- McIntosh, Ian, Sub-Lieutenant, RN
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Incidentally I was to learn later that one of the group shots had been released to the papers and had been noticed by my family at home in Adelaide. The photo was small and very indistinct, but my younger sister was convinced that she recognised me and the family all raced down to the newspapers office in order to be able to see the photo off the wire. Thus they got confirmation of my safe arrival in Brazil.
The care we received at the hospital was excellent and with nursing and food the flesh returned to our rather gaunt looking bodies and the salt-water sores healed.
While in hospital we were visited by our fishermen who, without the benefit of public transport or any vehicles, had trekked all the way to bring us gifts of fruit.
Although officially neutral, Brazil was firmly pro-Allies and anti-Axis. Consequently the authorities decided that, instead of being interned for the duration of the war, we should be classified as ‘distressed British Seamen’ and repatriated.
Therefore, once we had made as much medical progress as our condition and the climate would allow, they provided passage for us in an excellent liner, in which, fully illuminated as a neutral, we sailed in something approaching luxury to Port of Spain in Trinidad. There I took passage in a British merchantman to Bermuda where she was to join a convoy.
While enjoying myself in Bermuda, I was offered and accepted a berth as a nominal Flight Engineer of a Catalina flying boat, that, having been built in California, was being delivered to England for the Ministry of Aircraft Construction. After three practice flights, we flew via Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Gander Lake, New Brunswick and finally to Greenock in Scotland. From there, I went to London to report to Admiral Sir Max Horton. He listened to the whole story then remarked, ‘Well McIntosh, it seems you have the first attribute required by a submariner – good luck!’
From there, I was able to join my first submarine, delayed but happy to have achieved it at last.
In recognition of his courage and devotion to duty during this epic voyage, Ian McIntosh was awarded a military MBE – a most unusual decoration for a person of such junior rank.
Continuing in the Submarine Service after his return from Brazil, he progressed to command in the later years of the Second World War. He performed this task with notable distinction – earning both the DSO and DSC in addition to being twice mentioned in despatches. He was one of the most successful submarine captains to have survived the conflict.
Progressing in his Royal Naval career, Ian rapidly climbed the ladder of promotion, commanding a submarine squadron and an aircraft carrier prior to his promotion to Flag Rank.
He retired in 1980, having achieved the rank of Vice Admiral and adding the CB and KBE to the ribbons on his chest.
For reasons of his immediate family, he elected to make his home in the UK and provide a secure base for them all – but he never forsook his Aussie roots. He has remained a dedicated Australian to this day – visiting surviving relatives and friends regularly before advancing years intervened.
He is a great man of whom our country should be very proud.