A Submariners Debt of Honour

A donation to the “Royal Navy Submarine Museum in memory of a friend has revealed a poignant tale of wartime friendship and loss.

Mr Ron Greengrass of London served in the Royal Navy Submarine Service during the Second World War. On VE day 8 of May 1945 he was enjoying the victory celebrations on shore leave from his submarine HMS Safari.

Ron had run out of money but fellow submariner Peter Harsant offered a ten-bob note so that Ron could carry on celebrating the end of the war in Europe.

Just a few days later Ron had been paid and he went back to the hotel to repay his friend. Ron was told that Peter had been sent away on a special mission to help with a surrendered German U boat. It was a mission from which Peter would never return.

Ron had been told that his friend had been killed by a booby trap on a German U boat. But, during a visit to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum he saw Peter’s name on the “Area of Remembrance” and wondered if he could find out exactly what had happened.

He spoke to museum staff and told the story of how never having had the opportunity to repay his debt had weighed heavily on his mind. A search of the archive saw a faded signal reveal the true story of Peter’s tragic death.

At the end of the war in Europe all German U boats had been ordered to return to their bases and surrender to the Allies.

A party of British submarine ratings had been sent to Norway from Scotland. They were travelling by road to the German submarine base in Southern Norway to assist the authorities with the transfer of the U boats and their crews to Britain.

The submariners had to cross a very narrow bridge over the arm of a Fjord, and while doing so one of the wheels of their lorry struck a projection on the bridge.

The vehicle was thrown off course and plunged through the rails of the bridge into the Fjord. The occupants Engine Room Artificer Frederick George Lindon, Engine Room Artificer Walter Charles Daniel Howard and Able Seaman Peter Harsant were all killed. They were buried with full naval honours in Kristiansand Cemetery Norway.

Ron thought it was fitting that his donation to the HMS Alliance, would pay his debt and honour his friend who had survived the hazards of life in a wartime submarine only to lose his life in a tragic road accident.

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport Hampshire is the permanent memorial to all British Submariners who lost their lives on active service.


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