Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 8 World War 2 Part 3

This particular story of the 2nd World War is one that I have been told about on numerous occasions from numerous people.

It was first recounted to me by my Grandmother who remembers hearing the explosions from her home just outside of Bridgetown.

The second time it was recounted was by a elderly gentleman who at that time was a young boy. I seem to remember He said he was about 12 at the time.

According to him he was in Bat Street courting a girl. (he is usually courting a girl in many of his stories) Suddenly he heard a loud explosion and took off running. When I asked him what about the girl he replied "I aint had no time for her then, I was out of there"  According to His story his father worked in a pub in Bridgetown and the German sailors would frequent the bar and give goods that where hard to come by in war times to his father who would then bring these items home. He said it was in the pub the sailors were told that there was an ammunition ship in the Careenage and so they then made plans to torpedo and destroy the ship and the ammunition. Had this as they planed it would have destroyed most of Bridgetown. This was however not to be as the ammunition ship left 1 day early.

Bellow is what the History Books teach us about the event

A U-Boat Attacks Carlisle Bay

Soon after the U-Boat campaign got underway in the Caribbean  in early August three fast motor torpedo boats (miscalled submarine chasers) arrived in Barbados. These vessels were often seen far out in Carlisle Bay, seemingly on patrol, most people were under the impression that that they had been sent to protect the port from U-Boat intrusion. This belief was not correct because though there were patrols they were done nightly and by a local speed-boat called the "Hazel Y" It was armed by a machine gun and double depth charges and maned by a volunteer crew.

In the first week of September the Royal navy came and laid down anti torpedo nets which extended North West from needham's point for 1.5 miles long to provide safe anchorage for ships inside of Carlisle Bay.

In the second week of September there were two ships in the protected zone. one of them a Norwegian ship the Betancuria and the second a Canadian ship the Cornwallis who had completed her business in Barbados and was awaiting escourt to Trinidad.

Suddenly on September the 11th shortly after 4:30pm explosions rang out across Carlisle Bay with the sound of them travelling inland driveing fear into the hearts of many Barbadians. The target was the Norwegian ship but after several torpedo's were launched and failed to penetrate the torpedo nets the U-boat which remained under water broke off its attack.

Ten minutes later a tremendous blast rang out to the south of the bay. This time the Cornwallis was the target and this time the nets gave way to the oncoming weapons of destruction.  a survey of the damage sustained by the Cornwallis reported that a hole some 44 feet long and 14 feet deep had been blown in her side and that considerable internal damage was also done. Sufficient repairs were made to enable her sea worthy. She then  was escorted to Mobile Alabama where complete repairs were made.  The Cornwallis was later sunk in 1944 off of Portland Main she was full of Sugar and molasses having just sailed from Barbados.

The U-Boat that attacked her in Carlisle Bay  was identified as U-514 was attacked and sunk in 1943 in the bay of Biscayne.

During the attack in Barbados it is reported that Norwegian ship and the Canadian ship did fire at the U-boat but the sparkling waters in Carlisle Bay made it difficult to see the submarine. the people of Barbados were also quite flabbergasted to discover the three so called submarine chasers  believed to have been sent to protect the bay were all in the dock.

This story is perhaps the one that is the most memorable to me. Perhaps it is because I have been told it so many times.

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