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  #1  
Old 12-01-2011, 10:09
Cllr Richard Vallery Cllr Richard Vallery is offline
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Default HMS Sikh 1942

I thought I'd join the forum, as I have just researched HMS Sikh on behalf of an elderly lady I know. Her late husband was Cdr Carl D Scott Smith, who served on the Sikh. She was badly damaged by shore batteries and may have sunk in 1942, but this was due to the scuttling charges placed by Cdr Scott Smith, for which he was awarded the DSC and not solely the shore batteries. He sadly passed away in February 2010 following a heart attack at the grand age of 92.
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2011, 22:01
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello Richard and welcome to the Forum. Please feel free to upload anything here in relation to your research into HMS Sikh.

Jim
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File Type: jpg Sikh L82.jpg (93.4 KB, 251 views)
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  #3  
Old 13-01-2011, 08:13
Cllr Richard Vallery Cllr Richard Vallery is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello Jom and thank you. Carl's widow, Mary, was also in the WRNS. Carl later served on HMS Belfast, which he hated.
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  #4  
Old 14-01-2011, 06:44
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Dear Richard, the relatively short life of Sikh is covered in Brices book "The Tribals, as are all the others; if you have not seen this i can scan and send you the relevant chapter. My late father (would be 91 this year) served in Belfast and then Ashanti, and my mother was a Wren!
Good luck
tim lewin
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  #5  
Old 16-06-2011, 13:56
Shadowrunner Shadowrunner is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

I have some information about HMS Sikh and Force H in general.
My father's uncle James Wilson was a stoker onboard HMS Sikh from build until sinking. He then was a prisoner of the Italians in Italy I think, until repatriated in time to serve on a frigate at D-Day, and demobbed in 1945, returning to Glasgow where he was born. It was thought he may have been on the Ashanti, if it was around after Sikh's demise and was possibly a prisoner twice, having been sunk twice, before serving at D-Day. Now I've seen this thread, I'll ask his son if there's anything he can recollect.

It seems the Sikh took part in Russian Convoy and Med convoy protection, hunted the Graf Spee, fired at the Bismarck, escorted the Norwegian raids, escorted the Cossack with the Altmark prisoners, watched the Ark Royal sink, escorted the Ohio, took part in Commando raids and generally the life of this tribal class was never dull in Force H.

I have a page from a newspaper at the time reporting the sinking. As soon as I am able to dig it out, I will scan it and post it up. What I remember it reveals is the lengths that Zulu went to in trying to save Sikh. The towline was actually torn in half by a shore battery's shell, a serious case of bad luck. I think the newspaper captions the skipper's pic "Lt Cmdr Stokes" and there's a photograph of the ship, with an eye witness account.

My uncle said the Italians treated them well and there wasn't the anonymosity that existed between them and the Germans. With regards to the well-known Destroyer V Cruiser action, this took place at dusk with the destroyers close to shore and hidden by the shoreline silhouette, while the enemy cruisers were out to sea and sticking out like a sore thumb in the twilight. The newspaper article has more to say than my uncle did really, who mentioned seeing "a bit of action" and didnt discuss specific operations.

I've got a 1/1200 scale and a 1/600 scale model of Sikh and as a result ended up collecting a few other RN ships of the time... Still smaller than a German Z class but massive in comparison to Town class or River class.
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  #6  
Old 16-06-2011, 14:40
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

if you find the thread on Tribals, or Ashanti you will find lots more info on the latter; Ashanti did Pedestal then returned to the Arctic until the North Africa invasion when she was in the Med based mostly out of Bone before going back to the Arctic unitl the end of 1943 when she missed being snagged up in the Battle of North Cape by 20 miles.
Welcome and good luck
tim
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  #7  
Old 28-06-2011, 23:17
Shadowrunner Shadowrunner is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Thanks Tim, it would be interesting to find out more about the prisons for the Sikh POW's and what they did after repatriation and where they ended up. I wonder if my father mistook Ashanti for Zulu...

I found the article, will scan asap. John Nixon of Reuters was on board Zulu. When he last saw Sikh, "it was on fire, but her guns still firing..."

"Shattering news...5.30am... Steering gone... one engine room out of action... 10 knots..."

Sikh tried to steam out of shore battery range where Zulu could tow, but the progress being so slow, Zulu tried earlier. The towline hit by a shell, Zulu made a second attempt, continuing after dawn at 6.35am, through to 6.50am when the first two bombers appeared overheard.

The batteries were about 1 mile from Sikh, had the range and it was a matter of time. Zulu with 4 MTB survived the aerial onslaught until mid-afternoon.

I could type up the article and post it here, but it would be a wall of text, it's a page and a half of small print, 10 x 8 size.
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  #8  
Old 05-07-2011, 01:58
Shadowrunner Shadowrunner is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Apologies for doubleposting.
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File Type: jpg dsc0249low.jpg (89.5 KB, 106 views)

Last edited by astraltrader : 12-02-2012 at 16:13.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2012, 15:21
Peter Gardner Peter Gardner is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello:

I have just discovered this site and logged in for the first time. I am very interested in the activities of HMS Sikh. My father John Gardner (often called Reg.) was a petty officer signalman on the HMS Sikh and was on duty when it went down. Does anyone out there remember him? There are in the family archives photos of him on leave, probably in Alexandria with some of his mates.

Unfortunately my father passed away at age 90 at Christmas 2009. He was always trying to find out information but I don't believe aware of this site or others which are now springing up.

Just before dad died we learned that he was one of the last, or indeed the very last person to leave the ship. That he dived from the signal mast where he was broadcasting until the end.

He was one of those lucky ones who survived but captured by the Italians and taken to a camp, I belive on the Adriatic. Does anyone out there know about this? It also seems that there were strange circumstances with regard to his release from that camp. Before the end of hostilities he was one of those exchanged in a bizarre exchange of prisoners. Does anyone know about this. He was repatriated after the exchange and finally served out the remainder of the war in a training position - maybe in Dale, S.Wales.

I do have other information and even some archives but maybe that is for another time.

By the way, I have a wonderful watercolour of the Sikh on patrol. This was done by one of the war artists at the Imperial War Museum, London on commission from my mother as a gift, many years ago, for my Dad .

Glad to have found this site and looking forward to hearing more.

Regards,

Dr. Peter Gardner
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  #10  
Old 13-02-2012, 07:55
dennis a feary dennis a feary is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello Richard, here are details of attack & success of sinking U 372 by HMS SIKH ;

U 372
Type: VII.C, ocean-going.
Constructor: Howaldstwerke, Kiel.
Armament: 14 Torpedoes, 1 x 88mm, 1 x 20mm.
Commissioned: 19.4.41. Operational: July, 1941.
Service Life: 16. Operational Life: 13. Patrols: 2.
Theatres: Atlantic, Mediterranean. Sank HMS Medway (Submarine Depot
Ship 14,600 grt), on 30.6.42; 3 m/vs (11,751 grt).
Departed: 27.7.42, Salamis; for East Mediterranean.
Last Action: 4.8.42, 29.U-Flotille, sunk by Wellington M/221 Sqd. (F/Sgt. Gray), RAF, Shallufa, (near Suez), HMS Sikh (DD Capt St.J.A. Micklethwaite),
HMS Zulu (DD Cdr R.D. White), HMS Croome (DE Lt H.D.M. Slater) and HMS Tetcott (DE Lt H.R. Rycroft) with DC's, in position 32.00N 34.00E, off
Palestine, Mediterranean. U 372 was due to land an agent on the coast
off Lebanon near Beirut.
The Commander and all the crew were made prisoner of war.
Commander: KL H-J. Neumann 04.41-08.42.
M/V attacked/damaged/sunk : Belgravian(S), Volturo(A), Swiftpool(S),
Baron Pentland(S), (Neumann).

Best o Luck with further searches.

Sadsac
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  #11  
Old 26-02-2012, 18:54
Shadowrunner Shadowrunner is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Apparently 112 men went down with the Sikh.

The rest were taken prisoner by the Italians and at least some of them seem to have been repatriated. My dad's uncle James Wilson served on another ship at D-Day, there is some confusion as to whether this was a frigate or another tribal.
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  #12  
Old 16-08-2012, 18:13
ElspethGrant ElspethGrant is offline
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Red face Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello Sadsac;

I'm astonished! My father, Leading Telegraphist R R 'Tubby' Grant, served for a number of years on HMS Medway before the War as telegraphist in charge of communications with the Submarine Fleet in the Far East. Called up back into the Navy in 1939, he served on HMS Sikh until she, and he, met their end on 14 September 42. The Medway had been sunk, you're saying I think, by U372, and then U372 was sunk by the Sikh! Revenge - but I don't suppose my poor father ever knew about this huge coincidence.

The best report of the Sikh's final action at Tobruk that I know of is an eye-witness account in 'The Navy - 1939 to the Present Day' by Max Arthur. Everyone with an interest in the Sikh should read it.

Elspeth
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  #13  
Old 18-08-2012, 20:06
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Hello ElspethGrant and welcome to the Forum and thank you for your contribution.
As a Telegraphist, your father may well have known about the link between U372 and Medway. I believe all of U372 crew survived and, no doubt, there would have been signals sent to and fro and it may have become apparent that it was U372 that sank Medway with the loss of 32 of her crew.

Jim
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  #14  
Old 11-09-2012, 05:20
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

i am in regular contact with a former RN pilot (he flew AEW Gannets from Hermes during my father's commission) who now lives in Canada; his father was the Jimmy of Sikh and lost with the ship. My friend was subsequently brought up by Auntie May (Mrs May Hanrahan, who adopted the Tribals en masse) and had the pleasure of meeting her in London in immediate post war times...
tim
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  #15  
Old 14-04-2013, 19:09
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Gannet driver Gannet driver is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Greetings, I'm the bloke Tim refers to immediately above. Yes, my father was Jimmy of Sikh (and commanded her briefly between captains in early 1942) almost from the start until May 1942. He was killed when on his way home to get his own command.

Much appreciate this thread and info within as I cannot remember my father - I was not quite 2 when he died. However, I do have his last letters to my mother, including the Bismarck chase and the night action off Cape Bon. Will attempt to transcribe but it might take some time. Also have photos, will check to see if any worth posting.

My wife and I knew Mrs. Sharp, wife/widow of Lt. Sharp, Sikh's navigator until she died just a few years back. He rose to be FOST before having his career cut short as a result of standing up for carriers to a more senior (Gunnery) Flag Officer in the early 60s.

Philip Sharp was one of those captured when Sikh went down. For many years I had the model of Sikh he made as a prisoner, hand-carved from odd bits of wood and wire and hidden in tobacco tins etc. during searches. In the 1990s we presented the model to HMCS Haida, she being the last surviving Tribal.

In my own brief RN service I was lucky to be in Hermes 1966/67 under (then) Captain Lewin.

Yes, I was one of the incredibly fortunate boys taken care of by Aunty May, who has her own thread in this site. I'm in touch with her nephew and niece (she had no children of her own) and hope to post as much of their memories as I can - as well as my own, already there.

PLEASE keep feeding this thread, I will try also.

Good wishes to all,

Mike
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  #16  
Old 14-04-2013, 19:23
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

well done Mike; there are several pictures of Sikh on the thread related to Tribals which i am sure one of the mods can insert a link to but here are a couple to be going on with....
tim

the pic of her entering Grand Harbour have been censored and her number erased but she is flying her number in the flag hoist!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Sikh entering Malta.jpg (6.2 KB, 174 views)
File Type: jpg SIKH.jpg (93.4 KB, 112 views)
File Type: jpg Sihk 12 2 42 entering Grand Harbour.jpg (449.6 KB, 148 views)
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  #17  
Old 15-04-2013, 01:02
RNfanDan RNfanDan is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

There is THIS version on the Internet...

Dan
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File Type: jpg Sikh & others Enter Malta.jpg (508.6 KB, 159 views)
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  #18  
Old 15-04-2013, 04:35
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

You ar right there Dan, sorry about that, comes of posting from thumbnails; interesting your published pic shows her number whereas the one i have, which is a contemporary print, real photo, shows it blocked out..
all best
tim
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  #19  
Old 15-04-2013, 13:49
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Quote:
Originally Posted by RNfanDan View Post
There is THIS version on the Internet...

Dan
Thanks Dan! [I was almost right !!]
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  #20  
Old 15-04-2013, 17:55
RNfanDan RNfanDan is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

S'okay, gentlemen! The original post got me thinking that I'd seen that pic before, so I just started digging in my files and there it was. Obviously, the pic is much poorer in quality, but Tim's comment about the censoring might indicate that some newspaper first published it, and the Navy got hold of it afterward (perhaps a bit upset about it, too?).

As always, I truly appreciate all the great photographs posted!

--Dan
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  #21  
Old 19-04-2013, 14:54
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Memories of Mrs. D.C.Hanrahan - otherwise Aunty May

This is an appeal to everyone out there for news of ANY memorabilia of ANY sort that might relate to Aunty May's generosity to the RN Tribals
- letters, photos, things (like old sea boots etc.). And please mention the plea to anyone else you can think of who might be able to help.

At the risk of breaking a rule, I'm posting this appeal in other threads, it's already in the Aunty May thread.

If you are successful, please let Tim Lewin (a bit busy at present) or me know.

Many thanks,

Mike
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  #22  
Old 12-05-2013, 14:57
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Default Re Sikh and the Bismarck chase

Departing from Aunty May for a moment - as we are between the anniversaries of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Bismarck chase, I thought I'd contribute my father's account of the latter.

He was First Lieutenant of Sikh and what follows is from his letter to my mother soon after the action. Will put this in the "Tribals" thread also.

June 5th, 1941:

These really have been the most thrilling and exhausting few days of my life and I will try to give you the whole story.

We were hundreds of miles from the scene of action when the first encounter took place and never believed for a moment that we should have anything to do with it. We were all rather naturally downcast at the sinking of the “Hood”, which was rather unexpected, and it appeared after Saturday night that the Bismark had got away. We thought that she might be coming our way but the Atlantic is pretty large and we just didn’t know where she was.

In actual fact, although we didn’t know it, she must have passed within 50 miles of us early on Monday morning, but it wasn't until she was sighted at 1100 by an aircraft that we realized it. By then she was 70-80 miles from us, steaming south at 24 knots, and immediately we altered course to try to pick her up.

It was very rough weather and we were rolling 30 and 40 degrees each side as we roared along at 28 knots with a following sea. We had a tragedy during the afternoon because a man was washed overboard – we turned the ship and brought it right up to him and were within 15 yards of picking him up when he just disappeared. It was very sad and rather disheartening for the Ship’s Company, but everything possible was done.

We dashed on again and in the evening saw the torpedo bombers going over to make their attack and at about 2100 we saw “Sheffield”, who had been in touch shortly before.

We pressed on in heavy rain squalls and sighted her ahead of us at 2220, at about 8-9miles distant. At that time we were well separated and we spread out around, determined that whatever else happened, the Tribals would never let go. She fired spasmodically at all of us up until nightfall, when we proceeded to close the net a bit tighter. About midnight we got into the perfect shadowing position and were hard at it reporting her movements for some time.

We closed to within 7,000 yards of her and were doing fine, when suddenly she turned broadside on to us and let us have everything she had got. We nearly jumped out of our skins because we thought we hadn’t been seen. The first salvo landed plumb alongside us about 30 yards away and the most enormous column of water shot up.

We had our helm hard over and increased to full speed (we had be doing 12 knots) and practically took off. We had to turn through 180 degrees to get away from her and there were some pretty hair-raising seconds whilst 3 large shells plumped into the water all round us.

She had our range perfectly but each time they were just out of line and all we got on board was a few splinters which did no damage. I think she fired 5 salvos before we managed to get away under cover of a smoke screen.
After that we stood off for a bit and let someone else do the work while we cooled down.

Cossack, Zulu and Maori then made their torpedo attacks and I think scored 2-3 hits between them, and at about 0200 we got back to the scene to make ours. There had been a good deal of shooting of various sorts and kinds whilst the others did their attacks and we were expecting to be beaten up. We went in however and managed to get our “fish” off at pretty close range without being seen, and we reckon we hit her once.

We then continued to shadow for well over an hour and were the only ones in touch for a long time, but eventually we lost her and Cossack took up the job, and later Maori found her. Towards daylight we stood off a bit to the westward as we were not quite sure where anybody else was and didn’t want to be silhouetted against the morning light.

At this time it was rather squally and the sea pretty rough and we were continually getting soaked on the bridge. Almost full day-light came and though we had seen one or two of our own side, we had little idea where the enemy was, when suddenly I, who was lookout on the starboard side, saw her emerge from a rain squall a bare 5,000 yards away.

I simply yelled to the Skipper and once again we made a very hasty retreat. By all rights we should have been blown clean out of the water but for some unknown reason she never saw us. I think they must all have been pretty weary because they had been kept very much on the alert all night, as we kept nipping in from every direction.

After that we kept a respectable distance and just kept her in sight, We knew that the K.G.V. and the Rodney were pretty close at hand, as they had been waiting all night and following up as we made our reports, and went daylight came there was no escape for the Bismark, as the four Tribals were at the four points of the compass round her and every move she made was seen.

Just before 1000 we saw her open fire and guessed that the “wagons” had arrived and so we closed in to watch, and had a ringside seat of the ensuing battle. Of course it was a foregone conclusion but still I don’t think there are many people in the world who have had a close up view of a battleship action.

Considering the odds against her and the punishment she had received already she fought back magnificently and one can but admire the courage of those men, who had been hunted for four days and not only knew their number was up, but that they must remain the lone wolf and could get no support from their own side.

We passed within a couple of miles of her just as she sank at 1100 and by then she was just a smoking wreck. She had taken the most terrific punishment and finally she went down very quickly by the stern – her bow cocked up and then she slid under.

Two ships remained to pick up survivors but it was very rough and boats could not be lowered, and I believe that there was a “U” on the spot who fired a torpedo as they tried to pick the men up. We all then raced for home, and felt that at least we had done something to avenge the “Hood”.

I don’t think I have ever felt so weary in my life as I did when we got in very early this morning, and I can truthfully say that I have had 14 hours sleep in the last four days and nights. Apart from those 14 hours I was on my feet the whole time on the bridge, usually with a pair of glasses glued to my eyes. My eyes and legs are definitely feeling the strain now but they held out till we arrived in. I seem to have existed on cups and cups of odd beverages which were always arriving on the bridge, tea, coffee, cocoa, oxo, or anything else that happened to be brewing.

The ship’s company have been splendid and most of them never turned a hair the whole time. Of course it was rather dull for those who were not actually on the bridge, because it is very difficult to get a clear picture of what was going on. In fact all that most people knew was that they were standing by their guns, and every now and then there would be some excitement.

One lad of 18 who was up on the range-finder passed down a running commentary through his telephone and kept it up quite calmly whilst the shells were whistling about our ears.

The Skipper was magnificent and did everything just right and I reckon he will pick up a D.S.O. which he thoroughly deserves.
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  #23  
Old 12-05-2013, 16:18
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942 and Bismarck (above)

I forgot to mention old friend Bill Henderson - who I hope to get involved in the Forum - who kindly transcribed my father's letter, thanks Bill!
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  #24  
Old 12-05-2013, 17:19
Dick Dick is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

"Just before 1000 we saw her open fire and guessed that the “wagons” had arrived and so we closed in to watch....We passed within a couple of miles of her just as she sank at 1100."

Interesting to compare with these timings.

From Rodney's log:

08.47 Rodney opened fire
08.52 Bismarck opened fire
10.26 Rodney ceased fire
10.39 Bismarck sinks

From KGV's log:

08.48 KGV opened fire
10.21 KGV ceased fire
10.36 Bismarck sinks
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  #25  
Old 13-05-2013, 09:20
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: HMS Sikh 1942

Mike Gannet-driver put me onto a book called "Lower Deck" which was published by a former officer of Sikh, the ship is disguised, lightly, and the names in the book, but it is an excellent account of her activities in the Med. Only up to p55 but I assure you it is gripping, I now feel that I could load a 4.7 in the dark without fear or favour!
tim
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