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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

Ramming a German Submarine

Ramming a German Submarine.

Back in England, Captain Worsley went into the Great War with the zest that he had given to his adventurous feats in icy seas. In 1917 he was appointed to the command of His Majesty's ship PQ61, fitting out as a mystery ship at Belfast. His friend Stenhouse, late of the Aurora, joined as first lieutenant. This armed vessel, fitted with a small ram bow of steel, was disguised to resemble a little coasting steamer, to deceive the German submarines. They had “one glorious day.” A submarine attacked an oil-tanker, and Worsley got it before it could submerge. The crew of the German were about to shell the oiler, when Worsley charged straight at them to ram, opening fire with a 12-pounder at the same time. Worsley describes it in a thrilling passage in his latelypublished book. The submarine, of 1,000 tons, was travelling at eight knots; the Mystery Ship, of only 600 tons, was bearing down on her beam at 24 knots. The British vessel must have looked like the Angel of Death to those Germans. He gave the order “Prepare to ram,” and the crew flattened themselves on the deck. A terrific shock, the unearthly rasp of tearing steel; the submarine sank rapidly, and there was a tremendous explosion. The sole survivor of the submarine's crew was the captain.

For that exploit Worsley received the decoration of D.S.O., and Stenhouse was awarded the D.S.C. and the command of a Q ship. Shackleton was as pleased as Worsley at the news. He wired: “Well done, Skipper, tally ho!”