21 Feb at St Hugh’s Hall, Lincoln, SLHA members were treated to a talk
by Lt Cdr Sandy Powell, RN Rtd, on the building of X Class submarines by
Marshalls of Gainsborough.
A large audience listened
attentively to the speaker (himself a distinguished submariner) as the
story of the building of 12 miniature (4-man crew) submarines in great
secrecy during WWII unfolded. Manufacture was distributed between
various contractors for security reasons and Marshalls built three, X24 Expeditious, X25 Xema and XE9, Unexpected, built to a Far East specification.
15.7m long, powered by a bus engine and capable of diving to nearly
100m depth, these submarines were designed to carry two large canisters
of explosive which could be placed under the hulls of enemy ships in
harbour by one of the crew who was also a diver.
Clearly this was
an extremely hazardous task and many brave crew members lost their
lives. This is reflected in the large numbers of medals awarded to the
crews, including 4 VCs, 8 DSOs and 15 DSCs.
The X-Craft also
carried out reconnaissance immediately prior to the Normandy landings
and provided essential navigational guidance during the landings
X24 Expeditious was conspicuously successful and survived the war to be displayed in the Submarine Museum at Gosport.