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Extracts from The Diary of Telegraphist

Eddie (Buster) Brown, HM Submarine Truant.

At sea, Tues: 12th Mar: 1940.

23rd Mar: 1940. (2) torpedoed and sunk German merchant vessel, Edmond Hugo Sterres at 2330, Captain taken prisoner. Still at sea until 26th March: 1940.

Back in harbour at Rosyth 26th March: 1940.

Went to sea again 6th April: 1940. Truant attacked German Cruiser Karisrue and five destroyers (Skipper Lt. Coin. Hutchingson) Sank Karisrue and two German destroyers at around 1900. Hunted and depth charged, heavy for 5 hours.

Back to Rosyth Friday: 12th April: 1940.

Back to sea 23rd April: 1940.

24th April: 1040. [1940] At 0345 torpedoed (2) possibly By German U-boat. Truant taking one landing party to Norway, possible German U-boat torpedo did not explode, but there was other thoughts on that, anyway batteries were damaged and had to return to harbour (Note:-Book by Lt. Cdr. Mars states Truant hit a mine in April.)

Sunday: 19th May, back to sea, prior to that, after repairs, doing exercises, Thur: 14th May: 1940.

23rd May: at 1400 hrs attacked Ulles Waters, ex German tug was hunted. (only wrote in pencil, it has faded somewhat.)

Sunday: 1st June. Rosyth, sea again after X's.

12th June: 1940, sea and back to harbour, Rosyth.

20th June: 1940, sea again.

Monday: 8th July: 1940. torpedoed (6) fire, Clyde 100 yards astern of us at 0005. Bombed by German aircraft, when only 30 feet in depth, 10 bombs dropped on top of us or around us.

24th July: Rosyth.

Went to Blyth Friday: 9th August 1940, 14 days for repairs.

Sea again 29th August.

Tuesday: 3rd Sep: 1000hrs sunk Norwegian steamer, German prize, crew 23, English brought onboard (Tropic Sea), 8000 tons, carrying 10,000 tons of wheat.

22nd Sep. Torpedoed (3) Italian MV 5,600 tons Escort, 8 depth charges dropped.

26th Sep. attacked at 0800hrs with (4) torpedoes, unsuccessfully, Italian transport 960 tons. Surfaced in sight of 2 Italian destroyers. Thurs: 3rd Oct, Malta.

Sunday: 13th Oct., on patrol this time came after patrol to Alex on Friday: 1st Nov: sea again going back to Malta after patrol on 24th Nov: 1940.

Friday: 6th Dec: 1940 X's.

Back to sea 8th Nov: 1940, torpedoed large Italian MV 10,000 tons at 2000hrs, fired 10 torpedoes, 2 hits.

16th Dec: 1940, torpedoed Italian Oiler 12,200 tons, 5 fish, 3 hits at 0125hrs. It sank inside a no of seconds. Hunted, 14 depth charges (I've got 45 secs., down, maybe wrong!)

18th Dec: 1940 Malta.

Sea again 28th Dec: My Birthday. 28:12:1919.

On 31st Dec: 1940 attacked without firing torpedoes several convoys off Tripoli was sighted and hunted by a destroyer, depth charged very close at 1930hrs. After patrol went to Alex. on Wed: 15th 1941.

Sea again 28th Jan: 1941.

Mon. 3rd Feb: at 0820 unsuccessfully attacked Italian MV. 3 torpedoes fired at 2250hrs the Italian MV was with a hospital ship off Bensit. 2 bombs, close explosions heard later on in day.

Tue: 4th Feb: 1941, attacked Italian Oiler, 3 fish, unexplained large explosions, 15 secs., after firing, ASDICS and w/t office was out of action, 6 cells cracked, jumping wire loop aerial damaged (Note:- we had to return to base without any wireless, it was later learnt on our way back, being out of the zone we were allotted) And no signals was spotted by Upholder on surface, she challenged us with no reply. The Skipper of Upholder, Lt Cdr Malcolm David Wanklyn, VC, nearly fired to sink us but did not after finally recognising British S/M. (It is quoted in a history book, written about the patrols of the Upholder).

9th Feb: 1941 unsuccessfully 2 large MV's and 3 destroyers, 6 fish fired at 2250hrs.

Tues: 11th Feb: 1941 at 1330hrs attacked by gun action, 2 MV's and 1 trawler, 6 a/c also overhead, 15 rounds 2 hits 6,000yds in 4 minutes, 6 depth charges at 1700hrs same day, torpedoed MV of 3,000 tons sunk by stern, 3 torpedoes, 1 hit. 2 a/c overhead and 6 depth charges dropped.

Malta Wed: l2th Feb: 1941.

Back to sea 5th Mar: 1941.

On Wed: 19th Mar: 1941 entered Berat Harbour in 3 fathoms of water, fired 2 torpedoes at Italian MV at 500yds passing underneath, Hailed by enemy QM, torpedo exploded sparks and black smoke observed when we must have hit something in harbour or on land, don't know, at 2025.

Alex on 1st April: 1941. Back to sea 13th April: 1941. Straight out to sea again Wed: 16th March: [Apr:] 1941.

21st April: 1941 at 0200-0345 acted as beacon [for] the fleet in order to bombard Tripoli at 1404 same day. Unsuccessfully (2 Torpedoes) attacked MV, fired on by shore batteries. Attacked barge by gunfire, 16 rounds, blew it up, she was carrying explosives.

30th Apr: 1941 Malta. And sea again same day, no leave, Malta was under siege.

6th May: torpedoed And sank Italian MV off Sardinia. 7,000 tons, she was carrying troops.

Thurs: 8th May: 1941 chased for 4hrs At 1445hrs French MV 1,800 tons carrying suspicious cargo, escorting them to Gib.

9th and 10th May escorting.

11th May: 1941 at 0220hrs intercepted by a French destroyer and 4 S/Ms, Relieved of our prize, shadowed them until dawn (Tue: 21st May: 1941 "Hood" sunk, My first ship before the War)

27th May: 1941 at 0845 sighted a suspicious tanker and lost it in very low visibility. Got to Gib.

Tue: 3rd June: 1941 (We thought we were going to UK for refit, the lads went ashore buying silk stockings, etc, for their loved ones but it was not to be. Under the lease lend between Britain and America before they came into the War we went to America for a refit for 3 months. Through nor having fresh vegetables and such things a lot of us got, including myself, crabs and scabies and got treated in USA Naval Hospital. Had a great time in States, found a girl I loved, intended to go back after the War but had a war disability so I did not think I could look after her when and if I went over there. Dorothy Parker her name was and gave me a parker pen, when I left her in the States, she wrote me right through the War and later after the war, When I told her I could not come to the USA, she got married and sent me a photo of her first child. (NOT MINE).

We dropped fish at New London, then went to Portsmouth, N.H. USA., where we had a refit.

Left USA in Sept 1941. Arrived Newfoundland St. Johns Tue: 9th Sep: 1941. Back to sea Fri: 19th Sep: 1941.

Gib. 29th Sep: 1041. [1941].

At sea again Fri: 10th Oct: 1941 (Adriatic) at 0900hrs sank Italian MV 4,000 tons (2 fish) heard AMC came right overhead, fired 1 fish and hit armed merchant cruiser 8,000 tons, 4 depth charges dropped and 4 bombs were dropped.

24th Oct: 1941 at 0730 missed Italian MV (1 fish) went underneath, went to gun action, 30 shells, left well ablaze, presumed total loss 4,000 tons. I was a Sparker but in action was part of guns crew.

26th Oct: 1941, ½ mile off Italian coast and on to Adriatic landed 2 men at 2334hrs, who carried out orders and blew up an express train and they returned 0240 hrs Explosion at 0229hrs.

Mon: 27th Oct: went into attack an Italian MV but a ship sighted so did not carry out our attack.

Wed: 28th Oct: 1941 at 0800hrs went to gun action but on surfacing saw a large ship coming out of mist, dived to attack but large ship turned out to be lighthouse, In the afternoon heard 2 Italian S/Ms in vicinity. Morse heard through our casing, Italian S/Ms were ranging one another by underwater Transmissions.

31st Oct: 1941 at 1515hrs attacked 1 destroyer and 3 tankers. 4 fish, in 9 fathoms of water, sank tanker 1800 tons. Dived into mud bank at 40 feet, took us 1¾hrs to get out of mud and the destroyer passed over several times.

Mon: 10th Nov: returned to Alex.

24th Nov: 1941 at sea. Trouble with leaky joint, back to Alex. Wed: 26th Nov: 1941. Back to sea 30th Nov:

Sat: 6th Dec: 1941 at 1000hrs sighted Italian destroyer unsuccessfully attacked her, no fish fired.

Sun: 7th Dec: at 0730hrs outside Harbour Suda Bay, tugboat passed right over us. At 0800hrs attacked Italian destroyer and MV 4,000 tons, 3 fish fired, hit on MV, hunted by destroyer, 19 depth charges dropped very close also a/c dropped 1 or 2 bombs.

Mon: 8th Dec: at 0740hrs flooding in water due to raising of ASDIC dome been cracked by depth charges. After a struggle lid was replaced and water pumped out of tube space.

Thurs: 11th Dec: 1941: Suda Bay at 1431hrs sank Italian tanker of 10,000 tons, escorted by destroyers and combat aircraft, fired 4 torpedoes, 2 heavy explosions, depth charges heard until 0515hrs, there were 53 explosions, did not surface until 2000hrs, at 2015 went to diving stations also sank 1 destroyer in the escort.

Friday: 12th Dec: 1941 sighted ship but did not go into attack, as she was seen to be a Red Cross hospital ship.

24th Dec: Alex. Thurs: 25th Dec: 1941 in hospital with ear trouble possible with depth charges. Birthday in hospital. Ear trouble still in hospital 31st Dec: 1941 Mon:

Sunday: 4th Jan: 1942 at sea.

On the 5th Jan: 1942 at Port Said.

Sunday: 11th Jan: In Malta.

16th Jan: 1942 Aden. (Note - left Alex as Rommel was close to Cairo.) 2 big ships were sunk in Alex by Italian chariot type midget S/M. The Japs had bombed Pearl Harbour. We only Trusty and Truant were on our way to Singapore. Trusty got there but had to leave when Japs took over. We met Trusty in the Dutch West Indies, joined up with the Dutch Navy. After then Trusty and Truant running from the WuChang in Colombo, Ceylon and took our turn to patrol the Malacca Straits, to watch our for Jap fleet coming through Malacca Straits to invade Ceylon and India. If this happened we had to make the first signals, but also sink what we could of the enemy. As it happened this invasion of Ceylon and India did not happen.

To continue, from 16th Jan: 1942 at Aden.

Left Aden Sat: 19th Jan: at sea in Indian Ocean.

22nd Jan: 1942 Skipper Hugh Haggard Lt. Cdr. (relation Rider Haggard writer, who wrote King Solomon's Mines), stopped engines and all not duty watch went in for a swim on the starboard side, ropes were lowered, the Skipper a good swimmer went forward on the starboard side, port lookout sighted 2 sharks, there was a scramble to get back aboard, the Skipper way out having a long swim, had to be hailed to return on aboard, a bit of extra excitement there, but all was well.

Sat: 24th Jan: 1942 arrived Colombo, went up with a few others to a tea plantation run by a Mr. Gordon for a 2 day rest period.

1st Feb: 1942 back to sea, arrived in the Dutch West Indies, Java at a place called Batavia on Sun: 8th Feb: 1942. Left the following day.

Arrived in Surabaya, Java 11th Feb:

In harbour on Wed: 18th Feb: big air raid by Jap a/c, 1 S/M and Cruiser hit (Dutch Navy). We sailed during air raid on same day. On our way to patrol off Bali, I think it was.

20th Feb: Jap destroyer sank by our a/c. Dutch S/M fired 2 fish at us fortunately missed us closely.

23rd Feb: sighted 2 S/Ms, dived at night

24th Feb: 1942 at 2107hrs unsuccessfully attacked 1 Japanese cruiser and 4 destroyers (6 fish), depth charged and hunted for 3½hrs about 8 depth charges.

25th Feb: 1942 heard depth charges in morning about 1100hrs.

26th Feb: still at sea. 27th return to Sunibay, Java. Japs invading, went straight out same day. We were having a drink in Dutch canteen and were recalled urgently to return to S/M Truant. Confirmed by Dutch that we had torpedoed a Japanese cruiser and stopped her in her tracks and enabled an American S/M to finish her off.

Sat: 1st Mar: 1942 sighted 2 Jap cruisers but lost them. In Sumatra Straits there was a destroyer (Jap) close by us when dived heard 7 loud explosions very close to us.

20th Mar: returned to Harbour, Colombo, Ceylon.

22nd Mar: sea X's, stayed at sea.

Wed: 1st Apr: at about 2100hrs sighted 2 Jap ships heavily armed, sank one 2000yds range 6 fish 6,000 tons, sank another at 5000yds (2 fish) 4,000yds. Surfaced and chased the third in Penang, Malacca Straits but lost it in darkness. Later hunted by 5 Jap destroyers therefore dived.

5,6,7,8,9th April: chasing Jap a./c carrier.

13th April: 1942 had word Wed: 6th May: 1942 Grandfather died.

Tue: 19th May: 1942 at 1000hrs, we sighted 4 Jap ships escorted by a/s Vessel, chased them for 1½hrs got ahead and dived let the 3 first cargo ships go, waiting for the last one in convoy, as she seemed very large about 15,000 tons unfortunately turned out to be Red Cross ship, very poor lighting she had. So fired 4 fish on convoy well ahead by this time, were unsuccessful.

Malacca Straits. Sun: 31st May: 1942, very rough weather. Saturday returned to Colombo. A crowd of us went for a week up in the hills to a rest camp, got rid of the prickly heat up in nice climate, had some friendly native people. They were descendants from the Dutch called Berguers, their name was Mr. & Mrs. Kelly who lived in a village near Colombo called Bamupittia, pittia in Ceylonese means field, like green field in English so forth. Their baby had a nanny and they had a servant, so they were well off. He was in the Civil Service. Geordie Moon, a Stoker and I used to be often invited to their home when we were in Harbour at Colombo.

At sea again Fri: 26th June: 1942.

Fri: 3rd July: 1942 at about 1700hrs sighted smoke, surfaced and chased until dark, saw it was a Jap aux naval ship, about 2,000 tons, unsuccessfully attacked her at 800yds range (2 fish) 1 missed, other went underneath. Dived and on coming up again heard a very loud explosion, later surfaced and went to gun action, hit her 5 times, she hit our bridge, one chap (Smithy) the bunting tosser injured, quite a lot of splinters, confirmed when we got back to harbour, she was sunk by us, heard making SOS signals on their radio.

Sun: 5th July: 1942 surfaced in the afternoon, attacked by low flying a/c had to dive, we surfaced in the evening and about 2030hrs sighted ASDIC vessel nearly on us in dark. Then she put a searchlight on us and tried to ram us. Crash dived to 200ft, 11 depth charges dropped very close. Boar was shaken terribly. It was heart in my mouth more times than that. Thank God we got away! Same day sighted Jap MV 1700 tons with Escort, unsuccessfully attacked (3 fish) range 6,000yds. At 1140hrs. heard an explosion.

Mon: 6th July: at 2320hrs sighted flare dropped by Jap a/c in the Malacca Straits very close, crash dived, lost control, water flooded in a vent, filling up the tube space. Boat heavy fwd got a steep angle on and carried on going down, hit bottom at 465ft. lucky we were not in deeper water. Trouble with pumps.

Sat: 11th July: 1942 engine trouble, both main engines seized up at 1100hrs. Still working on engines, heat intense, no fresh air in Boat, had to dive to put pistons in.

Colombo on 15th July: 1942 We were in dry dock most of the time in harbour, billeted in dockside camp, which was native straw huts with mosquito net around our rough wooden bed, terrible living conditions.

Sep: 1st May: 1942 left Colombo at sea until Tue: 8th Sep: 1942 when we arrived Seychelles 0837.

Left at 1540 Wed: 9th Sep: 1942. At sea 10th 11th 12th May: 1942. In harbour until Thu: 17th Sep: repairs to the old Truant, has gone through hard times.

Fri: 18th Sep: 1942 at sea X's.

19th Sep: still doing trials and X's.

Sat: 20th Sep: 1942 at harbour 21st Wed:

23rd Sep: 1942 Dive bombed by large bird that landed on the bridge of conning tower.

26th Sep: still at sea until Sat: 27th Met a townie on Dauntless, Bartram from Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham, where I was brought up.

Mon: 28th Sep: 1942 back to sea until Tue: 6th Oct: 1942 When we arrived at East London, South Africa, Buffalo River.

Tue: 13th Oct: 1942 Nahoo River Banks then back to sea

14th Oct: arrived at Port Elizabeth, South Africa on Thu: 15th Oct: 1942,

End: 16th Oct: sailed, arrived at Simons Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Mon, Tue, In harbour. Sailed on 21st Oct: until we arrived in Freetown with the K14.

Mon: 9th Nov: in harbour until we sailed on the Fri: 13th Nov:

Mon: 19th Nov: 1942 sighted a lot of wreckage, also a raft and waterlogged empty open boat with oars sticking out. We are on the surface. Sun: 22nd Nov: 1942.

Wed: 25th through utter carelessness salt water flooded in from M/R dip rod, salt water a little on battery pump stopped flood before any great damage was done.

27th Nov: 1942 surfaced sighted the escort in the morning.

SIGHTED ENGLAND 29th Sun: Nov: 1942 We arrived in South Bank, Dunoon, Scotland alongside Forth. Some of us went on leave, including myself. I had my leave in Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham. After all the crew had leave, the Truant went to Troon in Scotland and was in dock there Dec: 1942 and Jan: 1943.

While there, if I remember correctly, 18 of the crew, including myself, along with the Skipper, Lt. Cdr. Hugh Haggard, went to Gosport that had adopted Truant during the War. Other VIPs were at the gathering at Gosport Town Hall and the then Mayor of Gosport gave the Freedom of the Town to our Skipper.


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Petty Officer 1st Class Albert George HodderAdmiral Sir Claud Barrington Barry KBE CB DSO