HMS Oswald and Ugalino Vivaldi - Ships Nostalgia
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HMS Oswald and Ugalino Vivaldi

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  #1  
Old 7th February 2009, 22:53
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HMS Oswald and Ugalino Vivaldi

There is yet much to be told about the saga of HMS Oswald which I another Old Worcester and friends have been unravelling over the last year. These last few months have seen matters gather apace and its time to see what other people and information we can find.

The essence of the incident is .....the loss of the submarine HMS Oswald.

There are several characters in the saga. Lt Cmdr David (Frosty) Fraser was the commander. Lt. Roy Marsh was the 1st Lt. Lt Hodgson was second hand and 3rd hand was one Lt. Kryle-Pope. There were about three crew members who are prominent in the tale ... one a Mr Tooes being a main character.

They sailed from Alexandria where Roy Marsh had been attending the Doctor on the Depot Ship for a stomach problem which was not diagnosed or treated before they left. In the three days prior to the incident Roy Marsh had not had any sleep for 3 days as he was constantly in the Control Room where as 1st Lt he was responsible for trim. The 'O'class were noted in that trim was delicate and as Oswald was leaking through the stern tube and elsewhere so the trim was a big problem. Passing south of Crete they went on patrol on the South Eastern side of the Straits of Messina around Cape Spartivento. They spotted a convoy and attacked it, as a result of its importance they later surfaced and made a report. It seems that as a result of that radio message and the attack the Italians dispatched 4 destroyers to find Oswald. This they did and the next night simultaneously the Oswald spotted Ugliano Vivaldi just abaft her stbd beam as Vivaldi spotted her just forward of her port beam on the surface during at a range of seemingly 2,500 yds or 2230 meters and ....this differs in some reports as being 1500 yards.... Oswald sounded the alarm and turned to port, Vivaldi also turned to port and increased speed to ram. David Fraser and two others, of whom one was Kryle- Pope were deciphering a message down below. Fraser went to the bridge and by the time his eyes adjusted to the dark to see the Vivaldi hit aft, springing and distorting the after hatch and, grinding up the stbd side of Oswald open up the fuel tank which was outboard of the saddle tanks. She also lobbed three depth charges which exploded roughly amidships under Oswald lifting her bodily. Fraser gave the order "Prepare to Abandon ship". The explosions had lifted one engine off its bedplate and knocked out lights there was water coming into the after torpedo compartment which was abandoned and secured. The after hatch was letting water in it, couldnt be closed as it had been distorted in the collision. Fraser ordered abandon ship, Kryle - Pope went through the engine room to the after compartment where he heard from the crew of the after torpedo compartment that they had abandoned and secured it because of flooding and a suspected hole. Significantly, Kryle - Pope would also "have seen the damage in the engine room which was a mess and the after hatch leaking" reported one of the crew from the after compartment. Anyway they all abandoned ship having opened up the vents to scuttle Oswald on the order fo Fraser. Out of the 55 crew 52 were subsequently picked up by the Vivaldi.

They finished up in a PoW camp on an island in the Venice lagoon and then were moved to another camp Sulmona. It was in these camps that the 'Sea lawyers' and stirrers gathered the stories and myths which have become the story generally issued about Oswald.

I have always had a sense of "Fair Play"and compassion. I believe the two go hand in hand.

The 1st Lt. Roy Marsh has been castigated ever since ..... yet we find in the Court Martial papers that he had had stomach problems prior to the patrol which had not been sorted by the medical officer on the depot ship and that the Oswald, dragged out of reserve lay up at the commencement of hostilities was in poor condition, particularly in the engine department and that the 1st Lt. who was responsible for trim had been on duty for 3 days, without sleep trying to control the trim against continual ingress of water from a leaking stern shaft and other spots.

In Oswalds case Roy Marsh was, under todays understanding severly fatigued, ill from his stomach problem and stressed. Any one of those should have had him out of there for his own good ... all three and through absolutely no fault of his own way he was a danger to the ship, add in the action and you have a man, beyond any capabilities the situation they found themselves in demanded.

The crew of course took none of this into consideration and the Kangeroo court in the prison camp led by 3 leading characters with their rumour and supposition had him labelled and rubbished.

This did not help the Commander David Fraser who was also bundled into a pigeon hole .... where he has been kept by the much abrieviated and more convenient if distorted 'FACTS' which if examined in a rational manner reveal a different story.

I have managed variously to get the Oswald loss into some more "Light" and this is part of that ... this thread is not detailed yet, there are still many documents to study but its a start ...we have the Court of Inquiry documents and items from the Sub Museum in Gosport.

Two items are good examples.

Throughout all the tales of Oswald mention may be made of Vivaldi dropping two or three depth charges but none conveniently, in my opinion ever tell of the resulting damage caused by them exploding beneath the submarine which should give weight to the decisions made. Lighting was destroyed, a main engine lifted off its bed, leaks, let alone the effect on the men down below.

David Fraser is castigated in a lot of the tales for not wearing Orange goggles down below especially when deciphering the message which they were doing when Vivaldi was sighted. How could he ... none were ever issued to Oswald .... However, it was common knowledge that 'everyone did' in submarines and regulations said 'you had to' but when the ship was never issued them in the rush to get her out of reserve and into service ruins a good "Nail for Frasers coffin"....... hence generally much fault is made of the fact it took time for his eyes to adjust to the darkness when he got into the conning tower.

There is much that is not fair in this story and the fact is that all was not right among the tales from Oswalds crew ... rumour and galley scuttlebutt has supressed good ....... so far that is.

.... and why my interest in the truth?

Commander David Fraser was our Executive Officer on my Training Ship HMS Worcester and for the 4 years I was aboard he was a fine gentleman, strictly fair and always with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes...we thought the world of him. He was sentenced in 1946 to lose all seniority and be dismissed his ship ... how come then that this was subsequently reduced to a mere loss of two years seniority from the date of the loss of Oswald, what significant facts brought that about?

Lt Roy Marsh was dismissed the service.....extremely unfair and irrational.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cmdr David Frosty Alexander Fraser.jpg (20.9 KB, 66 views)
File Type: jpg Lt Roy Marsh and wife Julia.jpg (67.9 KB, 68 views)
File Type: jpg HMS Oswald.jpg (48.4 KB, 67 views)
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Last edited by barnsey; 8th February 2009 at 01:13.. Reason: add another photo
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  #2  
Old 9th May 2009, 10:59
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re hms oswald

how do you know red goggles were never issued to oswald
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Old 9th May 2009, 12:54
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Youngswift,

Thank you very much for your question ... I was beginning to think no one would get curious about the HMS Oswald incident ....much has come to light in the ensuing months.

We have copies from the Court of inquiry .... Question 1089 examined by the court of Lt Kyrle-Pope ... were any coloured lights red or blue were issued to the submarine at this stage of the war for use below on dark nights ... No sir. Question 1090 were coloured goggles supplied? .... no sir.

Oswald had been laid up in reserve and was re- commisioned just at the outbreak of war and went to the Medd. I would imagine every thing was in pretty short supply as the country was just coming out of depression years and there was a big rush to get as many vessels commisioned as possible ... same with crewing..... especially for submarine staff.

Thats about enough for this evening ....

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Old 9th May 2009, 18:32
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re oswald

My father was on the Oswald when sunk. His account was always through my mother .My father and mother were married on Jan 2 1940 ,and he left two days later on Oswald and didnt return until Nov 1944 . He and two others made their way to Rome when those at PG 49 allowed all to (escape).We have every letter he wrote to my mother and i will look through them for references he wrote relating to sinking of Oswald. I know he didnt have a very high opinion of Kyle Pope.
Regards.Brian Cahalane.
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Old 15th May 2009, 11:25
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Sinking of submarine Oswald.

For the last few days i have been studying all the literature etc i could find on the sinking of the Oswald and it seems to me that somewhere in between lies the truth.
Lets assume that there were no coloured goggles on board and accept that Roy Marsh was ill at the time a crew does not turn against their captain and marsh for nothing.lets also assume that Kyrle Popes account may not be completly accurate.
However to say that someone who served under D. Fraser in peace time can make a judgement about what he would be like in the situation he and his crew found themselves in on that day August 1st 1940 is erroneous.
He may very well have been a decent person ,but that gives no indication of his mettle in action and all people who have experienced action as this crew did would soon find those who were wanting at that time.
I know it would be i suppose natural to defend their actions or otherwise but until all the facts are revealed i think it is important to keep an open mind.
However i know how my father performed in peace time when he ran into a burning house to rescue an old couple we still have the newspaper which recounted his bravery.My fathers last camp was pg49 for officers and trouble makers and unlike serial escaper pope who never really managed to get away my father and two others made it to Rome when the italians allowed those there to(escape).
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Old 15th May 2009, 13:09
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""Lets assume that there were no coloured goggles on board and accept that Roy Marsh was ill at the time a crew does not turn against their captain and marsh for nothing.lets also assume that Kyrle Popes account may not be completly accurate.
However to say that someone who served under D. Fraser in peace time can make a judgement about what he would be like in the situation he and his crew found themselves in on that day August 1st 1940 is erroneous.
He may very well have been a decent person ,but that gives no indication of his mettle in action and all people who have experienced action as this crew did would soon find those who were wanting at that time.""

You appear to have no experience or knowledge of naval service, other than your fathers service, yet you feel qualified to make assumptions. Having been a career submariner, 20yrs, I can assure you that it is absolutely possible and was indeed fairly common, for ratings to assume they were better qualified than their officers (the services are littered with barrack room lawyers) and turn against them, especially when things went pear shaped. They often did the same with Senior Ratings. I have witnessed myself, the rantings of troublemakers, trying to whip up support for a revolt over ill perceived injustices. The average rating in those days and indeed, to some extent today, knew very little of tactics and the overall knowledge required to run the show, they mainly just got on with their own job and performed it to the best of their ability.


""I know it would be i suppose natural to defend their actions or otherwise but until all the facts are revealed i think it is important to keep an open mind.
However i know how my father performed in peace time when he ran into a burning house to rescue an old couple we still have the newspaper which recounted his bravery.My fathers last camp was pg49 for officers and trouble makers and unlike serial escaper pope who never really managed to get away my father and two others made it to Rome when the italians allowed those there to(escape).""

Very commendable and I absolutely agree that an open mind is required. However, you don't give the appearance of doing so. In one breath you state that

"Someone who served under D. Fraser in peace time can make a judgement about what he would be like in the situation he and his crew found themselves in on that day August 1st 1940 is erroneous.
He may very well have been a decent person ,but that gives no indication of his mettle in action and all people who have experienced action as this crew did would soon find those who were wanting at that time."

then you go on to recount that your father saved an old couple from a burning house. Very commendable of him, I agree, but that is no indicator of his of his mettle or capabilities at sea and under war conditions. By your own admission, your father only escaped because he was allowed to by the guards.

I make no assumptions or accusations against your father, just keeping an open mind. I also have considerable experience of how the system works.

Last edited by Cooky Boy; 15th May 2009 at 13:15..
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Old 15th May 2009, 14:57
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re sinking of oswald

Sir,
you have nailed your colours firmly to the mast ,this is not about ratings and officers, nor how the system works, nor indeed whether ratings thought themselves better qualified than their officers.
Im not even that concerned whether Fraser or Marsh were right or wrong re goggles etc, (this was a war situation ) but what they did immediatly after the submarine was struck is where my interest lies. How did they behave , did they see to the safety of the crew did Fraser make sure every man was off the submarine . So far i have made only one assumption that the crew would not turn against FRASER AND Marsh for nothing not that they thought themselves better qualified etc.
I know Kyrle Pope was not a rating , and i have read his evidence at the court of Inquiry , and i know that ratings should get on with their job to the best of their ability.However the captain and Marsh were there to lead and it goes without saying that they would give example after all isnt that what a captain and Lt should do ,perform their job to the best of their ability.
Perhaps as some one with no knowledge of naval matters i will leave the rights and wrongs of what happened before Oswald was struck to those engaged in up to date enquiries re this .
But one does not have to be an expert in naval or any other matters to know how a captain or Lt should behave re the safety or his crew re this incident.Perhaps as you have considerable experience of how the system works you could enlighten me as to what a captain and Lt should have done , who should have been first of the ship etc.
You refer to my father saving an old couple from a burning house i bet if you were experiencing action at sea ,you would prefere to have some one like my father with you rather than than some one who would be first to run away and leave the couple to perish.
Finally re my fathers escape there were over four hundred officers in the camp when the italians opened the gates only ten percent of them managed to get away the rest were captured . My father spent over a year year on the run and as i said made it to Rome once again something fraser marsh and pope never managed to do now what does that tell you.
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Old 16th May 2009, 07:53
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re sinking of oswald

to Barnsey and Cooky Boy im rather surprised ive had no posts from you both surely the essence of obtaining the facts about the Oswald is discussion and investigation and even though i may have a different perspective than you both may have lets get the facts. I notice from your fact files that neither of you would have seen action unlike my father . His brother Cornelius who was captured at Hong Kong and who spent the rest of the war in a Japanese POW and who told of the cowardice of the officers in the camp,nor their father who was at Jutland and their cousin who was killed at twenty two on HMS Glorious.I should also say that living in NR Ireland all my life i just might know what its like to live in a war zone.
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Old 4th August 2009, 18:09
con20or con20or is offline  
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I would be very interested to see where this matter rests now?
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Old 6th August 2009, 18:13
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David Barnes has been looking into this subject for a long time and I admire him for the time he has spent on it along with the help of one or two others who were interested in the sinking of this sub and I hate to see people such as our Irish friend Brian Cahalane pulling him to bits for his efforts, we that served or are serving in the navy know that we on every ship have "messdeck lawyers" who try to find the worst in people especially if they`ve been taken down a peg or two by some one senior to themselves and maybe that is the case on this kangaroo court in a POW camp,


I admire these crews of submarines especially the lads who manned wartime subs, they suffered dampness, uncomfortable conditions, water rationing and being hammered to death by depth charges etc definately not my cup of tea.

I for one would like David Barnes to dig deeper and find out what really happened and let us all know the outcome of this inccident and if possible find out who the ones were who sat on this camp court.

Keep up the good work mate, sorry that I could`nt give you more help when you first started getting involved in this.

Regards from the Lake District. Cumbria.UK.

Dave.
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Old 11th August 2009, 18:45
con20or con20or is offline  
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I dont think he was pulling him to bits, he just has a different opinion to you of the men in question.

And considering his father was actually on the submarine when it sunk I think his opinion is very interesting.I agree about finding out what really happened.

Last edited by con20or; 11th August 2009 at 18:47..
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Old 13th August 2009, 20:51
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re Sinking of HMS OSWALD

I really dont know why anyone has taken the view that i am pulling any one to bits , however i am entitled to form an opinion based on intimate knowledge of the event and surely i am entitled after research to form a different view from others . I was of the opinion that this was a discussion forum.
If there was a kangaroo court in the pow camp i fail to see what this has to do with the actual court martial as this was held after the war.
I commend David Barnes for his efforts there is nothing personal here.
However once again D Fraser may have been a very nice man etc but all that he was in peace time does not tell us how he and others behaved on the first of August 1940
The questions that need to be answered are
1 Did the captain and those who should, behave properly and see to the safety of the crew?.
2 Were proper procedures followed?.
3Why was there a court martial ? who instigated this.
4As D Barnes served under D Fraser did he ever speak of the sinking ?
These are just some of the questions that need addressing and if this is a discussion forum lets discuss and find out.
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Old 14th August 2009, 04:57
Abbeywood. Abbeywood. is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youngswift View Post
I really dont know why anyone has taken the view that i am pulling any one to bits , however i am entitled to form an opinion based on intimate knowledge of the event and surely i am entitled after research to form a different view from others . I was of the opinion that this was a discussion forum.
If there was a kangaroo court in the pow camp i fail to see what this has to do with the actual court martial as this was held after the war.
I commend David Barnes for his efforts there is nothing personal here.
However once again D Fraser may have been a very nice man etc but all that he was in peace time does not tell us how he and others behaved on the first of August 1940
The questions that need to be answered are
1 Did the captain and those who should, behave properly and see to the safety of the crew?.
2 Were proper procedures followed?.
3Why was there a court martial ? who instigated this.
4As D Barnes served under D Fraser did he ever speak of the sinking ?
These are just some of the questions that need addressing and if this is a discussion forum lets discuss and find out.
Re: HMS Oswald.
Interesting theories being put forward, however I am led to believe that much of the Courts-martial proceedings are still un-published and remain under lock and key, (Official Secrets Act), for whatever reasons unknown.
Abbeywood.
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Old 14th August 2009, 15:18
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Abbeywood, what makes matters worse is that the submarine base at Portsmouth would only give out the minium details about the fate of the sub and the happenings after the sinking, nothing was declared about the court martial, the Curator there was getting annoyed on why there was so much interest and apparently David Barnes explained why and when I made enquiries he wanted to know if David and myself was in "cahoots" and that he had already given details out to him and nothing else was said on the matter which to me was strange ---there seemed to be a cover up on the details of this boats operations and the after events---I always thought that after 50 years these events were open to the public so why not this one?




Youngswift, maybe I used the wrong choice of words when I mentioned the view of you pulling David Barnes to bits, for this I apologise to you, you have the right to express your views like everyone else on this forum,DB has been looking into this subject for quite a while as he was in close contact with the
the skipper of the boat Lt Cmd Frazer while serving as an officer cadet in the 50s aboard the training ship and as rumours do aboard ships the story of his imprisonment as a P.O.W. and the kangaroo court came to light and this is why this gentleman and ex seafarer is trying to get to the bottom of it, so if anyone out there can help him I am sure he will be most pleased of their help.


Dave(ceylon220)
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Old 14th August 2009, 17:05
youngswift youngswift is offline
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At last i feel we are getting somewhere ,as Dave Ceylon 220 says there seems to be more secrecy than knowledge re the sinking of HMS Oswald.
Is it possible for you Dave and D. Barnes to let us know exactly what you were able to obtain at Portsmouth .
D.Barnes mentioned that R.Marsh was suffering from stomach problems, this information he obtained from court martial papers.
D.Barnes also makes mention of question 1089 from the court of enquiry .Could some one please clarify for me the essential definations of the following.
1Court martial papers.
2Court of enquiry.
3Court Martial.
Many Thanks Brian Cahalane.
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Old 14th August 2009, 17:23
youngswift youngswift is offline
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definations should read definitions B .Cahalane.
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Old 14th August 2009, 17:33
K urgess K urgess is offline
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definations should read definitions B .Cahalane.
For a limited amount of time after you have made a post you are allowed to edit it in order to make corrections.
Regards
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Old 15th August 2009, 01:49
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Righty ho one and all, I have been busy in other directions but have sat back and watched the various comments and opinons on this subject for quite a while and its time for me to set matters to rights ... as far as I am able.

It is somewhat difficult being down here in New Zealand to do many things I need to do in this matter but with a great deal of help from my friends, including that of Roy Marsh's nephew and David Fraser's stepson in the UK we have assembled quite a dossier.

We have been to the Submarine Museum in Gosport and, as Ceylon has remarked there was some initial protective hostility but that has largely been overcome .... I believe that they really do not have the quality or depth of documents that they should have. David Fraser's stepson went and along with another OW mate of mine who also went to Gosport between us we have copied all that is in the dossier.

"We" have also been to the National Archives at Kew and photographed some 60 odd pages of Court martial papers. There is a lot more to be obtained from Kew and now we have a better idea of what we need we plan another visit with a list of documents we know are there.

Barry should have received from me a DVD with all my data on it.... and if looked at in the way it should be then matters should become clear as to the angle at which I am looking at the affair.

I am a Master mariner and throughout my 55 years in seafaring I have constantly read and appraised a hell of a lot of Courts of Inquiry ... if you don't read and understand and learn from them then you could well end up the same way ... "there but for the Grace of God go I". As you progress you learn a bit more and often revisit other cases and another aspect which was not examined by the court perhaps opens up. One thing has become patently obvious ... much amplified in a lot of early Aviation cases as well ... is that the first thing that is in their minds is "Masters or in the aviation world pilot error". I hate unfairness and there are many cases where it has been a patently unfair decision with a distinct touch of bias ... such is what I find in the case of the loss of HMS Oswald especially when approached in the manner of todays technical considerations.

My basic consideration surrounds the action leading to and the subsequent loss of the Oswald, the apportionment of blame that was found, the thinking of the Board of the Court Martial and influences on that Board.

The whole focus and decision of the inquiry seems to be biased by the periphery distraction of the actions of the crew's real or perceived views of Roy Marsh and subsequently that of David Fraser. This then became a focus of ill informed remarks and opinions which lead them to a "Lynch mob mentality lead by the voices of Sea Lawyers". There were no considerations of the technical aspects of the submarines capabilities, what was required for and the possibility for a gun action on the submarine, the ability of the torpedoes carried aboard along with the gathering of data and procedure for firing such. in short it was criminally lacking in depth of consideration of really important factors needed to make a decision.

After the war had ended and 6 years after the event the Board of inquiry followed by the Court Martial took place, there was almost total reliance on the memories of people of an event which took place at night with only three people to whom the whole thing was seen. This was not the only such inquiry in fact there were many and had become to be seen as "Witch Hunts" so much so that an MP had cause to raise the matter in a question to Parliament when the Oswald case was taking place.

Barry's father remarked that the decision, rightly or wrongly by David Fraser to issue the order to abandon ship saved the life of the majority of the crew, only 3 out of 55 were lost. I have actually spoken to Barry on the phone and am more or less quoting him there.

Now, it would seem to me that Barry has, subsequently to receiving my DVD of documents also been distracted by the crew approach to the subject and not the technical details and facts that I am looking at from a professional seafaring aspect backed by information from submarine experts who have freely advised me.

Barry unfairly makes comment about the escapes from the PoW camp. David Fraser also made escape attempts and nearly made a home run but got caught at the Swiss border. He was also shot in the knee in his final attempt. It was a continual occupation and a major organisation in of all the PoW camps.

When on Worcester we were unaware that he had lost his submarine or been in a PoW camp but did know he had a "War wound" as he had quite a limp.

The other aspect of this affair under our scrutiny is the influence of then Sub Lt Pope, latterly Rear Admiral Kyrle-Pope had on the crew of Oswald and the outcome of the decision. His obituary published in the Daily Telegraph raises questions which beg to be answered.

As for not being able to obtain information or documents there does seem to be some evidence of this ... an embargo was latterly placed on documents for another seventy years. When an official request was made by David Frasers stepson there was a bit of a wall put up in that they said they couldnt find any ... and when it was pointed out certain documents were at the Sub museum they were supposedly to be returned to the Admiralty.

As I said at the beginning I have been otherwise occupied for about 3 months but shortly we will gather pace again.

Hope this sorts a few points out, settles where we are coming from and the fact that there is really no secrecy as to the loss of Oswald but certainly a lot of unfair, illinformed and considered opinions around the matter.
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Old 15th August 2009, 13:40
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Before I go to bed I will post what I have written this evening for you to be going on with ...

One fact that leads one to be extremely wary of the initial Court Martial decisions was that as a result of representation to the Admiralty and events of the day a review was held.....as a result of that review the original sentence of the loss of all seniority and dismissed his ship was significantly reduced to the loss of two years seniority from the time of the loss of Oswald. Summarised, in the review the board split the actions leading up to the ramming, the depth charging and those after the action. They being rightly three entirely different parts to the actual loss of the submarine and as a result puts a different light on the affair.

Over the next few weeks as time permits I am going to steadily examine points which show that the initial Court Martial was flawed.

On the remarks by the various ratings that "We could have easily torpedoed the Vivaldi" as she passed ahead .... for a start, in their rank aboard the vessel they would neither have had the experience or training to understand the gathering of the data needed to successfully fire a torpedo hence the statements are general and naive in the extreme.

From the time of sighting to the collision and depth charging was variously reported at 5 to 8 minutes. It was midnight and dark. As soon as the destroyer was sighted, fine on the stbd quarter the OOW altered course to port to bring the enemy stern on for a torpedo attack. The Oswald was doing appx 8 knots and the destroyer estimated at 18-20knots and thus the stern was never brought into a firing position for that torpedo even if the firing data could have been obtained as the destroyer worked ahead to achieve a beam position for ramming which she achieved.

After the ramming and depth charging, which created quite severe damage as she had the hatch to the after torpedo compartment sprung, the stbd fuel tanks opened up in the collision and the depth charges damaged the hull fore and aft and lifting an engine off its bed. It was stated at the inquiry as above, by ordinary ratings that they could have easily torpedoed Ugolino Vivaldi as she passed ahead when Oswald was more or less stopped. This was at a time when most of the crew were either overboard or on the casing just prior to the scuttling and no data had been gathered to solve the firing solution.

I find from the verbatim statements of the inquiries that the Admiralty board were seriously lacking in seeking technical evidence to verify the voracity of the 'opinions' put forward. HMS Oswald was sunk on or near midnight 1st August 1940 and was armed with Mk 8 torpedoes.

Substantive evidence should have been sought to substantiate the statements …..
Was it possible, after the initial sighting of Vivaldi and under the circumstances to have fired a stern torpedo. Could the necessary data have been obtained to make the shot?
After Oswald had been rammed at which time, late at night, three depth charges had blown up under her, a main engine was lifted off its bed, lights were out, she was leaking forward and aft and her crew abandoning ship was it possible to prepare for and carry out a torpedo attack?
Were the torpedoes themselves capable.

Consider these details about torpedoes, gathered from experienced Submarine staff and technical papers.

To launch a torpedo so that it arrives at the point where it can hit the target data has to be gathered and calculations made.....the course, speed of the target over an amount of time which is then added to the course and speed of own ship, the speed of the torpedo and its course. There was not enough time or men and equipment in place to set this attack situation in place for a stern shot to be taken after first sighting the Vivaldi. An added complication was that even though the submarine altered course to attempt this the Vivaldi was manoeuvred to negate such an attack making it even more essential for data to be gathered and calculations done.

It is interesting to contemplate how chancy it must have been to hit a ship with only the judgement and data gathered by the skipper for aiming ...no wonder they fired salvoes and even then missed so often. In a torpedo attack there was a need to generate spread across the target, partly to compensate for errors in the fire control solution and partly to generate multiple hits to defeat compartmentalisation, especially when a warship was the target as in this case.

This spread could be achieved in two main ways,

A hosepipe salvo where the torpedoes ran on the heading of the boat at the time of discharge and the spread being achieved wholly by the time interval between shots, the theory being all torpedoes pass through the same place at different times thus hitting different point of the target as it passes through that point.

There was a modification to the Mk 8 torpedo that allowed the torpedo to alter course to the desired angle once clear of the tube. There also had to be a modification to the submarines tube for this to be actioned..... thus A Gyro Angled Salvo. Each torpedo is given a specific course to steer relative to the firing course of the boat, though there is usually also a time difference between firing too, partly to make trimming the boat during firing a trifle easier and partly to ensure the prevention of counter mining. Early setting of Gyro Angle and also Running Depth was done by hand but with the torpedo in the tube by manually operated spindles that were lowered to engage in the adjustor's set in the torpedo tube. There were physical interlocks on the firing air supply including ensuring the mechanical depth and gyro angles setters had been lifted clear of the torpedo.

Did Oswald, a vessel built in 1926 and laid up until just prior to the war and re armed in the Medd. have the modification and the Mk 8 with gyro angle? It would have increased the chances of a hit but even more so would be the necessity for data to be gathered to fire. But there was nothing in the examination by the Board to seek this information to prove or disprove as to the possibility of carrying out a torpedo attack on Vivaldi.
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Old 16th August 2009, 12:59
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From last nights episode it should be fairly clear that firing a torpedo is no simple matter and perhaps I should point out I have only touched on the subject.

Sufficient to show that although in the first instance that an attempt was made to bring the stern tube to bear there was no chance of gaining data for a firing and in any case it was properly frustrated by Ugliano Vivaldi's manoeuvring.

Then, in answer to the question "could a torpedo attack have been made after the ramming and depth charging." The court of inquiry did not ascertain the detail of the damage sustained to the submarine … in part from their lack of questioning the correct staff, who were available and a lamentable state of questioning of those who were at the inquiries. Sufficient to say though the the damage to the submarine, gathered from the various statements that were made along with the complexity of acquiring attack data combined with the abandoning leads us to the conclusion that it was not possible to launch a torpedo attack.

That left one other means of attacking the Ugliano Vivaldi … by using the gun. I have not yet ascertained whether it was possible to man the gun as well as launch a torpedo attack but as the submarine was on the surface lets look at the possibilities. In the first instance with the Vivaldi approaching from astern fine on the stbd quarter there was no possibility of training the gun that far round so that rules that out. That leaves using the gun after the ramming and depth charging with the Vivaldi ahead. Apart from the fact that it was dark thus making it difficult to sight and get a range and bearing on the target the ramming damaged the periscope standard and as the gun was in the proximity of the collision by the flare of the bow there may have been damage to the gun. Lt Pope made much that "we should have fought the gun." One decent question the Board did ask was to ascertain what shells were aboard the Oswald. It turns out there were no flash-less type aboard so the first round fired would have blinded the gun crew and shown the Vivaldi exactly where they were. The Italians were not exactly the dummies described in the more usual general sweeping statements of their wartime prowess and as the Vivaldi did fire her guns but no rounds landed anywhere near Oswald it leads me to the conclusion they had lost sight of the Oswald for effective firing. So what chance did Oswald have in a gun battle against a very large destroyer? absolutely none. In fact submarines avoided gun battles with anything that had weapons powerful enough to have a chance of piercing the pressure hull. Lt Popes suggestion to fight the gun, even if possible, which seems unlikely would have lead to nothing more than a large loss of life and the same net result of the loss of the submarine.

Out of all of this we can assume that HMS Oswald had no chance to fight her weapons.

More tomorrow.
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Old 16th August 2009, 15:13
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To Barnsey.
Things seem to be reaching an interesting level. However you seem to be answering the questions asked at the court martial without the rest of us knowing what these questions were and what the answers were then at the court martial.
Could you for example tell us where you wrote ...... on remarks made by various ratings "we could easily have torpedoed the Vivaldi as she passed ahead" were these remarks said by them at the court martial or just remarks made by them at some time .

and surely those or some of those who were on the court martial panel would have had a knowledge of torpedo firing .
You seem hell bent on putting one point of view forward namely your own ,this is supposed to be a discussion forum so could we please have more information re questions and answers from the court martial.
Re paragraph "now it would seem ......... Have freely advised me." could you please tell us how Barry has been distracted and what his interpretation re this is and do you think he has been distracted merely because he has a contrary view to your own.
Also you say Barry unfairly makes comment about the escapes from the pow camp.Could you please tell us what these comments were so that others on this supposed forum can decide if they were fair or not.
You have told us many times that you are a master mariner but you seem to be locked in a mindset of telling us how much you know and how little the rest of us know .
I have asked quite a few questions on this forum and only one has been answered.This was the first question i asked which was "how do you know there were no goggles on board" then as soon as my identity became known i have been ignored ,others now want the relevant questions answered and i thank them for their support.
Could you please tell us who instigated the court martial in the first place.
I feel a book coming out soon with a complete exoneration of the actions of Frazer and Marsh and no discussion or contrary views entertained.
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Old 16th August 2009, 23:18
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Younswift ... are you the brother of Barry Cahalane living in Canada? If so that clears several matters up. The questions you ask in this last posting would not have been asked by Barry because he has a cd I posted to him with all the court martial papers we have extracted from Kew plus a lot of other items. They are your heritage too so you might ask him to copy them for your own archive .. I will keep you abreast of any future documents.

Where I said 'Barry unfairly makes comment about the escapes from the pow camp.' it is plain that it should have been attributed to you as Barry has not participated in this forum. Unfair because they all, Officers and Ratings alike made attempts to escape all of the time. It was an occupation.

I have spoken with Barry on the phone and he told me of your fathers view of the affair which does not conflict with the view I have of the affair nor support it. This is where my confusion and I have to say reticence comes in regarding some of your posts as I was mystified as to some of the remarks you have come up with and how they fitted in with what Barry and I had discussed and the documents Barry should have from me.

Please get it in your mind that there are two parts to the Oswald affair which I am trying to keep separate. One is the action and result of the action, the loss of the submarine HMS Oswald which David Frazer was Court Martialed for. The second is the Board of Inquiry as to the actions of the crew in the PoW camp in Italy which bordered on mutiny.

The difference between one and the other is the Court Martial is a trial with a judgement and a penalty to be paid if found guilty.

The second is to find out what the facts of the event were and decide any course of action that should or should not be taken.

I am solely interested in fair play and justice which I see as not having been done by the Court of Inquiry. This is supported by the fact that a review ( an appeal if you like) was subsequently carried out which drastically reduced Fasers sentence. It must also be recognized that the trials were held 6 years after the event and during those 6 years the world and the participants went through a tremendous upheaval.

As for your statement .. 'I feel a book coming out soon with a complete exoneration of the actions of Frazer and Marsh and no discussion or contrary views entertained.' That is as unfair as it is uncalled for. Of course there are actions by any of us in incidents which have to be answered to and Fraser was no exception. Marsh I am pretty much sure was not in control of himself through no fault of his own and should not have been in the situation he found himself in which was the fault of the systems and the war situation at that point of time. There is no way he should have been pilloried as he was by the Court Martial.

Brian, I suggest you try and understand what I am trying to do, raise salient technical facts that should have been considered by the Court and let me complete my points before you make further judgements. At this point of time I am not discussing .... I am trying to lay down the facts of the case devoid of the various emotive opinions which so clouded the trial.
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Old 17th August 2009, 00:49
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Youngswift ... Brian,

I have just had a chat with your brother Barry in Canada. Rather than ask him to copy the cd I said I would do it instead.

If you would like to send me your home address on a private message I will burn a cd, the same as the one I sent to your brother Barry and post it to you with pleasure.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 22:21
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Back again ....An explanation of 'we' ... There are several people beavering away at the Oswald case and perhaps I should explain who they are. There is myself. The Commander of HMS Oswald was Lt. Cmdr. David Fraser ( 'Frosty' to us cadets ) who was our Executive officer on HMS Worcester the Officer cadet traing ship for the Merchant Navy on the Thames at Greenhithe while I was training 1955-59. Then there is David Frasers stepson himself an ex submariner.

Then we have Grahame Knott who is the nephew of the 1st Lt. of Oswald was Grahame Roy Marsh, 'Roy'.

Also engaged are two other OW's of which one is a submariner, we have an ex submarine electrical engineer and shortly a lawyer with marine knowledge.
All keenly taking an active part. Two sons of one of the crew are also included.

As of this date we have copied all of the Inquiry and Courts Martial documents and some of the Log Books of Oswald for 1940 ... one more to go. This amounts to some 1,000 pages of documents and very interesting they are too.

We will soon be coming down to the hard facts but meantime we thought that a quick outline of our objectives and reasons for going to all this effort wouldn’t go amiss.

What do we hope to achieve?

1) The court martial was incorrectly run, ill informed, had no real grasp of the technical situation and was biased to fit a finding conceived before the trials.
2) That Oswald was not fit for purpose and ill equipped having been rushed into service from reserve.
3) Grahame Marsh was ill, hadn’t slept in three days but still carried out his duties as best he could. Being ex Merchant Navy RNR was not fully conversant with the RN he had then been commisioned into.
4) The actions of David Fraser far from being cowardly saved the lives of fifty-two men. The orders given were taken out of context and often sequence.
5) Certain individuals fantasised about circumstances surrounding Oswald’s loss and their own actions. A 'Kangaroo court' was set up whilst the crew were held as POW’s with the specific task of allocating blame to David Fraser and Grahame Marsh, whilst making those individuals appear as hard done by.

Our aim is to prove that there were no cowards on that night but some were economical with the truth. That’s us being very nice!

Ships Nostalgia has played its part in this saga as it put me in contact with two people who would not be here had their father not survived ... they were his sons, born after the war. Youngswift being one of them, he should have a DVD of a lot of the documents which I sent him.

This recently from his brother Barry.....

'All of the intrigue involved in tracking down the documents would make for a great story never mind the account of the inquiries and courts martial's.
As you mention they didn't have a chance in the courts--the deck was stacked in advance against them-the inquiry into the behaviour of the crew in the POW camps was totally extraneous to the charges laid in the trials yet it was used as a hammer to bludgeon both defendants.-- Any defence counsel worth his/her salt would have had the judges bar any mention of the POW camps.

More importantly and much more seriously with respect to the eventual outcome of the trial --even a newly appointed judge would on the first attempt to introduce evidence of the crews' behaviour in the POW camp behaviour have ruled such evidence as 'Inadmissable' and have counsel for the prosecution or defence, 'HELD IN CONTEMPT' if they tried to introduce such evidence.

The facts are the judges did allow such evidence be introduced --- a 100% miscarriage of justice and most likely a wilful miscarriage of justice on the part of the admiralty --justice most certainly was not blind in this instance.

I continue to quote my father on the Oswald saga , 'Whether Lt Cdr Fraser was right or wrong in the actions he took -- it is because of those actions that he survived the sinking of the Oswald and was still alive'The other surviving crew members , if they were being truly honest , would, I feel, have said the same thing.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 22:32
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Would any member, Royal Naval in particular like to comment on experience with two 'ALARM" signals ....this for WW II and post war diesel submarine classes.

The OOW of a submarine on the surface wishing to 'crash' dive presses the KLAXON at which an irreversible sequence of events commence culminating on the submarine going to depth. Diesels shut down, intakes and exhausts shut, declutched. Motors clutched in and running. 'Q' tank flooded, planes in the down sequence, ballast tanks blown. It does not need the whole crew, the watch can do all this just as efficiently.

If the boat does not need to be dived but the whole crew brought to 'Action Stations' then there is a sequence where the OOW presses the 'RATTLERS'. This gets the whole crew up and to their action stations and the Commander to the bridge.

Two seperate and different sounding alarms.

Any comments please?
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Last edited by barnsey; 2nd October 2009 at 22:34.. Reason: spelling - grammar
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