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THE DUTCH SUBMARINE Hr.Ms. O13



The British Liaison Team of the Dutch submarine Hr.Ms. O13:

The royal Navy wanted to be sure there would not be any miscommunication with the submarines of the Dundee based 9th submarine flotilla. Therefore all subs of the continent had special Royal Navy liaison teams of 3 British sailors on board mainly for telegraphic and signalling duties. Also the Dutch submarine Hr. Ms. O13 (onderzeeboot 13) had three British sailors on board when it vanished near the south west coast of Norway.
These three men not only left their homes to serve their country in the least comfortable boat the Navy used, but also as part of a foreign crew of 31 dutch sailors they hardly knew. These three brave British sailors were:

-  Lieutenant Brian Ernest Greswell (age 22)
-  Leading Telegraphist Hugh Phimster McDonald (age 26) 
-  Signalman James Henry Spettigue (age 29)
Following is some information of these men that can be found on the internet. It is not much, reason for the site O13stilonpatrol to tweet for more information at regular intervals.
Would you know more about one of these men then please contact me by mail.



1 - Lieutenant Brian Ernest Greswell

Brian Ernest Greswell, son of Ernest Arthur and Grace Lilian Greswell, of Oxford, KiA Age 22.

There is more information found about Brian Ernest then of the other 2 sailors, possibly because of his rank, officer. The navy career of Ian, as he was called, can be found here.
He started his Navy career as cadet on HMS Frobisher (cadet training cruiser) in 1935. After having been posted on several cruisers he specialized in submarine duties on a submarine course at Portsmouth on HMS Dolphin from januari to may 1939. Before joining the O13 crew as British Naval Liaison Officer he was S.Lt on HMS Cachalot (minelaying submarine) from september 1939 untill april 1940. So he was used to living on board of a sub.

On the "Tatham family history" site most of his family relations can be found. He was born in 1918 possibly in India and had an older brother Dick and a younger sister Joan. His brother was an officer in the army stationed in Nigeria from 1940 onwards. On the same site a recent BBC article has been reproduced titled "Dutch Navy to search for Dundee-based submarine lost in WWII".



2 - Leading Telegraphist Hugh Phimster McDonald

Hugh Phimster McDonald, son of John William and Maggie McDonald, of Fareham, Hampshire; husband of Winifred Dorothy, KiA Age 26. This information can also be found on this page on Martin's website. Hugh's name is also on the "Roll of Honour" as part of the Hampshire Fareham War Memorial as can be seen here ...



3 - Signalman James Henry Spettigue

James Henry Spettigue, son of James and Lucy Spettigue; husband of L. M. H. Spettigue, of Devonport, KiA Age 29.

James was born Mar 1912 - Birmingham, Warwickshire. On MyHeritage one can find the family tree of the Spetigue Family. James was the youngest son and had one oldest sister and two older brothers.

According BoxRec and several other sites Jimmy, as he was called in his youth, had a boxing fight on 10 November 1934. He went KO against Willy Nankervis in round 5 of an 8 rounds fight. He also seemed to like dancing. As his sister in law Audrey Spettigue was cited in a newspaper, even during the early war months Jimmy used to go out to the Palais du Dance in Ladywood, Birmingham. To read the complete story continue here ....
On the forum of Silent Hunter one can read about Jimmy in following post titled "Dutch submarine Onderzeeboot 13 (O13) which disappeared with British personnel on board".




All three men are remembered with Honour

All three men are remembered with Honour on Naval Memorials in Plymouth or Portsmouth.
The commemorations of the War Graves Commissions in certificates and on panels with the engraved names of the sailors are reproduced (with thanks) below including information about panel and row numbers.





For those interrested, see following article for more indepth information about liaison teams during WWII:
Jones, Mark C. Not just along for the ride: the role of Royal Navy liaison personnel in multinational naval operations during World War II.
Journal of Military History volume 76, issue 1, pages 127-158, published January 2012.

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(This page from 2013 was last updated on 24-04-2013).