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Auriga

 

Auriga

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Auriga


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Auriga
Astute joins 6SM 19 Aug 61. Coming alongside Auriga

Auriga
Auriga, arrives Halifax for 6SM 12 Nov 1959

Auriga
Auriga in Halifax approaches, Jan 1963

Auriga
"Target green 45%. Ensure you fire on the upward roll Gunlayer" came the terse instruction from the conning tower.
"Target Green 45%. Fire on the upward roll. Aye Sir" responded 'Dum-Dum' our A/B GL2 from his seat attached to Auriga's 4" deck gun on the carousel.
Minute's earlier we had been dived when the unexpected pipe " Standby surface gun action" shrilled through the tannoy. Organised chaos ensued.

The Gun's crew was already mustered in the wardroom just as the order " Surface. Gun action" was broadcast. The familiar sound of HP air was heard gushing into the tanks.
At first the Boat seemed sluggish to respond, of course its upward journey was being delayed by the full dive which had been put on the fore-planes. As the volume of air increased within the tanks the fore-planes were reversed to the hard-a-rise position, then, corklike with an extreme bow up angle we surfaced somewhere North West of Cape Wrath, Scotland.

Auriga
On hearing the command "Open the upper lid" from the control room adjacent, the guntower hatch was also cracked, copious amounts of oggin tumbled down upon the five of us making up the Gun's crew. There were curses. Laughter too, knowing that the comfortable surrounds of the wardroom was taking the full brunt of the water that was still being shipped below. ( and the Wardroom Steward wouldn't be too chuffed )
We were on the deck in about a minute. Ready use lockers had been opened throughout the Boat. We knew there would be a chain below ready to pass up the 4" shells as required.
There was a slight/medium swell running. Our 'target' was a large 'splash float' about five cables (? mile) distant. Usually these targets were towed behind surface craft at a long range, but, this was solitary, all alone, just bobbing about. Perhaps the crew of the craft who had towed it to these most barren of all seas knew of our inexpertise, or, had better things to do!

Auriga
Gun's crew were in position. Handles turned. The Gun was trained. A projectile already in the breech courtesy of the loader. Sights set. WHOOMPH! Almost immediately a splash well beyond the target. Too much of firing on the upward roll I thought! Sights were re-set. The exercise was repeated 3, maybe 4 times in as quick a succession as the 'upward roll' would allow. Each shot was too long, and then, WHOOMPH! we were on the 'downward roll'. Oh dear! About a cable (200yards distant) the shell hit the oggin. No Explosion, but it was skipping, pebble like 'cross a pond toward the target. Would you believe it? It connected. KERRUNCH! was the best I can describe as the 4" shell exploded on hitting the wire meshed target. (Although it hadn't appeared to have damaged it a great deal).

Auriga
Almost immediately from above " Stop-stop-stop". Then "below". The unmistakable rush of air from the tanks could be heard and spray could be seen whipping up as the main vents were opened. We were diving. Like Whippets, the Gun's Crew were making their way back down below via the Gun-Tower hatch, all except one. Dum-Dum. He was still on his firing seat gazing at the target. " Below, at the rush" came the call from above once again.

Auriga
I was in the well of the Gun-Tower hatch looking at Dum-Dum, he turned around, looked heavenward and shouted " Up-Top".
My everlasting memory is the look on his face as he realised we were diving. He virtually clambered over my shoulders to get below as we were descending beneath the ogwash.
"I would've shut the hatch" I told him later

Auriga
There were great scenes of merriment at Tot time as the situation was debriefed again and again. (mainly by the Gun's crew). Dum-Dum later told me he had been fixated by the 'hit' and hadn't been aware of the original order " Below" or the thump on his hard hat to warrant attention.
I believe we had a few more 'Surface. Gun Action's' after that, but, none so memorable as the one described.
The year was 1968. The 'A' Boats were coming to the end of their operational lives. I believe Auriga was one of the last A's to be scrapped. Submarine Andrew, one of our sisters took 'Our Gun'. I have been told that Auriga took it from her when their Lordship's were ' cutting costs' and was returned on request when Auriga went to the breakers
Whatever. Submarine living is unique anyway, but, I'm sure they will never be fitted with Deck-guns again...Or will they?
My admiration goes out to all Submarine crews who fired their deck gun's in anger. Submitted by Derek Lawbury

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