home of an ex-naval officer to discuss certain of the incidents related to this book, I found myself talking to one of the very men who had taken part in the most tragic incident of the British Submarine Service. He has given me permission to tell the story as he told it to me, with the request that neither his name nor the name of his commanding officer be used."

The four and a half page account is a white wash of the actions of the Q-ship and her officers. It includes the statement (page 191)

"I saw the boat and her markings plainly. I cannot tell what it was that hung over the conning tower and completed the 'J' making it look like a 'U', but I was as convinced as any of the men that it was a German U-boat".

and the statement (pages 193-94)

"I'll never forget entering the port from which the J-boats operated. As we rounded the pier and worked our way into the basin where the depot ship and the other submarines were moored, we could see the people -- the wives and families of the crew of the J-6 -- lined up gazing with anxious eyes to see if those dear to them were among the survivors. A court of inquiry was ordered and sat next day. We were exonerated from all blame. In fact our gun crews were congratulated on their wonderful gunnery. But the thing that stands out in my memory most is the fact that when my captain and I left the room in which the court sat the survivors of J-6 who had attended to give evidence sprang smartly to attention and saluted us. A wonderful example of training and discipline, I have always thought. They were true sportsmen. What had happened was due to the risks of the game. It was the war."

Of course with the court of inquiry records sealed for seventy-five years, assertions about what was said during the inquiry could be made without much in the way of short-term consequences. Nonetheless, the source's insistence upon anonymity should give one pause. Let us examine the assertions by this anonymous source.

"We were exonerated from all blame":

The first conclusion by the inquiry was "We attribute blame to - 1. The Commanding Officer of “CYMRIC” in that he was not justified in opening fire before he had established her identity; J.6. being in full buoyancy, men on conning tower, mast up, ensign flying, gun unmanned and not acting in any way suspiciously."

"I cannot tell what it was that hung over the conning tower and completed the 'J' making it look like a 'U', but I was as convinced as any of the men that it was a German U-boat".

There is no statement by any member of either crew that anything hung on the side of the J6's conning tower "making it look like a 'U'" In addition, testimony by Elam James Taylor, Skipper, and Sailing Master of the Cymric stated in response to questions

45. Was submarine flying a flat at her mast? and could you make out what it was? A. Yes, sir, I made it out to be a White Ensign.

46. Q. Was this before guns opened fire or afterwards? A. Before sir.

47. Q. Did you tell anyone of your opinion? A. No sir.

"In fact our gun crews were congratulated on their wonderful gunnery":

There is no congratulation on wonderful gunnery any where in the minutes of the court of inquiry.

I believe that the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that the accuracy of this anonymous but not disinterested version of events by an officer of the Q-ship falls in the category of "the reach and efficacy of the British wartime [and post-wartime] propaganda effort" Mr. Trelawney suggests, and should be taken with a very serious grain of salt.

The reach and efficacy of the British wartime propaganda effort is well-documented, and I believe Markus rightly flags the improbability of this alleged accolade for Lieutenant Peterson. Of course, we can only speculate and rely upon the reports of the participants. But, consider: the war was still in progress, men had died, and ample fault was present--as the admiral's postwar evaluation indicates. Given all of that, I agree with Markus that the account of Peterson's festive exit is so unlikely as to be more in the realm of the fanciful rather than the probable. In other words, grist for the wartime propaganda mill and a confusion for reputable historians, like Ron, who attempt to discover what really happened almost a century after the fact. Whether the incident is documented or not, I applaud Markus for raising the question and grounding it in his knowledge of those who served. While Ron's charitable assessment is commendable, I found Peterson's and Mutch's incompetence to be stupefying--utterly unpardonable. The admiral seemed similarly disposed in his implications regarding what Peterson seemed to expect of U-boat crews for rules of engagement.

Trelawney

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Signals

Yes, By Guess and By God - The Story of the British Submarines in the War. I have a copy, it follows a very similar theme to Watchdogs of the Deep, in that not only do they write about experiences of their own boat, but write about other theatres of the war, issues they also would not have full access to know at the time. They both also smell a touch of too much British Propaganda which explains what you have raised, many issues raised in By Guess are inaccurate, but reflect the general writing of the time. Many myths were written in this period and much without basis, I too have a copy f the J6 loss documents, she was unlucky in that there were a long list of attacks on British submarines in 1917-1918 & they barely rate a mention, it is just Cymric hit her target, they all seemed very trigger happy, and even with the complex signal system developed to stop this, it continued unabated, from C10, D3, D4, H5, L2, H12 to J6 and many others, the Allies seemed to be the British Submariners worst enemy. By the time of J6's loss these Submariners would have most likely been fed up with it.

But I would say your assertions are correct.

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Wrecktec

‘Watchdogs of the Deep’ by T. Jones (published by Angus and Robinson in 1935) is

one of the standard First War submarine eye witness books, namely Jones, who served on J2 , was present at Blyth throughout the affair, knew the crew personally and assisted at the Court Martial.

The version in the book is the offical report.

Cheers Ron

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josquin

Markus and Darren,

I have not read By Guess and By God so I will go by your judgment as to its veracity and quality as an historical document.

It sounds like it is an example of that propagandistic subgenre that was common in the interwar years, especially in the

U.K. and Germany. The insistence for anonymity on the part of the source for the salute account is particularly telling--

if the source, and his story, was credible, there should have been no such qualms or hesitation. Given the salute story's

improbability, indeed incredibility, the anonymity (and exemption from accountability) all but convinces me that the

account is specious and self-serving. I appreciate your discovery of the source and your evaluation of its credibility.

As you say, Markus and Darren, we are dealing with propaganda in all time frames,postwar as well as wartime, and we

need to remember this at all times when engaged in our research endeavours.

Trelawney

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Wrecktec

All I can say to that is take some time out and visit the UK National Archives at Kew, which will verify what we discovered after many days of research there

Cheers Ron

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Hedley Malloch

All I can say to that is take some time out and visit the UK National Archives at Kew, which will verify what we discovered after many days of research there

Cheers Ron

Ron,

If you want what you say to be taken seriously, and not dismissed as another piece of 'War Is Hell But Britain Can Take It' propaganda, then you (not us) need to provide the TNA Reference number, the file name, the document name, the page number and the author(s) details. Otherwise it remains unsubstantiated.

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