Dorset Submariners

Sidon Index

Memories

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.
We crossed the inboard boat, an ex-R.N.U or V class transfered to, I think , the Danish Navy. We made our way aft on the SIDONS casing and entered the boat via the E.R. hatch. We went forward to the control room, but could get no further than the accommodation space bulkhead, where the door was totally blocked.
We turned and made our way back-we must have missed Surgeon L t . Rhodes by seconds. In the engine room we shut the hatch and attempted to check the inlets and overheads shut. However we only had one very dim torch and the bow down angle was increasing rapidl y . Wecame out via the after ends hatch. On the casing Commander Summerhays told me to jump and I was picked up by one of the dockyard boats.


     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'
torpedo running after discharge excitement.

In June,1955, SIDON took over from us as the 'Fancy' trials boat and,if I recall correctly, her accident took place with
the first batch she embarked. On 16 June, l955, SIDON and SPRINGER were berthed on their own on MAIDSTONE's Port side, with SIDON inboard. SPRINGER was due to sail first, to proceed to Kiel for Kiel Week, followed by SIDON to carry out 'Fancy1 trial firings.

Both SPRINGER and SIDON were at Harbour Stations and we were in the process of letting go when
Lieutenant Rycroft, who was also SIDON's Correspondence Officer, came down the ladder from MAIDSTONE's well deck carrying SIDON's official correspondence, which he had just collected from the Captain's Office inboard. He should have been on SIDON's casing in his capacity as Casing Officer, but as he arrived he requested permission from his First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Ed Pugsley, to proceed instead to the Fore Ends to take charge of the Tubes Crew, who were handling the 'Fancies'. By my reckoning, he can only just have arrived there when the torpedo blew up.

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.
My Tubes Crew and I felt particularly bad about the complete loss of SIDON's Tubes Crew, when we eventually heard about it. We had been firing 'Fancies' for some time and we were all unmarried, so we felt that it should have been us, particularly as our opposite numbers in SIDON were all married.



 

DSA Counter