16 Dec 1941, Lt. L D KILBEE HKRNVR WAR DIARY Dec 1941

Submitted by chris kilbee on Sun, 01/09/2022 - 10:00

Up early the dawn promised a beautiful day - not a cloud in the sky. Spent morning in the office - heard from the E.O. No. 11 due off the slip about noon, so pushed off down to the dock to prepare for hoisting. Finally hoisted about 1 p.m. - inspected damage with E.O. - bent propeller shaft - shouldn't take long - on the slip for a day should do the trick. E.O. pushed off to tiffin and I likewise having mine in the shelter - we had decided that with “Thracian” in dock it would be a wise move.

While eating heard planes about, but they flew off (apparently dropping pamphlets) about 10 minutes later they were back again, and then there was one succession of terrific explosions - the Shelter filled with dust and smoke.

Those near the entrance lifted off their feet by the force of the explosions. The place was soon overcrowded as people rushed in after  the first bombs started falling, making it almost impossible to move. At last shoved my way through and arrived at the steps just in time to give a hand with the wounded, some were pretty badly knocked about, poor chaps. I finally got outside to be met by my stoker who told me that 08 had been hit (he was under the boat at the time and miraculously escaped injury) and was on fire.

By the time I got to the boat she was burning fiercely, with flames shooting out of the conning tower. Hopeless to try and put it out with an extinguisher, to get the dock mobile fire pumps working as soon as possible was the only thing to do. I ran back to the shelter to telephone the school for fire fighting appliances alas to find the phone out of order. What to do next! I  had to make  a quick decision. Spotted a car at the dock gates and jumping in left word to my cox'n to keep an eye on the boat while I drove up to the school for help.

Reported to Cdr. Miller who arranged for fire fighting appliance  and ambulance, which were sent down to the dock immediately. Cdr. Miller told me to remain so that I could give an account of the bombing  direct to Commodore by telephone, which I did. Cdr. Miller asked for more details, I told him as much as I knew of what happened and returned to the Yard. Met my Cox'n outside the dock, on his way to the school. He told me that he and all persons not on the pumps had been ordered out of the dock by S.N.O.A. (Cdr. Montague). I asked him how 08 was, and he told me she was burning fiercely and looked a total loss. Of all the things to happen! Decided to see the C.O. and report the sad news. Took me half an hour to get out to No. 10 lying in South Channel, only to find he had left in the skimmer. Returned to the school where I met Lt. Cdr. Binney and we both pushed off down to the dock. By this time 08 was almost burnt out - she was a mass of charred wood and metal. So ended the  life of 08 - a very sad ending - I felt her loss badly and really found it hard to believe she was no more. A ship no matter what she be - if one's own or one has been in command, becomes very dear  to one, and the loss of my boat was like losing my best friend or relative.

So ended a miserable day (for me at least ). What next!

Tried to drown my sorrows in a few drinks that night - what's  the use anyway.

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