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The Tiptoe Incident





Tom Curry

The Yarmouth was Captain  (F) of the Londonderry Squadron at the time and we had been sent to Portland for Admiral's Inspection. At that time the Derry Squadron was considered the premier anti-submarine group in in the Navy.  Anyway part of the inspection include an exercise with the Tiptoe under simulated battle conditions which meant we were closed up at battle stations for the exercise - and a good job too, as you will understand later. To give a bit of background to those who don't understand the tactics used at that time for attacking subs, with the Limbo mortars giving 360 degrees firing ability the conventional method of attack was to keep the sub within range of these mortars but not to go over the top of her. 

Our Captain at that time (I just forget his name) was unconventional in his methods and would at certain times go full steam ahead for the submarine to confuse them, this played a part in our 'bump' with Tiptoe. Another note, at Portland exercise area submarines had to keep below a certain depth and not use their periscopes during an exercise. Back to the story, we picked up the Tiptoe early on in the exercise and the skipper decide to go full steam ahead straight at her, at the same time Tiptoe's skipper decided to cheat, maybe because of who we were and to try and bring us down a peg, and he brought her up to have a peek at us to see what we were up to.  Well we arrived over the top of him just as he had got his periscope almost out of the water.  Yarmouth sustained several large gashes in her bottom  whilst Tiptoe lost her periscope and a large chunk of her sail (chewed off by our screws).

As mentioned before we were closed up tight as drum at battle stations which saved our skins as the hatches and bulkheads held and we weren't completely flooded.  I was a young and reasonably inexperienced UC at the time and my action station was not in the SCR but down in the mortar ammunition room.  When I heard the bangs and rips and tears I thought we had run aground!  I tested my life jacket and found that it would not inflate!!  A lesson I never forgot because after that my life jacket was always in the best of condition.

After a few hours shoring up bulkheads and trying to pump out some compartments it was decide that we should make our way VERY slowly to Guzz.  But before he left the Admiral cleared the lower deck to the fo'c'sle to talk to the crew.  He thought we had handled everything magnificently he was chuffed to be able to see us in a REAL situation!  At this time a small boat came out from Portland/Weymouth with a TV camera crew on board (how they found out so quickly we never knew) and the Admiral gave us permission to give them the fingers 'en masse'.  That report was never shown on TV!  The Tiptoe by this time was making her way to Pompey.

One of my duties during the middle watch was to keep an eye on one the bulkheads behind which was tons of seawater,  very, very scary watching bulge under the pressure of the waves then straighten again.

Footnote: Our skipper was exonerated from all blame Tiptoe's skipper, if I remember right was dismissed the service, or at least was taken out submarines.

Our Commander (E) whose duty it was to organise the damage control effort, left the ship under a cloud, when we arrived in Guzz, apparently he had lost it when hit the sub and was seen tearing at his hair in the main drag, and then not seen again until he left the ship.

That's the best my memory will allow.

Navy Royal Navy
Type Submarine
Class T
Built By

Vickers Armstrong (Barrow): John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 

Laid Down 10 Nov 1942
Launched 25 Feb 1944
Commissioned 12 Jun 1944
End Service  

Named by Churchill. Sank Japanese merchant Tobi Maru in Java Sea 1-Jun-45. Escape trials 1962 - series of trials off Malta into escape from a submarine at extreme depths - seven men ascended from Tiptoe at 260 feet. 10/1/64: runs aground in the Clyde, coincidentally right in front of the house of the area\'s senior naval officer. Damaged in Collision with HMS Yarmouth 13 July 1965 - at periscope depth 10 miles SE of Portland Bill. Repaired at Cammell Laird. Starred in the film \"We Dive at Dawn\", co-starring John Mills. Last T class in sea service. Her anchor is at Blyth, commemorating Blyth\'s links with submarines. Scrapped (finally) by Pounds, Portsmouth 1979. 


'Rex et jura nostra'  'Our King and Laws'    1959 - 1986


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