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WW2 Submarine hero personal story told by son at Submarine Museum

Image of Leonard Roberts and HMS Saracen

The story of a heroic submariner from the Second World War will be told for the first time in public to launch the latest Third Thursday Talk season at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire on Thursday 18 September at 7pm. The story of Petty Officer Leonard Clarence Roberts, who was awarded the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal and Bar) served on board the submarine HMS Saracen, which was sunk and he was taken  POW. He then survived a US bombing raid and gallantly helped the wounded survivors to safety.


Ray Roberts, youngest son of P.O Roberts DSM said, “My father’s story during the Second World War was only partly known by our family and may have been forgotten forever, if it had not been for four photographs of the bombed bridge come up for sale on EBay. This began my  interest which would  reveal the full heroic story of my Dad’s wartime experiences”


Launched in 1942 HMS Saracen was sent to the Mediterranean and within a very short time, had gained an impressive record for sinking enemy ships including the Italian submarine Granito. On 14 August 1943 whilst on patrol off Bastia, Saracen was sunk by the Italian corvettes Minerva and Euterpe. Forced to the surface most of the crew survived and were captured.  In January 1944 while being transported from Italy to Germany the POW train was bombed by the USAAF which resulted in major casualties. Many POW’s  took the opportunity to escape but Roberts stayed to help minister to the many wounded.


George Malcolmson, Archive Officer  at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said: “Mr Ray Roberts diligent research has uncovered the full details of the fascinating and heroic story of his father’s  wartime service. Petty Officer Leonard Robert’s was certainly recognized as an important key member of the Saracen crew”


This evening talk on Thursday 18 September, is the first of a new season of monthly autumn talks at the Submarine Museum. The other talks in the season will cover the controversial steam submarine and the dramatic First World War battle in the Baltic using the C class submarines.


Tickets for the talks are £10 with all profits going to support the upkeep of HMS Alliance and are available online at or by calling 023 9254 5036.

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