Families meet to commemorate wartime British seamen lost on HMS Narwhal

 

A group of intrepid Polish divers were in London for an emotional meeting on January 12, 2018, with relatives of the brave seamen who served on HMS Narwhal, a British submarine sunk by the Luftwaffe in the North Sea on July 23, 1940, with the loss of 58 lives.

The mission of the Polish diving team, led by Tomasz Stachura, is to find the lost Polish submarine ORP Orzel (the name means Eagle) which mysteriously disappeared between May 23 and June 8, 1940, while sailing for the Royal Navy.

The latter submarine holds a mythical place in Polish history, having daringly escaped from the Nazis, crossing the Baltic and North Sea without charts and reporting for duty under Royal Navy Command at the Scottish port of Rosyth in October 1939 after the fall of Poland. The ‘Santi find the Eagle’ project has run four expeditions, the first in 2014, searching the bed of the North Sea using the most sophisticated equipment, looking for the lost Eagle.

During its 2017 mission the team was breathtakingly excited to uncover the distinctive sonar signal and outline of a submarine similar in size and shape to the Polish vessel. A 3D radar scan showed the wreck perfectly intact 94 m below the surface. It was confidently identified by expert hydrographers and historians in the team to be HMS Narwhal, a British ship sunk by the German forces with the loss of all on board while on patrol in the North Sea only a few weeks after the disappearance of the Polish Eagle.

HMS Narwhal was a mine-laying submarine with a short but eventful career in wartime service. In May 1940 she torpedoed and sank the German troop transport Buenos Aries and torpedoed and damaged the Bahia Castillo. Many other enemy ships sank after encountering mines laid by the British submarine.

Realising the importance of the find for the families of those who perished, the Polish team posted details of their find on internet forums and were overwhelmed by the response they received from surviving family members. The daughter of Lieutenant Commander Ronald Burch, Tamara Lo who is 80 years old, and many grandchildren, great-nieces and nephews of those who died contacted the Polish team to express their thanks and interest in their discovery. Photographs and stories of life on board HMS Narwhal were shared, bringing the life and bravery of those who perished over 77 years ago into focus again.

The Polish team decided to hold a meeting in London with the relatives of the officers and crew of HMS Narwhal to give everyone with a family connection to their find the opportunity to hear about the mission and ask questions and exchange stories and memories. The historic meeting took place at Ognisko Polskie, the Polish Hearth Club in South Kensington, organised by the London-based member of the Find the Eagle team, Piotr Michalik who is also on the voluntary board managing the club, which was founded in the dark days of the second world war as a home from home for the Polish armed forces and other free Poles in exile.

At the meeting on January 12, more than 40 members of the families of those who died on HMS Narwhal were present, bringing photographs, diaries and other memorabilia to share with each other. Six members of the Polish ‘Santi find the Eagle’ team took part warmly welcomed those present and in his introduction covered the impressive history of both lost submarines. Head of the expedition Tomasz Stachura showed a short film and recounted the challenge of searching in the treacherous conditions of the North Sea. The crew of HMS Narwhal was honoured and remembered by all present and the event proved to be an emotional day for all who took part. The discovery answered questions about the true end of the vessel and its crew and brought closure to those who have lived for so long without confirmation of where their loved ones died and rested on the bottom of the sea for over seven decades.

Ms Lo said later: “Many thanks for having helped to organise the meeting for Narwhal relatives. I was very moved that so many people had given their time and effort in such a demonstration of generosity and solidarity.”

Daniel Burch, a relative of  Commander Ronald Burch, said: “I found the meeting very interesting with so much detail about the project to find the Orzel and the accidental discovery of the Narwhal.  As well as all the effort that has been put into the project over four or more years, a lot of time and energy must have been spent on contacting relatives of the Narwhal‘s crew, and I am impressed that so many attended and some had made long journeys to be present.  And we all have copies of the Find the Eagle book, with its interesting commentary and lovely photos.  I do hope the team is finally successful in their quest and look forward to watching the blockbuster film to follow.”

Piotr Michalik has been proud and honoured to organise this event “to bring together our team with the families of those who died serving on the lost British submarine HMS Narwhal. Although our main aim is still to find the Polish submarine ORP Orzel I am thrilled that we discovered HMS Narwhal on our search. Meeting the relatives of the commander and crew has been an unforgettable and moving experience. It has brought home to us the reality of the awful loss of life, and the bravery and dedication of those who risked their lives serving on the submarine.”

Radar scan shows Narwhal wreck intact 94 m below surface.

Tomasz Stachura, a member of the Santi Find the Eagle team said: “This meeting was extremely important to all the members of the Santi Find the Eagle team. My impression was that after 77 years all the relatives who participated were able to close a chapter of their history. My dream is to hold such a meeting with families of the ORP Orzel crew, it would mean so much. I hope that, together with British divers in a joint expedition, we will be able to lay flowers and fix a plaque to the wreck of HMS Narwhal to honour the British heroes.”

Commander’s daughter Tamara Lo thanks organisers.

More on: http://www.allaboutshipping.co.uk/2018/01/17/families-meet-to-commemorate-wartime-british-seamen-lost-on-hms-narwhal/

Families of men lost on HMS Narwhal plan to pay tribute at their watery grave

For years they have wondered precisely where and how their loved ones lost their lives.

Now, more than 70 years on, relatives of 58 sailors lost when a British submarine was sunk during a German attack are planning to visit the spot where it went down.

It promises to be an emotional journey, especially as it might never have been on the cards.

The wreck of the HMS Narwhal was only discovered by accident when members of a Polish diving team came across it while searching the North Sea for one of their own missing subs.

The families of those lost on the Narwhal are now calling for the wreck to be treated as a war grave to protect it from scavengers.

George Clandon, 71, a retired plumber from Burscough, Lancashire, whose uncle, George Lawson, was an engineer on the Narwhal when it went down, said: “The Polish guys did a magnificent job finding the Narwhal, albeit with a little luck.

“As a family we are absolutely delighted they stumbled on the Narwhal. For years we had wondered where it had gone down and what happened had happened. Uncle George can really rest in peace now.”

Tamara Lo, the daughter of the Narwhal’s Captain, Lieutenant Commander Robert Burch, said: “I was two in 1940 and only have the vaguest ‘memories’ of my father – rather like short loops of film.

“So, after nearly 8 decades of knowing about the loss of the boat, the information that divers had found Narwhal made me cry. I never realised how numerous the crew was.”

Mr Clandon, Mrs Lo and other relatives of those lost on board are to meet next month as a first step towards organising a memorial visit to the spot where HMS Narwhal went down next May.

The mission would involve six Polish and two British divers going down to the wreck while the mens’ relatives cast a wreath onto the waters above from a research vessel on the surface.

There are hopes the divers may be able to affix a permanent plaque to the wreck in memory of those whose remains still lie inside.

The HMS Narwhal lies in international waters and is therefore not closed to dives, although it remains the property of the British government. Families of those who died have called for other diving teams to treat the wreck with the respect it deserves.

Mr Clandon, who himself served in the Royal Navy until 1970, said: “My uncle was an engineer and would have taken the full impact of the bomb because he was in the engine room.

“People didn’t really appreciate what he and the other sailors were doing. There was also a lot of secrecy surrounding their work as they were laying mines to stop enemy ships leaving their harbours.

“Of course it should be treated as a war grave to protect it from scavengers and memorabilia hunters.”

A Royal Navy Spokesperson said: “Any site of naval military remains, such as this one, should remain undisturbed as a mark of respect for all those who may have lost their lives on such vessels.”

The Polish Santi Diving team, armed with sophisticated sonar equipment, confirmed the location of Narwhal earlier this year while on mission to try to find the ORP Orzel (Eagle), which disappeared mysteriously while on a secret mission for the Royal Navy’s 2nd submarine flotilla in 1940.

It was no secret there was a 90-metre long vessel lying intact 140 miles off the east coast of Scotland, but no-one knew exactly whose vessel it was.

The North Sea is littered with submarine wrecks – 150 sunken German U-Boats, as well as 50 British submarines, several French ones, two Dutch and one Polish one, the long lost Eagle that Poland has been searching for over the last decade.

Tomasz Stachura, the 52-year-old CEO of Santi Diving, said: “The size of this craft – 90 metres – is a very unique point of identification. We know that German U-boats are only 65-metres long, so we were prepared for this to be either the Narwhal or the Eagle, as no other Navies reported a loss in this area and there are only a few vessels like it in the world.”

It was only analyzing the detailed 3D sonar scans that the authorities were able to confirm that it was indeed most likely the HMS Narwhal, lost in the Battle of Britain in July 1940 after being attacked by the Luftwaffe.

The submarine had left its base in Blyth Northumberland to lay mines near German-occupied Norway. But the Germans, who had cracked the Royal Navy’s secret codes, knew the Narwhal’s route and attacked it with a bomber.

It was presumed sank in July 1940. The Luftwaffe’s report said the submarine had been hit in the stern. The side-scan sonar, in fact, reveals just that.

“The sonar shows the wreck is intact, except for the damage we can see on the stern exactly in the place where the pilot reported it,” Mr. Stachura said.

The dive team continued their search for their own sub, the Eagle, without success and upon returning to Poland, contacted the Royal Navy about their find, but never heard back.

Since their discovery the Polish divers have flooded with letters and emails from as far away as Malta and India from relatives of the British seamen lost on board.

After a report was posted on the World Naval Ships Forum, Santi’s Facebook site began to overflow with messages from relatives of the lost seamen.

“We decided to try to put all these different people in touch with one another,” said Mr Stachura.

“We kept thinking, ‘what we can do for them?’ “We thought, ‘well, we are experts in diving, so we can  dive on Narwhal, perhaps take a memorial plaque and place flowers there so that all of these people they feel they can finally close their stories.’”

Diving the HMS Narwhal

In diving, any depth below 60 metres (200 feet) is considered a “deep dive” requiring with special equipment necessary to stay down longer.

The Narwhal is a diveable wreck lying 308 (94 metres) feet beneath the surface, in international waters.

The Santi dive team are masters of deep diving on wrecks in the frigid conditions of the Baltic Sea. They were the first divers to explore the lost Nazi aircraft carrier the Graf Zeppelin, which sunk off the Polish coast in 1947.

The team use the most advanced technology available today – rebreathers, a computerized technology that mixes three gases (oxygen, helium and nitrogen) in accordance to depths and the body’s needs, while at the same time removing exhaled carbon dioxide using scrubbers, allowing the divers to stay underwater for longer. Because the diver’s breath is being recycled, the diver leaves no telltale bubble-trails  – ideal for specialized military or hard-core technical divers in scientific and commercial sectors.

The Santi dive team wear their own dry suits with heating systems and rugged JJ CCR rebreathers, the same kind used by Scandinavian military units. Each diver also carries a bailout system.

Not only is the Narwhal a very deep dive, it is also lying just 80 metres from a gas pipeline, despite  regulations requiring pipelines be at least 500 metres from wrecks.

“This makes it very complicated – the diving is very demanding, but there is a lot of paperwork necessary to get permissions, and we also need to talk to local divers in Scotland about the current,” said Mr. Stachura.

Once all permissions have been secured, the team hopes to go out to the site next May with a 20-metre research vessel, with a team made up of six Polish divers and two British divers with expert knowledge of the North Sea currents.

 Read more – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/17/families-men-lost-hms-narwhal-plan-pay-tribute-watery-grave/

Wreck of HMS Narwhal containing the remains of 58 British seaman who were killed during WWII is accidentally found in the North Sea by Polish divers

he final resting place of 58 British seaman who were killed when their submarine sank in World War Two has been discovered in the North Sea by accident.

The wreck of the HMS Narwhal was found 77 years after it disappeared by a group of Polish divers who were looking for one of their nation’s lost submarines in the area.

A 3D radar scan showing the craft perfectly intact in 308ft (94 metres) of water has confirmed it to be the war-time submarine which was attacked by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in July 1940.

The submarine left its base in Blyth, Northumberland, tasked with the job of laying mines off German-occupied Norway.

But the Germans had cracked the Royal Navy’s secret codes and were aware of Narwhal’s potential route.

It was intercepted by a Dornier bomber and attacked on July 23.

Earlier this year members of Santi Diving, a Polish-based group of deep-sea explorers, were carrying out a search for ORP Orzel (Eagle) when they found the Narwhal.

It was 140 miles (225km) off the east coast of Scotland and it’s latitude is in line with Edinburgh.

The Orzel has been missing since escaping the German invasion of Poland in 1939.

Polish divers have spent the last 10 years looking for it without success.

Having made the potentially historic discovery the team are now looking to find the families of the 58 men whose remains are inside the wreck.

Tomasz Stachura, one of the divers behind the expedition, said: ‘We are very interested in any contact with HMS Narwhal staff relatives as it would be good to hear their stories.

‘While we were searching for the ORP Eagle we found an unknown sub at a depth of around 308ft (94 metres) deep.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5046397/Wreck-HMS-Narwhal-North-Sea-Polish-divers.html#ixzz564rSU09h

 

THE NEXT STAGE OF THE EXPEDITION ‘SANTI ODNALEZC ORLA’ 2017 IS COMPLETED

From May 20 to June 9, 2017, we have completed the next stage of the ‘SANTI Odnalezc Orla’ expedition which aim is to search and locate the ORP ‘Orzel‘, polish submarine sank at the bottom of the North Sea. As part of the expedition we continued the systematic bathymetric measurements started in 2015 in the immediate vicinity of the British aircraft carrier’s attack to submarine on June 3, 1940. The attack took place about 120 nautical miles off the coast of Great Britain at a latitude corresponding to the approximate location of Edinburgh.Czytaj więcej

Zapraszamy na piknik Wodna Fiesta – wypłynięcie Ekipy na ekspedycję !

Wszystkich, którzy nas wspierają i nam kibicują serdecznie zapraszamy w sobotę 20 maja do Gdyńskiej Mariny przy Skwerze Kościuszki. Tego dnia już od godziny 10:00 rozpoczyna się tam piknik Wodna Fiesta, gdzie będzie cala nasza ekipa i można będzie zobaczyć statek badawczy Mewo Nawigator, którym płyniemy. Dostępne będą również pamiątki oraz gadgety związane z naszą ekspedycją. Ponadto możliwość zobaczenia z bliska  okrętu podwodnego KOBEN oraz cala masa atrakcji związanych z morzem.
Wyjście w morze planowane jest na godz. 14:00 – Nabrzeże Prezydenta (obok ORP Błyskawica)

Serdecznie zapraszamy !

Unikatowe fotografie

Mamy dla Was unikatowe fotografie wnętrz Zakładów Akumulatorowych systemu TUDOR S.A. w Piastowie pochodzące z lat trzydziestych, to właśnie TU wykonano 200 szt. ogniw zasilających silniki elektryczne ORŁA. Zakłady funkcjonują do dziś, pod nazwą ZAP Sznajder Batterien S.A. – fotografie udostępnione zostały nam dzięki uprzejmości przedstawicieli Spółki.

Uroczystość odsłonięcia tablicy upamiętniającej członka Załogi ORP Orzeł.

W dniu 17 września w Jarocinie miałem zaszczyt wziąć udział w uroczystości odsłonięcia tablicy upamiętniającej członka Załogi ORP Orzeł. Z inicjatywy Pana Jerzego Kornaszewskiego, pięknie wykonana tablica zawisła na ścianie kamienicy przy ul.Kościuszki 65 –  domu rodzinnym I oficera mechanika na Orle kpt.mar. Floriana Roszaka, który poległ w 1940 r. wraz z załogą okrętu. Organizatorem uroczystości i fundatorem tablicy zostali członkowie najbliższej rodziny kapitana.
Czytaj więcej

Z głębokim żalem….

IMG_0079

Z głębokim żalem i smutkiem, informujemy, że 05 Lipca 2016 roku zmarł Dimitris Stavrakakis. Jeden ze współorganizatorów . sponsorów i pomysłodawców projektu Santi Odnależć Orła.
Niespodziewanie odchodząc, Dima zabrał ze sobą część nas – naszej historii, naszego życia, naszej przyjaźni, naszych marzeń i pragnień.

Będzie nam go bardzo brakowało
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Dima zmarł z przyczyn naturalnych, podczas naszej kolejnej wyprawy nurkowej po Bałtyku
O terminie pogrzebu postaramy się poinformować jak najszybciej