The Admiral Who Won the Battle of the Atlantic, Defeated the U-Boat Menace, and Played Golf Every Day.
Admiral Sir Max Kennedy Horton, RN (1883–1951)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Distinguished Service Order & two bars, Legion of Merit from the United States of America, Order of St George, Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life at Sea, Légion d’honneur, Croix de Guerre; Order of St. Vladimir, Order of St. Anna, Order of St. Stanislaus; Order of Orange-Nassau, Order of St. Olaf.
(the painting is oil on canvass by Arthur Douglas Wales-Smith. Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum.)
After years of loss, of ships sunk, men killed, of unrelenting vigilance and ceaseless patrol kept in all weathers, Western Approaches Command defeats the U-Bootwaffe.
The following sequence of photos show U-249 surrendering to the Royal Navy. One can only imagine the relief felt by Sir Max and everyone else. It was over and they had won.
After surrendering at sea to HMS Magpie and Amethyst on 9 May 1945, U-249 was escorted to Weymouth Bay and met by the Boom Defense Vessel HMS Northlyn where Commander N.P. Weir and a contingent of Polish sailors boarded and accepted the boat’s surrender.
Oberleutnant Kock, the kommandant, and his officers talk with Polish sailors as the boarding officer Commander Weir looks on.
Polish sailors board the boat and take charge of the German crew mustered on the foredeck. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
Since Poland was the first country Hitler actually attacked and since the Germans regarded the Poles as Untermenschen or “inferior peoples” who deserved to die, it must have been humiliating to have Polish sailors board the U-Boat which is probably why the Royal Navy ordered them to take the surrender.
Oberleutnant Kock turns away from Commander Weir after signing the surrender papers – The UZO torpedo aiming device with binoculars attached can be seen between the two men. (Note that Kock is wearing his officer’s cap with a white cover, the non-regulation, but traditional cap worn only on a U-Boot by the boat by the Kommandant.)
(Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
On 30 August 1939, two days prior to the German attack on Poland, the Polish Navy ordered three destroyers to sail for Great Britain. Those ships were designated OORP (ship of the Republic of Poland). Their allegiance was to the Polish government in exile in London and not the puppet regime in exile set up by Stalin.
It is worth remembering that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of non-aggression and friendship and a secret codicil to that treaty specified they would divide Poland between them once the Germans attacked. And they did.
Blyskawica (Lightning), Grom (Thunder) and Burza (Tempest) reached Scotland by 1 September 1939. It would be years before these men had any contact with home or family or loved ones.
From the following website which has lots of info of the Polish Navy serving with the Royal Navy in World War Two:
“Two submarines later joined the Polish naval force. The submarine ORP Wilk (Wolf) reached Rosyth on the 20th September 1939, its commander Boguslaw Krawczyk, being the first Polish Navy officer to receive the DSO. The Wilk and Orzel (Eagle) after refitting were assigned to the 2nd Submarine Flotilla based at Rosyth. The Orzel became well known to the British public on account of its daring escape from the port of Tallin in Esthonia, which Churchill described as ‘epic’.”
Polish ships remained under Polish command as well as remaining warships of the Republic of Poland while integrated into the Royal Navy. As the war went on, many of the early ships were lost. These were replaced by ships transferred to Polish Navy ownership by the British Royal Navy.
“A total of 2 cruisers, 6 destroyers, 3 submarines and 8 Motor Torpedo Boats were transferred to the Polish Navy during the War. “
The Polish Navy served with immense gallantry alongside the Royal Navy.
Polish Navy destroyer Burza which served with the Royal Navy.
(photo courtesy of http://navalwarfare.blogspot.com/2011/06/orp-burza.html)