Monday, 27 March 2017

My Visit to the Submarine Museum Today

My Visit to the Submarine Museum, Gosport

Entrance Gates to the Museum

My tenuous association with The Submarine Museum at the old HMS Dolphin Base at Haslar, in Gosport began back in 2008 when planning to go on our first ever Cruise on the now retired Cunard Cruise Liner QE2. Before leaving for the cruise, I read on the Itinerary of Events that a Series of Three Lectures on the History of the Submarine would be given by the Commander of the Submarine Museum at Gosport, Commander Fall, Retired.

As my long passed away now, father served in the Royal Navy as a Submariner during WW2 and was originally based here at HMS Dolphin, my interest was set. My father was one of the Favoured ones who survived the war but sadly died age 52.

Having taken a copy of my fathers War Record List of Ships that he served in with me, I was able to meet Commander Fall and chat with him during the cruise. He put me in contact with the Museum were I was able to send a copy of the original record and send them a set of his photos.



Date of Birth 11th Feb 1920










26TH APRIL 1941


27TH JUNE 1941 AB ST



18TH JULY 1941




2ND MARCH 1943

14TH MAY 1943


15TH AUGUST 1944

HMS FORTH ( S / M 'S )














THE 1939 – 1945 STAR NAVY / RED / BLUE 4



My Fathers Submarine HMS Sleuth arriving off Portsmouth from the Pacific Ocean

 HMS Sleuth on the right with My Father seen on the extreme right of the photo.

An Extract from the Portsmouth Evening News  in 1945

HMS Solent ( Left ) Commanded by Lt. Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN and HMS Sleuth ( Right ) commanded by Lt. K.H. Martin, RN .... The younger of the Martin brothers, the Commanding Officer of HMS Sleuth - Returning to HMS Dolphin in November 1945 following service in the Pacific War.

HMS Sleuth - Ship's Crest

HMS Sleuth - P 261

 My Father with Jauntily Set Cap

My Father and Me aged 1yr in 1945

My Father, 2nd from Left, Front Row during time with a Crew in Malta

Dad & one of his Brothers.

With one of his pals.
Sadly I there were no names written on the back of these photos when I found them.

 Four of the crew in Mediterranean Dress

Another Malta Gathering without dad this time.

The Lads Together Somewhere? 

Could be the Passport Photo if they had one?

 The Last from Malta with Dad Back Row Centre

 With Mum & Dad at the end of the War when I was nearly Two Years Old.

With the Lads and Girls somewhere in the North - Dad had beard then?

Taken by one of the other Girls. 

My Fathers 'Mentioned In Dispatches' Certificates

My Fathers Well Worn Sub Mariners Association Blazer Badge

The Official Badge Design
I have always assumed that these Mentioned in Dispatches applied to the whole Crew but were issued individually.

The One on the Right for HMS Sleuth was for the Japanese Pacific Campaign.

I arrived at the museum expecting that British Summer Time would have triggered a later closing time only to find out that I only had just over a half an hour for a quick visit.
The Camera would have to work fast in lie of a future and longer visit.

 Arriving at the Museum

 On the way in I spotted this old WW1 Photo of the harbour side.

 Inside I began viewing the Exhibits beginning with this Red Escape Suit and Beige Fire Protection Suit.

 Seeing the small size of these Bunks used by the crews it would not do to be too tall.

 A Rear Admiral's Dress Uniform

 Two Cartoon Like Diagrams of On Board Systems

 A Large Submarine Battery

 Inside a Cut Away example of a Early Submarine called the Turtle.

 One of the many pieces of artwork on display depicting the precarious life of Submariners.

WW1 Submarine Depot Ship HMS Latona 1890

Seen here at sea off Murdos

Submarines moored alongside their Depot Ship

1915 Depot Ship HMS Titania

Moored off Portland with 6 Subs alongside

Typical Collection of Household Goods from the Wartime

Cramped Conditions for Underwater Living

On the Surface for a breath of rarely experienced Fresh Air.

His Majesty The King Reviewing The Fleet Off Cowes in 1909

Submarine Designs - Shapes to Suit Purposes

The Rum Barrel

Three Centuries of the Daily 'Tot of Rum' Issue

The Theatres of War Diagrams

A Showcase of Submariner Memorabilia

A Well Worn White Ensign and Collection of Submarine Bells

The First of the Jolly Rogers used to display the Submarines War Record

"The practice came about during World War 1: Remembering comments by Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, who complained that submarines were "underhanded, unfair, and damned un-English" and that personnel should be hanged as Pirates, Lieutenant Commander Max Horton began flying the flag after returning from successful patrols. Initially, Horton's submarine HMS E9 flew an additional flag after each successful patrol, but when there was no room for more, the practice was changed to a single large flag, onto which symbols indicating the submarine's achievements were sewn." (Wikipedia)

The Crew of HMS Utmost with their Jolly Roger

Display of Naval Uniforms

Atlantic Wolves by Robert Taylor

Midget Submarines and Human Torpedos

Another Jolly Roger

A Description of the Symbols used on the Flags 

More Symbols Used

And More Jolly Rogers. The Pride of each ship

An Embroidered Sampler Celebrating the Awarding of the George Cross for the Sinking of a Cruiser

This Submaarine is credited with sinking so many small merchant ships.

A Cross Sectional Diagram of a 'T' Class Submarine at Periscope Depth by Vickers Armstrong Ltd

The Bell & Badge from HMS Dolphin, the Shore Base where the Museum is located.

A Launching Ceremony

HMS Repulse and Artifacts

HMS Dolphin from the air

More Models and Artifacts

Two Periscopes with Fixed Views of Portsmouth Harbour and of The Solent

Model of Submarine Depot Ship A187 HMS Forth

Midget Submarine X24 located in the Gift Shop

A Large Montage of Photos at Reception

The Museum then closed leaving just enough time before the gates closed to take outside photos.

A View Across to Fort Blockhouse where HMS Dolphin once was located

Modern Marines fill the old Submarine Basins

The New Museum Building

The Water Tower used for Underwater Escape Training for Submariners.
Seen in use below

The View to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower

Pigeons Get Everywhere even on the Bow of HMS Alliance

HMS Alliance from the Quay.

I was unable to take a tour inside as I arrived too late in the day however the attendant kindly offer to take me as though in charge of the ship.

The next series of photos may be seen on placards along the main entrance walkway.

A Typical Submarine Crew At Ease

Wrens 'Housekeeping' Manoeuvring this Mark 8 Torpedo

A Single Run Silent Propeller showing its massive size

HMS Seahorse leaving Portsmouth in 1933

Submarine Signalmen and Telegraphists - Harwich 1914

The Crew of HMS A2 in 1908

Alongside Fort Blockhouse in 1908

An Old Conning Tower
An Amphibious Diving Suit

A Small Diving Bell
A Modern Miniature Submarine

HMS Alliance From All Angles

Another Massive Silent Screw

The Green Goddess waiting for me.

Tonneau Off and ready to roll. 

Outside of The Main Gates as I was in 2012

Approaching The Hovercraft Museum (only open on Saturdays) Another visit I have yet to make.

I hope that you enjoyed the tour

Some Additional History of HMS Sleuth and the Japanese Campaign. 

HMS Sleuth - Ship's Crest

HMS Sleuth - P 261

Extract taken from the Wrecksite website:

Entered by one Jan Lettens on 06/01/2013

From 5 August 1945 to 15 august 1945 the British submarines HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin) and HMS Solent (Lt. Cdr. J.D. Martin) together sink 15 Japanese sailing vessels with gunfire in the Gulf of Siam.

This period of my fathers war service is neatly recorded in

Beginning with his joining HMS Sleuth in January 1945 at Holy Loch in Scotland until the ship arrives back in Gosport in November 1945. It is astounding the distances travelled and work undertaken during just less than a year 

HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) is docked at Holy Loch. (3)5 Jan 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) is undocked. (3)
11 Jan 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Holy Loch for passage to Gibraltar. She made the passage in convoy OS 104 / KMS 78.

This was the first leg of the trip to the Far East.

For the daily positions of HMS Sleuth during this passage see the map below.

HMS Sleuth passage Holy Loch - Fremantle click here for bigger map
19 Jan 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (3)
23 Jan 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta. She made the passage together with HMS Tiptoe (Lt.Cdr. P.R.H. Harrison, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN). (3)
27 Jan 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Malta. (3)
6 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Malta for Port Said. (4)
9 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Port Said. (4)
11 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) transited the Suez Canal Southbound and arrived at Suez. (4)
12 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Suez for Aden. (4)
16 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Aden. (4)
20 Feb 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Aden for Trincomalee. (4)
3 Mar 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Trincomalee. (5)
7 Mar 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Trincomalee for Fremantle, Australia. (5)
21 Mar 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Fremantle. (5)
28 Mar 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) is put on the slipway at Fremantle for a propeller change. (5)
29 Mar 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) is put back in the water. (5)
8 Apr 1945
During 8 to 10 April 1945 HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee.
The exercises in 9 and 10 April 1945 were together with HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN). (6)
11 Apr 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) carried out practice attacks off Fremantle on HMS Adamant (Capt. H.M.C. Ionides, RN). (6)
14 Apr 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Fremantle for her 1st war patrol (1st in the South-East Pacific area). She was ordered to patrol together with HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) in the Eastern Java Sea.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Sleuth during this patrol see the map below.

HMS Sleuth 1st war patrol click here for bigger map (7)

18 Apr 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) arrive at Exmouth Bay to fuel. Both submarines departed in company for their patrol area later the same day. (7)
21 Apr 1945
During the night of 21/22 April 1945 HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) passed Lombok Strait Northbound. (7)
26 Apr 1945
The British submarines HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) sink the Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Wa 3 (215 tons) with gunfire in the Java Sea west of Kalambau Island in position 04°50'S, 115°40'E.
(All times are zone -9)
1830 hours - Solent reported two ships. Altered course towards. Shortly afterwards Solent reported the contact as a coaster and a seatruck.

1856 hours - 5 Depth charges were heard to explode near Solent.
1940 hours - Ordered by Solent to surface and trail. Could not do so at one as the enemy was only 2 nautical miles away in bright moonlight.
2030 hours - Surfaced and closed Solent. Took station on her port beam and together set off at full speed to get into a position down moon.
2148 hours - The enemy turned and made for Kalambau Island. Turned to close.
2213 hours - Solent opened fire.
2215 hours - Sleuth now also opened fire. Range was 3600 yards. Both ships fired at the largest ship which turned out to be an escort. The escort returned fire.
2235 hours - Ceased firing.
2238 hours - The escort was on fire aft and stopped.
2242 hours - The escort blew up with a violent explosion. Started to look for the second ship. Fired starshell to aid in the search.
2304 hours - The escort was seen to sink.
2347 hours - Sighted the second vessel thought to be a large lugger and opened fire. The first round hit. The enemy returned fire with a 25mm machine gun but Sleuth was not hit. Four hits were obtained. The next morning the target was seen broken up on the beach.
2353 hours - Altered course away and joined Solent. (7)

29 Apr 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) together sank a seatruck with gunfire in position 04°33'S, 116°03'E.
(All times are zone -9)
1412 hours - Sighted a two-masted ship bearing 065 degrees. Passed report to Solent and commenced attack.

1435 hours - The ship was alone and a coaster of about 300 tons. Decided to surface and engage with the 4" gun. Informed Solent of my intentions.
1603 hours - Surfaced and engaged the enemy from 3200 yards. Solent also surfaced and opened fire.
1615 hours - The target fired a few rounds with a machine gun.
1619 hours - The target was on fire but still going ahead at 7 knots. The crew and passengers were seen to be abandoning ship.
1637 hours - Commenced rescuing the survivors. They had be now be seen to be civilians with their families. Rescued a total of 51 including 9 women and 6 babies.
1827 hours - Dived for an aircraft seen by Solent. Unfortunately one seriously injured survivor had to be left on the after casing. He had been already given a strong dose of morphia.
2002 hours - Surfaced and proceeded to the nearest Island hoping to find fishing vessels to put the survivors on.
2200 hours - Sighted a small fishing vessel. The skipper said there were no Japanese on the islands and that there was plenty of rice and water available. He was willing to take the survivors to the shore.
2230 hours - Towed the fishing vessel closer to the shore and filled it with half of the survivors.
0048 hours (30th) / The second half of the survivors left for the island. Kept on board 3 volunteers and 1 Sino-Javanese collaborator. Then set course to re-join Solent who was landing her survivors some distance away. (7)
2 May 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) sank an enemy seatruck with gunfire. She was assisted by HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) which also obtained one hit on the target. Position was 04°33'S, 115°31'E
(All times are zone -9)
0706 hours - Sighted ship bearing 070°. The ship was a large 300 tons seatruck. No escort was seen. Warned Solent of gun action.

0810 hours - Surfaced and opened fire from 2600 yards. The first round hit. Solent joined in later after having closed the range first.
0820 hours - The target was on fire and sinking. The crew was abandoning ship in a small boat.
0831 hours - Dived and cleared the area. (7)
8 May 1945
During the night of 8/9 May 1945 HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) passed Lombok Strait Southbound. (7)
11 May 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) both arrive at Exmouth Gulf.
Lt. K.H. Martin left Sleuth there with a fever. The 1st Lt. temporary took command until Lt. J.C. Ogle took over on the 13th for the passage to Subic Bay. (7)
13 May 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. J.C. Ogle, DSC, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) both depart Exmouth Gulf to return to their patrol area in the Eastern Java Sea.
They were to patrol there for a week and then proceed to Subic Bay, Philippines. This patrol was later cancelled and they were both ordered to proceed to Subic Bay directly. (7)
16 May 1945
During the evening HMS Sleuth (Lt. J.C. Ogle, DSC, RN) passed Lombok Strait Northbound. (7)
25 May 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. J.C. Ogle, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol (1st in the South-East Pacific area) at Subic Bay. (7)
13 Jun 1945
During 13 and 14 June 1945 HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) both conducted exercises off Subic Bay. These included night exercises. (8)
17 Jun 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Subic Bay for her 2nd war patrol (2nd in the South-East Pacific area). She was ordered to patrol together with HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) off Banka Strait and to the East of Singapore.

For the daily positions of HMS Sleuth during this patrol see the map below.

HMS Sleuth 2nd war patrol click here for bigger map (9)

6 Jul 1945
At 0413 hours (zone -9) HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) attacked an enemy submarine to the East of Singapore. 6 Torpedoes were fired from 5000 yards but no hits were obtained.
This must have been the Japanese submarine I-351 (offsite link) that arrived at Singapore on this day.

Details of this attack are not known as there is no log or patrol report of HMS Sleuth for this period. (9)
13 Jul 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol (2nd in the South-East Pacific area) at Subic Bay. (9)
27 Jul 1945
During 27 and 28 July 1945 HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) and HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) both conducted exercises off Subic Bay. These included night exercises. (10)
31 Jul 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Subic Bay for her 3rd war patrol (3rd in the South-East Pacific area). She was ordered to patrol together with HMS Solent (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) in the Gulf of Siam.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Sleuth during this patrol see the map below.

HMS Sleuth 3rd war patrol click here for bigger map (7)

6 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) sank 3 junks with gunfire and demolition charges in the Gulf of Siam.
(All times are zone -9)
1911 hours - Surfaced in position 06°53'N, 101°47'E and closed 5 junks about 10 nautical miles from the shore. All crew abandoned ship at once.

1934 hours - Sank a 90 tons junk with gunfire. She was Northbound with a cargo of oil in drums, kapok and crated cargo. 7 Rounds were used. Then 2 medium seized junks were sunk with demolition charges. Both were of about 50 tons and the cargo for both was rice. USS Bugara (Cdr. A.F. Schade, RN) meanwhile had also surfaced and sank the other 2 junks. (7)
13 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) is bombed by a Japanese aircraft in the Gulf of Siam. No damage was caused to Sleuth.
(All times are zone -9)
1150 hours - In position 11°53'N, 100°03'E obtained radar contact on an aircraft. Sighted a Val dive bombers attacking. Dived.

1153 hours - The Val dropped two bombs in our wake. No damage was caused by them. (7)
15 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) sank 3 junks with demolition charges in the Gulf of Siam.
(All times are zone -9)
0150 hours - Investigated a medium seized Southbound junk loaded with rice. Sank her with demolition charges in position 11°55'N, 100°04'E.

0450 hours - Investigated a large 90 tons Southbound junk with a cargo of rice. Sankher with demolition charges in position 11°55'N, 100°02'E.
0635 hourds - Investigated and sank a medium seized junk with demolition charges in position 11°57'N, 100°02'E.
0740 hours - Set course to intercept another junk. Shortly afterwards received a signal about the surrender of Japan. This junk was saved by the bell. (7)
21 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol (3rd in the South-East Pacific area) at Subic Bay. (7)
27 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Subic Bay for Hong Kong. (11)
30 Aug 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) arrived at Hong Kong. (11)
12 Sep 1945
HMS Sleuth (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) departed Hong Kong for passage to the U.K. She arrived back in the U.K. on 2 November 1945 when she arrved at Portsmouth. She was paid off into reserve on 21 November 1945. (11)
13 Jun 1952

It must have been around this point that my father left HMS Sleuth and ended his war service in the Royal Navy

HMS Sleuth later collided with the destroyer HMS Zephyr while leaving Portland harbour. She put her stern through the side of Zephyr as she reversed out of her berth.

HMS Sleuth (P 261)

Submarine of the S class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantP 261 
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered17 Nov 1942 
Laid down30 Jun 1943 
Launched6 Jul 1944 
Commissioned8 Oct 1944 
End service
HistoryScrapped at Charlestown on 15 September 1958.

HMS Sleuth was a S-class submarine of the third batch built for the Royal Navy during World War II. She survived the war and was sold for scrap in 1958.

Design and description
The last 17 boats of the third batch were significantly modified from the earlier boats. They had a stronger hull, carried more fuel and their armament was revised. The submarines had a length of 217 feet (66.1 m) overall, a beam of 23 feet 9 inches (7.2 m) and a draft of 14 feet 1 inch (4.3 m). They displaced 814 long tons (827 t) on the surface and 990 long tons (1,010 t) submerged. The S-class submarines had a crew of 48 officers and ratings. They had a diving depth of 350 feet (106.7 m).

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 950-brake-horsepower (708 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 650-horsepower (485 kW) electric motor. They could reach 14.75 knots (27.32 km/h; 16.97 mph) on the surface and 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)


Ted Matthews now draws his story to a close with a short summary of his life in Submarines on HMS Sleuth.

On beginning my basic training, I knew I ‘d made the right decision, as I felt at home straight away. After my initial 3-month training period I’d done well and passed all my exams, with quite good results. 

Shortly afterwards I went on my first training boat, which I think was called HMS/M Cyclops.
I was to be a Gunlayer, this meant I’d be in charge of the usually 4-inch gun, mounted on the upper deck and soon found out that I had quite a good eye for a target and because I was keen to learn encountered no problems with any of my instructors on her or any other boats I initially served on. After a few patrols in the North Sea on various boats I went to a gunnery course in Chatham, this I feel was one of the first courses that modern day flight simulators and such like had their beginnings in. We had to simulate firing the gun in make believe sea swells; I found it very interesting and it was certainly of benefit in allowing me to become more efficient in a shorter time.
The next draft I received was the best one I ever had and I stayed on her until the end of hostilities with Japan. She was called the Sleuth, and I went to Cammel-Lairds shipyard, Birkenhead to stand over her in the final part of fitting out. This would be for all key personnel, such as the Coxswain, Second Coxswain, Torpedo Layer and Gun Layer to have their specialist equipment set the way they wanted. It was an enjoyable couple of weeks and I think in part what made it even better was I met our new skipper at the dockyard. He was Captain Ken Martin and throughout my time with him in some very sticky situations I never once doubted his ability. In my eyes he was of a similar mould to Captain Tennant. My new skipper also had a brother on boats and we were to serve with him on small wolf packs.

HMS/M Sleuth Leaving Cammel Lairds ship builder’s Birkenhead on acceptance trials Click to view a larger version of this picture (opens a new window) (39314 bytes)
HMS/M Sleuth Leaving Cammel Lairds ship builder’s Birkenhead on acceptance trials. Captain Martin and myself were onboard at this time.

Before briefly telling you of my active service on subs, I feel one tale shows the massive difference between discipline in boats and on surface ships. It was just before we finished our working up period with the Sleuth and we were moored in Loch Long. As you will be aware I certainly wasn’t a quiet sort of bloke in my younger days and this night ashore was no exception. 
I’d been out with a shipmate, Jock Hastings, and as we came onboard a drunken argument started as to who was the best shot. This was soon put to the test as I still had the keys to the magazine in my pocket. In the blink of an eye we went below and brought up to the conning tower a Tommy gun with two clips of ammunition and promptly began firing straight into the land based accommodation huts. For such was our  stupor, we thought the shots were going to the seaward side of the harbour. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident, but on our return down below I soon realised we could be in severe trouble. 
The following day we went on a practice shoot and I can never understand why, but I was in fine form and through pure luck managed to actually hit the pole that had the marker flag tied above it. This meant we won the shoot, but make no mistake it was a one off shot and I never repeated it. On our return I was told that Hastings and myself had to report to the depot ships Captain. Our own skipper had made a report of the incident; I thought I’d be losing my rating, and most probably be thrown out of submarines.
We stood in front of the Captain and he said. “I believe you got drunk last night with near disastrous results.” Well what could we say. In the next breath to our disbelief he said “That will cost you 2 days stoppage of pay and a further 2 days loss of leave.” I couldn’t believe it. On a surface ship I would’ve been sent down for a spell at the very least, I’m sure to this day that Captain Martin must have put a word in for us. The main difference between boats and surface vessels was if you continually messed up whilst in action you’d be out on your ear, as unlike a large warship with the limited amount of man power on a boat no one could be carried by the others. However, it was also made clear to me that if I had acted in that way again, I’d be out; but only a fool would step on the skipper’s toes twice.

Shortly after this we set off for the Far East. I was told to expect a busy time as a lot of our action was hopefully, going to be seen by our 4-inch gun, our main orders being to search out any prey that was too small for torpedoes. We were going to be serving under the Americans whilst in that part of the world; they’d built up a fine reputation for themselves, inflicting severe losses on the Japanese over the last couple of years. The American Admiral in charge of all operations in the Far East was I think, named Fife and he had a great love for submariners. So we set off, our first port of call was Gibraltar, then through the Med onto Malta, Suez, Port Said and after sailing through the canal we eventually ended up in Trincomalee. From this point on we had to be on our guard as the Japanese still had many surface ships operating in these waters.
However at this point I have to pay tribute to the Americans we served under. We’d been on patrol for some 42 days when pulling into Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. We had no provisions of any kind left and alongside us was an American sub called the Hard-Head. Her crew soon became aware of our situation and after conferring with our skipper, immediately began to stock our cupboards with all manner of food. We even had ice cream from them. What also has to be remembered was although their boats were far bigger that ours this crew had already been at sea for some 64 days. This just shows how well prepared their submarine force was and they were a great bunch of blokes to mix with. 

It would take forever to cover my whole time in the Far East, but one particular encounter gained certain other crewmembers and myself a Decoration. I actually received the DSM from this action and the circumstances surrounding this incident have stayed in my mind over the years, so much so that I feel it worthy of mention. We’d been sailing in the company of our skipper’s brother for some time and as he’d held his rank for longer than ours he had seniority. Having patrolled an area for several days with nothing much happening we came across some Japanese merchant ships. Great care had to be taken in this sort of situation as many of them had anything up to 6 inch guns hidden along the decks and if we got things wrong then one hit off them, once we surfaced would seal our fate. Our skipper made the shout and we began to surface, with some fifteen feet or so to go I’d open the hatch that led to my gun, subsequently in a matter of seconds I’d be ready to fire. All this went to plan and the order came down from the skipper to engage the ship. I got my first round off and hit her straight away; as I took aim again all hell broke loose. Her decks were full of oil drums and they started to explode, she was also trying to fire back, but we soon suppressed their guns.
I must have hit her about 7-8 times and by now she was an inferno, reports came back that Jap soldiers were trying to jump off the stricken ship. I had too many bad feelings about previous encounters with them to worry of their fate from our machine gun fire. I was then horrified as once again I took aim, only this time different figures could be seen running on the deck. Women and children who must have been let out of cargo holds were trying to get off the ship, but the fire and constant explosions from the oil drums were taking a heavy toll from them. Our skipper immediately ceased fire and we sailed close by to help with rescue work. 

By now several of our crew had swum across to the ship to help these stricken people, I still remember one man hanging onto an anchor chain and despite the intense heat he wouldn’t let go. Eventually he couldn’t stand it any longer and fell into the arms of one of the lads. Another man could be seen floating in the sea holding a baby, once again, a crewmember swam over to them, but as he took hold of the baby the man sunk like a stone. He was already dead and the buoyancy from the infant must have been keeping him afloat. Both subs were taking on survivors who were all Javanese; we later found out that the ship was taking them to forced labour camps in Japan. I began to help some of our lads put an injured survivor on a stretcher, he had bad burns, but was still conscious. We’d just finished strapping him up, as he’d have to be lowered vertically through the hatch when an aircraft warning went off. We had no option but to leave him on the deck and execute an emergency dive. It was a terrible thing to have to do and obviously he had no chance of survival, but if we’d been attacked whilst on the surface everyone would have been killed. I have to admit; it took me quite a while to get over that incident. 
The blazing hulk of the Japanese transport ship; its a miracle anyone survived.
Shortly after this incident we left the scene and within a matter of hours the Javanese women had begun to clean the whole of the boat. We didn’t make them do it, but they were all so relieved to be away from their captors that this was their way of thanking us. After a day or so the word kept on going through the boat that one of the men we rescued was a Jap and he’d scared all the others into saying he was Javanese. The man in question was living the life of luxury with our stokers, but during the course of the day someone started to ply him with rum. It wasn’t long till his true colours came through and he could be heard shouting that we’d all soon be dead and Japan couldn’t lose the war, I couldn’t stand it and I went after him with a knife. The other lads onboard soon restrained me, but I honestly feel that I would have attacked him if I hadn’t been stopped. The skipper never questioned me over this as he despised him as well as the rest of us. Later that evening we set the Javanese on a small island with some food and provisions, but the Jap was to stay with us till we returned to Exmouth Gulf. Once docked a couple of Americans came onboard and with a broad smile on their faces said to him. “Come on pal your holidays over you’re not with the British any longer.” His face was a picture.

The rest of my war was spent in this part of the world, We had many dodgy moments, but Martin always got us through. Once the second bomb was dropped on Japan we made our way to Hong Kong, it was horrific to watch all the recriminations being carried out by the Chinese on their own kind who’d been collaborating with the Japs during their conquest of the island. Trams were pulling up outside the docks and men and women were being pulled to the side of the gates and shot dead. The Marines off the battleship Anson had the unenviable job of pulling the dead bodies back inside the docks, this procedure was carried out for days on end. 

We were put on patrol duty in Hong Kong and I have to make a confession to the British government. The reason why the Japanese flags weren’t in the Fleet Club for the planned officially filmed surrender was because we got drunk and stole them before you arrived. And when all your Dignitaries turned up with the Royal Marines escort for the Official Ceremony we were already on our way back to our depot ship. As far as I remember the flags ended up with the depot ship Captain and my mate Mickey Elliot. No need to thank them.   
Soon after the surrender; this Japanese soldier’s defiance is clearly evident Click to view a larger version of this picture (opens a new window) (32706 bytes)
Soon after the surrender; this Japanese soldier’s defiance is clearly evident.
Unfortunately I was unable to enjoy a home coming party with the crew of the Sleuth, as I had to go on another boat for my journey home, the Seline. The reason for my transfer was she’d lost her Gunlayer through illness so I had to fill in for him. There was one high point to this change of boat and that came when entering the harbour of Alexandria, the skipper told me that we were to be visited by Admiral Tennant. This pleased me immensely and he spoke to me at some length about what I’d been up to since the demise of Repulse. In return I asked how he’d fared when his cruiser the Newcastle, had been torpedoed by MTB’s whilst operating in the Mediterranean. The total sincerity I remembered of him was still to be seen, and it was good to see him fit and well once more. 
After returning home I was married, and the rest of my story really is just about staying on boats until I finished my time, this had to be extended because of the Korean War. The circumstances of my departure from the Navy however, were quite sad. My wife had by now given birth to our second child, but she died when only 3 weeks old. At the time I was off the coast of Lisbon serving on the Alliance (she is now on display at the submarine museum in Gosport) making matters worse was one of our crew had contracted Polio. This meant we had to go into quarantine, being finally allowed to sail home a couple of weeks later. Once back in port the doctors and social workers soon understood my dilemma and in a mater of days I’d left the forces on compassionate grounds. It was a good life and at the time I wouldn’t have done anything else. Repulse was without question the finest surface ship I ever served on and her crew’s efficiency was second to none. If she hadn’t sadly been lost I would have been more than happy to serve all my 14 years at sea onboard her. I have never forgotten my mate I had to leave on the deck of Repulse and when attending the Memorial Service at Plymouth in 1996, the first thing I did was to look for his name on the Hoe Memorial. 

However, it would be a shame to end my story on such a sad point, so I feel it worthy of note that also in 1996 I happened to be in Portsmouth when one of my sons and a friend of the family, Ray Killelay, arranged a surprise meeting.

They contacted a man I hadn’t seen since 1945 and it was the biggest shock of my life when duped into walking up the path to his house. The man in question was my old skipper Captain Martin. We were both overjoyed to see each other again. In our day you had to become friends with your skipper on boats otherwise things would never have worked out. I’m glad to say that after speaking to him for a matter of minutes it was as if we had never lost touch. I owe my life to his skill and determination.

Fifty-one years later; Gunlayer Ted Matthews meets up with his old skipper Captain Ken Martin Click to view a new version of this picture (opens a new window) (38839 bytes)
Fifty-one years later; Gunlayer Ted Matthews meets up with his old skipper Captain Ken Martin.


  1. I very much enjoyed reading about your Father on sleauth. I too recently went to the submarine museum in an attempt to get a bit of an insight into my own grandads time on board sleauth. I wondered if you knew what their jolly roger was like? Or had any more photos you could share with me. I have found it hard to find much information about
    Sleauth. Many thanks. :)

    1. Dear Melissa,
      Thank you for your interest in my Blog and in HMS Sleuth. I will get back to you on your questions as I have a few more Crew Photos and a contact name which you may like to have.
      I have just inserted a large chunk of info into the blog above covering the time that my father was on HMS Sleuth. There are two links to the source which you may like to go to read them for yourself.
      You have re inspired my hunt for information as typically, when alive my father said very little about his time in the war.
      I will get back to you here, later

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