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Seal (N37)

Built By: Chatham Dockyard (Medway)
Build Group: G2
Fate: Seal had been detailed to conduct a mine-lay in the Kattegat. Following the mine-lay the submarine was disabled and was un-manoeuvrable after accidentally hitting a mine.

The Crew were forced to surrender to German Air and Surface forces. Although attempts were made to scuttle the Submarine Seal was salvaged by the German Navy who tried unsuccessfully to operate.

One of the crew was lost during the events leading up to abandoning ship.
Seal
Seal

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After the War Lieutenant Commander Lonsdale was Court Martialled for the loss of the Submarine but was acquitted with honour. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1947 and took Holy Orders. Lieutenant Butler was Court Martialled for the loss of the Submarine as he was technically in charge of the Submarine after the Commanding officer was taken Prisoner but was acquitted with honour.

Petty Officer Barnes was killed on Monday 9th September 1940 and is reported to have died of wounds on the border of the USSR. He had escaped from the Prisoner of War Camp on 27th July 1940 but was killed by Russian Border Guards after having reached Soviet territory.

Adoption

By Dr Peter Schofield

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 17 May 1940
The Admiralty announcement at the beginning of the week to the effect that HMS Seal was overdue and must be presumed lost will occasion much regret among the villagers of Seal (Kent), who only a short time ago decided to adopt the vessel. Since this interesting link with the submarine and village of the same name was established, a regular monthly hamper of comforts in the form of sweaters, socks, books, gramophone records, various games etc. has been sent to the ship'scompany.

Mrs. Raymond Poland, of Godden Green who was responsible for the adoption idea, found the members of the Women's Institute and other residents willing to cooperate, with the result that the monthly hamper was always ready, and sometimes two. Mrs. Poland has in her possession a number of letters of grateful thanks from the submarine's Commander Lt. Cmdr. R. P. Lonsdale, for the numerous gifts sent, and the officer also expresses the pride felt by his company at being adopted by the village of Seal. In one of his letters, he describes in detail the inspection of his submarine by the King, while in another he expresses warm thanks for an offer of hospitality to himself and members of the crew from Seal village in the event of the submarine returning to Chatham.

Alas, there is little likelihood of this generous offer being accepted, although there is, of course, always the possibility that some at least of the officers and men may be prisoners of war. There hangs in Seal Village Hall a fine picture of the submarine, and on a small tablet underneath is the following inscription: "To the Village of Seal, from the Ship's Company of HMS Seal, 1940."

Related Pages
Lieutenant-Commander Canon Rupert LonsdaleRead
Rupert Lonsdale had the unhappy distinction of being the only British warship captain to have surrendered his ship to the enemy in the Second World War.
 
RN Submarines scuttled or captured in WWIIRead
Descriptions of the events in WWII that led to the loss of Royal Navy Submarines in actions where the submarines were sunk, usually by scuttling, with the captains and crew taken prisoner. Included are two variations - in one case the submarine was captured and in another the captain was killed in action.
 

Roll of Honour

Name Rank Number Hons Age
Barnes, Maurice Charles  Petty Officer  C/JX 13722    24
Escaped from POW camp then Killed on Polish/Russian border 09/09/1940
Smith, Charles Clifford  Able Seaman  C/J 102861    34

Events

09-12-1936 : Laid Down
27-09-1938 : Launched
24-05-1939 : Completed
01-09-1939 : Seal is on passage from the U.K. to the Far East to join the 1st submarine flotilla based there
05-09-1939 : HMS Seal departed Aden for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the southern entrance to the Red Sea.
12-09-1939 : HMS Seal briefly put into Perim harbour. She departed later the same day to resume her patrol.
14-09-1939 : HMS Seal ended her 1st war patrol at Aden.
19-09-1939 : HMS Seal departed Aden for her 2nd war patrol. Again she was ordered to patrol off the southern entrance to the Red Sea.
27-09-1939 : HMS Seal ended her 2nd war patrol at Aden
28-09-1939 : HMS Seal departed Aden for Alexandria. It had been decided that HMS Seal was to return to the U.K.
04-10-1939 : HMS Seal arrived at Alexandria
15-10-1939 : HMS Seal arrived at Gibraltar. She departed for Portsmouth later the same day.
20-10-1939 : HMS Seal arrived at Portsmouth
28-10-1939 : HMS Seal then departed Portsmouth for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea near the Doggerbank.
07-11-1939 : HMS Seal arrived in the rendezvous position (about 40 nautical miles east of Harwich where destroyer HMS Boadicea was already waiting. As HMS L 26 and HMS Cachalot had not yet arrived A/S practice was given to HMS Seal, while doing so a seaplane was circling then at distance of about 4 miles for half an hour. It then disappeared but returned a few minutes later and bombed them. No damage was done to either Seal or Boadicea.
08-11-1939 : HMS Seal ended her 3rd war patrol at Portsmouth
11-11-1939 : HMS Seal departed Portsmouth for her 4th war patrol. She was to provide ocean escort for convoy O.A. 33 together with HMS Cachalot
23-11-1939 : HMS Seal ended her 4th war patrol at Halifax
14-12-1939 : HMS Seal ended her 5th war patrol at Portsmouth.
08-01-1940 : HMS Seal departed Portsmouth for Rosyth. She made the passage together with HMS Narwhal
10-01-1940 : HMS Seal arrived at Rosyth.
21-01-1940 : HMS Seal departed Rosyth for her 6th war patrol. She was to patrol in the North Sea.
23-01-1940 : HMS Seal ended her 6th war patrol at Rosyth.
31-01-1940 : HMS Seal ended her 7th war patrol at Rosyth.
04-02-1940 : HMS Seal conducted exercises off Rosyth.
05-02-1940 : HMS Seal departed Rosyth for her 8th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the Southern Norwegian coast and to capture a German iron ore carrier and sent her to Kirkwall. If this was not possible a neutral iron ore carrier was to be seized and sent to Kirkwall. Seal had embarked a boarding party.
23-02-1940 : HMS Seal ended her 8th war patrol at Rosyth.
12-03-1940 : HMS Seal departed Rosyth for her 9th war patrol. She is to patrol in the Skagerrak as a cover for Operation R.3, an attempt to intervene in Norway by using the pretext of assistance to Finland. The operation will be cancelled the following day when the news of an armistice between Finnish and Soviet forces has been signed.

HMS Seal remained on patrol.
25-03-1940 : HMS Seal ended her 9th war patrol at Rosyth. A new battery was to be fitted to before she could go out on patrol again.
06-04-1940 : HMS Seal departed Rosyth for her 10th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off southern Norway between Egersund and Lindesnes. Later she moved to the Stavanger area.
08-04-1940 : Late in the evening HMS Seal collided with the Estonian merchant Otto in thick fog. Seal sustained minor damage and was able to remain on patrol.
13-04-1940 : HMS Seal closed the harbour of Stavanger, Norway. No enemy warships or merchants were sighted inside the harbour. Seal then withdrew to seaward.
19-04-1940 : HMS Seal ended her 10th war patrol at Rosyth. She departed for Blyth later the same day
20-04-1940 : HMS Seal arrived at Blyth.
29-04-1940 : HMS Seal shifted from Blyth to Immingham where she embarked a full load of mines
30-04-1940 : HMS Seal departed Immingham for her 11th war patrol. she was ordered to lay a minefield south of the Swedish island of Vinga in the Kattegat, across a German convoy route to Norway.
04-05-1940 : HMS Seal successfully laid 50 mines. Shorty after completing the lay she hit a mine herself and was badly damaged. She was put on the bottom until after dark when she surfaced and tried to make for Swedish waters but failed to do so due to the heavy damage.

She was attacked by German He-115 aircraft from Aalborg, Denmark and then by a German Ar-196 seaplane, which also attacked. Joined by a second Arado. Unable to dive, with her crew suffering from CO2 poisoning, Seal put up a fight but the Lewis gun jammed. The auxiliary submarine chaser UJ-128 arrived on the scene. The crew of Seal then surrendered, expecting the submarine to sink, but it stayed afloat. All crew taken prisoner except for one casualty. Seal was towed to Frederikshavn, and later to Kiel.
05-05-1940 : The small Swedish fishing vessel GG 256 / Almy hits a mine and sinks. The mine was laid by the British submarine HMS Seal in the Kattegat on 4 May 1940.
06-05-1940 : The German merchant Vogesen hits a mine and sinks. The mine was laid by the British submarine HMS Seal in the Kattegat on 4 May 1940.
28-05-1940 : The Swedish merchant Torsten hits a mine and sinks. The mine was laid by the British submarine HMS Seal in the Kattegat on 4 May 1940.
31-05-1940 : The small Swedish fishing vessel GG 5/Mode hits a mine and sinks. The mine was laid by the British submarine HMS Seal in the Kattegat on 4 May 1940.
05-06-1940 : The Danish sailing vessel Skandia (183 GRT) hits a mine and sinks. The mine was laid by the British submarine HMS Seal in the Kattegat on 4 May 1940
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