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Midget Submarines Canal Zone

The skipper cleared lower deck. 'Right men, this is the position we are in. We have got to get two X Craft plus the Depot Ship through the Canal, negotiating obstacles and hidden dangers to achieve our objective of flying the White Ensign in the centre of Janner Land.'


We slipped berth at Dartmouth Creek early next morning with the Depot Ship Maggie leading the way, closely followed by Sprat and Minnow sailing in line ahead for the mouth of the Canal.

The weather was good with a slight westerly wind as we started to negotiate the Canal. We reached the first obstacle without hindrance.

'Right', said the Jimmy, 'Stokers and one L.E.M. make a foray ashore and open the lock gates.'

With deft navigational skills, the Depot Ship and her charges were manoeuvred through this and a series of four more locks.

Opposition to our approach was very muted apart from a few disgruntled lock keepers, who were suspected of being friendly agents planted by MI6 to ensure our safe passage and a startled brown and white cow, hanging its head over a wire fence.

We finally reached our destination, the Central Basin, during the late afternoon. We were welcomed by friendly natives and the local Janner Chief, adorned in his Regalia of Mayoral Chains. Oggies and rough cider were freely handed around, in return for which we allowed them to sample the aroma of the great unwashed. As a special treat, the Tiffies were lined up for their perusal.


During our brief stay we agreed to side a team for one of their native games they called cricket. This proved to be disastrous for us as they all sported pristine white uniforms against our number eights, or boiler suits in the case of Donk Shop Fusiliers. The reflection of the sun on their whites and the alcoholic scrumpy haze left us at a disadvantage.

Farewells were made and we departed from Janner Land to friendly salutations such as 'You're not coming back are you?'.

Canal Zone Egypt you ask? No, no Jack, Canal Zone Exeter, 19 July 1956.

Reproduced with kind permission from
Submariners News


1 comment

My late father Alan (Ben) Beeney was a stoker on one if these x craft. He served on both Minnow and Sprat so I'm not sure which was he was on at the time. He told many a tale of his trip up the canal. Now on eternal watch
   Lynne Sat, 13 Jul 2019

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