HMS UMPIRE (Lt Cdr M R G Wingfield), newly completed, sailed from Chatham in July 1941 for trials and work up in the Clyde. She joined a northbound convoy in transit through the North Sea. The convoy was attacked by a Heinkel aircraft off Suffolk and UMPIRE dived (for the first time) safely. Surfacing after the attack, UMPIRE’s port engine became troublesome and had to be shut down. She fell behind and a motor launch was despatched to escort her.

In the blackness of the night, she lost contact with the motor launch. UMPIRE then encountered a southbound convoy shortly after midnight and was in collision with an armed trawler, the Peter Hendricks. UMPIRE sank in 60 feet of water.

Twenty survivors were in the engine room and a smaller group in the control room. Four from the control room attempted an escape through the conning tower. These were Lt Banister and Lt Young (Edward Young who subsequently had a very distinguished career in submarines as the first RNVR officer to command one, HMS STORM), an ERA and an Able Seaman. With four men inside it, the tower was flooded, and the hatch opened. All four managed to find their way to the surface although only Young was picked up by rescuers.

In the engine room CERA Killen took charge of the remaining survivors and all of these escaped to the surface, although two did not survive. Killen (the last out) was awarded the British Empire Medal. Four men on the bridge of the submarine at the time of the collision (including the captain) also escaped, but only the captain survived.


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