Oswald (N58)

Built By: Vickers (Barrow)
Build Group: O Group 2
Fate: On 1st August 1940 HMS Oswald was rammed by the Italian Destroyer Vivaldi off Cape Spartivento.

The Submarine sank and three of the crew members were lost. The remainder of the crew survived and were taken as Prisoners of War.
Oswald (N58)
Oswald (N58)
Oswald (N58)
Oswald (N58)

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HMS Oswald lost in 1940RN Submarines scuttled or captured in WWII
This is an account of the events leading to the loss of HMS Oswald in 1940 and the court martial of her Captain in 1946, put together from the copies of archived evidence given at the Inquiries and finally the five charges brought by the Court Martial.
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
Chaff, William George  Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class  D/M 38778    30
Woodfield, Leonard Norman  Leading Steward  D/LX 20563    32
Young, Frederick George  Stoker 1st Class  P/KX 90511    26


30-05-1927 : Laid Down
19-06-1928 : Launched
01-05-1929 : Completed
01-08-1940 : After detection by the Italians, HMS Oswald is rammed and sunk by Italian destroyer Ugolino Vivaldi. The RN submarine makes no attempt to escape or to attack the Italian ship, possibly because the commander suffers from night blindness when he is suddenly called to the bridge

The RN commander (who ordered abandon ship BEFORE the ramming occurred, when Vivaldi was 100 yards away) is court martialed on 5 charges for the loss of his ship and found to have been negligent in performing his duties. He is sentenced to forfeit all seniority as a lieutenant commander, to be dismissed and to be severely reprimanded. There were 3 casualties, but 52 of the crew survived to become POW

The sentence was reviewed and reduced to the loss of two years seniority from the time of the loss of Oswald. Summarised initially the sentence included most of the charges he was found guilty of however, in review the charges were split to those actions up to the ramming and depth charging and those after the action. They being rightly two entirely different cases

In addition the Board of Inquiry and the Court Martials were held 6 years after the event, memories had time to either forget salient points and enhance opinions. There also seemed to be a raft of Court Martials .... which caused concern in certain circles and caused an MP to question the First Lords as to what was going on.


My uncle was a stoker on the Oswald. Ronald Douglas Elliott. He was imprisoned and later tried to escape. He was challenged then shot dead in his efforts to escape.
   Pat Larkin10 Sat, 28 Jul 2018
My Father was also a stoker on the Oswald. Frederick Underwood. He was also imprisoned and escaped with an Australian friend, who was shot dead by the Germans. My Father was recaptured and transported to a German POW camp for the rest of the war.
   Alex Underwood Tue, 16 Feb 2021

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