- Hudspeth, K.R., LCDR, RANR Rtd
- WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Still at anchor we mounted and checked all gear and at daylight checked out our position by shore-marks. We were to have run a mile west to drop an officer in an anchored rubber dinghy with other signalling gear, but the sea was too rough.
As aircraft attacked ashore and the naval bombardment from offshore began, we started our signalling with a shaded light, a tiny radar beacon and a crude mechanical hammer to be picked up by Asdic. And, we carried the biggest ensign we could muster to reassure our own forces!
At last through the murk the first craft appeared and the lines of landing craft surging in the rising sea passed close on either side heading for the beaches, followed by seemingly endless streams of others, with the salvoes from the rocket ships pouring overhead.
Our job was done and we had only to wait for escort to our trawler waiting offshore, to shackle on the towline, quietly submerge and be comfortably towed through the swept channels to reach DOLPHIN in time for a bath and dinner. Something of an anticlimax, as the real war developed just across the water.
It is considered that great skill and endurance was shown by the crews of X-Craft. Their reports of proceedings which were a masterpiece of understatement, read like the deck log of a surface ship in peacetime, and not of a very small and vulnerable submarine carrying out a hazardous operation in time of war.
Ken Hudspeth was a teacher and in retirement still lives –in Tasmania. He held the rank of Lieutenant as C.O. of X20. After training at HMAS RUSHCUTTER in 1940 he had been seconded to the RN for anti-submarine duties, to which he returned after service with X-Craft. This article was originally prepared as personal reminiscence for his colleagues of the Antisubmarine Officers Association.
X•CRAFT – Some details
Overall-length: 52 feet.
Displacement: 30 tons;
Propulsion: diesel engine and electric motor;
Range: approximately 1000 miles;
Speed: 6.5km on engine, 2km economical speed submerged;
Armament: two crescent-sectioned charges 30 feet long, each with two tons of explosive;
Diving Depth: 300 feet.