Historian of U-Boat Malta Joseph-Stephen Bonanno, has traveled to Gosport with a business visit to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum to meet some truly interesting people and to see its library and archive. Below you can find an extract from his report on his business trip:
“At last, after nearly 45 minutes of a walk, I arrived at the car park of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum right on time. At the same moment, two cars entered in the parking and parked. A man came out and asked me, “Joseph”? It was Jim Ring the person I had to meet.
Jim Ring, a famous author of various reputable books and Director of Gig House Films, then introduced me to his business partner Director Richard Kennan, Rear Admiral Rob Stevens, and his wife Viviane. At the Administration block there we were welcomed by the Royal Navy Submarine Archivist George Malcolmson who ushered us to the board room.
Together among other things we explored:
- How U-Boat Malta Ltd and Gig House Films could collaborate together on a historical documentary/film.
- The advantage of having knowledgeable people on the topic as Rear Admiral Stevens.
- The research work that our company been carrying out during these years on such a topic of which they all found it ‘impressive’,
- The advantages of working with U-Boat Malta Ltd.
- What they accomplished so far on this story.
Hope for the future is positive.
After this pleasant meeting, I met again with Mr. Malcolmson who kindly showed me around in their archives as well their large submarine library where I stayed consulting documents. I wanted to take profit till the last second to which I wish to thank so much George not only for such a unique experience but also for making his personal files available and more.
While there, George introduced me to a man who was carrying research work on his own father who happened to be Commander Lennox W. Napier of the British minelayer, H. M. Submarine Rorqual.
While walking through Clayhall Road, I stopped to have a look at The Royal Naval Cemetery which is on an area of approximately 17 acres and contains among many the 42 Officers and men of H.M. Submarine L55 whose bodies were brought from the Baltic in 1928 and lie together in a collective grave.
At Haslar Road is what used to be the Royal Hospital Haslar. When constructed in 1753, it was the biggest hospital and largest brick building in England. In the 1940s it set up the country’s first blood bank to treat wounded soldiers.
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum opened its doors to the public at 10.00 a.m. Twenty minutes later an ex-submariner came and took the group outside to visit H.M. Submarine Alliance that was built for service in the Far east during WWII. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1947. Alliance had a long and distinguished career of over 28 years that took her all over the world. She is the centerpiece of the museum and is the official memorial to the courageous men who fought in similar boats for the freedom we enjoy.
The tour took us from the forward torpedo compartment, through the accommodation section to the control room, where we were told something of navigation, diving, and surfacing. The tour then moved to the domestic services, including the heads and the galley. We were then led through the heat of the engine room and finished up in the after torpedo compartment where the guide explained how to escape from a submarine. The tour helped to recreate the atmosphere, smell, conditions, and sounds onboard a WWII British submarine.
After we stepped out from Alliance, not from a hatch but a side door, everyone was left on his own to visit the rest of the museum which by now was swarming with people. The museum traces the international history of submarine development from the age of Alexander the Great (333 BC) when he made his legendary descent to the ocean floor in a glass barrel, to the present day, and particularly the history of Submarine Services from the tiny Holland I, which is among the other main attractions, to the Nuclear-powered Vanguard Class Submarine.
An other curious item with a sad ending is a cake that was baked by the mother of Telegraphist A. Burbage to celebrate his return home. However, his submarine, HMS P33, was lost with all hands off Tripoli in August 1941. The cake was kept in his memory.
One could also see a full-size copy of The Turtle, the first submersible with a documented record use in combat during the Revolutionary War. The attack occurred on September 7, 1776.
Another must see was X24 the only surviving WWII British midget submarine. The last but not the least to admire was the famous Holland I the first Royal Navy submarine.
I set again walking to visit quickly Gosport Water Front.
Among the things that caught my eye there were: The D-Day Memorial which commemorates the ships and troops who departed from this point in June 1944 en route to the Normandy beaches; also the Tide Clock, which denotes the state of the tide in the harbour; but most of all on the other side of Portsmouth Harbour was HMS Victory, Nelson’s famous flagship at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.”
Our historian Joseph-Steven Bonanno left England very inspired by new facts, acquaintances and stories. We are really looking forward to further resultative collaboration between U-Boat Malta Ltd., and all the great people that our historian got a chance to meet at the Royal Navy Submarine museum.