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Raising the White Ensign on HMS PHOENIX

Date: February 1939
Medium: Emulsion on nitrate film.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Nitrate negative
Object No: 00020623
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Woolloomooloo,

User Terms

    This photograph shows a submariner (in dress whites) having raised the Royal Navy's White Ensign as the submarine is moored at Garden Island naval base. In the background are the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain Baths (now rebuilt and named the Andrew 'Boy' Charlton Pool). One in a series of 13 photographs recording PHOENIX's visit to Sydney - some 16 months before the submarine was lost in battle in the Mediterranean with all hands.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, warships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryThe Parthian class submarine or P class was a class of six submarines built for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s. They were designed as long-range patrol submarines for the Far East. PHOENIX was built at the Cammell Laird Shipyard, Birkenhead, UK; laid down 23 July 1928; and launched on 3 October 1929. After completion in 1930 it was deployed on the China Station in the British 4th Submarine Flotilla. During this service PHOENIX visited Sydney (in 1939) and was photographed by Sam Hood.

    In 1940 the Flotilla was transferred from Hong Kong to the Mediterranean where they arrived in May of that year. The first patrols were out of Alexandria to cover the major Italian fleet bases. PHOENIX was ordered to screen a supply convoy heading for Alexandria from Malta when it successfully sighted and reported the Italian battlefleet. On 8 July 1940 PHOENIX (LT CDR G H Nowell, RN) fired torpedoes at the Italian battleships GUILIO CESARE and CONTE DI CAVOUR some 200 nautical miles east of Malta in position 35º40'N, 18º20'E. The torpedoes however missed their targets.

    HMS PHOENIX left Malta for a patrol of the Sicilian coast in July 1940. Nothing was heard from the submarine after a wireless message transmitted on the night of 14th/15th July. On 16 July the submarine fired torpedoes at the Italian torpedo boat ALBATROS off Augusta, south-east Sicily. The torpedoes again missed their target and it is believed ALBATROS sank PHOENIX during a depth charge counter attack (position 37º15'N, 15º15'E).

    Motto - Resurgam - I shall rise again

    Technical details of HMS PHOENIX include
    Length: 289 ft (88 m)
    Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m)
    Draught: 16 ft (4.9 m)
    Propulsion: Diesel-electric; 2 × Admiralty diesel engines, 4,640 hp; 2 × electric motors, 1,635 hp; 2 shafts
    Speed: 17.5 knots (20.1 mph; 32.4 km/h) surfaced
    8.6 kn (9.9 mph; 15.9 km/h) submerged
    Complement: 53
    Armament included 8 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (6 bow, 2 stern) with 14 reloads; 1 × QF 4-inch (101.6 mm) Mk XII deck gun
    And the class was equipped to lay mines through the torpedo tubes

    PHOENIX was the 18th Royal Navy warship to carry the name, introduced in 1546 for a 20-gun ship bought in Scotland and last used for a 1911 destroyer lost in 1918. It had never been previously been used for a submarine. After this boat was lost in August 1940 the name was used for an RN Air Station in Egypt and in 1949 by the RN Damage Control School at Portsmouth. Ships carrying this name had been awarded 12 Battle Honours.

    Those who died on the submarine were:
    AYRES, Frederick R H, Petty Officer Cook
    BARKLEY, Kenneth, Act/Lieutenant
    BARNES, Eric B, Leading Signalman
    BARTON, Sydney W C, Able Seaman
    BEDFORD, William R, Able Seaman
    BENNETT, Clifford F, Stoker Petty Officer
    BUNKER, Wilfred S, Stoker Petty Officer
    CADOGAN, Timothy, Act/Leading Stoker
    CLARK, George L, Petty Officer
    CLIFT, Albert E, Stoker 1c
    COCKLE, Austin W, Telegraphist
    COOPER, William, Leading Stoker
    DAVIES, Walter J, Act/Petty Officer
    DEE, James C, Stoker 1c
    DIGGENS, George J, Petty Officer Telegraphist
    FAIRHOLM, Matthew R, Act/Leading Stoker
    FARLOW, Charles A J, Able Seaman
    GREAVES, Cyril E, Engine Room Artificer 2c
    GREAVES, Stewart M, Act/Leading Seaman
    HADFIELD, Eric R, Act/Petty Officer
    HALL, Kenneth G, Able Seaman
    HANNA, William J, Able Seaman
    HARRIS, Edwin R, Telegraphist
    HENDERSON, Malcolm G, Lieutenant
    HIGDON, Reginald T, Able Seaman
    HIGGINS, Alfred G, Stoker 1c
    HOLLINGWORTH, George A, Petty Officer
    HOWELL, Norman L E, Engine Room Artificer 3c
    HUMPHREY, James E, Leading Seaman
    JAMES, Albert E, Leading Seaman
    LEONARD, Francis, Leading Seaman
    LIVERSIDGE, Grenville A, Lieutenant
    MATTHEWS, Robert, Stoker 1c
    MORTON, Thomas W, Leading Stoker
    NOWELL, Gilbert H, Lieutenant Commander
    OLIVER, Aubrey G, Engine Room Artificer 3c
    PARKER, Christopher, Engine Room Artificer 4c
    PARRY, Oswald, Leading Seaman
    PAXFORD, Frank J, Stoker Petty Officer
    PEGLER, Frank, Warrant Engineer
    PHILLIPS, Albert D, Telegraphist
    POWELL, John H, Act/Leading Seaman
    RANDELL, Victor C, Chief Petty Officer
    RELF, Jack H, Stoker
    ROBINSON, Herbert, Act/Leading Seaman
    SMYTHE, Harold A, Leading Telegraphist
    SPOUSE, Abraham, Leading Stoker
    STAVELEY, John R, Able Seaman
    SUMMERS, James, Stoker
    THOMPSON, Stephen W, Stoker 1c
    WARREN, George E, Engine Room Artificer 2c
    WILLIAMS, Christopher, Stoker
    WILTSHIRE, Morgan R, Stoker 1c
    WINGRAVE, George C, Leading Seaman
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Submarine PHOENIX from China base

    Web title: Raising the White Ensign on HMS PHOENIX

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