Commissioned painting bequest captures post-war submarine class in memory of Submariner

A specially commissioned painting by a well-known maritime artist has been bequeathed to Gosport’s Royal Navy Submarine Museum by the family of late submariner Lieutenant Commander “Alfie” Roake to mark the role of the Super “Ts” submarine class in the post-war period.

 

The painting will be formally presented to Captain Dan Conley, Chairman of Trustees of Royal Navy Submarine Museum by Alfie Roake’s son and daughter John and Catherine Roake on Tuesday 20th January at 11.30am.

 

Veteran submariners who knew “Alfie” have been invited to the presentation which will be in the post-war submarine history gallery where the painting is to be on permanent display.

 

“Turpin and Maidstone” is an oil painting by Paul Wright whose work is featured in collections across the world. Born in 1947, he studied at the Farnham School of Art and he has captured all the leading battleships, carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines of the Royal Navy in paint.

 

Lieutenant Commander “Alfie” Roake was born in 1925 and enjoyed a long and illustrious record in the submarine service and died in 2005. He began his training, post-war, in 1948 at training establishment HMS Dolphin. In 1958 he took command of HMS Turpin. Turpin was one of several wartime T-class submarines which were extensively modified in order to equip them for the new covert roles that were developing in the Cold War period.

 

Amongst the modifications, Turpin’s hull was stretched by 14 feet in order to accommodate additional electric motors and batteries. The deck guns were removed along with the distinctive external torpedo tubes at the bow and the conning tower replaced with the streamlined fin. The purpose of the changes were to make the vessel quieter and faster when underwater in order to improve its efficiency at hunting enemy submarines.

 

Alfie’s role in the service was featured in the recently published book “Hunter Killers: The Dramatic Untold Story of the Royal Navy’s Most Secret Service” by Iain Ballantyne. Of the many covert missions on which he was deployed, Alfie recalled: “We flew no “Jolly Roger” listing our achievements and had no special welcoming party – we left and entered harbour like “a thief in the night”…..We had no feedback as to how we had done, and a verbal enquiry elicited a non-committal reply…..Meanwhile we were all ordered not to breath a word about our adventures…..”

 

Bob Mealings, Head of Collections at the National Museum of the Royal Navy which runs the Royal Navy Submarine Museum explains: “From selecting the right artist to deciding which part of the late “Alfie” Roake’s naval career to commemorate, arriving at the finished painting has taken some time. However the Museum and the Roake family who made a bequest to fund the paining are delighted with the end result.”

 

“The role of modernising these Second World War submarines which became known as the Super “Ts” is not well represented in the collection so this superb new painting by Paul Wright is a very welcome addition.”

 

Further information about visiting the Royal Navy Submarine Museum is available at www.submarine-museum.co.uk

Umbra Crew

Crew of the HMS Umbra.