very much regret to report that, as the result of the
explosion of a
torpedo air vessel, His Majesty's Ship KHARTOUM, under
my command, sank in Perim
Harbour at 1245 on 23rd
June, after a serious fire followed by two heavy
All times given in this
report are Zone – 3.
At 1150, an explosion
took place in the starboard wing tube of the after
torpedo mounting. The after body of the torpedo
was seen later
by Mr. W.J. Collier, Gunner (T), Royal Navy, to be
forced back against the rear
door, while the circumference of the tube abreast the
air vessel was blown
right out. This
was verified by Lieutenant Charles Edward Anthony
Buckle, and Petty Officer Cyril
Horace Heywood, Official number D/J 109856, Torpedo
Gunner's Mate. The air pressure in the
been taken the previous day.
At the same time, the
warhead was blown through the officers' galley,
cutting the leads from the oil
fuel gravity tank on No. 3 Gun Deck, and instantly
starting a fire. The warhead then passed through
Gun Support, through the power unit of No. 3 Mounting,
and out onto the
quarterdeck, finishing up against the starboard
T.S.D.S. winch. The warhead did not burst,
adequacy of the pistol safety arrangements.
The fire spread almost
at once throughout the after lobby, with dense smoke,
and efforts to flood the
after magazine and shellroom
were frustrated by
flames and smoke. It is almost
certain, however, that the flooding
valves in the after lobby
were destroyed by the warhead.
the fire extinguishers in the ship were used but with
effect. The after rising main was
shattered by the warhead, while the hose connected to
the starboard rising main
abaft the searchlight platform was cut right through,
the valve jammed open and
the hand wheel blown off. The
following hoses were rigged:
From port rising main abaft searchlight
platform to No. 3 Gun Dick, where the fire broke out
From the starboard rising main (new
hoses) abaft searchlight platform to seat of main
cabin flat to main fire.
From rising main by port side of
funnel. This was used mostly gear
used in efforts to get to the after flooding cabinet.
was not sufficient for more hoses, and indeed, the
little or no effect in any case. A
further explosion, cause unknown, put the fire main
out of action after, and
the only available supply was (d) supplied by the 10
At the time of the
original explosion and immediate outbreak of the fire,
His Majesty's Ship under
my command was in approximate position seven miles
165 degrees from Perim
Hight Light on
patrol. Wind was northwest, force 2, sea
ship was put stern to wind to reduce the draught, but
after thirteen minutes
when it reported to me by the Executive Officer that
the fire could not be got
under control, and that the after magazine and shellroom
could not be flooded, I altered course for Perim
Harbour at full speed on
one boiler and signalled
to the Police Station to send boats.
It was thought that the harbour
reached before the magazine exploded, and preparations
were made for throwing
overboard in deep water Confidential Books and Secret
matter on the bridge and
in the Wireless Office, the boilers not being suitable
for destruction by
fire. Endeavour was made to send a
report by wireless. One of the
main aerials had been blown down and the emergency
aerial was rigged. The message was broadcast
apparently never received.
In the meantime, all
torpedoes in the for'd
mounting were fired to reduce topweight,
and ammunition in the for'd
overboard. The torpedoes in the
after mounting could not be fired
as the mounting was
jammed. Warhead pistols were
removed. All the depth charges on
the upper deck was let go and thrown overboard with
the exception of those
against the after screen which
could not be
I intended to beach the
ship in Princes Shoal or further in if possible, but
steam failed when passing
the entrance to the harbour
and electric power very
shortly afterwards, thus putting the steering gear out
of action. An appeal by telephone to the never
failing engineering department resulted in enough
speed to carry the ship close
past the buoy and both anchors were let go, and the
order given to abandon
A very heavy explosion
being imminent, I had considered the advisability of
entering Perim Harbour,
but in view of the
small population, I decided to enter was prospects of
salvage would thereby be
greatly increased. In fact,
although some shells and many heavy fragments landed
ashore after the
subsequent explosion, I have not heard of any
casualties among the population.
I also considered means
of flooding the after compartments, but no explosives
could be got at. After anchoring the ship, I
rear room to be flooded, the intention being that as
it would only flood to the
level of the water outside, it would act as a buffer
when the explosion took
place venting through the searchlight tower. I
definitely decided against flooding the engine room
after boiler room, as experience has shown that this
would result in the
immediate capsizal of the
ship, and negative any
prospects of salvage. I had
previously refuses permission to flood No. 1 and No. 2
magazines and shell
rooms, but immediately after anchoring, the Engineer
Commander (E) Allan Collins Reed, Royal Navy, gave
orders to flood them, quite
correctly in my opinion, as the extent of the
subsequent explosion could not be
The abandoning of the
ship was carried out in excellent order, and indeed,
throughout, the conduct
and bearing of the officers and ship's company was
exemplary. The motor cutter did, however, while
being loaded at deck level with Signal Publications,
cant over and the steel
cabinet with half the W/T books was lost
overboard. The two badly injured, Lieutenant
Commander (E) Reed, and
Able Seaman J.W. Toms, official number not known (D/JX
landed in the motor cutter, which returned for more
and picked up men swimming
I regret to report that
due to a misunderstanding, the Key Memoranda A and D,
and the No. 8 and 10
Small Ship Recyphering
Tables, which were securely
lashed by 1" line to a box of .303 rifle ammunition
ready for throwing
overboard in deep water, were lost overboard alongside
in about six to seven
I gave orders to
abandon the bridge and for all remaining personnel to
muster on the forecastle,
when about thirty were left onboard, and of these some
ten who could swim were
ordered to take to the water. They
also had lifebelts.
Shortly after this, at
1245, there was a very heavy explosion aft, presumably
No. 3 magazine and I
regret to report that J. Thompson, Boy 1c, Official
Number unknown (D/SSX 29413) was killed
instantly by a
heavy fragment which hit
in the back of the head while
swimming ashore. His body was
recovered later and buried at sea from H.M.S.
KANDAHAR. At the same time, Reginald Casson,
Officers' Steward, Official Number unknown (D/LX
20422), was seriously injured on
the forecastle by a fragment which passed though his
upper leg, cut off half
one thumb, and injured his head.
Otherwise only minor cuts were sustained.
The ship settled aft
and was felt to touch bottom. I
had thought that this would put out the fire, and that
further danger was
passed. At about 1259, however,
there was an even heavier explosion, either twenty nine
depth charges in the warhead magazine or the remaining
warheads on deck, or
both. Personnel on the forecastle
were thrown several feet in the air, but no injuries
of any importance were
sustained except by Stanley G. Lace, Able Seaman,
official number unknown (D/SSX 26549) on a Carley
Float several hundred yards away, who was hit in the
back by a small fragment.
The explosion must have blown off a considerable
length of the
stern, as the ship settled much more deeply aft, and
heeled over about 25 to 30
degrees to port. Subsequently, as
air leaked suddenly from the fore compartments, the
bows settled and the ship
came on an even keep with No. 2 Gun Deck and the
bridges just awash.
The ship's company,
still in excellent order, were
mustered at the Police
Barracks by messes, but no further casualties were
discovered, and every man
volunteered when a working party was called for to
return to the ship to
salvage valuable gear. I should
like to take this opportunity of expressing the
deepest gratitude of myself, my
officers, and ship's company for the
and help accorded by the Police Inspector and his
men. Nothing was too much trouble, and
water, tea, and even some clothing was forthcoming the
whole time. Great
also given by the Perim
doctor with his
The Police Inspector
had already reported by W/T that the ship was on fire
in the harbour, and I
made an amplifying report in code. Communication
was, however, very
difficult, and aircraft which flew over low did not
answer calls made by Aldis
The Police Inspector
organized boats quickly on receiving my first signal
and these were of great
assistance in recovering men swimming ashore.
His presence of mind and keenness to be of any
was a great help.
Two salvage parties
were sent off to the ship and recovered many articles
of value, such as
binoculars, telescopes, gyro repeaters, director
sights, bombardment levels,
V/C lantern, four of the six V/F lanterns, etc,
etc. Then the ship's company was evacuated, the
Lieutenant James Wolferstan
Royal Navy, was left behind with ten men and two
native boys to continue
salvage work. Tools, bedding,
clothing, and provisions for this party were provided
by H.M.S. KANDAHAR and
the great help and sympathy accorded by the Captain,
Officers, and ship's
company of H.M.S. KANDAHAR will not easily be
forgotten. Again, nothing was too much trouble,
and particular attention was lavished on the
injured. In this respect the skilled attention
and kindliness of
Surgeon Lieutenant Command W. Mc. O. MacGregor,
Naval Volunteer Reserve, was beyond praise.
I have reported briefly
in paragraph 12 of this letter on the bearing and
steadiness of my Officers and
Ship's Company, but I feel that further mention of
this subject is
necessary. One expects discipline
in danger from the officers and men of the Royal Navy,
but I submit that the
circumstances in this case were peculiar.
From 1205 until 1245 then the first heavy explosion
took place, every
man onboard know that the after magazine, depth
charges, and warheads must blow
up very soon, and that, should this happed while the
ship was still in deep
water, she would almost certainly capsize.
Nevertheless there was, to my knowledge, no case of
nerve and all hands lived up to the highest traditions
of the Service. With reference to King's
and Admiralty Instruction, Article 166, a list of
recommendations for awards
for gallantry and distinguished conduct is being
A list of the
casualties sustained in attached as Enclosure No.1 to
have the honour to be,
D.T. Dowler, Commander,
Rear Admiral Commanding,
Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KANDAHAR
Command Officer, H.M.A.S. HOBART.
No. 1 to
COMMANDING OFFICER, H.M.S. KHARTOUM No 1570 of 24th
Thompson, Boy 1c, Official Number Unknown (D/SSX
29413). Killed instantaneously by a fragment
skull consequent on the explosion of No. 3
Lieutenant Commander (E) Allan Collins Reed, Royal
Serious burns to the head, face,
shoulders, body, arms and hands, and legs.
Toms, Able Seaman, Official number D/SSX 17063.
Serious burns to
face, hands, arms, and legs.
Casson, Officers Steward
No. D/LX 20424, Perforated wound of leg and small head
injury containing small
piece of splinter. Hand injury,
loss of digital portion of thumb.
G. Lace, Able Seaman, Official number D/SSX 26509.
of back – punctured – no splinter was yet discovered.
To: : ..S.N.O.R.S.
sank in Perim Harbour
as a result of internal explosion caused by bursting
of torpedo air
vessel. Consider salvage
impossible. Casualties one killed
3 seriously wounded. Am embarking
ship's company for Aden. First
Lieutenant and 10 remaining as dismantling party.
Request KINGSTON be sailed Perim
To: : ..S.N.O.R.S.
being no hope of extinguishing fire.
I attempted to beach ship on Prince's Shoal.
Lack of steam prevented accomplishment of this and
lying in about 7 fathoms between Prince's Shoal and
Murray Point. After magazine blew up about 10
after abandoning ship followed about 5 minutes later
by 29 depth charges in the
War Head Magazine. Spread of
flames from Officers' Galley was so quick that there
was no chance of flooding
either magazine. 6 casualties, 1
killed, E.O. and 2 ratings badly injured.
Understand there are no casualties ashore in Perim.
June. Cause of accident torpedo discharged from
after tube through after gun support and officers' galley
which caught fire. Ship on patrol at
Ship now upright B gun
deck awash searchlight
showing. Confidential Books aft destroyed by
in bridge safe lost out of boat during abandon
ship. Day's recognition signals and S.P. 02175
(10) lashed to full
.303 ammunition box accidentally jettisoned.
Both these alongside ship and LEANDER will dive for
impossible. PROTECTOR will look
see this week. Foremost magazine
is flooded forward torpedoes
discharged at sea. Work around the ship may soon
hindered by air attack but perhaps PROTECTOR can
recover gun searchlight.
Intend Board of Inquiry
shortly if time permits before B.N.I.
From: : S.N.O.R.S.
Date: : .24th
To: : : .KANDAHAR's
ask Police to make sure there are no C.B.'s
or papers lying around the island as a result of
From: : .Perim Police
Date: : ..24th
To: : :
books and papers found on shore; life belts, etc.
found; any other
thing if found should inform.
have the honour to submit
report concerning Diving Operations carried out by
divers from H.M.S. LEANDER
on wreck of H.M.S. KHARTOUM in Perim
harbour on 24th
Officer McKean -
at 0725 and searched starboard side of forecastle
deck. No books were found. Diver returned
to surface at 0805.
Seaman Josey -
on bottom. Shot rope between B gun and
surface at 0815. Searched
as shown. Wreckage
about six feet high. No
books were seen. – Good vision.
Diver returned to surface at 0849.
Stoker Smitheran -
was moved to position at
foremost end of funnel. Diver
left surface at 0907. Small wreckage
was seen and large piece at after end. Good
vision reported, no books seen. Diver came to
surface at 0925 and
considered diving abaft position as shown to be
- Boat was moved to port side
abreast B gun and forecastle deck searched.
Diver left surface at 0935 and returned at 1003.
Seaman McHugh -
at 1017 and searched the bottom abreast B Gun Port
Side nothing found
so called to surface at 1025 and sent on upper deck
from FX dick, reported that
he could not move more than few years from the ladder
owing to the wreckage and
becoming foul, could not see any books called to
surface again at 1045. Boat returned to ship at
ordered. Boat left the ship again at 1150.
Officer McKean -
surface at 1212 and was towed along the bottom on
short rope from position
about 60 feet from before the A gun to abaft the
funnel on the 1st
tow. 2nd tow diagonally to position about
10 feet from A gun. 3rd
tow about ten feet from ships side to
abreast funnel. Shot rope fouled
diver called up at 1240. Shot rope
was cleared the boat returned to ship, good vision
the divers reported that oil fuel fumes were being
Services of Lieutenant Rylands,
KHARTOUM, were available during the operations and his
advise regarding the
positions of the book was very very
is regretted that no books or safes were found, but
reports, it is my opinion that they must be in the
sand under the wreck.
Honour to be Sir
Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea Force
To: : Commander
in Chief, East Indies Station.
is submitted the report of the Board of Inquiry held
investigate the circumstances attending the loss of
H.M.S. KHARTOUM on 23rd
I do not agree that the
partial flooding of the gear room (para.
11 of KHARTOUM's report
No. 1570 of 24th June) was at
all beneficial but otherwise I concur generally in the
reports of the Board
dated 28th June and 3rd July,
and particularly in those
paragraphs referring to the action taken by Command
R.N. and to the magnificent spirit displayed by him,
his officers and
crew. I attach a list received
from Commander Dowler of
officers and men who
distinguished themselves by gallantry or exceptional
conduct. I strongly recommend the officers
mentioned in para. 2
of his report
and the ratings in para.
as deserving of an award. The
ratings in para.
recommended for "mention in despatches."
himself has also, I consider, clearly earned
recognition by award. His conduct and bearing
and that he was under great stress was shewn
(natural) reaction when I saw him subsequently.
There is very
considerable pitting in the air vessels of the
torpedoes in the 28th
Destroyer Division, the depth of which it has not been
possible accurately to
gauge (but of the order 0.01 inch).
A report on this matter is attached (KHARTOUM's
No. 1586 of 9th July 1940).
Facilities have not allowed of an air vessel being
opened up for
internal examination. The air
vessel may have burst due to pitting alone, but
possibly there was a
manufacturing flaw in the air vessel as well.
Since this destroyer
division joined the Red Sea Force much of the rust
accumulated on the air vessels at home has
been removed. Care and maintenance should now be
easier. As a precaution, air
vessel pressures have been reduced in all Mark IXxx
torpedoes to 2900 lbs per square
inch. When opportunity offers 28th
Division torpedoes due for annual overhaul will be
sent in small batches to
As reported in Red Sea
message 1843 of 13th July, the only S.P.'s
known to have been issued to the V/S and W/T
departments were recovered, except
one copy of each of the S.P.'s
02191X (2), 02193 (4),
and 02229. The risk of compromise
is very very small
etc in safes aft were destroyed in the
explosion. It is considered they are certainly
compromised. The recovered C.B's
and S.P.'s which are
still serviceable haven been
sent to the Distributing Authority, Alexander, the
remainder salvaged by divers
were half burnt, covered with oil fuel and
saturated. They have been destroyed therefore
and a destruction certificate
Two photographs of the
wreck were taken on 24th June are also
Officer Red Sea Force's No. 96 of 17th July
SECRETARY OF THE
to : The Senior
Officer, Red Sea Force.
for the information of Their Lordships concurring in
remarks of the Senior Officer, Red Sea Force, and
especially the officers
(including Commander Dowler)
and men referred to in
paragraph 2 of his submission are worth of such
recognition as Their Lordships
may see fit to grant.
have recommended Commander Dowler
Lordships' recognition of his part in the operations
which resulting in the
sinking of the Italian U boat "EVANGELISTA TORRICELLI"
on 23rd June
1940 (see 888 E.I. 03246 of 21st August
W.J. Collier, Gunner (T) was strongly recommended for
accordance with Admiralty Message 1544 of 6th
July (vide my 0408/1st
As the Mark IXxx
torpedoes are of recent
manufacture, it is unlikely that excessive interval
pitting would taken place,
particularly as the Gunner (T) reports that on no
occasion was any water found
in the air vessels after charging.
(Answer to q.42). I
therefore incline to the view that the bursting of the
air vessel was due to a
flaw in the material. It is
observed on two days earlier (on 21st June)
KHARTOUM fire two depth
charges patterns in attack on the U boat referred to
in paragraph 1 above.
The loss of C.B.s and S.P.s
is being dealt
With reference to
Admiralty Fleet Order 3348/39, I concurred in the
proposal of the Senior
Officer Red Sea Force to hold a Board of Inquiry.
Admiral, Commander in Chief
(Established – March 1933)
of Senior Naval Officer,
are to assemble on board H.M.S. HOBART at 0900 on
June 1940, as a board of inquiry whereof Captain Harry
Leslie Howden, O.B.E.,
R.A.N. of H.M.S. HOBART is to be the
president and hold a full and careful investigation
into the circumstances
attending the loss of His Majesty's Ship KHARTOUM on
23rd June, with
particular reference to the cause of the discharge of
a torpedo from the after
mounting and of the internal explosion resulting therefrom
and the disposal of the Confidential Books and Signals
before you such witnesses as are necessary to enable
you to form
a correct conclusion.
Recommendations should be put forward, if appropriate,
prevent similar occurrences in the further whether on
account of failure of
personnel or material.
The inquiry is to be
conducted in accordance with the directions contained
n King's Regulations and
Admiralty Instructions, Chapter XI.
The report of the board
is to be accompanied by the minutes of evidence taken,
and is to contain an
expression of opinion on the merits of the case as
disclosed by the evidence,
including a statement of the causes of the occurrence.
The questions in the
minutes are to be numbered consecutively, and the name
and tank or rating of each
witness are to appear at the head of each
page of his evidence.
The report and minutes
are each to be signed by members of the board, and are
to be in triplicate.
Copies of relevant
signals and a report from LEANDER are to be returned
with the port of the
board, together with this memorandum.
The Commanding Officer,
H.M.S. HOBART has been informed and directed to afford
the board the necessary
Unless the president has
something to communicate he is to send the reports
when completed, not to bring them.
A shorthand writer has been
detailed from H.M.A.S. HOBART
Captain H.L. Howden,
O.B.E., R.A.N. H.M.A.S. HOBART
J.H. Huntley, R.N.
T.K. Morrison, R.A.N. (through Commanding Officer,
to a misunderstanding in typing the minutes, space has
been left for
the members of the Board to sign after each witness'
evidence, instead at the
minutes in accordance with the correct procedure.
is considered that to retype the minutes would only
delay their being
of Board of Inquiry.
1 to Red Sea No. 96 of 17th July 1940)
COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.
1. We have read this
report, but I think you would prefer to tell us what
While the ship was
approximately 165 degrees about seven miles from Perim
– the position is not exact because we were frequently
on patrol, an
explosion took place which, from the noise I thought
was a depth charge that
had been fired by mistake. On
going on to the upper bridge, I found a heavy cloud of
black smoke coming from
aft and I put the ship before the wind to reduce the
draft, went to fire
stations, and closed all watertight doors.
Shortly after that time – the First Lieutenant
to me that he could not flood the after magazine for
which orders had been
given because the flooding cabinet could not be
2. At this stage, did
you know what was the cause of the explosion?
I don't think I did
then. I knew then that the after
lobby was in flames and that number three gun deck was
also in flames. I decided it was obvious that a
heavy explosion would take place sooner or later and
the only thing to do was
to get the ship into shallow water and somewhere where
salvage operations would
be able to take place and the Ship's Company would
have a chance, and
accordingly steamed at full speed for Perim
considered the possibility of casualties in Perim
Harbour, but there were so
few people there I considered
that the probability of better salvage operations it
was worth the risk.
only evidence that a torpedo started the fire is from
Officer who was sitting in a deck chair just abaft the
galley between the
galley and number three gun
support. His evidence is that friction caused by
the war head passing through the fire screen of the
galley set fire to the
paint work and that this was added to by the galley
fire which was alight and
the oil from the oil fuel gravity tank.
From his evidence and from other evidence the warhead
then passed through
number three gun support
starboard of center line, but
according to one man the whole of the force struck the
side of number three gun
support which was wrecked.
3 That was
seen was it?
Yes by the Engineer
Officer – about the only part that was seen.
4. That was more or less in the centre? You do
not think it was a glancing blow?
I think it must have
charged right through the starboard side of it judging
by where it came out the
other end. It is my opinion that
the war head would also
have wrecked the flooding
cabinet in the lobby.
That is between the
gun support and your hatch?
Yes. That is on the starboard quarter of the
gun support. The war head
then apparently went on through the gun unit and
then out the other side and finished up against the
winch. It was
seen at one time to be broken open and I
believe it caught fire later
And so someone saw
this torpedo war head?
Yes, the Depth Charge
number. He just stated that it was
Was any part of the
body left on it?
No, he did not say that
he saw any body, the after part of the body of the
torpedo was seen in the
tubes, the rear end jammed up in the after part of the
tube. From the evidence of another man who is
in hospital seriously burned, he confirmed what the
Engineer Officer said about
the friction setting fire to the paintwork.
report actually gives details of how the explosion
prevented in any
way the use of hoses. There is one
hose fixed to the starboard rising main and new hoses
by the searchlight
platform. I reason why it was
jammed open was because that hose was already in use
in wetting the decks to
keep the decks cool over the engine room and also the
fire main went out of
action shortly afterwards, but I was told by the Chief
Stoker that there
appeared to be another minor explosion and the
pressure on the fire main
failed. After that the only
available supply as by a ten ton
electric motor and of
course in actual practice it is useless.
8. What depth charges were you able to fire?
The forward torpedoes
were fired to reduce top weight because it is well
known in this class of ship
if you lose buoyancy after the ship will
capsize. The torpedoes were fired for this
reason and to lessen the
risk of explosion, all the depth charges that could be
were dropped and the
port thrower fired.
9. Do you know what depth they were set at when they
They were set for 500
what speed were you going when they were dropped?
Roughly twenty four
11. You say you were
losing speed as you were entering Perim.
What was the cause of that?
I am not quire certain
on that point myself, but I think there was trouble
with the oil fuel suction
and I think someone passed the order for the stokers
to leave the boiler
room. I think the main trouble was
trouble with the oil fuel suction.
And then when the
power finally failed? Do you know
the cause of that?
I rang up the engine
room when the speed of the ship dropped right down and
said I must have some
more revolutions to get the ship right in and they
produced enough power to
move the ship on. I suppose I
passed the Shell Tank at five knots.
How did you call the
I stopped the engines by
telegraph. I actually got a few
revolutions going astern.
So it was an
electrical failure really?
The steering? Yes, Sir.
Did you actually hear
this second minor explosion yourself?
I am not certain about
it. There were a number of minor
The one before
you got in?
The Chief Stoker is the
man who heard that.
After the ship had
entered Perim you let go
both anchors and after the
ship was brought to rest?
I have the order to
abandon ship. The ship's company
were ready for this because they were
working about the Carley
Floats and boats – the
cutter and the whaler and two small skiffs. The
remainder were all on the forecastle, and of course we
know perfectly well that everybody would not have a
sea in the boat or float
and orders were given by the First Lieutenant to jump
over the side and swim
ashore. I had previously signalled
as soon as I came in V/S touch with the Police
Station for all available boats to be send out and
they started appearing at
this time and were useful in picking men out of the
water. When the main body of men had gone, I
suppose there were about thirty or forty left on
board, mostly in the wait.
What was the wind
relative to the ship after you had grounded?
I did not ground.
Well, after you had grounded.
We left go the starboard
anchor first and this swung her to the starboard with
the wind to port, so we
dropped the port anchor to check that and got going
astern on the propellers,
but by that time she had swung bows to wind, the wind
being N.W. I left out the fact that I had given
orders for the Gear Room to be flooded.
That had no effect because it only floods very, very
slowly, the idea
being that it might act as a cushion.
When there were about thirty or forty left I had the
bridge cleared and
all the men mustered on the forecastle where everyone
was waiting for the boats
to come back. Actually I gave
orders for those who had lifebelts and who could swim
to go over the side and
about ten or fifteen went, and then about 1245 there
was an exceedingly heavy
explosion which I can only attribute to the after
magazine going. One man on the forecastle,
Steward Casson was very
badly injured by falling
fragments and Boy Thompson who was only about fifteen
yards away from the ship
was killed instantly by a fragment hitting him the
back of the head. I am not quite certain whether
Seaman Lee as hit at that time of nor, but he was
comparatively out of
danger. I then, about half a
minute later the explosion, felt the ship touch aft,
and I personally thought
hat all we had to do then was wait until the fire
burnt out, but I was quite
wrong because about four minutes later there was a
heavier explosion. I am not sure what it was but
it was the war head
magazine, which contained twenty
nine depth charges.
Do you mean the
magazine and not the war heads
on the after mountings?
I put it down to the
warhead magazines not the war
heads on the after
Were the war heads above
or below the water?
I think they were just
above the water but I did not go aft and look.
After everybody was clear – after the last explosion?
After the last
explosion, she heeled over about 25 to 30 degrees to
23. Was everyone out by
No, there was still
about fifteen on the forecastle, including a badly
injured man for one, and I
did not think the situation called for any hurry as I
thought the explosion had
24. You state that there
was some depth charges
remaining at the side of the
I think there were five
on each side of it and some were primed.
Were these depth
The primers would not
have been in and if they were they would not have been
Was there any other
form of ammunition in that part of the ship?
The shells in number
three gun deck were exploding, not properly exploding,
just minor bangs.
And then what
happened to those few that were left on the forecastle
by that time –
when it was quiet?
Except for the oil fuel
burning on the surface of the water, the forward part
of the ship was still not
Did the remainder
leave the ship?
I gave the order to
abandon ship because the possibility of the fire
spreading and working its way
29. Had everyone finally
left the ship?
Yes, and I did not allow
anyone to come back on board until the fire had
completely died out when I
called for volunteers and the whole ship's company
Have you got a
separate pom pom
Are the fire and the
bilge pumps steam or electrical?
Steam – at least
the one was that broke down.
You have not got the
special type of foam producing machine?
No. Just the foam containers and they were
Well now I would like
to establish if you are quite clear in your own mind
that the original cause
was the bursting of the air vessel.
Absolutely, there is no
question about it.
OF MR. WILLIAM
JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)
34. In connection with
the explosion in the KHARTOUM what do you consider the
primary cause of it?
The explosion of the air
And there is no doubt
in your mind?
36. Can you give any
reason for the air vessel exploding?
The only suggestion I
can make is that the air vessel was either weak of due
to the pitting, which
was previously reported, weakening the air vessel.
37. At what temperature
do you maintain the air vessels
We charged at 95 degrees
or between 90 and 95 degrees that is, during the heat
of the day and checked
the pressure at 1100 daily.
I understand your
stop valves leaked badly. At what
pressure do you attempt to maintain your air vessels
3100 lbs. The stop valves did not leak. It
is the first time I remember being
in a destroyer with ten torpedoes with no leaky stop
When was the last
time you charged the air vessels?
On our last topping up
was when we came in from our patrol
which was about
fourteen days before the actual explosion
When were your gauges
At Falmouth about eight
the charging arrangements.
Did you drain the air or did the Engineering
Department drain the air.
42. Did you on any
occasion find water in the Air Vessel/
How often did you
blow down your Air Vessel?
About every six weeks,
opportunity occurring. If we were
at sea and the torpedoes could not be taken out, we
did not do it.
Did you suspect any
internal pitting at all?
Only external pitting?
What steps did you
take to reduce the external pitting.
Did you report it at all?
When I found out that
the air vessels were pitting I reported to the Captain
and when we fitted at
Falmouth, I returned all my torpedoes to T.E.O.
Devonport with the remark on
the note that I sent in that the Air vessels were
badly pitted and also
requested that the six monthly overhaul on the
torpedoes be carried out. They did the six
monthly overhaul and I
made enquiries at the Torpedo Depot and they assured
me there was nothing to
worry about as worse torpedoes had been received in
the Depot from sea.
After you left was
your ship washing down much at sea?
I do not think they ever
washed down. The last time we had
the torpedoes out for fortnightly overhaul they were
perfectly clean, the same
as they had been when we left Devonport.
48. When you did the
fortnightly routine, did you only haul it back or did
you take it right out of
As far back as the side
lugs and pulled them through the other end and wiped
off the torp oil.
did not require cleaning but just wiping off the oil.
Were you aware before
you found pitting yourself that pitting had occurred
in air vessels abreast the
gas check ring?
that is what made me check my own torpedoes.
50. When was the last
overhaul carried out?
six monthly routine
of torpedoes was carried
out at the Devonport Depot at the beginning of April.
51. When were they
actually in the Devonport Depot?
Between the 10th
march when we (word missing. Disembarked
them until re embarked
them on the 11th
When the torpedoes
were returned from Depot after six months overhaul did
you consider that they
were returned in a satisfactory condition?
Yes Sir. The expert advise from the Torpedo
Depot was satisfactory regarding the shell of the
torpedo although in my own
mind I reckoned that they were not so good as they
were made out to be.
Were they pitted when
they came back?
They were clean, Sir,
but still pitted.
54. Did they not on the History
Sheet of the torpedoes any measurements as to the
depth of the pitting?
55. Have you any idea
how much it was?
Did you paint the
shell of the torpedo around the Gas check ring?
We had an order from D 5
that whenever opportunity offered
, we should red lead
with two coats all the torpedo covered by the gas
57. And did you do that?
We did it only
once. The Torpedo Depot would not
comply with our request at the six monthly
overhaul. They said it was beyond them to issue
torpedoes with paint
What part of the
torpedo was the worst and where did it take place?
Between the war head and
the back of the gas check ring.
The other was fairly
60. When you made your
original report were all the torpedoes in the same
condition or were some worse
On the average about the
same. The torpedoes in the
foremost most mounting were if anything the worst with
the sea tending to
61. There was no
indication that the outer tubes were worse than the
No sir. They were always trained on the beam.
you give us some idea of any
difficulties you have had in carrying out fortnightly
routines since sailing
from Falmouth? Have you always
been able to do it?
Except for the last one
and that was because we at sea.
The last one we did was
before we went on the
last patrol. The one before that
was the day we were at Alexandria.
was at Devonport.
You know each side of
your screens you had five depth charges.
What was their state of readiness?
Fitted but not primed.
Not primed but
pistols in and fitted. We always
had four patterns on the upper deck fitted, and one
primed and set to safe.
In the after
magazine, was there anything in that besides four
Yes Sir, our torpedo
Now what form of
stowage were they in?
In boxes sir.
68. What was stored in
the war head magazine?
Depth charges and T.N.T.
Is that a fitted stowage
sir, for depth charges and T.N.T. blocks.
Are the T.N.T. blocks
exposed in any way?
No sir they are in
DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED
Will you state if
your ship was under fire from the Italian submarine
TORRICELLI that day?
Well, I do not think
that the shots were actually aimed at us, but they did
definitely come right
over our line.
I want to establish
whether it is possible that any shots from the
TORRICELLI could have in any way
lodged in the torpedo tubes.
Not in my opinion Sir,
since the nearest shot was not less than six cables
past the ship.
that there was no possibility of any fragments
hitting the ship?
There was no chance of
any fragments from any shots hitting us, and I feel we
would have noticed if a
projectile hit us.
75. You were certain
that you were not hit by any
Yes, quite, sir.
Will you please state
all of what happened to your C.B.s
carried at the
other than those on the bridge were directly over the
magazine that blew up.
77. What were they
In steel chests and
sectional book cases. They went up
with the explosion. The other C.B.'s
consisted of S.P.'s
to the Wireless and V/S Departments and such C.B.'s
as I had on the bridge for reference and the cyphers
and recognition signals which were kept locked up in
my sea cabin. In actual fact, instead of there
only one lot of Key Memoranda there was
being due to having been ordered on the Friday night
to use Key Memorandum "A". Owing to a
Admiralty Message 206A, T.O.O. 2259/20th
June, we were ordered by
KANDAHAR to use Key Memorandum "A".
I had been informed that there was no possibility of
fire out or flooding the after magazine I gave
instructions for all C.B.s
and S.P.s on the bridge
in my cabin and the wireless office to be prepared for
throwing overboard, as I
did not consider there was much chance of the ship
getting into shallow
water. In any case, the boilers in
"K" class ships are not suitable for burning C.B.s
because they is no way of putting C.B.'s
boiler and loose pages I have been informed by
my Engineering Officer would
probably be blown out of the funnel without catching
fire. Also the forward galley fire was
out. In any case it would have
only taken a very small number.
The books were prepared by the Yeoman of Signals and
the Key Memoranda
and numbers eight and ten of the recyphering
instead of being placed in a weighted bag were lashed
very securely to a .303
ammunition box. As the ship was
passing through the entrance to Perim
Harbour, I gave orders for
all the documents and C.B.s
to be taken up to the Forecastle, because I
considered it a sager
place for them than the waist,
where they could be embarked in boats.
All these papers were definitely sighted. All
these books, bags, and the .303 ammunition box with
papers attached reached the eyes of the ship and were
sighted there by
Lieutenant Buckle and at least two signalmen.
the order to abandon ship was given after entering harbour,
Lieutenant Buckle and the signalmen with him
carried the chests and bags and .303 box after to put
them in the boats, but
the whaler had actually shot off.
The V/S steel box and V/S weighted back went into the
boat and the W/T weighted bad into a carley
float. The W/T steel chest was
placed on top of the canopy of the motor cutter on
which was lying one of the
casualties – Able Seaman Tomms
– and one
or two other ratings standing by him.
The weight of the steel chest proved too much for the
canopy, and all
the ratings, the canopy, and the steel box went over
the side. The steel box was actually seen to go
into the sea by Stoker Petty Officer Hilsdon.
The ammunition box actually arrived
from abreast the motor cutter's
after davit where it
was seen by Leading Seaman Jones and Boy Jones.
is as far as I know or can trace the .303 box
and I do not know why it was not actually put into the
is one other bit of evidence that has come to
light. Immediately on landing, Able Seaman
Trigg informed me that he saw a rating, whose name he
did not know, come on to
the after part of the Forecastle carrying a box which
was definitely not either
of the W/T or V/S chests and when he asked the seaman
what he was doing, he
"highly confidential" and dropped it over the side.
The present position
of the ship would enable a diver to at least walk
round the upper deck?
On yes Sir, but no one
Would you look
carefully at these diagrams and see if diving has been
carried out in the most
probable placed to recover the lost documents?
Yes, but I do not think,
personally, that they have searched in the most likely
place. Nobody appears to have gone abaft the
forecastle port side. One
of the Leading Signalman, Mathieson,
informed me that he had been around the forecastle
after the books had been put
into the motor cutter just to make sure nothing had
been left on the
Do you know the name
of the books that were attached to the .303 ammunition
Key Memos. "A"
and "B" and recyphering
You say that you are quite
certain on the
following: That the books stowed
in the steel chests and sectional chests aft cannot
become compromised except
after extensive diving operations?
I should think they are
probably not in the vicinity of the original position
of the Ship Sir. Someone said that number three
dropped over the side, and someone said it went two
hundred feet into the air.
The position is that
you do not know what has happened to the C.B.s
in the steel chests and sectional chests aft?
I consider them
destroyed by the explosion.
It is possible that
they may have been blown ashore or into shallow water?
It is possible.
The two weighted bags
of books and one perforated chest have been recovered
and one perforated steel
chest has fallen over the side and those books lashed
to the .303 ammunition box
may be on the upper deck of the ship or may have
over the side?
It may be on the upper
deck of the ship or may, when the ship heeled over to
port possibly have gone
overboard, in which case the ship when she came back
again and the bows sank
she may have sat on it. Or it is possible
that if was thrown overboard from the forecastle as
reported to me by Able
85. Were any steps taken
to have the shores searched?
shore used by the boats was searched.
A party was sent ashore and the
area around was searched
by a search party.
But the search party
did not continue to the Eastern side?
Murray Point and the
area to the pier N.E. of Murray Point was
87. Were arrangements made for a watch to be kept in
the event of
documents coming to the surface some hours later?
I entrusted the First
Lieutenant to place a watch on board the ship during
the dark hours and during
the daylight hours they would be working on board the
ship. That was the situation when I left the
place. The Police Inspector
informed me that he considered that he could keep a
proper watch on the ship by
day and night, but I adhered to my orders to the First
Lieutenant as being on
board at night.
And how long did that
watch last for?
In actual fact, I believe
that work of evacuation had not been finished until
one o'clock and there were
no men on board that night. Work
recommenced early in the morning and the working party
was evacuated by orders
Have the native
police been asked to continue to keep watch?
I asked the Police
Inspector at Perim to
keep a lookout.
Did you arrange for a
native boat to be kept in the vicinity?
No sir. He said his lookouts could see any boat
In your opinion it is
highly improbable that the book
have in any way been
92. Was there any
possibility of C.B.s
being on loan to the Navigating
They were the ones on
the Bridge. There was one other
C.B. that was not actually in the bag:
"Handbook of 4.7 Mountings" issued on the charge of
Artificer. But he said it was
blown out of his hand by the first and second
explosion and was never
This book was recovered with others
from the bridge.
What was the position
of the motor boat?
Abreast the funnel port
side. It is possible that the
chest was at the after end of the motor
They did not appear
in their diving to have gone anywhere near the books?
I sent ashore to
N.O.I.C. Aden yesterday asking for divers to be sent
with flame cutters and
also flame cutting party in PROTECTOR with the idea of
the divers searching in
the vicinity of the funnel port side and on the bottom
again and the cutting
tools to be used by them for the possible salvage of
guns and cutting away
wreckage which I understand is lying against the
funnel port side, so that they
could see if there was anything under that.
CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, Royal Navy
carried out the duties of C.B. Officer in KHARTOUM?
Just state where the
various chests and books were stowed.
They were in the
Captain's cabin after, two light steel chests and two
heavier steel chests
which contained most C.B.'s
and in the ship's office
one heavy chest in which I kept the
in the wireless office and the S.D.O. the publications
required for the
wireless office and two S.D.O. signal publications.
Were the two in the
wireless office and signal D.O. perforated?
They were perforated
light steel chests. The heavy ones
were really safe chests.
Any bags of books?
Yes sir. The wireless
office had a bag and the S.D.O. had a bag for abandon
Now what do you think
has happened to these various chests and so on?
The light steel chest
and the canvas bag from the S.D.O., the canvas bag,
and the light steel chest
from the wireless office – no I am not sure Sir about
the light steel
chest from the Wireless Office – but the canvas bag
from the wireless
office and the S.D.O. have been saved and the light
steel chest from the S.D.O.
Now what happened to
The others sir were
taken down from the forecastle on the starboard side
to go into the whaler but
the whaler had already left so Leading Signalman Scott
who was abaft the ladder
said he would take them across to the motor cutter on
the port side and the
last I saw of them was going across to the cutter.
What books were
These were the two bags
– one from the Wireless Office and one from the S.D.O.
and two light
steel chests from the S.D.O. and Wireless Office and a
And what happened to
That was the actual last
I saw of them. I collected some of
them from the Island.
What did you collect
from the Island?
Two canvas bags and one
steel chest. I think it was only
You do not know what
has happened to the other steel chest?
Only from what I have
What do you think
has happened to those that were in the after part of
Disintegrated by the
explosion. The magazine was
underneath them and the oil fuel tanks were underneath
the ships office.
OF YEOMAN OF
SIGNALS JOHN MURPHY, JX 134463.
107. Were you given
certain documents by your Captain to make fast to a
.303 box of ammunition.
Do you remember what
documents they were?
Yes, sir – Key
memoranda and recyphering
How many key
memoranda were there.
At least eight.
Tables (8) and (10).
That is all I was given to be
tied to the ammunition box.
I want to establish
whether these documents were securely lashed to this
I rolled them up like
you would roll a newspaper and tied them with cord and
then tied the tables (8)
and (10) together and lashed them to the box with cod
line, carrying the line
through the handles, and them lashed them round and
round with a signal
When did you last
see these documents lashed to the box of ammunition?
Well I do not know the
time sir. The last I saw of them
was when I called one of the lookouts and told him
that he was responsible for
the safety of the books, and the last thing I saw of
them was one of the other
lookouts giving him a hand to take them down from
upper bridge to the lobby.
You saw them?
Yes sir I saw them. He could not manage them
another Able Seaman got hold of them with him.
Did you ask him what
he did with them finally?
OF S.P.O. ALFRED
THOMAS HILSON, O.N. KX 76818
Did you at any time
after the KHARTOUM blew up have anything to do with
the handling of the C.B.
No sir, not with the
handling of them.
Did you see them?
I saw them Sir.
Where did you see
Well I left the boiler
room after "Abandon Ship" had been given and came up
just as they were lowering
them into the motor cutter and the motor cutter was
just level with the upper
deck of the ship and I was giving a hand on the cutter
cable and they were
passing in all the gear such as foodstuffs and I
happened to see this
galvanized covered tin passed in on the canopy.
The boat was lowered down and the canopy collapsed and
the gear including all the men on the canopy went over
the side that was the
last I saw (text says "was") of the
box. I assume it went into the
So you saw it on top
of the canopy?
Did you also see a
small .303 ammunition box with documents lashed to it?
ABLE SEAMAN HAROLD MCCOURT, O.N. DJX 143970.
Did Yeoman of
Signals Murphy give you a .303 box of ammunition with
papers lashed to it after
the ship had finally stopped?
I do not know whether
the ship had finally stopped, sir, but the Yeoman did
pass Able Davis and
myself a box of .303 ammunition
with some books attached.
He gave it to both
of you or to one of you?
He gave it to both of us
and told us to carry it down the ladder by the guard
alongside the Petty Officers Mess near the starboard
Did you turn it over
to anybody else?
No sir. Petty Officers and Leading Seaman and
everybody in general was
passing about us and they
sent everybody forward. I struck
the First Lieutenant by the guard rail and asked him
what we were to do with
these confidential papers and he said "Well drop them
and get for your life, "
so we just left them where we were and cleared up
That was the last
you saw of them you say, near the break of the
forecastle starboard side, on
the upper deck?
I was one of the
volunteers who returned to the ship and I lookout
along the starboard side of
the forecastle and could not see any sign of them.
You made a definite
point of looking for them?
Yes, Sir. I saw a bag with a zip fastener going
into the whaler and it fastened in my memory and I
went and had a look for
this. 303 box. I looked where I
had left them, but the ship had lurched over and I
thought that they may be up against
the chiefs' mess or against the screens so I went and
looked along there and
couldn't see them.
So you had a good
look around and could not see any sign of it?
The ship heeled over a
fair way after the explosion. I
looked along the screens and when I could not see it I
thought the force of the
explosion had blown it over the side.
OF ABLE SEAMAN
ALFRED CHARLES TRIGG, O.N. JX 131168
127. Did you at any time
see a box of .303 ammunition with
some papers lashed to it?
No sir I did not see a
box, I saw a parcel thrown over the side sir.
What did the parcel look like.
A small parcel sir. A fellow was carrying it and
him what he was doing with it and he said
"confidential" and dropped it over
129. Who was that man?
I do not know who he
Where were you
Starboard side just
abaft "A" gun.
What time was that?
About five minutes after
"abandon ship" stations because when "abandon ship"
stations went I went to get
my wife's photographs and went to my Carley
"B" gun deck, and I went around the starboard side.
132. What direction was the man going who was carrying
Well, it looked like he
was going from after Sir but I am not certain because
I was going foreward and
I was in a bit of a hurry.
When you say a
parcel will you describe this parcel?
No sir, I cannot. It could not have been heavy
was carrying it in his hand.
Did it sink
I did not notice.
Did you notice
whether he was carrying it one hand or with two hands.
Two hands sir.
Was there a big splash when
it hit the
I do not know sir. I went to abandon ship
stations of "B"
You have no idea
what it was?
No sir I have no idea.
SEAMAN TRIGG RECALLED
You say when you saw
this parcel thrown over the side it was about five
minutes after "Abandon Ship"
139. Was the ship inside
I think she was sir,
just on the outskirts of Perim.
At high speed was
I did not say, I did not
Now the point is was
she still moving through the water?
Yes, slowly sir.
142. As far as you know
the ship was not anchored?
As far as I know sir she
DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED.
In view of Able
Seaman Tripp's statement have you enquired among the
ship's company as to whom
it might be?
Yes, I enquired of all
of them, but his statement is entirely at variances
with what he told me. He told me that he knew it
something very heavy by the way it was being
carried. Five minutes after "abandon ship"
stations must have been
before we entered Harbour.
LEADING SEAMAN BERTIE WILLIAM JONES, O.N. JX
144. Did you at any time
have the handling of a .303 box of ammunition with
some documents lashed to it?
I think I remember I did
handle a box.
Q.145. What size box.
It was an ammunition box
but I cannot say what was in it, but it did have some
rope around it.
Were the things on
it securely lashed?
I should say they were.
Where did you carry
I helped Leading
Signalman Scott get it down from the starboard ladder
and last I saw of it was
by the starboard ladder near the galley on the upper
And did you turn it
over to anybody?
No sir, I helped get a
skiff out and I was told to get out of it.
Where did you go
Near the Carley Floats.
At what stage did
you meet Leading Signalman Scott.
Where was he coming from.
I was down trying to get
a skiff out at the time and when I turned round
Leading Scott was struggling
with a box (text reads "gox)
down the ladder. He was half way down the ladder
trying to get it down when I
turned round to give him some help to get it down and
then I tried to get the
skiff out. We then took it to the
The whaler is on
that side of the ship?
Yes sir, but the whaler
was up foreward.
152. But the whaler had
left the ship.
I did not know, I was
told to carry the box around.
To the Whaler?
Yes sir, I went with
this box to take it to the whaler but I was told the
whaler had gone and was
told to get away from the forecastle so I left the
How many boxes were
coming down the ladder?
Only one, there was only
one I saw.
The only one I saw was
the .303 box because I
carried it with Leading Seaman
Scott to the whaler.
DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY, RECALLED
156. Were you during the
whole of the time between the first explosion and the
final abandoning of the
ship entirely satisfied with the conduct of the
Officers and Ship's company?
Entirely satisfied Shi
except that I think possibly the ratings put in charge
of the Wireless books
did not realise their
full responsibility. I was actually very proud
officers and ship's company as a whole because they
did remain absolutely
steady the whole time. I could not
see much of what was going on aft but I do know the
Chief Stoker made a very
gallant effort to get at the Flooding Cabinet and that
the Gunner's mate also
went on to number three gun deck where the corticene
was burning and with a hose playing over him directed
by the First Lieutenant
threw overboard about two thirds of the cordite on
number three gun deck. In addition, I also know
the watch remained down below until I gave the order
"stop main engines" by
himself. He ordered the ratings to
leave and remained there until the order stop main
I understand you are
forwarding a list of men whose conduct warrants
Sir. The Engineering Officer was exceedingly
badly burnt right at the very beginning, but he was
carrying on with his duties
the whole time until he was put into the motor cutter
and he again showed a
very fine spirit some time after he got ashore.
Half an hour after I left the ship he was still
around joking till I have him a direct order to lie
OF CHIEF E.R.A.
DOUGLAS ROYSTON MATTHEWS, O.N. DMX 46196
I understand that
shortly before the KHARTOUM anchored following the
first explosion that the power
largely failed on the main engines?
Sir. The Engineer Officer gave the
order actually that the additional hands down the Gear
Room and the additional
hands down the boiler room – because we had two
stokers down there
whenever there much doing and one steamer when they
were easy – was to
come up and the order was transmitted wrongly and they
all came up and shut
down the boiler. Immediately, the
ship lost way I ran after and practically met them as
they left the boiler room
and I got the chief stoker and rushed aft then I went
down below and flashed up
again. By the time that happened
Sir the anchors had gone down. We
actually lost power and the dynamos came off just a
few seconds before the
anchors went down.
The dynamos coming
off the board was due to the loss of pressure in the
Yes sir and when that
happened I had two E.R.A.'s
down the boiler room and
started the diesel dynamos. I
myself went up on the forecastle because they had all
been sent foreward and
tried to get a L.T.O. to put the diesel
dynamos but by that time the First Lieutenant said it
did not matter so we
stopped them again.
At what pressure did
the dynamos come off the board?
Actually sir, the
dynamos would probably come off the board between 150
and 175 lbs pressure but
we work the engines down to 50 lbs. Pressure.
What is your normal working pressure"
300 per square inch.
do not know whether I am supposed to say it but I have
been giving the
matter a lot of consideration and I wondered if the
vent pipes from the oil
fuel tanks had got blown away and seeing that they
used water on blazing oil
some of that water might have got carried down to the
Don't you think that
some of the oil from the gravity tank would be
sufficient to give it all that
Apart from that, there
was 150 gallons of oil in the after gun hydraulics and
they was smashed up.
163. The vent pipes go
They actually go deeper
but they are inside the flat.
164 You are talking now
between the magazine
and the vent pipes?
The magazine is here and
the vent pipes from the oil fuel tanks are back there.
OF CHIEF STOKER
EDWARD MITCHELL, O.N. K 55471
Can you suggest any
reason why, first of all the power failed on the main
engines after entering Perim
Harbour and also why the
electric steering motors failed?
When I went down into
the Boiler Room after they had given the order to get
extra hands up out of the
Where were you when
that order was given?
I was foreward. I tried
to get from aft to foreward
and they had cleared everyone from after foreward.
Where were you when
the first explosion took place?
Asleep on the
forecastle. After they had cleared
everyone from aft I was foreward
in the sick bay and
I got the order from the Engineer officer of the watch
to get the extra hands
out of the boiler room. I went foreward
again and seen the ship stop and I sent down below
because they was a second explosion and I expected it
was the oil tanks and I
went and changed from the after tanks to the foreward
ones and I went down and got her underway and she got
some extra revs up again
and got under way.
You consider the
reason for the failure was the mistaken order that the
extra hands come up was
taken as all hands?
It must have been
because when I went down and changed over the tanks to
and opened up the sprayers she started to pick up her
None of the sprayers
had been left on?
No sir. When the Petty Officer came down I came
up on top and I went and reported to the Engineer
Officer, who was in the sick
bay, and he gave me the order to flood foreward.
He was in the sick
Yes sir he was all
Do you know when the
steering motors failed?
Is it your opinion that the
because of the failure of the oil supply from the
was number seven and eight
tanks. We had ten tons in each of the tanks
and it is my estimation that the tanks caught fire
because there was black
smoke coming up.
You were not down in
When is this sir?
Before the order that extra hands were to come out
of the boiler room?
I sat up top of the
hatch. There was
two P.O.'s and a Leading
Hand, but I went foreward
again and I did not notice who came up until the
Chief E.R.A. told me. When I
noticed the ship was stopping he said "they haven't
all come up?" I said
don't think so." I went down on my
175. They did?
Yes, they did.
And you went down?
I went to the foreward
When you got down
the sprayers were all off and the Master valve shut?
There were no sprayers
And you got them going as soon as you could"
It has been stated
that after the first explosion, there was another
Have you any idea
what it was?
I have come to the conclusion
that it was C.S.A.
Where was it stowed?
Between the winches
after. We have a big C.S.A. tank
and it had 1100 lbs of C.S.A. liquid in it.
Have you got any
C.O.2 gas aboard?
Not after. That was in the Engineers charge down
in the boiler room flat.
LIEUTENANT JAMES WOLFERSTAN RYLANDS, ROYAL NAVY.
When the first
explosion took place, where were you?
In the Ward room.
184. So that it took
place almost over your head?
185. Will you tell me
what steps were taken to seal with the fire that broke
I went straight on deck
and went forward to try and get some of the crew to
come aft. I think the
Captain had passed the word. I
found hoses coming along the foaments.
We saw the connection between the after
tubes and the searchlight platform was only dribbling
water and was jammed and
would not open up. I got a Chief
Stoker with a foam first of all and tried to get up to
the galley which had
blown out by the torpedo head and got connected up all
told a total of about
five hoses one of which was actually put on the
damaged connection and it was
dribbling. We were wetting canvas
gear with this one. The chief
stoker and I both got foaments
to start with. He took one and tried to get into
after lobby but the smoke was much too thick and got
in about five or six steps
and had to come out. He got a
canvas bag and filled it with water and put it over
his head and tried again
but he had no chance of getting in.
We got foaments and put
them through the hole
in the foreward screen
into the galley, then attacked
the flames around the upper deck explosive locker but
both turned back by the heat.
Then the gunners mate went up on number three gun dick
to try to get rid
of the ammunition up there and I sprayed him and the
ready use locker and the
backs of the tanks. The hoses were
not long enough so I got the hose taken off the
damaged connection and put on
to one of the other and the end passed up on to number
three gun deck, but it
was getting a bit warm then. We
got up to the two foreward
ready use lockers and got all the cordite out and
ditched it. The cortiscene
caught fire and it was then just a mass of flames and
I yelled to him to come
down, so we went down and fought the flames for about
five minutes more I
suppose. After that the place was
getting such an inferno so I got everybody out.
I gave the order to clear away from aft, everybody up
Did you have a
change to take in the strange track of this head?
No I didn't, I just
rushed on deck. I
was told by the Chief Stoker afterwards that
the thing definitely hit
the gun support as he had seen the gun support being
Do you consider that
a war head could pass
through two thicknesses of the
I have never seen one
doing it before. The Chief Stoker
announced that the gun support had been smashed.
From the first
explosion to the final abandoning of ship were you
entirely satisfied with the
conduct of all concerned?
Yes, certainly. Even after I gave the order to
away from aft, the chaps were anxious to go on with
the fire. When we were lowering the motor cutter
the fall was jammed on the foreward
cleat and when we
got that clear and got it down about half way and were
putting in the injured I
asked another dozen chaps to get in and when we got
her into the water and I
said "right carry on in shore" not a single sailor
tried to get down the falls.
You were left behind
Yes sir, but only until
next day about one o'clock.
And during that time
did you keep a careful lookout for things coming from
Yes sir, two salvage
parties were working around the ship and I do not
remember anything coming up
after, and next day anything on the water was
recovered and brought back by two
Police cutters, pinnaces,
etc, all searching to see
if they could find anything.
Divers were down and could not see anything.
where are your boats now?
The cutter has been
discharged to KANDAHAR and the whaler is in LUCIA.
You were there when
the diving operations were carried out?
193. You were in the
ship when diving operations were carried out.
Did you see a steel chest and .303 box"
The perforated chest
went over the port side?
Yes sir, abreast the
motor cutters canopy.
195. Most of the diving
did not take place in the vicinity where the books
I do not know. I know this,
it did get to the motor cutter as I had been it in the
starboard waist and I
know that it laid there until the other one was
brought down and disappeared
OF MR. WILLIAM
JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)
You say when the
torpedoes were sent in to Devonport Depot that you
reported this pitting of the
Did you report in
I cannot say whether I
reported in writing or spoke to the T.E. personally.
Did you yourself
write a letter through the Commanding Officer
reporting the matter?
You did not?
I reported to the
Captain that they were badly pitted and that I
considered they should go in for
So you reported it
verbally to the Captain?
And you reported it
verbally to the
T.E.O. at Devonport.
203. Well when the
torpedoes were returned did you get anything in
writing from anybody that they
considered that although they were pitted they were alright?
No nothing in writing at
And no notation was
made on the history sheets?
Not as far as I know.
Did you look
especially to see if any notation was made?
I looked at two or three,
I did not look through the whole lot because they
were all the same.
Those ones that you
looked at? Did you see any
I never did. They sent back the same torpedoes
sent in and they convinced me that they were alright
and had nothing to worry about.
When you are talking about the T.E.O. do you mean the
208. Did you make any
notation on the return notes.
209. Did you return them
No returned them by
your return notes did you say badly pitted?
Did you make any
remarks at all?
No sir, I cannot
remember rightly whether a letter was sent about it
but if there was there
should be a copy of it in the Torpedo
You have no other
correspondence that you know of?
reporting to Captain (D) did you say what state your
torpedoes were in?
I think KANDAHAR when
they had experts from Greenwich about it were
that they had nothing to worry about.
DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY. RECALLED.
Will you please say
if your recall your Gunner (T) informing you of the
pitted state of the air
Yes, I can remember him
reporting it but I cannot remember the date.
Was it previous to
the torpedoes going in for their six
I can remember reporting,
I cannot remember the approximate date. I do not
think I reported it in writing
because I knew the matter was already in the hands of
D 5's staff who were perfectly
aware of it and were told that our ship had been
running a very short time
compared with others and there torpedoes were
presumably in a worse
condition. Instructions were
received on a date I cannot remember to give the air
vessels two coats of red
lead, but opportunity did not occur previous to refit.
H.L. Howden, Captain
J.H. Huntley, Commander
T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant
have the honour to report
accordance with the instructions contained in your
Form S. 1360 dated 25th
June 1940, we
have this day assembled as a Board of Enquiry, and
have held a full and careful
investigation into the circumstances attending the
loss of His Majesty's Ship
KHARTOUM on 23rd June 1940 and have to
report as follows:
We are of the opinion
that the primary cause of the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM
was the exploding of the
Air Vessel of the starboard wing torpedo in the after
mounting. The explosion caused the after body of
the torpedo to be jammed into the rear end of the
tube, the tube to be burst
open, and the warhead to be discharged after with
great velocity. The head passed through the
galley, severing the feed pipe from the 80 gallon
gravity Oil Fuel tank for the
galley, through, or past the after gun support,
through the after gun power
unit compartment, through the after bulkhead of the
after superstructure, and
came to rest against the starboard winch of the Two
Speed Destroyer Sweep
gear. The warhead did not explode,
but was split open.
Fire broke out
instantaneously in both the after galley and in the
after Power Unit
compartment. The fire is
considered to be due to the paint on the bulkhead
catching fire owing to friction,
and this together with the fire in the galley, set
alight to the oil flowing
from the gravity tank through the severed oil pipe,
and in the case of the
after Power Unit, set alight to the waste oil in the
compartment, and possibly
oil exuding from the plant itself, which was probably
fractured by the warhead
during its travel.
We consider that every
possible step was taken to control expeditiously the
fire, but that
conflagration was of such proportions that it was
quite impossible to control
or extinguish it.
We are of the opinion
that Commander D.T.Dowler,
R.N. of H.M.S. KHARTOUM
acted wisely in taking the steps he did to attempt to
beach the ship in shallow
water, and the fact that this was not successfully
accomplished was due to a
failure of electrical power which caused the steering
motors to go out of
action. The failure of the
electrical supply was caused by an order to clear the
boiler room of
"Additional Hands" being incorrectly received as an
order to clear the boiler
room of "All Hands". Before
evacuating the boiler room, the main fuel supply to
the sprayers was shut off,
and due to the loss of steam, the dynamo came off the
board. The incorrect receipt of the order was realised
without undue delay and steps were taken to send a
steaming watch back to the boiler room.
The boiler was flashed up again and sufficient steam raised
to manoeuvre the main
engines at slow speed, but not
to run the dynamo.
lbs per sq. inch of steam is sufficient for Main
Engines, but 175lbs per sq.
inch is required for the steam dynamo.
The result is that the
ship was not beached on Princes' Shoal as was
intended, but is on an even keel
in position 12-38-52 North, 43-24-55 East, in 4 ½ to 6
fathoms of water
at Mean Low Water Springs.
It appears evident that
it was quite impossible to approach the flooding
valves of the after magazine
due to the terrific heat and the extensive nature of
the fire, and therefore it
was quite beyond human power to prevent the subsequent
explosions of the after
magazine and the warhead magazine containing twenty
nine depth charges.
We are of the opinion
that Commander Dowler's
action as outlined in
paragraph 11 of his report No. 1570, dated 24th
June 1940, was a
correct one, and also his action in firing the
torpedoes from the forward tubs,
and generally taking every possible precaution to
limit the extent of the
Concerning the disposal
of the Confidential Books and Signal Publications, it
appears that three steel
chests and two steel sectional bookcases are either
amongst the wreckage after
or may have been blown by the force of the explosion,
some distance from the
ship and may have even reached the shore or shallow
water. We are of the opinion that up to date
an insufficient search has been made ashore and in the
shallow water of Perim Harbour
for these books and
recommend that an extensive search be made without
delay. It is evident that one light steel
perforated chest containing confidential books and
signal publications has
fallen overboard on the port side abreast the funnel,
in an area which was not
searched by divers from H.M.S. LEANDER during the
diving operations on 24th
June 1940. It is also evident that
Key Memoranda ÔA' and ÔD' and Small Ships re-cyphering
Tables 8 and 10, which had been weighted by securely
lashing them to a full box
of .303 ammunition, are either on the starboard side
of the upper deck in the
vicinity of the break in the forecastle, on the
forecastle deck, or on the
seabed in the vicinity of the ship.
It would appear highly improbable that any of the
confidential books or
Signal Publications carried in H.M.S. KHARTOUM have
We are of the opinion
that the care and maintenance of the torpedoes was
efficiently carried out in
accordance with the Regulations.
The only cause of weakness of the Air Vessel and
possible cause of the
explosion that we have been able to trace,
the external pitting which apparently occurred during
the service of the ship
in the North Sea. When these torpedoed
were subsequently sent in to the Torpedo Engineer
Officer, Devonport, for
inspection and six monthly overhaul, the Gunner (T) of
the KHARTOUM states he
verbally informed the Torpedo Engineer Officer of the
pitting. The same torpedoes were returned to the
KHARTOUM, and it is therefore assumed that they
considered serviceable by the Torpedo Engineer
Officer. Should it be considered that
external pitting was the cause of the explosion, it is
recommended that further
extensive investigation is advisable with a view to
establishing to what extent
the pitting reduces the factor of safety of the Air
It is not known whether H.M.S. VERNON has under
methods for guarding torpedoes against the deleterious
effect of spray in the
above water tubs, but this board is of the opinion
that consideration might
with advantage, be given to this matter.
investigation we have been much impressed by the
magnificent spirit displayed
by Commander Dowler, the
Officers, and the Ship's
Company of H.M.S. KHARTOUM under most trying
circumstances, and we are firmly
convinced that they upheld the highest traditions of
his Majesty's Naval
Service, and we consider that great credit is due to
The following documents are enclosed"
S. 1360 – together with copies of relevant signals and
report from LEANDER as received.
The minutes of the
Board of Inquiry – in triplicate.
A copy of the report
of Commander D.T. Dowler,
R.N. – No 1570 dated
24th June 1940 reporting the loss of H.M.S.
Sketch showing sounding in fathoms in
the vicinity of the wreck of H.M.S. KHARTOUM.
H.L. Howden, Captain
J.H. Huntley, Commander
T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant
have the honour to report
accordance with your Signals 3023/2nd July
July, we have this day re assembled as a Board of
Inquiry and have held and
full and careful investigation with the object of
The Mark of the torpedoes which
exploded or other facts from which it could
The possibility of
The possibility of a
local fire prior to the explosion.
A full description of
the damage to the tube and of the condition of the
rear end of the torpedo in
wish to report as follows:
The torpedo was a Mark IXxx,
but it has not been possible to establish
the number of the torpedo which
The possibility of
sabotage, either within or without the ship, can be
There was no local fire
in the vicinity of the tube prior to the explosion in
witnesses' description of the damage caused
to the torpedo tube varies,
but we consider that its condition was as follows:
the lip to the gas check ring the rube was complete;
from the gas
check ring to the Tripper the outboard side and the
top of the tube completely
blown away. Immediately abaft the
Tripper to within approximately three feet of the rear
door the side of the
tube was torn open. The after
three feet below the cordite combustion chamber was
again complete. The rear door slightly bulged
after propeller hoses and a portion of the after
propeller blades protruding.
Torpedo Gunner's Mate, whose evidence appears to be
very reliable stated that
the whole of the after body of the
torpedo including the engine was jammed in the rear
end of the tube.
A list is attached of
the C.B.'s and S.P.'s
other secret and confidential documents
recovered. These were mustered on board H.M.S.
LUCIA by Lieutenant
Buckle and were later returned to the C.B. Officer,
Naval Office, Aden, on 2nd
approximate list of W/T books lost from H.M.S.
attached. As the register was in
the after part of the ship when the explosion took
place and has been lost it
has not been possible to compile a list of books
lost. The present C.B. Distributing Authority
to KHARTOUM is D.A. Malta. This
"Approximate List of W/T Books lost from H.M.S.
KHARTOUM was compiled from
memory by P.O. Telegraphist
J. Devlin after landing,
the Muster Board having been lost in the perforated
steel chest that went
Dowler states that a
report of the
loss of the books has only been verbally to the Senior
Naval Officer, Red Sea,
and that he (Commander Dowler)
has not reported to
the Admiralty in accordance with C.B. Form U2D
articles 81-82. Commander Dowler
also states that he has informed by the Secretary to
the Senior Naval Officer,
Red, Sea, that the los of Key Memos. "A" and "B" and recyphering
Tables S.S. (8) and (10) has been reported to the
Commander in Chief, East
The Board did not
consider it necessary to take the evidence of divers
before H.M.S. LEANDER
sailed observing that the Board had received a very
comprehensive report of all
diving operations carried out by LEANDER signed by
Captain H.E. Horan, D.S.C.
R.N., Commanding Officer, H.M.S.
LEANDER. This report of diving operations was
forwarded as an enclosure to our previous report.
H.L. Howden, Captain
J.H. Huntley, Commander
T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant
DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY
Dowler recalled and
Have you any reason to
suppose that the explosion of this torpedo may have
been due to sabotage,
within or without the ship?
Sir. The ship had been to Djbouti
for about five hours on the previous Thursday, the
20th June, but only lay out at the Oiling
Berth. Previous to that we had been at sea for
six days. At no time was anybody
allowed on board without any parcels being examined by
When was the last time that the torpedo was blown
I am not aware of the
last definite date.
Is it some days or
some weeks ago?
I think the Gunner (T)
has already given this evidence.
In fact you think it
quite impossible for any form of sabotage to have
Quite impossible if my
orders were carried out and I have no reason to
suspect that they were not
Did you rescue any
prisoners from the Italian U Boat TORRICELLI?
Sixteen were originally
rescued of whom fourteen were transferred to KINGSTON
also immediately, one
died, and the other one remained on board under guard
the whole time. The only time he was in the
the mounting was at the funeral of the other prisoner
and it was not possible
for him to carry out any act of sabotage observing
that he had been rescued
from the sea and had only one pair of shorts on and
was rather weak himself.
Did the other fourteen
that were finally transferred to the KINGSTON ever
come on board?
Yes, they were on board
for about ten minutes, but guards were present.
They were also rescued direct from the sea.
Can you tell me for
what reason the one man was kept on board?
He had been suffering
from partial drowning and the Doctor considered he
needed further medical
Were any hands
employed working about the part of the ship and
especially on the mounting?
Not to my knowledge and
the hands had gone to dinner three quarters of an hour
beforehand as I was
keeping zone minus four time
for routine convenience.
Is there any doubt in
your mind that the fire that broke out may have been
due to any cause other
than the explosion of the torpedo.
None whatsoever. The fire was
removed by some twenty feet from the lobby end of
tube and the Engineer Officer was sitting
close to the Galley.
Are you quite certain
that no fire had started in the vicinity of the tubes
prior to the explosion of
In my opinion if there
had been a fire there ratings passing along the upper
deck, and particularly
those relieving watches short before, could not have
failed to observe if there
had been a fire.
The same thing
applies to the Engineer Officer presumably?
Would the Cooks in
the after Galley be looking out on the aft mountings?
His scuttle does open
out directly to that particular tube, but he had left
the galley before the
the explosion did you personally see the exploded
Do you know who did?
Lieutenant Buckle, the
Gunner (T), I think the First Lieutenant and I think
the Torpedo Gunners Mate.
OF MR. WILLIAM
JAMES COLLIER, GUNNER (T)
Collier recalled and cautioned.
Do you consider that
it would have been at all possible for the explosion
of the torpedo tubes to have been
the result of sabotage within or without the ship?
Were you working in
the vicinity of the tubes that day at all?
No Sir. I was the Officer of the Watch.
Was anyone working in the
vicinity of the
The Torpedo Gunner's
Was the T.G.M. in the
vicinity at the time.
No sir it happened just
after I came off forenoon watch.
So did you walk past
the tubes coming aft?
Did you see anyone in the vicinity?
Did you see anybody
in the vicinity?
Do you consider it possible that a fire might have
before the explosion?
Are you quite certain
in your own mind that the fires that broke out were
caused by the explosion?
Did you see the tube
after the explosion?
Just describe the
condition of it.
The tube from the top
stop to about a position half way to the buoyancy
chamber was blown completely
Do you mean opened
out or the complete side blown away?
The complete side blown
Were any of the
pieces of the tube seen on deck?
What size fragments?
The only part I remember
being on the upper deck was one racer wheel.
You did not see any
fragments of the tube?
There were pieces but I
could not tell whether it was fragments of the torpedo
tube or the torpedo.
Would you go on and
describe what you saw in the rear end of the tube?
The rear end of the
torpedo from the buoyancy chamber to the tail part
appeared to be squashed
against the rear door.
Could you see any
signs of the torpedo engine?
Did you at any time
suspect that the engine had blown up and not the air
Definitely not Sir. The explosion appeared to be
near the air vessel for it to be anything to do with
the engine at all.
You referred earlier
to the buoyancy chamber. Did you
mean buoyancy chamber or the balance chamber.?
Would you tell us
about the torpedoes you carried?
We carried ten Mark IXxx
Do you know the
number of the torpedo that exploded?
Do you know the
numbers of the torpedoes that you carried.
Were they consecutive numbers?
No sir, they were
consecutive from 471, missed 472, 273, and 474,
started again at 475, 476, 477,
478, 479, 480 and then we carried a 468 and 293.
That is as far as I can remember off hand. I
cannot remember the number of the ten
torpedo and the above numbers are from memory. The
duplicate copy of supply note with
Nos. of torpedoes is held by T.E.O. Devonport.
Could you divide the
numbers into the two mountings?
Do you know any other
way in which you could identify the torpedo that
only by getting a piece of it back.
Can you tell us the
date that the air vessel was last blown down?
They were new torpedoes
on the 11th May, issued by the Torpedo
Depot on the 11th
Did you charge them
Yes sir, or rather they were charged with 1500 before
we got them
from the Torpedo Depot because we were in a hurry to
get away at that
particular time and we asked for the torpedoes to be
charged 1500 to enable us
to get torpedoes ready for action.
What parts of the
torpedo did you recognize or thought
were jammed into
the rear end of the torpedo tube?
Both propellers and
nearly all the tail.
42. By the tail you mean
Yes sir, that was all
right up together. I could not tell what was
inside it, but I did definitely recognize two
Did you recognize any
parts of the engine or the air blast gyro?
I want to confirm that the tube from the top stop to
was blown completely out and that from the tripper as
far as the rear door was
opened out. Is it considered
therefore that the parts of the engine and gyro were
blown out of that opening,
which left the engine, the propellers and part of the
tail to be jammed against
the rear door?
What was the
condition of that part of the tube from the top stop
to the end of the lip?
It appeared to be alright.
Do you think or was there
any suggestion of the air vessel explosion being
preceded by a smaller
questions numbered Q.46) Despite the fact that
you failed to recognize any
parts of the engine on the deck or in the damaged
tube, you do not think that
there was any chance of an engine explosion?
What do you consider
could have happed to the engine?
The only thing I can say
has happened to the engine is that it has been blown
over the side.
49. Your description of
the suffering of the after end of the tube is that
confined to the outboard
side of the tube?
Yes Sir, the inboard side as far as I could see
appeared to be
The inboard side next
to the next tube appeared to be intact?
It appeared to be.
OF CYRIL HORACE
HEYWOOD POOLE, PETTY OFFICER, O.N. DJ 109856
Were you on the
morning of the explosion in the vicinity of the tubes?
No sir, not at the time
of the explosion.
But during the time before that?
During the forenoon, yes
You were working
about the tubes during the forenoon?
Was there at any time
any of the prisoners from the TORRICELLI in the
vicinity of the tubes?
Yes, sir, they came in
the starboard side abreast the tubes.
But I understand that
they were under guard?
Do you consider it
would have been possible for any of them to have
this explosion by some form of sabotage?
I do not think it was
Do you mean that
during the whole time they were on board they were
Yes Sir, they were sent foreward
on the fore mess deck and when they left the ship
in the boats to go directly over the KINGSTON two
remained on ship. One was having artificial
and the other one was under guard on the starboard
side of the forecastle. One died.
The Gunner (T) gave
us numbers of the torpedoes you carried.
Do you know the number of the torpedo
Do you know the
numbers of the torpedoes in the after mountings?
Did you see the
damaged tube after the explosion?
61. Describe the damage.
I only stopped to have a
fleeting glance at it sir and I should imagine just
abaft the gas check ring to
the lip end of it the combustion chamber was blown out
the side and the
top. The right hand side, that is
the port side seemed to be alright.
The after body was blown through the rear
door, or partly through the rear door.
the rear door?
Not right through.
Would you describe
that happened to the rear end of the tube underneath
the cordite combustion
The after part seemed to
be complete. The tube itself
seemed to be complete up to the fore end of the
combustion chamber. The after body of the
torpedo was blown
back and the after propeller was protruding through
the rear door.
Did you not see part
of the tube from the position where the side and top
had been completely blown
away, did you not see that opened up?
I would like you to
describe again what portion was completely blown out,
what portion of it was
opened up and what portion of it remained intact.?
From the lip end to the
after end of the Gas Check ring appeared to be
complete; from there to the fore
end of the combustion
chamber was blown out top and outboard sides,
the training gear
was blown away and from the fore end below of the
combustion chamber directly
below and outboard side seemed to be opened out.
From there to the rear door was complete.
66. What part of the
after body did you recognize jammed in the tube?
From the engine aft.
67. Do you consider you
actually saw part of the engine jammed up against the
after end of the tube?
The propellers were
sticking through the rear door and the engine could be
seen in the aft part of
68. In other words the
break appeared to be at the balance chamber?
Yes sir at the after
Where were you at the
time the explosion occurred?
In the forecastle lobby
Where did you go when
the explosion occurred?
I ran aft, starboard
side, near the tubes.
Did you see any fire
in the vicinity of the tube other than the fire that
broke out in the galley?
72. So that you do not
consider it possible that any fire broke out in the
vicinity of the tube prior
to the explosion taking
73. Were they any torpedomen
who could confirm that you saw?
I could not say Sir.
CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, ROYAL NAVY
74. Do you consider that
it is possible that this explosion could have been due
to sabotage within or
without the ship?
In view of what I saw I
do not think it is likely.
75. Was it possible for
any unauthorized person to have been in the vicinity
of the tubes?
No, Sir. The Italian prisoners passed the tubes
sir, but they were under guard the whole time.
Where were you at the
time of the explosion?
In my cabin which in the
Ward Room flat.
As far as your
knowledge goes there is no question of a fire having
broken out prior to the
78. After the explosion
did you see the torpedo tube?
Yes Sir, I did.
Will you describe its
condition commencing from the lip aft?
The tube was whole from
the lip to the gas check ring.
From there aft, the whole of the tube appeared to have
been blown out
sideways and upwards leaving about three feet of the
after end of the
tube. The rear door had been
partially forced backward and I could see the
propellers boss protruding
through the gap. There was a crack
in the rear door just left of centre.
Did you look inside
this after part of the tube?
No Sir. I noticed scattered around the tube
various pieces of brass, bolts, fittings, etc. of the
COMMANDER DONALD THORN DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY.
list of C.B.'s and S.P.'s
ex KHARTOUM that you have laid before the Board, when
was that compiled.
That was finally
compiled on board LUCIA. The books
were kept together the whole time once they had been
collected after the ship
So that all the books
were brought back on board LUCIA and what Officers
Lieutenant Buckle. I told him to take another
I think it was Sub Lieutenant James, R.N.V.R.
The other list that
you have laid before the board headed "approximate
list of W/T books from
KHARTOUM, will you please say how that list was
It was compiled by the
Wireless staff from memory of all the books they
originally had after taking
into the consideration the wireless books that were
brought shore. The Muster board was actually in
chest that was lost.
number Q.83) Was the Register
The Register was blown
up with the other C.B.'s
in the after part of the
So that all the C.B.'s
and S.P.'s with the
exception of the list you have forwarded plus Key
Memos "A" and "B" and Small
Ships recyphering tables
(8) and (10) have been lost
with the ship.
Where are the C.B.'s and
S.P.'s that were
They were returned to
the C.B. Officer, Naval Office, Aden, yesterday, 2nd
July, with the
exception of one C.B. "Handbook of 4.7 Guns" which was
retained by the
Executive Officer to assist in Salvage Operations at Perim.
I assume that due to
the loss of the Register, it has not been possible to
compile a light of books
Who is the C.B.
Authority Malta, previously the Admiralty, previously
Captain (D) 5, and on
commissioned on October 31st 1930, the
Admiral Commanding Western
The C.B.'s that have been
recovered, are they in good condition
or have they suffered from being immersed in water?
There was one set of S.P.'s
in a bag slightly damped. I do not think that
there is any permanently damaged and the
"Handbook of 4.7 Guns" was also damaged by water, but
LIEUTENANT CHARLES ANTHONY BUCKLE, ROYAL NAVY.
Did you muster the C.B.'s
and S.P.'s and other
Secret and Confidential documents that were recovered
90. Where did you muster
And so that this list was
The Yeoman of Signals
helped in compiling it.
Did any other officer
do it with you?
Can you tell me
whether the Register was lost?
Yes Sir it was.
PETTY OFFICER CYRIL HORACE HEYWOOD POOLE, DJ
In your work book did you
keep a note of the number of the torpedoes
in each tube?
What has become of
your work book?
book was in the low power room, and has been
Your workbook was the
only record of where the torpedo was?
No Sir, in the Log and
Progress Book as well.
And that has also been
98. You have no idea
which torpedo it was at all.
You could not even
say it was one of two or three.
DOWLER, ROYAL NAVY. RECALLED
Did you report the
loss of the C.B.'s and S.P.'s
and other Confidential documents to Senior Naval
Officer, Red Sea?
It was reported verbally
I think on board the
KANDAHAR the same night. The loss
the Key Memos and Recyphering
Tables has been reported
to C. in C. , E.I.
Did you report to
the Admiralty in accordance with C.B. Form U2D
articles 81 and 82.
I could not because the
book was destroyed.
H.L. Howden, Captain
J.H. Huntley, Commander
T.K. Morrison, Lieutenant
LIST OF W/T BOOKS
Aircraft Code No. 2
02191 X (2)
Code. Fleet Code.
Appendix No. 3 (two copies).
Syko Machine. War Call Signs.
Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KHARTOUM
To: The Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea.
following additional books have been recovered from
02191 X (2)
02193 (3) G
02219 R (8)
02218 (8) D
Forms for Recognition Signals.
All the above books have
been rendered unfit for further use by oil fuel and
have been destroyed,
certificates of destruction being rendered to the
C.B.'s and S.P.'s
action and alarm signals.
Alarm Signals No. 2
Naval Syko cards
R.A.F. Syko cards
Aircraft Code No. 2
02191 X (2)
Cover for Air
appendix to Fleet Code No. 3
02191 X (2)
02194 (3) G
Appendix to Fleet Decode No. 4
and control of Gunfire Signals
Anglo French Code
Code Part 1
Code Part 2
Anglo French decode
decode Part 1
Decode Part 2
of the above were issued to V/S Department
Secret Call Signs
of Signal Publications, Etc.
control of Gunfire Signals
R.A.F. Syko Cards
Naval Syko Cards
for use of
for the Stencil
Wireless signalling instructions
Call signs for Small Auxiliary Vessels, Part II
Recoding Table No. 3 (Int. Code)
Table No. 3 for Anglo French Code
for W/T Communications between British and
Stencil No. 10
Memorandum K for inter service Stencil
Signs No. 2 for small auxiliary vessels Part 1
Recoding Table for use with G.T.C.
Table No. 17 for Administrative Code
S.P.s were issued to W/T
Naval Decypher No. 1
maritime International Law
of H.M. Ships for battle
Manual of A/S
contraband in time of war
operating procedure for surface craft
Air Defence Instructions
shipping at sea
1815 (Oct 39)
of foreign Major War Vessels
4016 A (Jan
tables for Foreign Service Aircraft
4016 A (1)
01764 (A) 39
shipping at sea
about navigational dangers, etc
shipping at sea, Provisional issue 1939
of all nations
cards of Italian
and patrol by
Sea Force orders (two
officer and ratings who distinguished themselves at
loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM
No. 2 to Red
Sea No. 906 of 17th July 1940)
reference to my report No. 1570 of 24th
June 1940, I
have the honour to submit
the following list of
officers and ratings who
distinguished themselves by
gallantry or exceptional conduct on the occasion of
the loss of H.M.S. KHARTOUM
on 23rd June 1940.
Allan Collins Reed, Royal Navy
officer was very seriously burnt about the head,
body, and legs by the initial explosion.
Notwithstanding this, after some temporary dressing
had been applied, he
continued to carry out his duties with his usual
efficiency, inspiring all
those under him by his conduct.
Even after the ship had been abandoned, he carried on
until ordered by
me to lie down, and throughout shewed
and cheerfulness despite the nature of his injuries.
James Wolverstan Rylands,
Executive Officer, he was unremitting in his efforts
the fire, and set a fine example of steadiness, which
was most helpful in
sustaining the high morale of the Ship's Company
throughout. He is strongly recommended for
of a destroyer.
William James Collier,
Gunner (T), Royal Navy
officer was also unremitting in his efforts to
extinguish the fire
and shewed initiative in
jettisoning depth charges
and five torpedoes and removing the pistols from those
that could not be
discharged. He displayed
throughout a fine example of steadiness and devotion
have previously recommended Mr. Collier most strongly
promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, and consider that
his conduct on this
occasion combined with other officer like qualities,
merits recognition in this
John McDowell Teasdale, R.N.V.R.
officer was unremitting in his skillful attention to
and was quite unmoved by the violence of the two main
explosions. He remained on board with a badly
injured rating to the end and assisted him down a
rope's end into a boat. Due to his forethought,
medical supplies were available ashore after the ship
had been abandoned.
Sweeney, Official No. D/JX 131842
rating was well to the fore in attempts to extinguish
the fire, and
when the pitch, wundergrip,
and paint was well alight
on No. 3 Gun Deck went up there on his own initiative
and with great gallantry
jettisoned the majority of the cordite in the
ready-use lockers without regard
to his own safety.
Mitchell, Official Number D/K 55471
This rating made three very gallant attempts to
to the Flooding Cabinet in No. 3 Magazine despite
the intensity of the heat,
flames, and smoke,
without regard to his own
safety. Subsequently, he was
largely responsible for steam being available again
after the Boiler Room had
been abandoned due to a mistake in communication.
3c Sidney George Dimond,
Official Number D/MX 46518
rating remained on watch in the Engine Room until he
received the order "Finished with Main Engines."
Knowing the imminence of a very heavy explosion, he
ordered all other
ratings from the Engine Room and remained himself to
carry out orders received
coolly and promptly.
The following ratings
are also worthy of mention for general devotion to
duty under most trying
E.R.A. Douglas Royston Matthew, Official No. D/M 46196
Petty Officer Peter Hutton, Official No
torn. Number not available.)
Officer Reginald Samuel John Ladlow,
Official No. D/J 95990
Yeoman of Signals John Murphy, Official No.
have the Honour to be,
Admiral, 4th Cruiser Squadron
(D) 14th Destroyer Flotilla.
Officer, H.M.S. KANDAHAR.
PITTING OF AIR VESSELS
3 to Red Sea No. 96 of 17th July 1940)
OF AIR VESSELS
Commanding Officer, H.M.S. KHARTOUM
Naval Officer, Red Sea.
following report is submitted in accordance with
Officer's Red Sea's No. 2030/2/7 and KANDAHAR's
Four torpedoes were
inspected in KIMBERLEY. All
torpedoes were pitted to the same extent in a similar
position to torpedoes in
KANDAHAR and KHARTOUM. The torpedo
inspected on board LUCIA from KANDAHAR was the most
deeply pitted, due to
longer periods at sea in bad weather when the
torpedoes could not be hauled
back and cleaned. Severe pitting
on KANDAHAR's torpedo was
observed commencing 2 feet
10 inches from the forward end of Air Vessel, about 10
inches on each side of
bottom centre line extending for a distance of 2 feet
and 6 inches. Also shallow pitting was observed
inches on either side of the Air Vessel from the
forward end for a distance of
2 feet. Maximum depth of pitting
of KANDAHAR' torpedo was 6/1000 inch and KIMBERLEY's
5/1000 inch. These measurements
were taken with a depth micrometer,
but owing to the diameter of the anvil being
approximately 1/10 inches, the deepest pit could not
measured. The pitting on these
torpedoes is very deceptive, for a pit
shallow, if scraped with a knife appears much deeper.
torpedoes have not been inspected this time but from
KHARTOUM and KINGSTON were refitting, KINGSTON's
torpedoes are pitted to the same extent as the
remainder of the division.