This is an item published recently by my dad Alex Duncan, in the Newbattle Parish magazine. I had to confess ignorance as to the existence of these two amazing little boats. You live and learn
A recent Ramblers outing to Aberlady Nature Reserve, afford us an unexpected bonus. With the tide fully out when we reached the shoreline, we were able to see the remains of two Midget Submarines that still lie in the bay. We took the opportunity to walk out to get a closer look, a fair amount of both vessels still remains despite having been tethered there since 1946.
They are X-T type boats that were used for training purposes at Loch Cairnbawn on the west coast. The Craft were brought to Aberlady to act as targets for aircraft carrying out rocket attack trials. The sight of these boats brought back a memory for me that is perhaps somewhat potent for this time of year.
During my service in the Royal Naval Reserve, I was privileged to be part of a Guard of Honour for Rear Admiral Place VC when he visited HMS Claverhouse at Granton Square. He gave a talk on the X Craft operation that resulted in him, among others, receiving military honours, in his case the V.C. as Officer Commanding Operation Source.
This was an attack on German Battleships that lay anchored in a Norwegian Fiord, the principle target being the Tirpitz. The attack was intended to be carried out by six X Craft; however two were lost whilst being towed across the North Sea by larger Submarines.
The operation was successful in inflicting damage to the Tirpitz by virtue of the explosive charges placed beneath the keel. This resulted in it being out of action for a considerable period of time. However nine of those who sailed from Scotland did not survive, a further six were captured, including the then Lt Commander Place.
Here we were on the 23rd of September 2012, looking at the remains of what may well have been the training Craft for that very Operation that took place between the 21st to 23rd of September 1943, coincidence or not? This was but one operation of many, it did however ensure, that for a significant period of months, this Battleship was unable to go to sea and cause havoc with the vital supplies crossing the North Atlantic.
A memorial to all who served in these small craft, with a three or four man crew, is situated at Kylesku, some 30 miles north of Ullapool.
Alex W Duncan.
Lest we forget.
Lt Commander Place was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in this actions. I cannot begin to sum up my admiration for the men who took part in this action. Rear Admiral Place passed away on December 27th, 1994. Hearts of Oak.