Still running at full speed ahead steering
090 degrees, the "Hammond" was passing the Island of
Molde, which was going up in flames, being battered by the dive
bombers and and the asdic was receiving rapid "ping",
"ping", "ping" echoes and the U-boat was running
out of space and would have to turn round or surface and get rammed
by the speeding trawler.
Then a deck hand raised the alarm and pointed on the port beam!
One dive-bomber had peeled off and was flying towards the "Hammond"
to see what was going on, and it made its pass, and like Aberdonians,
some of them waved to the pilot and at the same time the gunners
on the poop deck opened up with the machine guns.
Jakey had to think fast! "Drop the depth charges!" he
roared out! and the two cylinders rolled off the after deck into
the sea. He didn't want a triple explosion if the dive-bomber
got a direct hit on them, plus the Hammond was almost on top of
the U boat at the same time anyway.
The bomber circled and was obviously well into its mission and
getting low on fuel and Jakey guessed that he could only make
one pass, so he altered course and got ready for the evasive manoeuvre,
too bad for the bomber he couldn't get any altitude at such close
range, so he headed straight for the "Hammond" flying
about fifty feet above the water level, and the "Hammond"
headed straight for the bomber and both were going at full speed.
At that propitious moment that comes along at some time in everybody's
life, Jakey watched the gap between them diminish, while the whole
crew stared in awe, waiting for their impending doom, and the
gunners on the poop-deck were giving the german pilot a harrowing
run, then suddenly Jakey roared out the order, "Hard a' Starboard!"
and the helmsman spun the wheel and the "Hammond" suddenly
swerved to the right! The gerry pilot was going too fast and he
was too low and his target was moving out of the line of fire,
and hastily he released his last bomb!
All hands standing on deck stood stock still
as they watched the bomb detach itself from the undercarriage.
The bomber roared overhead and left the scene and the silent menacing
shape was all that the crew could see arching down on them! The
Hammond was now beam on, and the bomb, as is a miracle was happening
before their eyes, passed between the wheelhouse and the funnel
and dipped over the starboard quarter and to everyone's astonishment
it landed in the sea, just missing the swerving after-deck!
And at the same time the released depth
charges went 'Thud! Thud! somewhere in the deep
But there was to be no happy ending
to this harrowing event. Once the bomb disappeared under the water,
it exploded in the sea below the engine room and the "Hammond"
immediately started to fill with water
Everything had happened so fast, the
ship was sinking, their mission was over and they had to abandon
the ship, the Skipper gave the command and all hands dove into
the water and swam for the land and they all got ashore safely...into
Part Two of
the story ....
James Crockett & Nick Clark 2006