Black Christmas – Whatever happened to HMS Seahorse ?

I have no idea whether it (a copy) is still there but in terms of NE wartime legends it’s up there with the Bradford brothers and HMS Kelly – the bottle of Johnny Walker whisky above the bar in the Astley Arms, Seaton Sluice. It is not for sale, rather it is one of Britain’s more remarkable war memorials.

The original Seahorse Bottle resides in the Submarine Museum

You probably know the story but in any case it goes like this. On Christmas night 1939 the pub is full of submariners. They hold a sweep-stake, the prize a bottle of whisky. The bottle is won by ERA ‘Tug’ Wilson of HM S/M Seahorse, only he can’t drink it. None of the crew can because they are due out on patrol next afternoon.


Engine Room Artificer 4th Class Len ‘Tug’ Wilson aged 23

Landlady Lydia Jackson reassures ‘Tug’ and his mates that she will keep it until they return. There is the sting. They don’t return. Seahorse sails out of Blyth piers and into oblivion. Miss Jackson keeps the bottle of whisky on a shelf above the bar, just in case ‘Tug’ and the lads ever return….

The Astley Arms, former shrine of Blyth submariners

The original bottle was there until 1971 when Lydia Jackson retired. Knowing full well that an indifferent brewery would simply allow her successor to dispose of it (a skip full of submarine memorabilia was discovered in a back yard in the early 80s) instead she presented it to the Submarine Museum, where it remains a revered exhibit to this day.

The Seahorse Bottle Label


First hearing the story of this bottle as a child, as an adult I sought to discover the real story behind the HMS/M Seahorse and ERA ‘Tug’ Wilson. I soon found out that there was far more to this poignant story and that it lay at the heart of arguably the greatest disaster ever to befall the Submarine Service, one that saw three Blyth submarines lost in little more than a week in that Black Christmas of 1939. This story is told in full in the Story of the Blyth Submarine Base on this site (See Particularly Hazardous Service)..

Rob Roy McCurrach was in the spare ERA pool at Blyth in December 1939. His hut mate Lawrie Lawrenson had also been in the spare pool but had been given a ‘pier head jump’ to Seahorse due out on Boxing Day. This is his account:

Seahorse crew in 1939

“We had plenty of mince pies and pudding left over, so I took some with me and walked down to Seahorse at the Middle Jetty. Lawrie was stowing his steaming kit as ‘Tug’ Wilson said, ‘Great fun ashore last night. We ran a sweep-stake and guess what, we won a bottle of whisky !’

A swindle from the word go !’ added Billy Packer, stepping into the mess for a moment. ‘Not a real swindle, Billy, said Wilson, the civvies won one as well. Miss Jackie’s going to keep our bottle until we get back’, then, said Billy, ‘a party !’. He rolled his eyes and drank from an imaginary glass.

‘Anyway, thanks for the mince pies’ and he went off stuffing one into his mouth. Smith came into the mess, ‘Hello Mac, you coming with us ? Better look slippy. All ashore that’ going ashore !’

I made my way through the boat and gingerly walked across the greasy plank, turned and stood on the jetty to watch their departure. Soon that would be me off on patrol.

Seahorse leaving Blockhouse 1930s Note ‘duck’s arse’ stern configuration

The wire ropes were quickly cleared, the seamen doing this dressed in filthy white sweaters and blue inflated life belts. I saw Smith on the bridge running the telegraphs backwards and forwards, the repeaters ringing out in the cold night air. He waved to me and went below. Shortly after the Captain appeared on the bridge, well-wrapped in a vast duffle coat. Gradually the activity lessened. Seahorse was ready to slip. The telegraphs rang in earnest. Dirty water swirled around the stern then stopped. The bow of the boat slid away from the catamaran. More rings, fainter now as she moved forward. A sudden puff of smoke as Lawrie’s engine rumbled into life. The other started and she swung to leave harbour as the men on the casing made their way down into the boat. I stood and watched till she reached the far wall.”

HMS/M Seahorse slipped out of Blyth Harbour and into oblivion

And that was that. No whisky. No party. No Seahorse. Admiralty tried to keep a lid on the fact that three boats were now overdue but the Dockyard knew. Soon Blyth locals were beginning to sense that something was up. Rumours were spreading fast. Diane Massy-Dawson living with a mining family in Seaton Sluice and the Rev Cockburn were pleading for information.

The contingent of Royal Marines guarding the base were invited to a tea hosted by the local Rotarians. It was soon discovered that the feast had been intended for the missing submarine crews and the hosts did not want to waste the food. The Marines turned the invitation down. The crew of Ursula enjoyed ‘big eats’ in their place.

Ruth Strong, fiance of Jack Dunwell was about to get married. By Friday January 12th all the wedding arrangements had been made. Invitations had been sent out. Presents were arriving daily. All that was missing was the Groom. Ruth knew something was seriously wrong. Jack always rang her from the base as soon as he went ashore. This time there had been no reassuring call to end the anxiety. Consumed with dread but wishing to resolve her anguish, Ruth plucked up the courage to ring the Blyth office. Unfortunately not even Captain (S) 6, Jock Bethell himself could have given Ruth or any other of the dependents the news they craved. Seahorse had not been seen or heard from since she slipped out of Blyth on Boxing Day.

Hamburg Radio provided the answer. On January 16th, 1940 it triumphantly announced that three British submarines had been sunk in the Helgoland Bight, two, Starfish and Undine were named. Unable to suppress news of the disaster any longer, an Admiralty communique reporting the losses was read out to a stunned House of Commons. Late that night the BBC made the following announcement:

‘THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY REGRETS TO ANNOUNCE THAT DURING THE PAST WEEKS HM SUBMARINES SEAHORSE, UNDINE AND STARFISH HAVE FAILED TO RETURN TO THEIR BASES OR REPORT. THESE THREE VESSELS HAVE BEEN ENGAGED ON PARTICULARLY HAZARDOUS SERVICE AND THE ADMIRALTY FEARS THAT THEY MUST NOW BE REGARDED AS HAVING BEEN LOST. NEXT OF KIN ARE BEING INFORMED AT ONCE. GERMAN RADIO HAS ANNOUNCED THAT PART OF THE CREWS OF UNDINE AND STARFISH HAVE BEEN RESCUED’

The padre held a service next morning at Blyth. Bethell turned out the entire base. All three boats had been based at Blyth at the time of their loss. For many present the closing prayer, ‘Oh Eternal Lord God who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the seas, be pleased to receive into thy almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants and the fleet in which we serve…‘ must have had an added poignancy. Those who had earlier cheered Ursula’s success now saw the other side of the coin as jubilation turned to mourning. After the service the padre gathered some leading seamen for a peculiarly naval tradition, Opening lockers. ‘Dead men’s defects’ were sieved and sorted. Suspect letters and material with the potential to embarrass were destroyed. Anything that could be returned to the families was parcelled up. Pornographic material, clothing and anything else remotely desirable was auctioned off in the mess with the money going to the next of kin.

Initially flickers of hope had been raised by a cruel rumour that the crews of all three had been taken prisoner but these embers were quenched when next of kin received Admiralty telegrams advising that the crew of Seahorse must now be presumed dead. Ruth Strong received hers on January 18, the day she was to have married Jack Dunwell.

Rob Roy sent the effects of Lawrie Lawrenson back to his mother:

“I parcelled up his gear thinking stupidly, ‘Sorry about this madam but we’ve lost your only son. Careless of us. First boat, first patrol’ Lawrie hadn’t left much money so enclosed ten one -pound notes with my letter. I said I would come and see her (something I never managed) I kept his leather wallet and his cap – which I wore for the rest of the War”

What Happened to HMS Seahorse then ?

Three possibilities emerge from close analysis;

1) she was mined in the Blyth roads or the East Coast Swept Channel

2) she was destroyed by German anti submarine units on January 7th

3) she was mined while travelling towards her patrol zone (billet) in the Helgoland Bight.

What was Seahorse ordered to do ? Massy-Dawson was ordered to sail his boat to Zone E off the Danish coast. On the night of December 29/30th it was to make its way into Zone B, the very dangerous Helgoland Bight. Seahorse was to patrol the Bight for five days before making its way North back to Zone E, where it was to remain for a further three days. The boat was expected to return to Blyth on January 10th . See the orders in full given in Appendix 1

As the boat approached enemy controlled waters the patrol routine was for the boat to remain submerged during daylight hours powered by its motors. Only during nightfall would the submarine surface to drive ahead on its engines. As always the Captain, Dennis Massy-Dawson decided how far to go, when to attack etc based upon the likely danger and chances of success.

The possibility that Seahorse was mined on her own doorstep could not easily be dismissed

The Germans had launched a major mining campaign against the North East and its effects were utterly devastating. On December 12th/13th, 1939, a force of German destroyers had mined the Swept Channel between Seaton Sluice and Whitburn (See Terror off the Tyne II – Nightraiders). To make matters worse U-22 had laid mines off Blyth on December 20th with the intention of destroying submarines operating from the Port (See Terror off the Tyne I – A Tale of Two U-boats). Seahorse failed to acknowledge a wireless transmission sent on December 27th, lending some plausibility to the theory that she was mined on her own doorstep. In this signal timed 13:51hrs she was warned to keep ten miles clear of position ZGCT 4400 (56° 44′ 05° 00’E) Seahorse would have proceeded on the surface via the Blyth Channel and into the East Coast Swept Channel. Neither the St Mary’s Light keeper nor any of the auxiliary patrol vessels or watch stations reported anything untoward but given the intense enemy mining activity during this period, they were dealing with acute problems of their own. While mining en route remains a possibility, the waters around the Swept Channel have been extensively surveyed and no submarine wreck has been reported…yet. We might reasonably expect that by this time Seahorse was well into her North Sea crossing, on a line between Coquet Island and 057° 00N, 003° 00’E. It is possible that Seahorse triggered a loose mine on her outward passage. Loose mines were a perennial problem as the recent discovery of G7 in the Farnes Deep, demonstrates.

Seahorse probably after her launch as one of the Chatham sheds can be seen in the background

On January 16th 1940 Hamburg Radio announced the destruction of three British submarines in the Helgoland Bight area. Two were known to be Undine and Starfish and the third was assumed to be Seahorse but the Germans never named the boat they had allegedly destroyed, adding weight to the theory that Seahorse had been mined. In the post war years German primary sources became available and Admiralty scoured them to discover what had happened.

The account of the German 1st Mine-sweeping Flotilla. In the immediate post war years it was thought this unit had destroyed Seahorse but detailed analysis in the 1980’s proves this to have been impossible. Note the original attribution to Seahorse has been scribbled out.

On January 7th 1940 units of the German 1st Minesweeping Flotilla had carried out an attack on an intruding submarine – or what they took to be an intruding submarine deep in the Helgoland Bight (Zone B) This was very close to where Ursula had made her attack on Leipzig in her mid-December patrol. It was assumed, without detailed analysis that the target of this attack had been Seahorse. Lending some weight is the fact that on this date Seahorse was notified but did not acknowledge, a signal timed 17:59hrs that Starfish was due in Zone E that night. It is certainly correct that Seahorse ought to have been in the vicinity, though crucially bearing in mind her orders, not at the time of the attack. Indeed she should have left the sector where the attack took place three days earlier !

Had Seahorse survived her journey into Zone B she would have picked her way North and made the crossing into Zone E on the night of January 5/6th. It is highly unlikely that Massy-Dawson would have kept the boat for so long in the intensely patrolled waters of the Bight. It is equally worth pointing out that this attack took place in the early afternoon (13:18hrs CET) and only in the most extreme of circumstances would a British submarine surface so deep in enemy territory during daylight hours. In this light the German report loses credibility from the outset. A translation of the German report is given above. It is obvious that the Germans did not think they had destroyed a submarine in this attack, indeed there is every probability that the victim of this attack was either an old wreck or an underwater rock formation. A detailed examination of the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla’s logs reveals that just one of the vessels, M5 was actually involved in anti submarine operations this day and she was the only vessel of the Flotilla to make an attack. This attack took place in grid square AN9564 (Approximately 54° 19′. 8 07° 30′ E). There was no observable result. Subsequently German divers failed to find a submarine wreck in the position and contemporary divers have equally failed to locate a submarine here, since.

We can be equally dismissive of a claim that Seahorse was sunk by the German Sperrbrecher IV/Oakland South East of Helgoland on December 29th, 1939. This vessel opened fire on a presumed periscope with a 20mm gun and though an oil slick was seen, the water was only 24 metres deep and no depth charges were dropped. As we know, Seahorse was ordered not to transit between Zone E and Zone B until December 29th. Unless Massy-Dawson blatantly disobeyed his orders, Seahorse ought to have been miles to the North, off the Danish coast at this juncture. Fortunately in 1985, Mr Bob Coppock of the Admiralty Historical Branch (Foreign Documents Section) carried out a major analysis into the loss of Seahorse, cross referencing the experiences of previous British submarines in these waters with German records and the orders issued to Lieutenant Massy-Dawson.

The likely track of Seahorse on her last patrol, calculated by reference to patrol orders and previous patrols in this sector. The green course South would have taken her clear of the minefields, without directive to the contrary, she took the more direct red course and into purple oblivion
The deadliest mines lay under the surface

Seahorse (Lieutenant Dennis Massy-Dawson) left Blyth at 15:30hrs on December 26th. It would have taken her two days (sailing on the surface) to reach the North tip of the German Declared Area. Her orders were to remain in Zone E until the night of December 29/30th when she was to commence her journey into Zone B, the Helgoland Bight. Admiralty knew from Coastal Command reports that the Southern part of Zone E and much of Zone B had been heavily mined by the Germans but they did not know the precise location of the mines.

The German searched channel from Vyl Lightship to Helgoland (Dave Webb)

Back in December HMS/M Ursula had brought back valuable intelligence regarding a safe channel through these minefields. Ursula had reported a likely swept channel running North/South between the Vyl Lightship and Helgoland. This intelligence was processed by Admiralty then passed on to Unity in her Patrol Orders of December 19th ready for her patrol the next day. The information was also passed on to Seahorse (See Appendix I) but without any instructions as to how to approach Helgoland as given in Appendix II), should Massy-Dawson decide on this course. Undine, Starfish and Unity were ordered that if they were to patrol off Helgoland, they must approach and leave along the line between Helgoland and the Vyl Lightship by adopting a course well to the East of the 7° line (green) which would take them clear of the minefields.

You are to move into ZONE B after 0001, 9th January keeping east of 007° E during that night. Should you operate near HELIGOLAND you are to approach and leave by the searched channel described in paragraph 13 of these orders’,

reads paragraph 3 of the orders issued to Starfish. Astonishingly this directive was not issued to Seahorse before she left on patrol. It will be seen from the patrol orders given in Appendix I that Seahorse was ordered to proceed on a line 07°.10′ E. In fact Admiralty was unaware that a field known to the Germans as ‘Sperre b Martha Eins’ consisting of 960 mines had been laid between Esbjerg and Horns Reef, just North of the junction between British Zones E and B.

All told, this formed a twenty mile long wall, two to four mines deep in a depth of 30m (100′). 70 odd miles beyond this obstruction lay another wall, ‘Stripe F’ consisting of 666 mines and beyond that again lay ‘Stripe D’ with 632 mines. A surfaced submarine could conceivably slip over these mines at high water but they would likely prove fatal to a dived boat transiting within 07°. 28’E (See Appendix III providing locations of the German minefields). Seahorse should have returned to Blyth on January 10th. We know that she failed to acknowledge transmissions made on both December 27th and January 7th. The latter may be more significant than the former.

Armstrong, Eric, Yeoman of Signals, 36Lawrenson, Desmond, ERA4 23
Baker, John, Lt, 28Lee, Phillip, PO. Sto. 34
Bazley, Herbert, Tel. 25Marshall, John Sto 1 29
Cain, Arthur, AB, 24Massy-Dawson, Lt. OC.
Clatworthy, Ulric, PO. 31Mayne, Richard, AB.
Cockburn, Alex, Warrant Eng. 33Morgan, Alfred, L/Smn.
Coit, George, L/Sto, 36Packer, William, ERA.3, 27
Combe, John, Tel. 25Perham, Donald, Stoker1
Comer, John, L/Sto. 27Phipps, Joseph, L/Sto. 27
Dunwell, Jack, L/Smn.Pugh, Arthur, PO. Tel. 30
Eldridge, Walter, Signalman, 38Skilling, Albert, PO.35
Eyre, Frank, L/Smn. Smith, Archie,ERA.3 25
Fleming, John, Lt. 25Stanton, Syd, AB.
Hines, Reg, L/Sto 21Steventon, Alec, AB. 26
Hyde, John, Sto 1, 27Summers, Ernest, ERA.3 28
Jenkinson, James, Tel.37Thain, William, Lt. RNR.
Kewell, John L/Sto 25Watson, Ernest, Stoker 1, 39
Wesson, Richard, AB. 31Westbury, Eustace, AB. 31
White, John, PO. 33Wilson, Leonard, ERA4, 23
Windley, Harry, AB.23

Here we must speculate and make a reasonable assumption that Seahorse survived the North Sea crossing to reach her billet in Zone E by December 28th. This part of the outward route had been followed by Unity less than a week earlier and it may be reasonable to assume it was safe. Indeed Undine and Starfish would both safely use this inbound route in the near future too. Massy-Dawson would have now followed his orders and commenced the journey to Zone B at dusk in the expectation of surfacing at nightfall just after 16:00hrs on December 29th. In other words, if Massy-Dawson took a direct route (and there is no reason to think that he did not, it is known that the commander of Unity decided on the direct route) there is every probability that Seahorse crossed ‘Stripe b’ mine barrier while submerged. If Massy-Dawson followed his orders by transiting on the line 07°.10 there was every probability the boat would have run straight into the mine barrier. Even the event of Seahorse successfully crossing this minefield if surfaced in darkness, fields F and D would still have to be negotiated while submerged the following day. The chances of Seahorse detonating a mine while submerged on the morning of December 29/30th are therefore very high.

Postscript: About fifteen years ago I encountered an ex naval diver and ‘S’ boat specialist carrying out research at the Submarine Museum. He told me that a battered, mined submarine wreck had been discovered off the Danish coast. The wreck was in a bad condition but sufficient survived to identify it as an ‘S’ class boat. Only one ‘S’ class boat is still missing in those waters. Certainly my friend believed it was the wreck of Seahorse. In order to preserve the boat from the depredations of sports divers, the location of this shallow water wreck was being withheld…it still is.

So, next Boxing Day when you are recovering from the previous day’s excess have a hair of the dog and raise a glass of Johnny Walker to that fine crew of Seahorse, on patrol for eternity.

Resurgam !

ADM 199/1843, ADM 358/3606, ADM 358/3608, FDS 327/85 NHB, T10223142-722,

PG4949741,
BR 1736(52) (1)

‘In Fear and Affection’ Rob Roy McCurrach

APPENDIX I

PATROL ORDERS ISSUED TO HMS SEAHORSE ISSUED DECEMBER 26TH 1939

HMS SEAHORSE – PATROL ORDERS

Being in all respects ready for war, you are to sail ag 15:30 on 26th December 1939 and proceed to Zone E

CONDUCT AND DURATION OF PATROL

2. You are to act in accordance with FF3. While in Zone E you are to patrol in the vicinity of a line drawn 318° from HORNS REEF.

3. You are to move into Zone B after 0001 on 30th December 1939, keeping to the Eastward of 007°E during that night. You are on no account to proceed South of the Southern limit of Zone B owing to British mines laid between the following limits: –

053° 42’N.

053° 50′ N.

006° 02′ E.

006° 15’N.

4. You are to return to Zone E after 0001 on 4th January 1940 keeping to the West of 007° E during that night.

5. You are to leave Zone E for BLYTH after sunset on 7th January 1940.

ROUTES

6. Outward

By SCZ 45 until seaward of the 20 fathom line; thence coastwise to COQUET ISLAND keeping outside the 20 fathom line; thence through positions: –

056° 00’N 001° 40’E.

057° 00N 004° 00’E.

057° 00’N 007° 00’E.

– thence into Zone E to the Eastward of 007° 10′ E.

7. Homeward

Keeping clear of German Declared Minefield West of 006° 40′ E. and South of 056° 45’N through the following positions :-

056° 40 N 004° 00’E.

055° 40 N 002° 00 E.

055° 20 N 000° 30′ W.

– making the coast at COQUET ISLAND thence coastwise outside the 20 fathom line to BLYTH

APPENDIX III THE GERMAN MINEFIELDS LAID BETWEEN ZONES E AND B

Field B (‘Sperre Martha Eins’)

960 at a depth of 33′ from 55° 24.5′ N, 06° 52.5’E to 55° 29.5’N, 07° 28’E

Field C

555 at depths from 30 to 50′ from 55° 09.5′ N, 06° 53.8’E to 54° 57’N, 06° 41.5’E

Near Buoy ‘B’

107 at a depth of 33′ from 54° 58.1’N, 06° 47’E through 54° 57’N, 06° 47.6’E to 54° 56’N, 06° 46.3’E

Field ‘f’

666 at depths of 35 to 60′ from 54° 28.5’N, to 07° 24’E to 54° 35.1’N, 07° 35.5’E

Field ‘d’

632 at depths from 35 to 100′ from 54° 13.7’N to 54° 18.21′ E, 07° 29.5′ E

Field ‘a’

666 at depths from 36 to 56′ from 54° 02’N, 07° 13’E to 54° 10.4’N 07° 17’E

Near Buoy ‘C’

94 at a depth of 48′ from 54° 02.3’N 07° 10.2E through 54° 01.4’N, 07° 10.8’E to 54° 01.4′ N, 07° 12.6’E

APPENDIX II PATROL ORDERS ISSUED TO HMS STARFISH, UNDINE AND UNITY GIVING DETAILS OF SWEPT CHANNEL AND DIRECTIVES 3 AND 13 PROVIDING HELGOLAND APPROACHES

(To be destroyed when complied with).
H.M.S. “STARFISH” – PATROL ORDERS
(PO – 22.)
Being in all respects ready for war, you are to sail at
15:30 on 5th January, 1940, and proceed to Zone E. (FF3 App p.4.).
CONDUCT AND DURATION OF PATROL

  1. You are to act in accordance with FF3. While in Zone E
    you are to patrol in the vicinity of a line 318° from HORNS REEF.
  2. You are to move into ZONE B after 0001, 9th January keeping
    east of 007° E during that night. Should you operate near HELIGOLAND
    you are to approach and leave by the searched channel described in
    paragraph 13 of these orders.
    You should not proceed south of the
    southern limit of Zone B owing to the minefield described in paragraph
    19 of these orders.
  3. You are to return to Zone E after 0001, 14th January, keeping
    west of 007° E during that night. You are to leave ZONE E for BLYTH
    after sunset on 17th January.
    ROUTES
  4. Outward. By the searched channels described in 306 QZ
    and SCZ 16 as far as the latitude of COQUET ISLAND; thence through
    positions –
    055°047’ N 000° 32’ W
    056°00’ N 001° 00’ E
    057°00’ N 004° 00’ E
    057°00’ N 007° 00’ E
    into Zone E to the East of 007° 10’ E
  5. Homeward. Keeping clear of the German Minefield, west of
    006° 40’ E and south of 056° 45’ N. through positions.
    056° 40’ N 004° 00’ E
    056° 42’ N 000° 36’ E
    to COQUET ISLAND and by SCZ 16 and the channel described
    in 306 QZ to BLYTH.
    INFORMATION
    Movement of own Submarines
    6th Flotilla
  6. ”SEAHORSE” leaves Zone E for BLYTH after sunset on 7th
    January by the route described in paragraph 6 of these orders.
    “UNDINE” moves from Zone B to Zone E after 0001, 9th
    January, keeping west of 007° E during that night, and leaves Zone E
    for BLYTH after sunset on 12th January.
    “URSULA” arrives in Zone E pm. 12th January, moves into
    Zone B after 0001, 14th January, keeping east of 007° E during that
    night, and remains in Zone B until after 0001, 19th January.
    ”STURGEON” leaves BLYTH For Zone E at dusk on 15th
    January by the route described in paragraph 5 of these orders, and moves into Zone B after 0001, 19th January


8 2nd Flotilla

“ORZEL” is escorting convoy ON6 until approximately 7th
January.
“TRUANT” is in Zone C4 until after sunset on 12th January
“TRITON” leaves ROSYTH on 6th January to escort convoys
OHN7.
“WILK” leaves Zone C1 for ROSYTH after sunset, 6th January
“TRIAD” leaves ROSYTH about 18th January for Zone C4
“TRIBUNE” leaves ROSYTH on 5th January for Zone C1 and moves
to Zone C4 on the night of 12/13th January.
”THISTLE” leaves ROSYTH about 18th January for Zone C4
3rd Flotilla

9 “SHARK” is patrolling ZONE A until approximately 15th January
“SALMON” is patrolling ZONE H until 7th January
Own Surface Forces

10 Information will be signalled to you as necessary.
Enemy

11 Unconfirmed reports state that ADMIRAL SCHEER may have left
GERMANY about 14th December for a long cruise.

12 Enemy submarines and surface forces have recently been
encountered near a line drawn 318° from HORNS REEF.

13 A searched channel is thought to exist from the charted
position of the VYL Lightship to a position 2.5
miles 270° from
HELIGOLAND, and thence to the JADE river

14 Minesweepers have been reported as follows:-

(a) 056° 21’ N 006° 44’ E Steering 300°
(b) 054° 02’ N 006° 10’ E Steering 350°
(c) 053° 57’ N 0060 45’ E Steering 170°
(d) Steering N.W. to N.W corner of Zone B.

15 “URSULA” has reported large numbers of patrol craft south
of the latitude of HELIGOLAND, and at the southern entrance to
NORMANDS DYB. “SHARK” reported patrols between the charted position
of BORKUM RIFF Lightship and BORKUM.

16 As a result of unexplained explosions reported by “SHARK”
and “SEAWOLF” it is thought that a controlled minefield may extend
for 35 miles or more 325° from WANGEROOG. A controlled minefield
is believed to exist between HELIGOLAND and SYLT. It is possible
that hydrophones may exist near HELIGOLAND working in conjunction
with these minefields.

17 Enemy routes are believed to exist between 299° and 286°

from NORDHOLZ W/T D/F station (053° 47” N 008° 39’ E). A line

drawn between positions 053° 43’ N 006° 40’ E. and 053° 50’N 008° 06’ E

was found in a German Officer’s notebook. This may indicate a route

possibly through a minefield.

18 Mines

Your attention is called to 235 QZ, Notice to Mariners

2896/39, 143 QZ, 170 QZ, 281 QZ, 243 QZ, 199 QZ, 241 QZ, 254 QZ, and 338 QZ

19 Mines have been laid between the following limits:

053° 42’ N. 006° 20 E

053° 50’ N. 006° 15 E.

20 East Coast Mine Barrier

A single line of mines (LA) has been laid extending 3 miles 3350 from position 550 35’ N 0000 20’ W. Further lays will be promulgated in accordance with Admiralty message 2004/28/12.Your attention is called to Admiralty message 0036/30

21 Navigational Lights

“URSULA” reported HELIGOLAND and NORDENAY lights extinguished and GRAA DYB Lightship removed. DANISH shore lights appeared to be normal. Your attention is called to Naval Officer in Charge, Blyth’s Memorandum No 502/ID dated 2nd November 1939.

22 COMMUNICATIONS

As laid down in Submarine War Memoranda, Section III, dated 11th December, 1939.

23 ACKNOWLEDGMENT

You are to acknowledge the receipt of these orders quoting “P.O. 22” CAPTAIN (S)

Lieutenant T.A.Turner, RN, HMS “STARFISH” Copy No. 1.
Rear Admiral (S) Copy No. 2.
Captain (S) 2. Copy No. 3.
Captain (S) 3. Copy No. 4.
Captain (S) 6. Copy No. 5 and 6.

© P Armstrong