Operation Struggle - 31 July 1945

Attack by XE-3 on Takao

Lieutenant Fraser and his crew of three men undertook one of the most daring submarine operations of the Second World War in XE3. Their mission was to get close to the Japanese ship Takao moored at Singapore, attach limpet mines and get out before the mines detonated.

First, they had to navigate 80 miles through the Singapore Straits. To avoid detection by hydrophone listening stations XE3 left the safe channel and entered the more hazardous mined waters. 

On arriving at the target, they found Takao was nearly aground so Lieutenant Fraser had to spend forty minutes pushing XE3 right under the centre of the cruiser.

Lt. Ian Fraser VC

Once in position the diver, James Magennis, squeezed out of the hatch of the submarine. Then Magennis scraped barnacles off the bottom of Takao to fix the mines, all the while struggling with faulty breathing apparatus. He returned exhausted but volunteered to go out again to free one of the jettisoned limpet carriers which had jammed next to XE3. This took another nerve-wracking seven minutes.

Magennis in W&D Compartment

With the mines set the crew then faced difficulties in extricating XE3.  They had to surface next to Takao but miraculously managed to get away unsighted and eventually navigated their way back through the mined waters to their mother ship.

The mines damaged Takao beyond repair. 

Brave Diver - James Magennis

For their bravery and determination to complete the mission at all costs Fraser and Magennis both received the Victoria Cross. Sub-Lieutenant William Smith, RNZNR received the DSO and Engine Room Artificer Charles Reed a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

 

   

Fraser and Magennis 

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