The secrets of HMS Dasher

raybnz
14th May 2007, 11:19
A few weeks back I posted a thread on the sinking of HMS Dasher on the 27th March 1943 in the Firth of Clyde during WW2.

Thanks to another SN member Willie/Avonbank I soon had a copy of the above book.The authors John and Noreen Steel were quite thorough in their writing of the tragic part of the war.

I have read many books on the naval side of the war and it wasnt until I watched a documentary on Sky TV that I became aware of the disaster.

The ship was hastily converted from a cargo ship called the 'Rio de Janerio' of 8200tons in Boston under the Lend Lease scheme. From go it appears that the British sailors were not keen on her. The workmanship and design was of a low quality but no doubt with the war short cuts were always there to be taken.

Her 8000hp Sun Doxford Engine proved to be a problem and was not very reliable. According to the book it was capable of explosions and fires. (Scavenge Fires)

On a Arctic convoy duties she developed a large crack in her hull which forced her withdrawal from the convoy and take repairs in Iceland before heading back to the UK. The crack was so large a sailor could see other ships of the convoy thru it. It was after the permenant repairs were completed when she was working up again that the explosion occurred .

It appears the explosion was caused by petrol fumes igniting from sources unkown and ship sunk within a very short time with a huge loss of life. Some 379 crew were lost and of that only 23 were awarded a official naval funeral.

What seem so strange to me was that the whole affair was kept so secret from the wartime public.Britain was scared to upset the US so hushed the sinking down.

However out of this came the episode of 'The Man Who Never Was'. For a long time there was the belief that the body a tramp who had died thru drinking poison was used in the ruse the Allies made to fool the Germans.

It was finally thought that if a Post Morten was carried out by the enemy they would find that the person had died from poisoning instead of drowning so it then that the use of a body of one 'Dasher's deceased be made available.

According to the book the body John Melville was chosen to become the 'Man Who Never Was' .

I found it a interesting book but I wonder why it secrets have never been revealed and some closure given to the families.

Only in war could the loss of 379 lives be hidden from the public.

CEYLON220
3rd July 2009, 16:56
A few weeks back I posted a thread on the sinking of HMS Dasher on the 27th March 1943 in the Firth of Clyde during WW2.

Thanks to another SN member Willie/Avonbank I soon had a copy of the above book.The authors John and Noreen Steel were quite thorough in their writing of the tragic part of the war.

I have read many books on the naval side of the war and it wasnt until I watched a documentary on Sky TV that I became aware of the disaster.

The ship was hastily converted from a cargo ship called the 'Rio de Janerio' of 8200tons in Boston under the Lend Lease scheme. From go it appears that the British sailors were not keen on her. The workmanship and design was of a low quality but no doubt with the war short cuts were always there to be taken.

Her 8000hp Sun Doxford Engine proved to be a problem and was not very reliable. According to the book it was capable of explosions and fires. (Scavenge Fires)

On a Arctic convoy duties she developed a large crack in her hull which forced her withdrawal from the convoy and take repairs in Iceland before heading back to the UK. The crack was so large a sailor could see other ships of the convoy thru it. It was after the permenant repairs were completed when she was working up again that the explosion occurred .

It appears the explosion was caused by petrol fumes igniting from sources unkown and ship sunk within a very short time with a huge loss of life. Some 379 crew were lost and of that only 23 were awarded a official naval funeral.

What seem so strange to me was that the whole affair was kept so secret from the wartime public.Britain was scared to upset the US so hushed the sinking down.

However out of this came the episode of 'The Man Who Never Was'. For a long time there was the belief that the body a tramp who had died thru drinking poison was used in the ruse the Allies made to fool the Germans.

It was finally thought that if a Post Morten was carried out by the enemy they would find that the person had died from poisoning instead of drowning so it then that the use of a body of one 'Dasher's deceased be made available.

According to the book the body John Melville was chosen to become the 'Man Who Never Was' .

I found it a interesting book but I wonder why it secrets have never been revealed and some closure given to the families.

Only in war could the loss of 379 lives be hidden from the public.




I read the book HMS "DASHER" and from what I can gather she was taking in aircraft at the time and it was believed a plane came into land on the flight deck, came in too low and went into the deck below causing fire and explosions thro out the ship, she went down quickly with a huge loss of life.

"The man who never was" from reports it was stated that the body was a man who had died in hospital, his lungs had filled up with water and was the ideal subject for this naval operation--no body was used from the carrier "DASHER" maybe they made one of the ships crew available but it was never used.

Steve Hodges
7th July 2009, 22:57
My wife's father was one of the survivors, fished out of the sea with burning oil all around. It gave him nightmares for the rest of his life.