Click here for the Glossary page
Click here for the main index of the Burton Latimer Heritage Society site
Click here to return to the previous page
From an article in the Kettering "Evening Telegraph" in 1942, supplied by Johnnie Johnson, Ron Johnson's son

How Corvette Rammed "Sub"

Burton Latimer Sailor's Atlantic Adventure

A B Johnson
Ron Johnson

A first-hand account of the battle between the corvette Dianthus and a U-boat, of which details have only just been revealed, has been given by a Burton Latimer seaman A.B.* R Johnson, who took part in the action.

A.B. Johnson, who is the son of Mr & Mrs W Johnson of 42 Pioneer Avenue, Burton Latimer, and has been in the Navy for almost three years, described how Dianthus "tackled the surfaced U-boat with everything she had".

In 19 minutes of what has been described as perhaps the most exciting minutes in the Battle of the Atlantic, the corvette rammed the U-boat four times, raked her with continuous fire from Hotchkiss and pom-pom guns and rifles and revolvers in the hands of seamen who lined the rails, and one excited stoker determined to hit the underwater raider with something, and having nothing else to hand, pelted it with potatoes from the potato locker.

"In the final ramming which finished it off the sub, its bows reared up and crashed down on the fo'c'sle of our ship, and when it slid off, it was found that the crash had holed us," said A.B. Johnson.

* Transcriber's note: As Pte is used as an abbreviation for Private when describing an Army rank, the Navy equivalent is A.B. - standing for "Able Bodied (Seaman)"

Historical Notes

HMS Dianthus was a Flower Class Corvette. She was a relatively new ship, having been built in Scotland in 1939-40. Her Pennant code was K-95. Her motto was "Small but Hardy". The incident related here (the ramming of German submarine U-379 just off Greenland), took place on the 8th August 1942. Two days later, Dianthus picked up survivors from merchant ships torpedoed by U-boats - something she had previously done for a ship on June 10th of the same year.

HMS Dianthus HMS Dianthus - damage caused to the keel by the ramming of German submarine U-379
HMS Dianthus
HMS Dianthus - damage caused to the keel by the ramming

Click here to return to the Main Index
Click here to return to the Wars & Civil Disturbances Index