HMS Oswald loss, Kryle-Pope, Ugolino Vivaldi.

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by barnsey, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. barnsey

    barnsey Guest

    HMS Oswald loss and Ugolino Vivaldi

    There is yet much to be told about the saga of HMS Oswald which I another Old Worcester and friends have been unravelling over the last year. One mention on this website was that of the obituary of Rear Admiral-Kryle Pope who featured large in the story of the loss of HMS Oswald ...These last few months have seen matters gather apace and its time to see what other people and information we can find.

    The essence of the incident is .....the loss of the submarine HMS Oswald.

    There are several characters in the saga. Lt Cmdr David (Frosty) Fraser was the commander. Lt. Roy Marsh was the 1st Lt. Lt Hodgson was second hand and 3rd hand was one Lt. Kryle-Pope. There were about three crew members who are prominent in the tale ... one a Mr Tooes being a main character.

    They sailed from Alexandria where Roy Marsh had been attending the Doctor on the Depot Ship for a stomach problem which was not diagnosed or treated before they left. In the three days prior to the incident Roy Marsh had not had any sleep for 3 days as he was constantly in the Control Room where as 1st Lt he was responsible for trim. The 'O'class were noted in that trim was delicate and as Oswald was leaking through the stern tube and elsewhere so the trim was a big problem. Passing south of Crete they went on patrol on the South Eastern side of the Straits of Messina around Cape Spartivento. They spotted a convoy and attacked it, as a result of its importance they later surfaced and made a report. It seems that as a result of that radio message and the attack the Italians dispatched 4 destroyers to find Oswald. This they did and the next night simultaneously the Oswald spotted Ugliano Vivaldi just abaft her stbd beam as Vivaldi spotted her just forward of her port beam on the surface during at a range of seemingly 2,500 yds or 2230 meters and ....this differs in some reports as being 1500 yards.... Oswald sounded the alarm and turned to port, Vivaldi also turned to port and increased speed to ram. David Fraser and two others, of whom one was Kryle- Pope were deciphering a message down below. Fraser went to the bridge and by the time his eyes adjusted to the dark to see the Vivaldi hit aft, springing and distorting the after hatch and, grinding up the stbd side of Oswald open up the fuel tank which was outboard of the saddle tanks. She also lobbed three depth charges which exploded roughly amidships under Oswald lifting her bodily. Fraser gave the order "Prepare to Abandon ship". The explosions had lifted one engine off its bedplate and knocked out lights there was water coming into the after torpedo compartment which was abandoned and secured. The after hatch was letting water in it, couldnt be closed as it had been distorted in the collision. Fraser ordered abandon ship, Kryle - Pope went through the engine room to the after compartment where he heard from the crew of the after torpedo compartment that they had abandoned and secured it because of flooding and a suspected hole. Significantly, Kryle - Pope would also "have seen the damage in the engine room which was a mess and heard of the after hatch leaking" reported one of the crew from the after compartment. Anyway they all abandoned ship having opened up the vents to scuttle Oswald on the order of Fraser. Out of the 55 crew 52 were subsequently picked up by the Vivaldi.

    They finished up in a PoW camp on an island in the Venice lagoon and then were moved to another camp Sulmona. It was in these camps that the 'Sea lawyers' and stirrers gathered the stories and myths which have become the story generally issued about Oswald.

    I have always had a sense of "Fair Play"and compassion. I believe the two go hand in hand.

    The 1st Lt. Roy Marsh has been castigated ever since ..... yet we find in the Court Martial papers that he had had stomach problems prior to the patrol which had not been sorted by the medical officer on the depot ship and that the Oswald, dragged out of reserve lay up at the commencement of hostilities was in poor condition, particularly in the engine department and that the 1st Lt.Roy Marsh who was responsible for trim had been on duty for 3 days, without sleep trying to control the trim against continual ingress of water from a leaking stern shaft and other spots.

    In Oswalds case Roy Marsh was, under todays understanding severly fatigued, ill from his stomach problem and stressed. Any one of those should have had him out of there for his own good ... all three and, through absolutely no fault of his own way he was a danger to the ship, add in the ramming and depth charging and you have a man, beyond any capabilities the situation they found themselves in demanded.

    The crew of course took none of this into consideration and the Kangeroo court in the prison camp led by 3 leading characters with their rumour and supposition had him labelled and rubbished. Suprisingly the Admiralty Court of Inquiry also ignored the significant problems of Roy Marsh's condition.

    This did not help the Commander, David Fraser who was also bundled into a pigeon hole .... where he has been kept by the much abrieviated and more convenient if distorted 'FACTS' which if examined in a rational manner reveal a different story.

    I have managed variously to get the Oswald loss into some more "Light" and this is part of that ... this thread is not detailed yet, there are still many documents to study but its a start ...we have the Court of Inquiry documents and items from the Sub Museum in Gosport.

    Two items are good examples.

    Throughout all the tales of Oswald mention may be made of Vivaldi dropping two or three depth charges but none conveniently, in my opinion ever tell of the resulting damage caused by them exploding beneath the submarine which should give weight to the decisions made. Evidence given at the Court of Inquiry tells of "Significant damage having been done" ...Lighting was destroyed, a main engine lifted off its bed, leaks, let alone the effect on the men down below. Kryle-Pope, the third hand aboard in his version of the events throughout the years and in his obituary presses his view that there was little wrong with the vessel and it was "Bloody silly to sink a perfectly good submarine". As I am piecing together the various statements his remark begins to look "Bloody silly".

    David Fraser is castigated in a lot of the tales for not wearing Orange goggles down below especially when deciphering the message which they were doing when Vivaldi was sighted. How could he ... none were ever issued to Oswald .... However, it was common knowledge that 'everyone did' in submarines and regulations said 'you had to' but when the ship was never issued them in the rush to get her out of reserve and into service it ruins a good story ....hence generally much fault is made of the fact it took time for his eyes to adjust to the darkness when he got into the conning tower.

    There is much that is not fair in this story and the fact is that all was not right among the tales from Oswalds crew ... rumour and galley scuttlebutt has supressed good ....... so far that is.

    .... and why my interest in the truth?

    Commander David Fraser was our Executive Officer on my Training Ship HMS Worcester and for the 4 years I was aboard he was a fine gentleman, strictly fair and always with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes...we thought the world of him. He was sentenced in 1946 to lose all seniority and be dismissed his ship ... how come then that this was subsequently reduced to a mere loss of two years seniority from the date of the loss of Oswald, what significant facts brought that about?

    Lt Roy Marsh was dismissed the service.....extremely unfair and irrational.
  2. barnsey

    barnsey Guest

    Torpedoes and HMS Oswald

    With the saga of HMS Oswald it was hypothesised by some of the crew they could have torpedoed the Ugolino Vivaldi. Two "CHANCES" are up for examination.

    One was a stern shot with the "Vivaldi" approaching at between 15 and 20 knots on the stbd quarter of Oswald who was under port helm doing about 8 knots. "Vivaldi was always on the stbd quarter getting up as far as the stbd beam before turning to ram Oswald.

    The other "CHANCE" was after Oswald had been rammed and crew were abandoning ship with Oswald more or less stopped in the water and with slight swing to port as it would seem the steering gear was jammed from the collision, damaged by the depth charges or left hard a port ... the last helm order. One of the crew on the fore casing opinioned that they could easily have torpedoed the Vivaldi as she was ahead or crossed ahead.

    Now, as far as I ... a mere Tanker man .... can understand data has to be obtained to calculate an intercept point for the torpedo and the submarine manouvered to launch the torpedo on that calculated course. In neither of the above "CHANCES" was there time or the sighting equipment needed to obtain sufficient data. From sighting the Vivaldy to ramming was at most 5 - 8 minutes, it was a dark night with visibilty between half a mile to 2 and a half miles with possibility of some haze/mist.

    I am amazed that at no point did the Court of Inquiry panel ask technical questions as to the feasibility of the hypothesised torpedo attacks under the given circumstances. It is patently unfair to criticise the commander for not attacking with gun or torpedo if the technical ability to carry such out is not correctly appraised.

    Even if the gun had been manned the vessel was not equipped with flashless shells so the first round fired would have blinded the gun crew and alerted the Vivaldy as to where they were and the desultory rounds that she fired would have had a target to land on !!!

    I am aware that the Mk VIII torpedo, with which Oswald was equipped at some stage of the war had "Gyro angle" ability. As I understand data could be entered into the torpedo so that after being launched it would take up the required course to arrive at the intercept point.

    The question is whether in August 1940, the date of the incident would Oswald have the "Is-Was" calculator and if so the MK VIII torpedo with the Gyro angle ability?

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