A fine Second World War “sub-on-sub
Estimate: £3,000 - £3,500
ca. US$5,958 - US$6,951
Price realised: £5,200
A fine Second World War “sub-on-sub” D.S.M. group of six awarded to Lieutenant-Commander (E.) W. E. Glass, Royal Navy, who, having been decorated for his part in the destruction of the Italian submarine Capitano Tarantini in 1940, won a “mention” for further patrols in the Pacific in 1945 Distinguished Service Medal, G.VI.R. (C.MX. 50778 W. E. Glass, E.R.A. 3, H.M.S. Thunderbolt); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; Burma Star; War Medal 1939-45, M.I.D. oak leaf, minor contact wear, generally good very fine (6) £3000-3500 Footnote D.S.M. London Gazette 4 February 1941: ‘For courage, skill and seamanship in destroying an Italian submarine.’ The original recommendation states: ‘For marked efficiency in the performance of his duty as outside E.R.A. in the face of the enemy.’ Mention in despatches London Gazette 20 November 1945: ‘For gallantry, skill and outstanding devotion to duty whilst serving in H.M. Submarines in numerous successful patrols in trying climatic conditions in the Pacific, frequently carried out in shallow and difficult waters and in the presence of strong opposition.’ William Ernest Glass, a native of Prinsted, Sussex, was born in April 1907 and joined the Royal Navy as an Engine Room Artificer 4th Class in June 1934. Having joined the submarine branch in 1935, his pre-war commissions included L. 53 and Odin, and come the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, he was serving as and E.R.A. 3rd Class in Osiris. “Thunderbolt” (ex-”Thetis”) 1940-42 He then served briefly in Porpoise, from December 1939 to April 1940, prior to joining Thunderbolt (ex-Thetis) in the latter month. Thetis, of course, had struck tragedy in Liverpool Bay in June 1939, amidst world publicity, just four of her crew escaping after a disastrous trial dive, and following her salvage, it fell to a clean-up team which included Glass to prepare her for her re-commissioning as the Thunderbolt. Refitted by October 1940, and placed under the command of Lieutenant C. B. Crouch, R.N., Thunderbolt’s first taste of action was a classic “sub-on-sub” encounter in the Bay of Biscay on 15 December 1940, when she came upon the Italian submarine Capitano Tarantini. And what followed was a masterly attack of textbook precision, leaving Their Lordships in no doubt as to the fate of the enemy submarine: ‘The patrol for which these recommendations are forwarded was carried out between 3-21 December close to the enemy occupied coast. On 15 December, Thunderbolt sighted an Italian U-Boat escorted by three armed trawlers and fired six torpedoes at a range of about 4,000 yards. A tall column of water was seen to rise in the air when one torpedo hit, followed by an explosion and the appearance of the bow or stern of the U-Boat sticking out of the water as it sank. This evidence left no doubt that the attack was successful. The counter-attack by the escorting trawlers was evaded, but on 17 December Thunderbolt was subjected to an intensive hunt by two A./S. sloops, one of which passed directly over her and carried away her diving aerial with a sweep.’ In point of fact Crouch had obained a ‘stern-on hit’, and only those who had been standing on the Italian submarine’s conning tower were able to jump for it - in the end just four men, including a Lieutenant, were plucked from the water. Crouch was awarded the D.S.O., his No. 1 the D.S.C., and five ratings, including Glass, the D.S.M., while five others received “mentions”. Next employed on convoy escort duties, operating out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Thunderbolt survived being straddled by 6-inch shells delivered in error by the armed merchant cruiser Canton, following which, to everyone’s relief, she was ordered to the Mediterranean, and, by September 1941, was back on regular war patrols, busy work that continued until March 1942: ‘The early days of the fifth patrol proved that their luck had turned once again. During a bare three weeks at sea - it was the end of January and the beginning of February 194
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