- Lind, L.J. and Payne, Alan
- Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1977 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Lieutenant Teacher had hoped to capture the submarine intact and tow it back to Alexandria, but as the whaler came alongside it was realised the vessel was sinking. Her Captain had laid ten scuttling charges and opened the sea cocks. The charges detonated soon after the last man scrambled clear and the Gondar, for that was her name, slipped gently beneath the waves, 25 miles off El Daba, Egypt.
In addition to the 28 survivors rescued by Stuart another 19 were picked up by Sidonis. Two sailors were lost, one killed by the aircraft’s bombs and a second by drowning.
Gondar’s captain when interrogated by Lieutenant Teacher broke down and wept. He divulged that Gondar was carrying three human torpedoes for an attack on shipping in Alexandria Harbour.
HMS Diamond arrived soon after the action and while Stuart and Sidonis returned to Alexandria she continued a further search in case a second enemy submarine was in the vicinity.
Late in the afternoon of 30th September, Stuart arrived off Alexandria. Signalman L.E. Clifford described the destroyer’s welcome: ‘We had hoisted the Australian Ensign at the masthead prior to entering harbour, and as we approached Vampire at her berth, we noted that she had outmatched our effort by flying the ‘Wallaby Jack’ at each masthead and yardarm. On her bridge we spied Captain Waller; her decks were lined with men. As Stuart drew level with her flotilla mate, Captain Waller called for three rousing cheers and signalled:
‘Whacko! You did not waste much time’.
Vendetta added her congratulations: ‘Whacko, Whiskers’ (Whiskers was the nickname of bearded Lieutenant Teacher).
Waterhen, not to be outdone, signalled, ‘Whacko, but I don’t know what it is all about’.
Admiral Cunningham in a general signal to the fleet later described Stuart’s success as ‘An outstanding example of a result achieved by patience and skill in operation of Asdic gear’.
Some months later Stuart’s action was officially recognised by the award of the Distinguished Service Order to Lieutenant N.W. Teacher, RN, the Distinguished Service Cross to Sub-Lieutenant J.B. Griffin and T.C. Cree and the Distinguished Service Medal to Leading Seamen A.H. MacDonald and L.T. Pike.