all the branches of men in the Forces, there is none which shows more devotion
and faces grimmer perils than the submariner.
Great deeds are done in the air and on the land; nevertheless, nothing surpasses your exploits." Winston Churchill.
"Only in attack does a submarine reveal herself, before creeping away to the concealment of the deep"
British Submarine HMS Porpoise
SEBASTIANO VENIER (December 9, 1941) Italian motorship of 6,310 tons, built in Amsterdam in 1939 under the name Jason. Requisitioned by the Italian Navy and renamed Sebastiano Venier, the ship had left Benghazi harbour with around 2,000 British prisoners of war including white and black South African troops, New Zealanders and Australians, all captured by the Germans in North Africa. Five miles south of Navarino on the Greek Peloponnese, the ship was attacked by the British submarine HMS Porpoise. She was not flying a POW flag. Hit by a torpedo between the No.1 and No.2 hold on the starboard side, the force of the explosion hurled the heavy hatchway covers to mast height, the falling timbers killing dozens of men trying to escape from the hold. From the flooded No.1 hold only five men survived. Most of the panic stricken crew abandoned the ship taking all the lifeboats. The Italian hospital ship Arno appeared on the scene but ploughed its way through the men struggling in the water and kept on sailing, its priority being the rescue of the crew of a German ship sunk nearby. A total of 320 lives were lost among them 309 British POWs, including 45 New Zealanders. Eleven Italian soldiers also died. The ship did not sink but managed to reach the shore at Point Methoni near Pilos where it was beached. All prisoners who managed to reach the shore were confronted by hundreds of Italian occupation troops and were taken to a makeshift camp where during the next few months many died from frostbite and disease. In May, 1942, the prisoners were transferred to Campo 85 at Tuturano in Italy.
This information is recorded on http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/maritime-1.html and clearly shows the dangers of incorrectly marked ships.
1939 - 1942
assigned to anti U-boat patrols in the Bay of Biscay before being sent on a mine
laying operation off the Norwegian coast. They were fifty miles inside a
Norwegian fjord when the bows became grounded on an uncharted sandbank in sight
of the enemy. Risking hitting the newly laid mines they managed to get off the
sandbank by going full speed astern and executing a stern dive. Fortunately the
enemy must have been still asleep or looking the other way and they escaped
without further incident. The luck held once more! After a year of war
Porpoise was transferred to escorting Atlantic convoys from Canada. Being an
older class submarine they were assigned to the doing the Canadian side of the
convoy meeting their counterparts half way across the Atlantic. Throughout the
winter they endured extreme weather and survived one particularly bad storm in
February 1941 during which the bridge casing amongst other things was badly
the period before Alamein Royal Navy submarines inflicted the largest losses on
Axis shipping. HMS Porpoise, under the command of Lieutenant L W A Bennington,
sank 7 Axis ships in the latter half of 1942 - over 20,000 tons of shipping -
including a 10,000 ton tanker and an Italian torpedo boat. Lt. Bennington was
awarded the DSO for his achievements. Porpoise played an additional role in the
Mediterranean campaign by delivering fuel to Malta.
Part extracted from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/31/a2170531.shtml
Porpoise was transferred to the Middle East and was lost, in the Malacca Straits on only her second patrol. The Malacca Straits, leading to Singapore, was a notorious submarine graveyard being quite shallow in most places.
December 2006: I have been trying to obtain information on my uncle, Jack Weston, who served on HMS Porpoise, which was lost on the 19th Jan 1945 in the Malacca Straits. If you have any information relating to him or the vessel I would be interested in obtaining copies. Regards Malcolm Harris. If you have any information for Malcolm, he can be found at: Hmalcolm48-at-aol.com. Replace -at- with @ to email him.
Jan 2013: My name is Mike Finlayson. My father Harry Finlayson, now 97, was on the "Sebastiano Veniero" sunk by the British submarine "Porpoise" and was subsequently beached off Novarino on the Greek Coast. As a footnote CPO Sandycock who had served on the ‘Porpoise’ when it sank the Veniero was later taken prisoner. My father met him afterwards in a POW camp in Germany. By further strange coincidence, the father of one of my work colleagues was on the same ship when it sank.
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