Immediately following the explosion, I was on the well deck of the MAIDSTONE when I was ' invited ' by Commander (E) Summerhays to come with me. We made our way down the midships ladder, pushing past the survivors coming up. They were all very dazed and some were bleeding.
I was due to go out on the Sidon on that particular morning. I was pulled back because she had an overload of boffins on board to my recollection. I was to assist the steward while on exercises. However I went back to normal duties on the Maidstone, and was completing serving late breakfasts in the wardroom. Lt Commander Rhodes came in to eat after finishing sick call. Suddenly there was an almighty sort of Woosh noise, I looked out of the wardroom port, and saw smoke and debris flying into the air from the conning tower of Sidon Even a cap. I still hear it and see it today.
The Maidstone shook, Dr Rhodes asked me what it was. I told him the Sidon had blown up, he jumped up and said follow me. We then ran out and down onto the well deck of the Maidstone a chief petty officer asked me where I was going, I had my foot on the gangway to the Sidon Dr Rhodes had already gone ahead of me. I told him that Dr Rhodes had given me the order to follow him, at that stage the Dr had already boarded the Sidon. The chief told me to go back to my station as the damage party would be there very soon and knew what to do.
There was I believe a Dutch boat tied alongside Sidon the crew where doing all they could to help But the Sidon started to go down a lot of crew members where jumping into the water, the Dutch crew cut the moorings with axes, and all hatches on Sidon where closed. I saw the air hose being thrown into the Sidon as the hatches where closed, I thought it was the hose for Dr Rhodes. an officer came aft on the Sidon and he was banging on the hatch with something metal, suddenly the hatch blew open almost knocking the officer off the deck. It was obvious that she was going down at this stage, and all crew had leapt off. No one could do anything now but watch her go down. "A very sad day"
I went to officers quarters and remember an officer from Sidon coming to his cabin his shoes where burned the soles almost gone his clothes where scorched and obviously very wet. I helped him to get undressed and advised him to go to sick bay for a check up,he put on fresh clothes and thanked me and left. On and off I was helping with duties sometimes all night for the crew who where getting the Sidon back up. Myself and another steward packed the Dr's kit, and took it off the Maidstone, I was on duty for the Wake (if that's the right word) in the wardroom of Maidstone. I can remember all this clearly but I can not remember the names especially the steward who went down on her weird because I had a couple of pints with him the night before. I am almost seventy now but I do recall this often
My interest stems from the fact that in June,1955,1 was the Fourth Hand and Torpedo Officer of HMS SPRINGER. We had been carrying out trial firings of 'Fancy' HTP torpedoes for a couple of terms or so, without incident other than the occasional 'frisky'
In June,1955, SIDON took over from us as the 'Fancy' trials boat and,if I recall correctly, her accident took place with
Both SPRINGER and SIDON were at Harbour Stations and we were in the process of letting go when
We had just let go and had fallen in on SPRINGER'S fore casing for leaving harbour when there was a great roar and a towering fountain of shredded material erupted from SIDON's conning tower to a height of about 20 feet or so. At first I thought that it must be a battery explosion, but as I began to appreciate that some of the material falling down on to our casing were bits of QR&AI and shredded wood I realised that it must be a great deal more than that. We began to resecure alongside to render assistance, but were ordered to clear MAIDSTONE and proceed to Kiel as planned - which we did, albeit very reluctantly.