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The Loss of HMS D3

HMS D3 was commissioned on the 30/08/1911. Of the D class, eight were built. The design was a major leap forward, D class was the first to be driven by diesel engines and with twin screws, saddle tanks, radio transmitter and receiver and improved living conditions for the crew.

Attached to the 8th Flotilla HMS Maidstone, Harwich, D3's wartime role was to support the grand fleet and destroy German warships. Along with other D class and E class submarines D3 fought in the battle of Heligond Bight on the 28th August 1914 and was mentioned in dispatches from Commodore Keyes on 17th October 1914.

The loss of the D3 was a tragedy in itself, due to the circumstances and the fact that it was close to the end of WW1. At 14:20 on Tuesday the 12th March 1918 a French AT-0 airship commanded by Lieutenant Saint-Remy on coastal patrol to the NW of Dieppe spotted an unidentified vessel to the N.E. As they headed towards the vessel it was recognised as a submarine running at speed to the west on the surface. As they neared, rockets began to appear, fired from the rear of the submarine and steadily getting closer to their airship. Lieutenant Remy took this as a direct attack on his airship and crew, with this his radio operator opened up with machine gun fire and the submarine began to dive. Lieutenant Remy positioned his aircraft for attack and dropped two F bombs which landed 20mtrs wide of the submarine and exploded, the sub had disappeared. The airship regained position and dropped four more F bombs just forward of where the submarine had submerged. Minutes later the conning tower was seen to break the surface. At this time Lieutenant Remy pulled away and attempted to radio in his attack on the submarine. Through field glasses the crew of the airship could see four men in the water and no submarine.

Lieutenant Remy immediately descended to with in 20 meters of the surface and stopped his motors. He then thought he heard one man shout "you have got us" in English. Attempts were made to rescue the men but to no avail, life preservers were dropped into the water from the airship. Lieutenant Remy then went in search of ships to help in a rescue attempt, eventually finding the Typhon towing a schooner, Lieutenant Remy called out to her and she immediately cast of her tow and with the AT-0 directing her, headed off to the area of the submarine loss. At 7:25pm after a flight of 7 hours 48 minutes and a fruitless search for survivors Lieutenant Remy and his crew only just made it back to Le Harve after night fall.

A court of enquiry was held at Le Harve into the sinking of D3 on the 16th March 1918. No blame was attributed to Lieutenant Saint-Remy for her loss. Unfortunately, the grenade recognition signals used by British submariners to British aircraft were not known to the French at the time. D3's commanding officer Lieutenant Maitland-Dougall would have been under the impression his submarine was under attack and therefore had no option to dive to escape. The loss of HMS D3 and 29 men became just another accident of war and were forgotten.


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