- Perry, W.G.
- RAN operations, History - WW2
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1979 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
A signal received from C-in-C Levant read as follows:-
‘D14 in Jervis with Penn and Brigand will meet you a.m. 3rd in vicinity of Casteloriso to tow Adrias to Alexandria routed via Cyprus. Well done keep going.’
At 0600 (December 3rd) we contacted the two destroyers and the whole force was ordered by Captain D14 to Kakavia Island, about 16 miles to the east of Casteloriso on the Turkish coast. At 0730, Adrias berthed in Kakavia Straits alongside Jervis.
Later in the morning, Captain D14 (Captain Henderson) held a meeting on board to decide the best time of sailing, and to fix up other details of ‘Operation Tableland’. We were routed via Cyprus to obtain maximum air cover.
At 1430, a German reconnaissance plane came over, and 2 hours later a British Beaufighter.
Brigand arranged the tow at 1530 and an hour later we made our way stern first out of the entrance. As soon as Brigand increased speed, the rudder effect of the damaged plating made itself felt, and Adrias turned to starboard until she was bearing about 60 degrees from the tug, with the towrope whipping out of the water. Adrias put 120 revs astern on the port engine but this made no apparent difference. It was clear that our speed would be much lower than anticipated. However, for Lieutenant Collins and myself who had spent the previous two nights keeping down the flooding at the fore end, conditions were ideal as there was no strain on the damaged stem nor any tendency to trim by the bow.
The moon that night was brighter than ever and we felt very conspicuous. At about 1045 we saw flares dropping to the westwards, followed shortly afterwards by the flash of bombs and gunfire and the glow of fires. Casteloriso was being bombed. We were thankful that Captain (D) had chosen Kakavia instead of Casteloriso to berth during the day.
The next half hour passed very slowly, but at last the flares and flashes died away. The night was uneventful after that. I turned in at 0200 and was awakened at 0700 by the Engineer Officer who said that as we were only making good about 5 knots, the Captain wanted to cast off the tow and go ahead again under his own steam. It was then a flat calm and I could hardly object. Soon we were proceeding ahead at 150 revs but it was agreed that should the weather deteriorate, we should again be taken in tow, however slow our speed.
Thus we proceeded without further incident to Limasol in Cyprus where we secured alongside the oiler Cherryleaf at 2000 on December 4th. We tried to get some oxyacetylene cutting apparatus with a view to cutting out panels of plating from the ships side forward of 37 bulkhead and thus reduce the strain on the side plating, which was becoming more and more distorted. None was available, however, and so at 0400 on the 5th we set out as before on the last 300 mile stretch to Alexandria. The weather threatened to deteriorate, but fortunately it was not bad enough to prevent our proceeding ahead.
At about 1000 on Monday, December 6th, we had our first view of Egypt – the wireless masts at Rosetta. We entered the Great Pass at about 1330, and were met by a BYMS flying the Greek flag. The Greek C-in- C and a number of other officers were aboard. They were cheering and waving wildly, and Adrias’ Greek crew cheered and waved back.
As we approached the entrance, another launch came out with the Greek Minister of Marine, followed shortly by the Staff barge with RA (L) and the Chief-of-Staff. Our entry and passage up the harbour was triumphal. Every ship in the harbour cleared Lower Deck and cheered as Adrias went by. It was a most moving experience.
Later the Greek C-in-C made the following signal to C-in-C Levant:-
‘Thank you very much for your kind signal TOO 061244 December, and for the hearty welcome given to the Adrias by the crews of the British ships.’
The safe arrival of this heavily damaged ship was a good piece of seamanship, and was made possible thanks to the valuable assistance given by the Royal Navy.